Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My first WoW is...

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver

Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive. 

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return... 

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge. 

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....

I loved the first book in the series. I can't wait until this one comes out in February! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mephisto Covenant

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?
(from Goodreads)

So this book went like this: first 100 pages sucked, the middle part was pretty good, and the ending was only slightly short of a letdown. This book is a prime example of how important beginnings are: I was about to give up on the book forever after page 100. But because I usually make myself read until the end of books, I decided to keep going.  And this isn't going to be one of those 'and I'm so happy I did!' kind of situations, but it did improve my opinions of this book and the author quite a bit.

I was first drawn to this book by the pretty cover and the summary. A paranormal guy actually having to win the girl instead of having her instantly drooling over him? Sign me up! It didn't quite go like that, though. As I said in my post on Insta-Love! yesterday, Sasha and Jax were already going at it by page 75.  I'm not really going to say more on the subject of that; it would just be another long  rant. 

There was a pretty heavy religious aspect to the mythology of this book. I didn't really mind it; it reminded me a lot of the book Halo by Alexandra Adornetto. Sasha appeared pretty religious; she can recite Bible verses and thinks that the boy she was destined for would be 'Russian Orthodox, Episcopalian, maybe even Jewish'. I also didn't have a problem with that except for the fact that Jax is a son of Hell. If she were religious, wouldn't she be totally freaked out by someone who's destined for Hell? 

Besides that, I had two main problems: Jax and Sasha's cousins/aunt/uncle. Her extended family was pretty much a bunch of flat characters. All Chris ever did was play video games, Melanie screamed, raged, and threw hissy fits, Tim ate and watched football, and Brett was, well, Brett. 

And Jax was a total stalker. I don't care if he's a son of Hell and his emotions are 'hard to contain.' He's not getting any brownie points (in fact, he lost some) when he and Sasha went shopping together, and he turned invisible and went into her dressing room. And I get it that you think that Sasha's meant to be with you forever and ever, but she gets a voice, too.

Now? What did I like about this book? The mythology was original. Sasha was a narrator that didn't manage to make me hate her by the end of the book. She was extremely loyal to someone who I thought didn't deserve the loyalty. The plot, minus the romantic beginning, moved extremely well and extremely fast. 

If this book had a completely different beginning, this probably would have been four stars.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011


(Notes: This post is a lot like my anti-love triangles post. This isn't my review of The Mephisto Covenant; I haven't even finished the book yet. I used it for most of the examples because it's the worst case of Insta-Love! I've ever read.)

So I'm about halfway through The Mephisto Covenant, and something in it really, really bothers me in more than any other book I've read. The Insta-Love. >.<

It's not that love at first sight bothers me. It doesn't. It really doesn't. Being a writer myself, I understand that the characters don't have all the time in the world, and that the romantic parts are some of the best and most fun to write. The characters just have to find something attractive in each other besides looks. They have to be more connected then just through looks. And I'm sorry to say that most YA books today don't have this.

My main problem is that the romance today, especially the Insta-Love! kind is mostly told and shown through make-out sessions and fits of passion. There's no depth to them. None at all. And that comes from two things: the actual romance being flat, or the romantic interest.

When the romantic interest is flat in Insta-Love!, it's usually because we as the readers have barely seen the romantic interest. In The Mephisto Covenant, even though Jax is one of the narrators, he's barely anything beyond being obsessed with Sasha. In Darker Still, Denby is about as flat a character of major importance could get.

I also think that one of the things that really bothers me is when the romance takes place too early in the book. In The Mephisto Covenant, it starts on page 75. (Yes, I checked.) With the Infernal Devices and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, two of my favorite books, it's only about a week after the couple meets, but about half the book has gone by. In reality it isn't a long time, but since half the book and half the action has gone by, it seems longer. Plus, in paranormal romances, after about half the book they've usually been through a lot together; they have something that connects them. They have something that makes their romance deeper.

Like I said with love triangles: I don't despise Insta-Love! Not at all. But there just has to be a reason beyond looks. Most aren't well done at all, so that's why I dislike them. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Faerie Ring

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty… (from Goodreads)

So. Don't be fooled by the cover. It's okay, doesn't stand out in a crowd or anything like that, but the book is so much better than that. (Yes, I know, I always have to be picky about something.)

