Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All Just Glass

All Just GlassAll Just Glass by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ALL JUST GLASS was a sequel long overdue.

I've been waiting and waiting to see what happened next after Sarah was turned into a vampire in SHATTERED MIRROR. There were too many loose ends that Miss Amelia didn't tie up. Now, I am satisfied. This is an ending. I was very happy with the emotional play that was presented from several view points. My favorite was in Adia's. It was nice to see how the older sister was dealing with this taboo of the greatest kind in her kin. The action was non-stop and very rewarding. I was transported back to my sophomore year when I first read this book. It was pure nostalgia for me. I missed the Den of Shadows and it's characters. Why Amelia hadn't continued on was beyond me. Though I have to say HAWKSONG is my favorite out of all of her books.

The only thing that didn't suit well with me was the romance portion. It was hard to glean any sort of feelings other than confusion from Sarah. I feel like she wants to be with Nikolas more than Kristopher, but she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. I don't think she realizes this herself though. It was also refreshing however, to not have the romantic relationship in the story predominant over the rest of the plot. It was there, right under the surface. But I felt that a little more clarity would have been better. Some things other than the romance portion were left unended though. Which fit in a way. This is only 24 hours. But I would have liked to see a nice, tidy conclusion. Unless she plans on doing more of course. But for now, I am sated. ALL JUST GLASS is good enough and that's all I can ask for.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Misguided Angel by Melissa De La Cruz

Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods, #5)Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked it. Although, I'm starting to agree with some other reviews that this seemed like a filler book. A few things annoyed me, and I'll start off with those before listing off the things I liked.

One, these books are too short. With such an epic plot and so many view points, it's really not long enough to live up to it's content. There are so many things that De La Cruz does well with her Blue Bloods cast. I have always been invested in their lives, since my sophomore year of high school. But if you're going to continue a series in such a way, then you need to seriously give this book some weight.

Two, they're spaced too far apart. As I've said above, I've been reading these books since my sophomore year of high school. Now I'm in my second year at college and I'm still reading this series. It's good. It's addicting and it captured my loyalty from the beginning. But when it takes a whole year to come out with the next book, I just can't remember all of the details that the author fleshes out.

Three, now that we're into the fifth book, it's time to stick with what you have. De La Cruz just keeps adding characters in and multiplying her view points. Where is Bliss? Her view point has turned into such a vital part of the story, and now in MISGUIDED ANGEL she's no where to be found. She's barely mentioned! Instead, we are met with Deming Chen. Who is a lovely addition, but is she really necessary? I was confused as to why her point of view was thrown into this book. And with this third point about POVs, I'm still a little surprised that nothing really happened to propel the series forward in this novel. Everything that happens could mostly be mentioned in the first fifty pages of another book. One that would hopefully tie up some ends instead of loosening more.

What I love about Blue Bloods is that it has such an epic story. It's original and unique and the characters are fairly well developed. The lives of the priveleged splayed out before us to see. It holds a promise of something truly epic and fulfilling in the end. However, I'm starting to get annoyed with all of this running around in circles. I'm about ready to just put it down until she decides to wrap it up. The only phrase I am left with after MISGUIDED ANGEL is:

Get to the point, already.

And with that said, I only have one more thing to add.

Please, please, please bring back Kingsley in LOST IN TIME!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Low Red MoonLow Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a library book.

I'd already gathered that it was going to be average from the various reviews. But surprisingly, because I'd started with such low expectations, I actually thought it was a little better than what some other people had to say about it.

For one, I liked the intensity and the suspense that Devlin added in, It was nice to see that side of a werewolf YA. However, the romance section of the plot was a bit of an overkill considering that this book is only 244 pages. A little less smooching, perhaps, and a little more story-telling. That was one thing that bugged me. I thought Ben's and Avery's relationship could have been pretty endearing had it not been for Devlin's attempt at soul mate intensity. If I had to read another page about how beautiful Ben was and how there was just SOMETHING about him that Avery couldn't help but be drawn to, I might have put the book down.

As for the villain, I thought she did an okay job. I had a couple suspects, and when I found out who it was I wasn't that surprised. However, I would have been more satisfied if it had been Grandma. Just saying. Let's go Red Riding Hood on werewolf YA folks. Throw in a real twist.

One last thing that I couldn't make heads or tails of was Avery's voice. There were a lot of instances where she uses the '--' mid sentence and cuts herself off, only to pick up with a new sentence. I understand that people talk like this on more than one occasion, but sometimes it just felt like Devlin was trying too hard to make Avery a sympathetic character. I understood that Avery had been through a lot. And I loved that she is found in the first chapter, covered from hair to toenails in her parents' blood. Well, I loved the dramatic start off and the thrilling aspect of it. Not so much that she lost her parents. Thus, I understand why Avery is traumatized, but she didn't need to get a speech impediment while she's thinking, right? I don't know...

In the end though, I was satisfied. It's a short read and I love werewolves, I just sort of wish that it had been developed more before going to print. It could have been so much more.

