Once Upon a Read-a-thon Update 1

July 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm (Read-a-thon) (, , , , )

Well, I’m back, like I promised, and here are a few quick stats about the last few hours. I woke up with a sore throat and a migraine today, so I’m a bit loopy on cold and flu medication, which is making reading a bit of a challenge. BUT I WILL PERSEVERE! I need to make a dent in my library book pile so that I can actually manage to read books for review and books that I own.

Also, I might post a few reviews later on so that you’re not bombarded with boring updates.

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter (button in the side column) and follow my progress. Alternatively, you can follow the #OUreadathon hashtag for mine and other peoples progress.

Currently Reading:
Last Book Read:

Next to Read: 
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 147
Books Read Since Last Update: 1
Pages Read since last update: 147
Total time read: 3 hours, on and off

Well, happy reading! I’ll be back in a few more hours with another update just before bed. 🙂

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

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Once Upon a Read-a-thon

July 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm (Read-a-thon) (, , , )

Hello fellow book-lovers. I know I haven’t been doing much updating, but I’m hoping to remedy that with this nifty little read-a-thon.

Once Upon a Read-a-ThonThe Once Upon a Rea-a-thon is hosted by Lori at Pure Imagination, Candace at Candace’s Book Blog, and Angela at Reading Angel, and runs from 12:01 AM on July 11 to 11:59 PM on July 13th.
I’m starting a bit late (it’s12:09 PM July 11th as of writing this), but oh well. I’m sure I’ll catch up. I’ll try to update every 2-3 hours (except for when I’m sleeping, of course) with reading stats.

Right now, I’m reading The Goblin Wood, and have about 20 pages left of it. Afterwards, I’m hoping to dive into The Adoration of Jenna Fox. As for after that, who knows. I’m not sure how many books I’m aiming for in these next three days. Perhaps 6-8. I’ll probably also be reading a few graphic novels to ease the pressure and stop me from getting too bored. I don’t think that’s cheating? I hope. 😛

I’ll see you all in a few hours with updates. 🙂

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Review: Behemoth

June 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , )

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Pages: 485, hardcover

ISBN: 9781416971757

Publisher:

Date Released: October 5th, 2010 (first published September 25th, 2010)

Genre: YA / steampunk / historical

Source: library

Premise:

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan‘s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

To start off with: I hate the cover. It is such a disaster compared to the masterpiece that was the original Leviathan cover. What went wrong? If I were some random browsing the aisles of the YA section of my local bookstore, I would have shrunk back in disgust, and quickly averted my eyes, as if the horrific cover might somehow infect me. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I did encounter this book. I had heard news of Behemoth‘s release, and I eagerly went forth to buy the book, which I had pictured would be similar in majesty and beauty as Leviathan had been. But no, I was met with this monstrosity. Once again, I ask, what went wrong? What were Simon Pulse thinking? I actively avoided buying this book for almost a year, until I managed to get my hands on it for $1 when a Borders was closing down. Even then, I was reluctant. Was I willing to pay $1 to have this accident of a cover sit next to my beloved copy of Leviathan? Finally, I caved in, but only because I had already borrowed it from the library and loved what was between those frightening covers.

And this is coming from a hardcore fan of the first book. I had waited impatiently for over a year to read Behemoth. I loved the first book so much. I reread it several times.  And you know what the worst thing is? That the cover for Behemoth would have been even more stunning than it was for Leviathan. Here, have a look. Aren’t you just seething with rage? It’s beautiful, isn’t it. I don’t understand what Simon Pulse were thinking. They had potentially lost a customer (me) and maybe many more with their hideous reboot covers. (and to be brutally honest, I don’t know who’s who on the reboot covers. Whoops. :-/ )

Now, cover rant aside, I loved this book. If I thought Leviathan was good, then this is just a work of art, meant to be savoured.

This book deals with a lot of emotional baggage, from Deryn’s experience with her father dying a few years earlier, to her developing crush on Alek. But, poor girl, she can’t reveal her feelings to him without revealing her true identity! And with that came a fresh and delightful dose of drama. Especially when a new girl enters the picture, causing jealousy to spark from poor Deryn. The results were completely unexpected and hilarious, and I couldn’t have been more pleased at the maybe-love-triangle.