I adore paranormal-ish books set in history. To me, they're usually way more interesting, and The Faerie Ring's setting didn't disappoint. Victorian London, and I liked how some historical figures (like Prince Leopold) appeared as characters. Plus, there was even a masked ball, which might have been my favorite part of the book. One part, anyway. 

Tiki was a pretty good narrator. The only thing that bothered me about her was her name; to me, it doesn't sound very old-fashioned. Character-wise, she was great. I love how she didn't abandon Clara and the others when dealing with the fey. She's strong when she needs to be, but her past gave her have a soft and sympathetic heart under her tough exterior. 

And Rieker. Oh Rieker. There's really no other way to describe him. This was one book where I actually liked the romance. It was more of a first-love romance and we watch Tiki falling for him for about half of the book instead of the insta-love that happens so often today in YA books. I'm not saying that those are bad; I'm just saying that this was a refreshing change. It was easy to see he really cares for her, and he didn't stop her from doing anything he thought was too dangerous. 

Larkin was, to put it simply, insane. Her whole character is pretty much a spoiler, so I won't say anything more than that. 

My only problem with it (a minor one, really) was that the ending felt a bit rushed to me. It ended so quickly and so neatly that I thought it was a stand alone novel. But I heard that there's going to be a sequel. I can't wait to read it, and I'll be looking for more of Hamilton's future books.

This is one of the most original books (along with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Name of the Star) that I've read all year. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Darker Still

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...

Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul. (from Goodreads)

So I had high expectations for this book. Great concept, cool cover, and I heard that at BEA, ARCs of this book went like hotcakes. But for me, it just seemed to fall flat. 

The first thing I had a problem with was the protagonist's name. Natalie. This is New York in 1882. Yes, this name might have been around then, but for me, it seemed too modern for the setting. Something that seems out of place is one of my biggest pet peeves in historical fiction. This was also written in diary format, which isn't done very often in YA. The only problem was, it was obvious that she hadn't died or anything, because she was writing the entries. 

But my main problem was with the romance and with Natalie's character. (For me, it always seems to be the romance.) In essence, Natalie falls in love with a painting. Yes, a painting. She decides that on page 69. It's so ridiculous it's not even funny. A painting of a man with black hair and blue eyes. (Cue the eye-roll.) I am so sick of the romantic interest having black hair and green/blue/gray eyes. What exactly is the number of males with black hair and blue/green/gray eyes on this planet? Not a lot, I bet. And if his eyes were described one more time, I would have put down the book and/or flung it across the room. I don't care how handsome he is. I don't care if his eyes make the stars look dull. I really don't. (ends rant) To me, it seemed like the only reason Natalie helped Denbury was because of how handsome he was. Ugh. Just ugh. She's in love with a painting (this was before she figured out about his soul being alive and trapped in a painting and all that). And, of course, after like three days of knowing him, she decides that she's in love with him. Ick. Even more ick. And it's all because of his good looks. He's really flat; the only thing we know about him is that he wants to be a doctor. If that's supposed to make us like him, it didn't work. 

My second major problem with this book: Natalie's character. She was far, far too prissy and unbalanced. I mean, really. She snuck out of the house, yet she cowered behind Denbury in her nightmares and left him to fight. To me, it seemed like she was brave at heart, but didn't want Denbury to see it. *shakes head* 

And then there were the historical inaccuracies. There were so many, it wasn't even funny. One or two little ones I can take. But there was major one that I couldn't believe. Natalie was allowed to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Back then, few women worked, and certainly not at the Met. Of course, her father ran the Met, but still. No one protested. 

About the plot. Sigh. The plot. To me, it felt as though Hieber hadn't really made up her mind about where the story was going. There were demons, art, hieroglyphics, murders, the names of saints, magic, clairvoyants, and Latin curses. I feel like Hieber's thinking processes went something like this: I need a reason only Natalie can enter the painting and a reason why Denbury's trapped there. Oh, I know! Let's throw the Egyptian parts of the soul in. I want to add some murders! I wonder how I could do that... and so on. Now, I know it's possible to write a book like this. It's harder, but it works. There just has to be a good explanation for everything. Imagine making cookies or something like that. If you don't want lumps in the cookies, you have to stir it well. Hieber didn't stir well enough, and so the plot was lumpy.