A promising premise. If there's a sequel I hope it's a little longer. I might pick it up then.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead BeautifulDead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zombies... I guess I should have figured that out from the title.

I'll give Woon one thing, she WAS original with the whole 'dead' thing. Or I guess I should say 'undead'. She sort of romanticized the zombie in a way. But then again, what supernatural creature hasn't been romanticized in some attempt or another?

What I liked:

It kept me guessing. I appreciated the steps that Renee took to find out this big mystery. I was just as curious as she. I also appreciated characters like her grandfather. And I didn't mind the boarding school so much. Lately boarding school has become a popular YA setting. It's very cool when done right. Gottfried was creepy.

What I didn't like:

If I had the chance to sit here and depict every similarity to TWILIGHT then this review would be longer than a presidential speech, most likely. There were just too many similarities for my taste, which detracted from Woon's originality. Dante (the supernatural love interest) and Renee (the human girl that allures to him so much) meet in Crude Sciences class. They share a lab table. He's inexplicably drawn to her. She can't help noticing how undeniably beautiful he is. His profile like that of a Roman coin. He's cold-skinned. He doesn't eat food. He doesn't sleep. Yada, yada, yada. Sometimes it felt like Woon turned Edward into a zombie named Dante and plopped him into a boarding school on the opposite side of the country. So he can fall in love with another, irritatingly reckless at times, girl who can't help but love him even though he's one of the undead. Yeah... I just wasn't feeling the repetitiveness of the genre. Sometimes it felt like the characters were stereotypes. And the very end where all of the action comes into play wasn't very well drawn out. We have all this mystery and suspense, and when it comes down to the big reveal and consequence of it, it's all rushed and thrown into a hole, quite literally. The villains were very much outsiders. And we never really find out about them. And then bada bing, one of them gets dealt with like it's nothing.

DEAD BEAUTIFUL is more about romance. Turning zombies into another romanticized figure. It was unique in some ways, since most stories about zombies are more traditional, and I really liked the involvement of Latin (a dead language) and how Woon played with it very creatively. Unfortunately, I wasn't digging the way that DEAD BEAUTIFUL seemed to follow TWILIGHT's plot. I liked TWILIGHT a lot. But there can only be one successful play on it. Lately there's just been too many YA novels that seem to be riding on it's coat tails. This story would have been so much better if it hadn't fallen into the same plot niches.

In the end, it was a fairly good story. It was mildly entertaining and original for it's supernatural element. I would recommend it to anyone that loved TWILIGHT and would like a different monster to romanticize. I may or may not read the sequel.

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Entwined by Heather Dixon

EntwinedEntwined by Heather Dixon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All I will say right now is that this book has entwined itself into my heart forever. Wrapped up in a tie with FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Mellina Marchetta, ENTWINED by Heather Dixon has become one of two books that are my ultimate favorites.

I will post a better review at a later date. When I can give it the justice it deserves.

Official Review:

I wish I could describe how wonderful and magical this book is. I absolutely could NOT put it down. I did some research on the artist and discovered that she is a story board artist. Which clicked, considering how she wrote ENTWINED. The description and setting is just so... fairy tale like. I adored it. It's such a classic tale that when you combine these well developed characters in such a defined setting with wonderful, fluid elements like Dixon does, it just comes together like... like Mary Poppins pulled it out of her carpet bag herself.

The cover is just gorgeous to start off with. Who wouldn't at least pick it up and read the summary just for that beautiful cover?

Azalea: the lead character and eldest sister of twelve. I related with her the most. I felt like she was compassionate, strong, and intelligent. She was always constantly looking out for her family and I really loved that she knew how to take charge. It was just perfect getting to see the story through her eyes.

The family: was downright adorable as buttons. Bramble reminded me of one of my cousins; feisty and troublesome, but lovable just the same. Clover, Delphinium, and everyone else right down to their newborn sister Lily had their own matching personality. They complimented each of their siblings perfectly. And the King, their father was so developed and complex I was always caught inbetween sides. Do I side with Azalea and her sisters and acknowledge that the King hasn't been a good father since their mother died, or do I side with the father that has just lost his wife and true love and needs time to adjust? It was so well written that I wanted to vouch for each character.

The suitors: I just can't get over Captain Bradford, the Prime Minister, and Sir Teddie. They were all so perfect for their counterparts and just so scintillating in their own rights.

The Keeper: It's obvious from the first moment you open the front cover and read the summary who the villain is. But I thought that he was just complex enough to work. I appreciated the fact that he was double sided, just like the blade of a knife. At one moment you almost feel bad for him, and at the next you think he rose from the very pit of Hell. Just perfect. And not to mention the several parts that I was truly creeped out by him. His spider-like position on the ceiling, his affinity for dark magic, and his cruelty channeled fully towards revenge made him scary not only to the characters but to the reader as well. Which is just... awesome!