And while Deryn is struggling to hide her true identity, so is Alek. He’s in a new world, filled with the enemy. At any moment, he could be found and killed. The similarities between the experiences of Alek and Deryn make this a great tool to understanding their characters and their motives. They mirrored each other in so many ways, and it was awesome reading about their characters.

The plot is just as exciting as it was in Leviathan, with explosions starting right off the bat (if you’re into that sort of thing). And after that, there’s non-stop action and suspense all throughout the book, making it literally impossible to put down. I sat with Behemoth in my hands for four hours, braving a grumbling tummy and neglected housework. It will leave you completely hooked and wanting more.

The writing is  amazing, but, it still uses the annoying over-used vocabulary like bum-rag and such. Thankfully, the descriptions make up for it. Everything was described so vividly that it was really easy to imagine what was happening, and what everything looked like. This is especially amazing in the completely new setting of Turkey, where everything feels surreal, exotic and wild. The city actually felt like a whole new character, just like how the Leviathan felt like a character in the first book. For that, I applaud Westerfeld. It’s hard to pull off a setting like that, and to make it feel like a living, breathing characters with its own flaws and characteristics.

And, lastly, I have to give an honorable mention to Keith Thompson, whose artworks also feature in this book. Once again, they have left me speechless with their precise beauty. They certainly add depth to an already fantastic book.

I’m eagerly awaiting Goliath, but, unless they go back to the original covers, I probably won’t buy it. The cover just looks bad. I’m very picky with my covers, as you can see. But August can’t come soon enough.

Cover Art: 0
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: Angel Burn

June 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm (4 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly

ISBN: 9780763656522

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Release Date: May 24th, 2011 (first released September 30th, 2010)

Genre: YA/ paranormal / romance  / action / angels

Source: galley from the publisher

Premise:

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip – and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

They’re out for your soul . . . and they don’t have heaven in mind.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

*Sorry I haven’t been updating in a while, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this past week. But I’m feeling better now, and will be updating a bit more often to make up for it.*

I’ll admit, I was rather skeptical about this book at first. I thought it’d be another stupid angel romance story with next to no plot and an abusive, angelic love interest, and a main character who was TSTL (too stupid to live).

Boy, was I wrong. Not only are angels not romanticized here, they’re actually the enemies, who steal something special from their victim, leaving them sick and helpless–a shell. There isn’t some long, drawn out and overused religious lore behind them, they just are. They aren’t God’s messengers. They aren’t heaven-sent. They aren’t the angels you’d expect. They became the perfect enemy, taking over the human world, leaving their imprint and making people of faith put all their trust to them, only to exploit them by feeding off them. What I loved most was that they founded a religion devoted to their worship, making people love them and trust them; it was a nice, ironic touch, and I loved it immensely.

Willow is different from other main characters that I’ve encountered. Right off the bat, we see how strong she is as a character, and she keeps getting stronger. She’s smart, cautious, real. And the way she cares for her mum, it makes me appreciate her more, because, for once, here is a YA main character who doesn’t ignore others for her love interest, especially her family. I love how she gets frustrated with her mother sometimes, because despite doing her best to help her, her mother is too far gone to do anything. Her frustration at her mother’s vegetative state is selfish, honest, real.

At first, I thought the psychic thing would be used to make Willow ‘speshul’, but she actually uses it properly, which is something I applaud. For example, when she see’s Beth’s choices, and what happened to her, she handles it maturely forthe situation and her character, and tries to help Beth as best as she can, even though she knows that it would be futile.

I loved the interaction between Willow and Alex. They had this chemistry together, and it was done really well. They were awkward towards each other, ad avoided interacting with each other because of who they were–Willow, the human/angel hybrid freak, and Alex, the protector of humans and killer of angels–and it brought a whole new meaning to the whole “I love you but I want to kill you” thing that’s so popular in YA romances these days. Alex actually has justification to try to kill Willow at the beginning of the book. He thought she was on the angel’s side, being half angel and what not. All his life, he had been taught that angels are evil creatures, and yet, he found himself stuck with a girl who was seemingly half evil. The way he reacted to her then was fantastic and real.