I also didn't understand two of the characters. I'm not really going to get into Crenfall because it's a bit of a spoiler. Maggie's also a bit of a spoiler. She, too, had a crush on Denbury. Only she didn't know that he was alive. She and Natalie get into a sort of fight over him, and that basically ends their friendship. Sigh. Over a painting. 

There was a mention of some society at the end, which I assume is what the sequel is going to be about. But the author brought it in too late.

Despite my 846-word review about the bad things this book has, there were some parts I enjoyed. Mrs. Northe was probably my favorite character; she was a motherly figure who, although she pushed the plot along in some parts, I never felt as though she held it back. I also liked the fact that it was up to Natalie to put the 'final battle/plan' into effect; Denbury was trapped in the painting, so he couldn't help. It made me like her just a tiny bit more. (Except, of course, when she thought of Denbury's 'love' for her, and so that was what made her work up the nerve.)

This book had promise, but as I said before, it fell flat. Very flat. Almost as flat as Denbury. It was obvious that the romance was the main part, and unless the book is a general fiction romance, I can't stand when this happens. 

Note: The ending. Oh, the ending. If the diary part had ended a chapter earlier, this book would have gotten a higher score. Maybe even a 4/5.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Love Triangles

They're such a popular romantic subplot these days. And I can't say I'm particularly fond of them. In fact, there's only one book series that I can think of that I actually like the love triangle it has: the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. There are so many reasons I dislike love triangles, and here are just a few:

1) Half of the time it's not even a love triangle. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but for books like the Iron Fey series and the Hunger Games, I didn't really feel like it was a love triangle. The MC had already decided on who she wanted to be with; it was simply two guys lusting after a girl. It was just a way for publishers to hype up readers, because love triangles are 'in' right now.

2) The characters are really unbalanced. In many books, the guy who ultimately ends up the MC is way more developed and relatable than the looser. In Tempest Rising, the looser had an iota of time in the book, and I didn't get to know him very well. Although it probably happened unconsciously, the author sends a message right away to the reader.

3) The two guys are enemies/have some sort of horrific past/despise each other. Ash and Puck go way back, and their history isn't good. In Unearthly, Christian and Tuck aren't exactly best buds. This isn't a dislike, per say, but it's one of the reasons I love the Infernal Devices. Will and Jem are practically brothers. They respect each other, and in battle, they don't try to kill one another.

4) What ultimately happens is all the same. Especially if one guy is human and normal, or someone the MC has known all her life. The paranormal guy always wins. Yes, I get that he's way more sexy/hot/mysterious, but it would be nice for a little variation once in a while. 

5) It can make the main character seem really unlikeable. You have to be careful when writing love triangles because you don't want it to seem like the MC is cheating on one guy with the other. A lot of them are sort of done this way.

So it's not that I despise love triangles, it's just that they have to be done really well for me to enjoy them. Most of the ones I've read today aren't all that well done. 

Note: This is extremely picky, but they also bother me because of the name. 'Love triangle.' As I said sort of said yesterday in my post on Fury, I think it's very hard to be in love with two guys at once. But that could just be me. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen. (from Goodreads)

So this book was like Pretty Little Liars with a paranormal aspect. For me, at least. Whiny main characters who I absolutely despised? Check. Teenagers doing naughty things then getting caught? Check. Stalkers? Check. A beautiful yet mysterious girl named Ali? Check. Yet: Staying up to finish the thing because I was hooked? Check. Being freaked out at the end by what happened? Check. Like I said before, almost everything was like PLL, except, of course, the supernatural part.

I found I connected more with Chase than Emily, even though he's star quarterback/Mr. Popularity, and she's a semi-geeky writer like myself. The reason? Chase was poor. He lived in a trailer with his mom; his dad died years ago. To me, he felt more realistic, and I could relate to his fears about being teased and found out. Emily just seemed kind of...flat. Plus, Emily had one thing that I absolutely hate in a character: she was hopelessly 'in love' with her best friend's boyfriend. Yes, I get that she might be attracted to him, that she might have a crush on him. And yes, I know that it's hard to deny those kinds of feelings. But when the whole first chapter is spent on her fantasizing that he feels 'those sparks she feels'...let's just say it's not a good way to start a book. I'm a realist. You aren't in love with someone in high school, especially if you aren't going out with them. And this romance wasn't the paranormal 'you're destined for me' type of romance. It was a simple high school romance. Emily might have felt that way, but this part really turned me off.