Throw all of these into a victorian setting and Dixon's way of capturing a picturesque fairy tale style of writing, and you get ENTWINED. Five stars. Without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read and will ever read. Just amazing.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine,  #2)The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am very impressed with this sequel.

THE DARK DIVINE had been a pretty good book. When I first bought it and started reading it I had no idea that it was about werewolves. And since I love, love, love werewolves it was a happy surprise.

I felt that Daniel and Grace's relationship was very sincere and I liked that they grew up knowing each other. It wasn't some sort of mysterious 'oh my gosh! that guy is hot!' type of moment a la Bella and Edwardesque.

The added mystery was a plus, even though I usually tend to stay away from that genre. I felt like this was a good kind of mystery. Just the right kind of puzzle pieces along the way.

I loved the family drama, and I really appreciated a supernatural work with the added religious (christian) references. It was refreshing that Despain could add God in so fearlessly. It works since Grace's father is the pastor of their church. Even for those who aren't religious, it's still a good read. It's not preachy. But these characters have a lot of faith, and if that makes you uncomfortable then I suggest not reading it.

The story itself was just terrific. THE LOST SAINT was even better than THE DARK DIVINE. And I just can't wait to see what Bree Despain comes out with next in this thrilling series.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

The Vespertine (Vespertine, #1)The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an outstanding debut [into my life]. I was really surprised and delighted that I was able to read this ARC. Saundra Mitchell is a writer to look out for.

THE VESPERTINE is about a young girl named Amelia who goes in search of a well-formed marriage in Baltimore. Add in forbidden romance, supernatural awesomeness, gift-turns-to-curse plotlines and you're in for a whirlwind that will catch your attention on fire.

The characters were so well developed I couldn't help but love them. Amelia was an excellent heroine. Zora was the best friend that any girl could ask for and completely believable. Nathaniel was definitely interesting and not without his quirks that made the connection between Amelia and he so entirely original.

I loved that Amelia's power to tell fortunes started out much like a parlor trick. It reminds me of how excited one gets when they ask someone to read their tarot cards and such. And then it turns into such a horrific curse. It proved that the power wasn't fun and games and it wasn't always a gift-- it was a heavy burden that Amelia had to bear.

I also felt that the way certain side characters reacted to some of these fortunes coming true was simply perfect. It proved the duplicity that each human shares and really fleshed out their society.

The only thing I wish is that it could have been a lot longer. At times there were long gaps, which was both refreshing and curiosu at the same time. The way that Mitchell goes back and forth from the present to the past to tell Amelia's story could have been developed a little bit more. I would have liked to see more of the present Amelia and how the past had shaped her since, but all in all it was a satisfying end to a story. If there's more, I will gladly read it.

Excellent debut into my literary life, Miss Mitchell.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Awaken by Katie Kavincsky

AwakenAwaken by Katie Kacvinsky

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

AWAKEN was a great dystopian novel. Kacvinsky really built Madeline's world up to creepy, digital awesomeness. And then she throws in a hot guy named Justin to start all sorts of rebellions. Against DS, against Madeline's father, against everything that Maddie's ever known, even against Maddie's own personal walls.

"Life's too short to say maybe." He says.

What I thought Kacvinsky did really well was send her message through. Because honestly, with the way this world's going our future might not be that far off from what Maddie's world has become. Digital school... Digital friends... We're already headed in that direction. And it's scary to think how much our computers seem to rule our lives. So props to Kacvinsky because I definitely agree with her. And I appreciate the fact that she didn't make Justin a radical that wanted to obliterate technology. He simply didn't want technology to rule our lives.

The love story between Maddie and Justin was good. I enjoyed watching their feelings grow and develop towards one another. I thought it was original in it's own right, but at the same time I was hoping for something a little different. Every girl wants a protector, and Justin is a great one. But at times I felt he was a little too protective and a little too guarded. It was kind of the whole "I like you too, but I can't be with you because you'll get hurt!" Which is fine. I just think that if you're going to do that, you need to make sure you trail those bread crumbs from the very beginning. And those bread crumbs ought to be very original. I guess more than Justin's over protectiveness going on, I was just a little annoyed that their whole relationship seemed kind of... predictable. But nonetheless enjoyable. I wanted them to work out just as much as the next reader. I'm a sap that way.

I really liked the story, but I felt the action should have been more involved. Once you get into the love story, the action sequences suffer. Perhaps because it's in Maddie's point of view, rather than Justin who leads interceptions and such, but it still would've been nice to witness a huge event. Or find out what exactly the freedom fighters do when they're not intercepting cops and such. Perhaps that's for book two?

I really liked AWAKEN though. It was different. And I felt like her message came through strong and clear. My suggestion for book two (since it left off on an obvious cliff hanger, I mean... you can't leave it as a stand alone with such a high drop), would be to add in lots of action and more world-building. You can't go wrong with world-building. Or at least, until you start describing every leaf on a tree. Don't do that... 4 stars out of 5 for AWAKEN! Pick it up when it comes out!

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