After a few days of knowing him, Willow tells us that she’s fallen in love with Alex. While this sort of insta-love usually bothers me, I’m willing to accept this, since they’d literally been stuck together for the last few days, getting to know each other and bond. And, oh how they bonded! Their chemistry was beyond delicious! It was addictive, and I wanted more of their shy flirting, of their awkwardness, everything.

Once they manage to finally declare their love, though, they turn into love-sick tweens, acting all cutesy and saying stuff like “I’d die without you”, and it’s enough to make anyone gag. It was a bit of a downer, after such a fantastic build-up. I think I’d rather stick with the teasing sexual tension than deal with twu wuv~! that feels forced and annoying.

One of my main concerns with the book was the writing. It is narrated sometimes in third person, from the POVs of various characters, including the baddies, and sometimes it’s narrated in first person from the POC of Willow. I think that this is the only fault in the otherwise spectacular and gripping writing, but it wasn’t enough for me to drop the book–which I totally would have if it weren’t so OMG-worthy. The writing made it so impossible to put down, it was so action-packed. It will constantly keep you guessing.

This is a book that I would recommend for everyone. It isn’t your typical paranormal novel. It has a well thought out background, a gripping plot and plenty of action. Read it immediately.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 3
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: The Dark Divine

June 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm (1 star, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Pages: 372, hardcover

ISBN: 9781606840573

Publisher:  EgmontUSA

Release Date: December 22nd, 2009

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal / werewolves / bad romance

Source: library

Premise:

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

Warning: this is a very long and rant-filled review.

Let me just start off with this: I hate the cover. But that’s because I hate feet (they make me feel queasy). Especially the ones on the cover. Now I’m not normally one to nitpick on someone’s looks, but those feet look particularly yucky. Sorry, I’ll stop now.
Otherwise, the cover is pretty, with the purple fabric and the all around foreshadowing of doom and blackness.

The book starts off slow, and right from the beginning, I could tell that I was not going enjoy it that much. For starters there are some very deep Christian themes, and whilst I’m not against any religions, I’m not too much a fan of books that are heavily based on a certain religion, especially if the characters are stereotypical cut-outs. Example, Jude. He was so portrayed as such a good Christian, as such a gentle, sensitive and caring person (choosing not to play hockey because he doesn’t want to hurt any of the opposing players. PUH-LEASE!) that he no longer seems like a guy. He acts like a middle aged woman’s idealised version of the perfect gentleman. I was so glad to finally see him loosen up during the end of the book. He fights, he threatens and he no longer holds car doors open for ladies!! Hurrah, he’s finally manning up!
Even the rest of Grace’s family were incredibly annoying, and I just couldn’t stand them and the way they preached their Christian values. I think that was my main issue with the book and the characters and the themes: it was so preachy. It’s like Despain wanted me to convert. Ugh.
The only character I can find remotely interesting is Don, and that’s probably because, despite being insane, he’s the most well-crafted character. He actually acts like a real person. But it doesn’t make the book that much better.
Grace’s character, I didn’t really mind because she despite being incredibly annoying with her morals and with her goody-goody ways, she showed times of weakness. That provided some relief.
And, now for the character I hated the most: April, Grace’s supposed best friend. She seemed to have no purpose except to be the unsupportive friend, who spends the first half of the book pining over Jude, and the second half snogging him. As far as I could tell, she played no real part in the story, so I wonder why she was kept at all. She did nothing to further the plot, she was a bad best friend who ditched Grace the moment Jude showed any interest in her, and then she does nothing to improve Jude’s character growth, except by showing us that Jude loves kissing. Wow!
Another thing, the blurb on the back of my particular copy, written by Becca Fitzpatrick (author of Hush, Hush), described Daniel as a ‘bad boy’. I’m starting to question if Fitzpatrick actually knows anything about stereotypes, because she certainly does not know what a bad boy is. Daniel certainly isn’t a bad boy (and neither is Patch from her own novel). Daniel is instead overly confident, arrogant, smug, and suffers from horrible mood swings that make him agressive one minute, and cry whilst declaring his love for Grace (this actually happened) the next. He was more annoying than bad, and was incredibly hard to deciper. I found it difficult to feel sympathy for him and his past because of the way he portrayed himself.