For about the first half of the book, nothing really major happened. Sure, Emily and Chase did some pretty nasty stuff, but that started to get static after a while, and we only learned who the three girls actually were in about the last quarter. And that last quarter went by very quickly. I know this is the first book in a trilogy, but still.

The characters were either cardboard or totally hyped up stereotypes, the mythology was moderate, the book was slow paced, yet this still gets a 2/5. Why? Elizabeth Miles managed to keep me reading up until midnight, when I finally finished the book. She might need work on character development and plot lines, but she's got a great way of hooking readers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. (from Goodreads)

So. I am going to try my hardest not to compare this to Anna and the French Kiss, because that book was epic. This one wasn't as great, but I still enjoyed it.

Lola is a girl with a crazy sense of fashion. When I picked up this book, I thought her style would be crazy, but not outrageous, like how the girl on the cover is dressed. No. She literally dressed up - as in she dressed up as Cleopatra to go to school. It wasn't something that you normally see in books, so I liked that aspect. It also provided a good metaphor for later in the book

The characters are, in my opinion, what makes Stephanie Perkins' books. Both of them. The plots are okay, but I'm not a pure-romance kind of girl. Yet I love these books. And her characters are what do it.

Lola, even though she's pretty much the opposite of me in every way, still felt relatable to me. I'll say it again: Perkins' characters make the book.

The only character I had a problem with was Max. He was your average biker/rock band dude, and everything about him screamed 'bad boy'! I didn't even see why Lola was with him in the first place. All he did was make out/yell at Lola, and she put up with it. Even after he had done something that would have made me walk out on him forever, Lola was telling herself that Max loved her and that she should put up with it because he put up with so much from her parents.

The setting, too, was not as fun (for me) as in Anna. I've always wanted to go to Paris, and I've been to San Francisco. Part of the fun of Anna was discovering Paris as she did. Here, because Lola lived in SF and I'd been there, it wasn't as noteworthy.

Other than that, I found Lola to be a sweet book that provided an enjoyable several hours.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
(from Goodreads)

This book was nothing like I expected. It was one of those book where you don't really know what to expect, but what happens is nothing that you expected. First of all, I didn't expect angels in it. And, despite my username, I'm not the biggest angel fan out there. In fact, I'm far from it. But this book had a creative, original twist that made up for the angels.

The romance, I thought, was a bit too quick. They meet and about a week later, they're saying 'I love you' to each other. Once I finished the book, it made more sense, but still.

The book was told in two different perspectives: one from Karou's and one from Akiva's POV. I'm not really an expert on male POV or anything, but it started to get really repetitive when he kept describing her 'aqua' or 'gemstone' or 'lapis' hair. Plus, I kinda doubt guys really think like that.

The ending was horrible. That last line was seriously " be continued." A little cliffhanger it okay, but this one wasn't little. Plus, it ended on a note that made Akiva look really bad. I want to know what Karou does to him. *evil grin* The next book'd better come out soon.

Other than that, this book was really good. My favorite character, I think, was Zuzana. She was really funny and added some spice to the story.

Highly recommended. :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shut Out

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention 

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling... (from Goodreads)

This was a fast-paced, light, easy read, a welcome change from the dark paranormal that makes up most of YA today. It was pretty good, mostly what I'd expect in chick lit: the plot wasn't all that original, but the characters made up for that.

Lissa was a good narrator. I liked how she was focused and didn't let anything get in her way. At some points she took things a bit too seriously, but this was balanced out once she saw the error of her ways and fixed it. I also thought her obsession with time was funny; it was a quirk that balanced her out as a character. The only thing I didn't like about her was at the end of the book, she does something totally out-of-character. I understand the event was necessary for the plot, but it was really out of character, like she went from being on the heads side of a coin to the tails side. I felt the transition should have been a little smoother.