Okay, that’s my character rant over and done with. Now, what was up with the font?!?I probably should have mentioned this earlier in the review, but it was completely bolded. Has anyone else who’s read this book noticed this or is it just my copy?
It was incredibly distracting, and made my eyes hurt a bit if I read it for too long. It was just frustrating having to take breaks every few minutes because of the headaches that the unnecessary boldness. Why not just have normal, unbolded font?

I really couldn’t stand the structure of the book, with all the subheadings that said things like (and I’m not lying here, this is taken right out of the book) “An hour and a half later” and “after lunch”, or simply, “later”. NO. JUST NO. One simply does not put that in books. Readers aren’t that dumb that they need that sort of indication to know that the next scene is occurring ‘later’. Instead of having a heading that states “The next morning”, Despain could have simply written: The next morning, Grace woke up. See? Simple and effective. The subheadings were a big indication of the poor writing skills. Not only that, but the sentence structure was off, nothing flowed well, the writing was not unlike that of a twelve year old girl who suddenly decides that she wants to write (nothing wrong with that, but such a girl would essentially improve with her writing as time progressed.)
Despain failed to properly engage me, her reader, and I felt bored and found myself skimming through the pages at some points. Her foreshadowing was poorly used, and the hints she dropped were far too obvious to be called hints. It took all the mystery from the novel.

Now, onto the main thing: the plot.
The paranormalcy happening in the book was confusing, tedious and obvious. It turned out that Daniel was a werewolf, but I guessed that in the first chapter, although, it felt as if Despain was trying to decide between creatures: angels, demons, werewolves (oh my!). It felt as if she couldn’t make up her mind about which creepy creature would work best for her novel, so she would constantly switch ideas, and when she finally decided on a combination of the three, and called it werewolves. It made her story look poor, unstructured, unorganised and as if no thought had gone into it.
There even came a part when she tried to infuse all these creatures to make one super-creature. That’s when I totally lost it and decided that I hated this book.

So, to sum this book up in one word: ATROCIOUS. Don’t read it, it’s of worse quality that Twilight. Even the romance in this book is worse than Twilight. It was a painful read. When I finally finished the book, I rejoiced and vowed not to read the next books in the series.

Cover Art: 2 (feet, UGH. This is just a personal issue, though)
Plot: 0 (what plot?)
Characters: 1
Writing: 0
Level of Interest: 1

Total Rating: 1/5

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Review: The Replacement

May 23, 2011 at 4:00 am (2 stars, review) (, , , , , , , , , , )

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Pages: 375, paperback

ISBN: 9780857071385

Publisher:Simon & Schuster

Date Released: October 1st 2010 (first published September 21st 2010)

Genre: YA / paranormal / urban fantasy / faeries / romance

Source: library

Premise:

Mackie Doyle is the Replacement. Thought he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass guitar or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl called Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place – in our world, or theirs.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: Book Depository / Amazon

Okay so I was a bit reluctant at trying this story out. On the one hand, the premise sounds awesome. I mean, the main character is a boy AND a changeling, which makes me really curious. On the other, I’ve heard some less than spectacular reviews about this book, and I was worried that the MC wouldn’t sound like a boy–like Ethan from Beautiful Creatures and Sam from Shiver. Thankfully, he doesn’t sound like a girl, but that might be the only good thing about him.
It seems that most of my problems with this book stems from the characters, so expect a lot of ranting about that.

From the very beginning, I found that the writing was awkward. It was purple, it was fragmented at times, and sometimes, it just didn’t make sense at all. It was as if the writer was trying too hard to craft her words. Underneath the awkwardness, I could see bits and pieces that stood out, but they were overwhelmed by the flower-y, tryhard lyrical prose. An example of the awkward prose:

“[Emma was looking] lonely as a lighthouse. Sad as a nun.” -pg 40

Now, I’m not sure that nuns are particularly sad about what they do. In fact, I would think that they’d be happy, since that’s sort of what they’re devoted to.

There were a lot of things to the story that left me confused. For starters, Mackie’s sister, Emma, somehow remembers the event of her brother being replaced. I forget what age she was supposed to be at the time, but it’s still highly unlikely that she would remember it. And on the very unlikely occasion that she were to remember it, why on earth would she believe it to be real, even several years after it happened?When I was her age, I was certain that I was adopted and that my parents were either royalty or faeries. Doesn’t mean that it’s true. It just seems unlikely that she’d believe it so much. It makes this whole issue so unbelievable, and every time Emma mentioned it, I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “yeah, right.”
And why does Mackie believe some random creep that tells him he’s dying? Especially when that creep corners him in a club. If I were Mackie, I’d think the guy was high or drunk, and I’d try to avoid him, not, y’know, believe him.