As I said before, the plot was pretty standard for a general fiction/romance book like this one. Nothing bad happened, but then nothing really surprising happened, except for the already-mentioned event with Lissa's character. Who Lissa ended up with was, of course, no surprise at all. 

Shut Out was pretty good, if a little standard.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Name of the Star

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. (from Goodreads)

I have to say, I really liked this book. Rory was sarcastic and funny, but it was the perfect blend and complemented the story well. The idea was really original, and I have to say I now have an obsession with finding Jack the Ripper facts. :)

The writing style was really good, as well. It fit very well with the story. The characters did, too. The only one I had a problem with was Jerome. He just seemed a bit flat to me. It seemed all he did was make out with Rory and tell her all about Jack the Ripper. Plus, I was also a little biased because I'd rather Rory be with Stephen. 

One thing this book had that most YA doesn't see today is the simple fact that Rory' s powers (at least in this book) weren't extraordinary. She wasn't 'the chosen one' or the one who was destined for greatness/pull down the government/end the battle once and for all. 

The only thing besides Jerome that bothered me were the reasons the new Ripper set up the whole plan. It seemed a bit much to me, and I would have preferred something that had been hinted at in the story.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. 

One of the best books I've read all year. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Rose Among Thorns

An Inkpop Review

Author: S.A. Lucian
Type: Book
Genre(s): Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Historical fiction
Current Ranking: 14
When I first saw this book, I thought, based on the title and the cover, that this was a fairytale retelling. It isn't, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

The plot was certainly original, and every twist kept me surprised. It was one that was unique, and I had never heard of certain parts, but it was well-explained.

Like the plot, none of the characters were cliche.  Katie, a cheerleader, was dating a math nerd, John, and she stuck up for her boyfriend when the mean b**** made fun of him and their relationship. The romantic interest was not a vampire or a werewolf, and for that I was extremely grateful. As I said before, everything about this book was original and kept me guessing until the end.

A great read with a well-deserved spot in inkpop's rankings.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset

I read this book with mixed emotions. On one hand, I really liked some of the secondary characters, but I hate to say the two main characters and some of the setting really rubbed me the wrong way. I'm going to start with the bad stuff, then move into the good.

There was just something about Finley that annoyed me. First off - and this wasn't even the author's fault - I kept picturing her as having brown hair because of the cover, when, in fact, she has blonde hair. That aside, I felt that the members of Griffin's household - save Sam - treated her too nicely. Griffin himself was really overprotective, and he hadn't even truly gotten to know her yet. All he knew of her was the she was a suspected murder, and he didn't even bat an eye, he was so sure of her innocence.

I also wish we could have seen a bit more of Finley's dark side. To me, that was the more interesting part of her, and it would have fleshed out her character more.

Plotwise, there was too much going on. There was the Machinist and his automatons, the Aether - a sort of spirit-plane - and the Organites. It all sort of fit together at the end, but there was too much made up stuff going on that really detracted from the original plot.

Finally, there's the matter of the romantic plot. The two main female characters, Finley and Emily, each had their own little love triangle-type thing going on. I'm not a big fan of love triangles, especially when it's obvious who the girl's going to end up with. But two? Let's just say I was seriously irked.

However, there were parts of this book I liked. Sam was the only character of Griffin's gang who stood up against Finley, and I really admired him for it. It made me like the book a bit more, especially because I agreed with him. Emily, the girl he liked, I also thought was one of the best of the bunch. She was someone who felt tied down by restrictions in society, and that made her really relatable.

Overall, I give this book an 8/10. It was decent.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


So I read this book because it had an awesome trailer. Sounds crazy, but that's why. Plus, it was on the New York Times bestseller list, and I was interested to see how well a popstar turned author could write with the help of a ghostwriter, of course.

Not very well, was my answer. Not very well at all.

There were numerous problems with this book, and I'm not even going to start on the actual writing. This might contain minor spoilers. 

Clea was your stereotypical rich/snotty girl who all the guys adore. When she decided that she wanted to go gallivanting around the world looking for her father, her friend Rayna decided she wanted to come along, too. But no. Clea said that Rayna couldn't go 'because she had school,' yet Clea herself was of age where she had to go to school, too. It was things like these that, on their own, wouldn't have mattered much. But put all together, they formed one really unlikeable, unrelatable, and totally cardboard character.