My biggest problem with Mackie was that he was a loner and a major emo, and blamed other for it. He blames his popular best friend, Roswell, for his awkwardness around people and his inability to effectively communicate. He blames his father for people having expectations of any kind of him, and the list goes on. Everything wrong about him, Mackie points fingers and shifts the blame to someone else. Which is ridiculous and disgraceful. Maybe if he actually tried talking to people instead of actively avoiding them, he’d have more friends and wouldn’t be seen as a freak (but actually, he does seem to be popular, despite what he says. I mean, he made out with the most popular girl in the school. I’d think that one has to be pretty high up in the school’s hierarchy to be able to do that).
And I really really really hate how Mackie constantly whines about the threat of being lynched for being different. Um… what? As far as I can tell, Mackie is not black, nor does he like in the 1940’s. People do not get lynched for having quirks, not in this era. He has nightmares and is told a story of a guy who was lynched for being different… IN GODDAMN 1930! Every time he mentions that, I just want to hit him with the book, and tell him to shut the fuck up and to stop being such a drama queen. I swear, 85% of this book is is Mackie angsting over how he’s different, and 10% about Tate, while the other 5% is actual plot.

Speaking of plot, for the most part, it doesn’t exist because of the ANGSTING. Most of the time, there’s severe angsting for several pages, with maybe a paragraph or two of actual plot developments, and then back to angsting. I wonder if Yovanoff knows that angsting =/= character development?
And because of the lack of plot, there won’t be much in this review on plot.

Now, back to the characters.

What the hell is wrong with Tate? Why is she so convinced all of a sudden that Mackie knows something–anything–about her sister? He’s never given her a reason to suspect him of anything, yet she won’t get off his back. She just keeps harassing him, and it makes me want to hit her with a mallet. She is such a disgusting character. She makes rude comments and sarcastic gestures towards girls who act ‘girly’ and not as ‘tough’ as her, as if wearing pink is a sign of weakness. She’s a horrible person, and from the beginning, her attitude made me hate her vehemently. And she constantly goes on to insult Mackie, while at the same time, demanding that he help her. Why should he, when she’s constantly demeaning him? This is a case of abusive relationships, but with the tables turned. And Mackie is weak against her, and is passive whenever she says something insulting.
Being tough doesn’t make a character strong. And I don’t see Tate as strong, just as a person who needs an attitude check.

And then there’s the relationship between Tate and Mackie that seemed to pop up out of nowhere.When Mackie told Tate that he liked her, I was surprised. Up until then, he showed signs of liking Alice–even going so far as to find out that she has a tongue ring, kekeke–, and hating Tate. And why the hell would Tate be such a horrid person to someone she liked? What had changed? They showed no romance, not even any friendship. It felt like Yovanoff suddenly decided that she wanted Mackie and Tate to be together, so she made them both do an about-face concerning their feelings. And um… what’s with the part where she gives him a handjob behind the churchyard, soon after? It didn’t do anything to further the plot, and hardly did anything to develop their relationship and selves. If I were an editor, I would have cut it.

I do have to admit, though, that I really liked the character of Morrigan and the other fairies. They acted so mystical, so all-knowing, yet so cryptic, almost like I imagine fairies would really be like. Their descriptions were fantastic, and I believe that the story greatly improved once they were introduced. In fact, I was almost my wit’s end and was thinking of dropping the book, just as the fairies were introduced.
The fairy lore that Yovanoff had created was fantastic, and it’s a shame that the rest of her story didn’t seem to follow suit.

So, no, I didn’t really like this story. I found it to be a waste of time. Yovanoff needs a better editor, and better beta readers, ones who know what a plot is, and that wangsting is NOT character development. At all. Ever.

Cover Art: 2 (why is there a light shining from his ass?)
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 2

Total Rating: 2/5 stars

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In My Mailbox #7

May 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm (In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , )

Howdy y’all, it’s time for another awesome IMM.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

All the books I got this week were from the library, as I’m running out of money to fund this terrible, yet awesome addiction.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting; I recently read The Body Finder, and liked it enough to want to get my hands on the sequel. Lucky for me, the sequel was released about a month after the first book came out, so I didn’t have to wait long. One of the few perks of living in Australia! 😛
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook; I’d been hearing about this book a lot, and I’ve got an ebook of it, but since I have no time for reading my own books, I figured that if I borrowed it from the library, I’d be able to finally read it. My logic is confusing, I know. Here’s hoping it’s worth the read.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Genesis by Lara Morgan; I love books by Australian authors, mainly because they get so little recognition. Whenever I find a book by an Aussie Author,  I just have to snatch it up. I think in the future, I’ll do a feature for unknown Aussie authors that deserve some recognition. 🙂
Find it on: Goodreads

Vesper by Jeff Sampson; This just looks like an awesome book. And it’s written by a guy, and the narrator appears to be a teenage girl, so I’m really interested if he’s made the voice feel real, and not like a reversed Ethan / Sam.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Pegasus and the Flame by Kate O’Hearn; I love reading about creatures that aren’t wildly popular, and pegasi seem to fit the bill. This looks like it’ll be a great read, so I can’t wait to get started with it.
Find it on:Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima; I recently read The Demon King by this author, and found it surprisingly good for a stereotypical fantasy. Sadly, my library doesn’t have the sequel to The Demon King, so I’ve had to make do with the first of her other trilogy. Hopefully, this is as good as The Demon King.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman; So, can you tell that I love this series yet? I’m fairly addicted to it, and I urge all of you to go out and read it and become addicted as well. Tomorrow, I’ll post up my review of the first volume, Preludes and Nocturnes, so be sure to catch it if this series seems interesting. Hopefully, it’ll give you the kick you need to read it. 😛
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

What did you guys get in your mailboxes this past week? Feel free to leave your links in the comments! 🙂

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Review: Wolfborn

May 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm (3 stars, Australian, review) (, , , , , , , , )

Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

ISBN: 9781864718256

Publisher: Woolshed Press

Date Released: December 1st, 2010

Genre: YA / paranormal / werewolves

Source: library

Premise:

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master – but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint’s enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from:  Amazon (Kindle Only)

So, it turns out that this book is based on an old tale. And I’m sure all you faithful readers (what little I have) know by now how much I lve retellings. This alone bumps up the score for this book, even before reading it.

First up, the writing. There are some awkwardly phrased sentences, for example:

“An older woman named Lise ran the kitchens efficiently, as she had to in a place with so many mouths to feed.” -pg 6

“The sky was a pale gold colour, like those gold was backgrounds the Notzrian [fictional religion] priests put into their illuminated holy manuscripts.” – pg 189.

The second half of the first sentence feels awkward and unnecessary. The second sentence made me go”what?” several times. I mean, it’s not like I actually know what colour they mean since I can hardly compare it. The entire book is filled with similar awkward lines like that, that may have needed another pair of eyes to read over.
I can’t say that I’m a fan of the writing. Awkward phrasing aside, the writing seems to lack any unique voice and sounds rather plain. Though, despite that, it was easy to read and didn’t drag on like I expected it to.

Another issue with the writing was that there were a lot of exclamation points. Far too many to have been allowed.

There was a lot of mention of these fictional countries, but it was hard to keep track of them without a map. They ended up feeling like random words that had little meaning. It made for a disappointing read.

Now, whilst the writing wasn’t Bursztynski’s strongest point, the story triumphed with the magnificent world-building and lore. I love love LOVED the werewolf lore that Bursztynski crafter, where a wolf can only return to human form with his own clothes, and that by removing their clothes, they remove their humanness and are able to transform. It was so unique, and I found it to be amazing.

The story is the strongest thing about this book, and it is  actually quite fantastic. The story is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It has fairies, werewolves and magic, romance and political plots. Everything about the story was gripping, and I was up all night trying to finish the book. I literally couldn’t put it down because I just wanted to keep myself immersed within such a fantastical world.

Sadly, I can’t say the same about the characters. I felt very little voice and connection towards the narrator, Etienne, and his relationships witht the characters fell short. The romance between him and Jeanne did nothing for me, and it seemed fairly non-existant.

Oftentimes, Etienne would tell us something along the lines of “If I had known what would happen, I would have done this to prevent it.” For example, he says:

“If I had known then what would happen, I’d have lit a fire and cremated him!” – pg 117

Not only is it sloppy, it distracts the reader. I can understand that it’s a way to keep the reader hooked, sort of like a cliff-hanger, but it feels like a cheap shot. Readers should be hooked because of the story, characters or writing, not because of cliffhangers in the middle of each chapters.

If you want a good story, with a well-developed background and lore, then this is for you.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

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Review: Delirium

May 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm (2 stars, review, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Pages: 393, hardcover

ISBN: 9780340980910

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Date Released: February 3rd, 2011

Genre: YA / dystopian / romance

Source: library

Premise:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that one love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love. (Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book DepositoryAmazon

Dystopia is a hard genre to write in. Usually because it takes a topic and magnifies it, and in this case, the topic is love. So my question is: why the hell is love outlawed? Usually, dystopian only really works if the issue is a current issue that we’re facing, and dystopians explore what would happen in the future if the problem hasn’t been handled (for example: global warming [though I haven’t come across many dystopians that handle that]). Already, before picking the book up, I have problems with it. How had it gotten to the point where love could be considered a disease? For a dystopian, it sounds rather unbelievable.

On page 3, Oliver already managed to piss me off, though, I’m sure it was unintentional on her part. There is a passage that goes:

“Instead, people back then named other diseases–stress, heart disease, anxiety, depression, hypertension, insomnia, bipolar disorder–never realising that these were, in fact, only symptoms that in the majority of cases could be traced back to the effects of amour deliria nervosa [love].”

Now, as someone who suffers from 4 of the 7 things named above, I take offense to the idea that these are merely symptoms to something like love–something they tried to eradicate. And once these people are ‘cured’ of love, they are also cured of these ‘symptoms’. I find it really frustrating when people act that way towards mental problems like the ones mentioned. Their lack of understanding is the reason why there is this stigma towards mentally ill people.

I will have to admit that I loved how much like sheep the society acted like, and how determined Lena in to do well by her governments standards. I think that an important part of dystopians is the realisation–the epiphany that the main character has–that everything is a lie. In this book, it’s done fairly fantastical. In the beginning, Lena is just like the rest of society, but after things start turning awry, she starts questioning the rules. And that’s when shit hits the fan, and the moment that I cheered.

There are some innaccuracies in the story that could have easily been fixed with some simple research. For example, I don’t get how six months can make any difference in a procedure, especially when everyone is different. Technically speaking, some people might be physically matured enough to handle such a procedure from a younger age, and others when they’re in their 20’s. It seems as if Oliver just didn’t bother picking up any books on neurology and psychology. And unfortunately for her, one of my hobbies is reading those kind of text books for fun, so I’ve picked out all these mistakes.
Also, this baffles me: Lena’s father apparently died of cancer. So, they can cure a non-existent disease INSIDE YOUR BRAIN, but not cure cancer. It makes little sense.

I disliked Lena. She was so passive. She was worse than Bella Swan, and we all know what that girl is like. Lena just let people push her around, and she hardly did anything active, except for the last 100 or so pages, but even then, she’s only so active because of some guy.
I’m not sure how I feel about Lena and Hana’s friendship. On the one hand, they contrast each other in a way that it works; they’re dependent on each other’s strengths. Lena is so passive, and Hana is rebellious and strong and has a mind of her own. There were often times that I found myself wishing that Hana was the main character, because she wasn’t some weak pansy.

Lena also seems to be only capable of making stupid decisions, like trying to go to a secret house party to warn people that there’s a raid going on. She puts herself at great risk trying to do something that has a very unlikely chance of working, since the raiders were literally right behind her. If I were her, I’d have stayed at home, where it was safe. After all, everyone at the party knew the risks. They knew that there was a fairly good chance of getting caught, and they all knew that the punishments would be severe.
Then, at the party, she gets mauled by a dog. While she is profusely bleeding from her leg, all she can think about is how sexy Alex is without a shirt on, while she’s in a shed that smells of animal piss. In fact the entire time she’s with Alex after the raid, she doesn’t think about Hana, even though she was the main reason Lena went to the party. Instead of worrying for her best friend, she’s making out with some random guy.

I really liked the writing. It felt like one of the few good things about this story. Oliver really has a way with words. It made it hard to put the book down at times. Also, I liked the world-building, even though the reasons behind the world were unbelievable.The setting, the history and the people made the world feel realistic, and I wanted to know more.

For a while, the only thing that kept me fairly happy was that Romeo and Juliet wasn’t used in a positive “twu wuv” light like most other books that done. The society believed it to be a cautionary tale, which I could believe in that instance. But then Alex went and ruined that notion by claiming it to be a “great love story”, and I wanted to hit him with a heavy, blunt object several times over his thick noggin. It seems that anyone in publishing that refers to Romeo & Juliet seem to kind of totally miss the whole point of it. I mean, have they read the ending? They die.

For about 200 pages, nothing seems to happen. All we get from the narrator is 200 pages explaining why she loves Alex so much. She’s known him for a month of two. How can she love him? She barely knows him. I was hoping that Delirium wouldn’t follow that trope, but alas. As I expected, there’s the unhealthy viewpoint of love, that without love, you don’t have anything else and life isn’t worth living.

“I’d rather die loving Alex than live without him.” – pg 379

I don’t understand why this sort of stuff is allowed when books like The Bermudez Triangle (Maureen Johnson) are being banned for having a gay character. Gay people are harmless. Telling impressionable young teens that their lives are worthless if they don’t have their true love is dangerous.

Sorry for this rant-like review, but I didn’t like this book too much. I would recommend reading it, though, in case you do end up liking it. I’m just fairly critical.

Cover Art: 2
Plot: 2
Characters: 1
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 2/5 stars


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In My Mailbox #6 – The late edition

May 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm (In My Mailbox, Meme) (, , , , , , )

So, I’ve been a bit under the weather these last few days after going to a concert on Friday night. I feel like I’ve only just recovered, and it’s already Tuesday. Whew.

Anyway, In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I got a few cool books last week, both from the library and bought. Here they are:

Bought:

Wood Angel by Erin Bow; This book is also known as Plain Kate in the US. But honestly, even though you can’t really see it in the picture, this cover is so much beautifuller than the US cover. It sparkles and shines and has little sparkling lights dancing around the girl. I really can’t wait to read this book; I’ve heard so many fantastic things about it. (I got this from The Book Depository)
Find it on:  Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz; I have the first 4 books in the series, and I just can’t have an incomplete series, so I had to get this. Though, I wont lie, I do quite enjoy this series. (I got this from The Book Depository)
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris; Man, I can’t tell you how excited I was for this book. I sort of love the Sookie Stackhouse series, even though they’re hardly written well, and the plot is sometimes all over the place. But damn, it’s addictive. I’m hoping to read through the entire series again later this year. (Bought from Dymocks)
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Library:

Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning; OMFG, I just love this series. If you haven’t read it yet, then you really should. It’s ridiculously addictive. Plus, the last book ended on a massive cliffhanger, so I just NEED to know what the heck happens next.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning; THE LAST BOOK IN THE SERIES OMGOMGOMG. Like I said above, I love this series. I’m planning on buying all the books in the near future. It’s definitely good enough for a reread.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Earl of Darkness by Alix Rickloff; Man, this book just looks deliciously good. Regency smut combined with paranormal smut? My favourite!
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong; This book looks cool, and I’m in the mood for some good old paranormals right now.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs; I’ve been hearing good things about this series, and since I can’t resist paranormals at the moment, I snatched this up.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Fairies in Tradition and Literature by Katharine Briggs; I love me some non-fiction, especially if it’s about fairies.  I like to think of this as research for future projects.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Hollow by Jessica Verday; After the massive scandal in the publishing world concerning Ms Verday and a certain anthology, I decided to go check out her books.
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan; Now, this looks like my kind of book. It’s set in a fantasy Medieval Europe, and has romance and adventure and a cat, according to the blurb on the back. CANNOT WAIT. 😀
Find it on: Goodreads / Book Depository / Amazon

Dreamwalker by Isobelle Carmody & Steven Woolman; Man, I remember reading this book a million times as a kid. Big mistake, since the story and artwork are just creepy as fuck. I still have nightmares about the sorceress. *shudder* But, it’s so good and worth a reread. I definitely recommend it.
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon

So, what did you guys get this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comment section. 🙂

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