Sage was the romantic interest in the story. He, like Clea, was as flat personality-wise as a pancake. Clea sees him in her photographs she takes. Then she starts to dream about him. When she actually meets him, they wait a few days before having sex in the car. And this all happened in the span of one week. Seriously, Clea. First you're convinced this guy is stalking you and then you're doing it with him in a car just a few short days afterward. Some of it, of course, was Rayna's fault. She told Clea to just 'go with it, don't stop to think.' And so Clea, like a puppet, just went with it and didn't stop to think.

The plot was a mush of cliches that I'm not even going to get into; you've seen how much I dislike this book. I rate it a 2/10.

If I decide to read the sequel, it will only be for a lesson: how not to write a book.

Hilary, please stick to singing and save the New York Times bestseller list for books that really deserve it.


I haven't blogged in over a month. School and other stuff got in the way. Come November, I probably won't be on as much either; I'm doing NaNoWriMo. Here are some updates on my projects:

✿ The Magic in the Tapestry made September 2011's Top Five. I would like everyone who picked, commented on, or just generally supported it. Special thanks go to Bri and angel so much for their support. I really could not have done it without them. I should be getting a review from HC by the end of the month. No plans have been made to expand it; however, I do have some possible ideas.

✿ Like Simple Clockwork is going great. I've written around 18k, further than I've ever gotten on a novel. The outline is already up on inkpop. It's got a website with some wonderful character drawings made by possiblythere.

✿ War of Roses is my current NaNo idea. Stay tuned for a cover and pitches later.

That's all for now, folks! Next up, a review of Hilary Duff's Elixir.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Clockwork Prince ARC Entry

This is my entry for the Clockwork Prince ARC contest. I think some explanation might be helpful:

The angel in the center represents Tessa, and the rays of light that come out of her wings represent her attachment to both Jem and Will.  The quote placed between the two of them was said by Jem, and it meant to convey Tessa's struggle: Who is the right man? The quote above Jem is told from his POV about Tessa. The quote above Will is told from his POV about Tessa.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Have Been MIA, I Know

September 1st is tomorrow. (Wow, big shocker, I know.) It is a mixed date - Like Simple Clockwork (the outline) releases tomorrow, but I hate to say that Magic will not be on its way to the HC editor's desk. Inkpop changed the way projects are ranked yesterday, and Magic fell out of the top 5 with a ranking of seven. It is now ranked six, but I have to say this whole ranking issue is probably for the better. I haven't been editing Magic as much as I've liked - school and life in general got in the way. Now, I'll have more time to polish it up before HC sees it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
(from Goodreads)

So. My four-word reaction: This book was AWESOME. Let's start with the things I think could have used a bit of work, then get onto the good stuff.

The cover and title are okay. A bit too girly for my taste, but it is a romance book, so they were passable. I would like to say, thought, that I would never have read this book based on the cover and title. I had heard such good things about it that I knew I had to pick it up.

Onto the good stuff!

I don't think there was anything bad I could honestly say about the writing part of this book. The writing was flawless. The characters were perfect - they had their flaws and everything, but they, especially Anna, were really relatable. And the way Stephanie Perkins painted the setting was amazing. I've always wanted to go to Paris, but I felt like I was actually there.
I wasn't expecting to like this after reading the title, cover, and blurb, but it had been getting such good reviews I knew I had to. And I don't regret it. :)

In short, go read this book now!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Under the Trees

-An Inkpop Review-

There aren't enough fantasy YA books today. Not paranormal, not science fiction, just your good old princess-prince/romance story. Under the Trees by Ashley Maker is one of the few.

The book is the perfect combination: old-fashioned enough to sound fantasy-like, yet modern enough that the readers can connect easily with the characters.

I really liked how this book was told from both Araya and Thor's point of view. So many YA books today only tell books from female POV that this book was a breath of fresh air.

Under the Trees has a ranking of three. I wish it the best with its HaperCollins review, and after it gets published, I'll be the first to buy a copy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

At the Train Station

-An Inkpop Review-

alli_cat's short story is one of the sweetest romances I've read on inkpop. Although it has been posted for a little over a month, it's ranked at 17. After reading it, it's hard not to see why.

Although the plot is a bit cliche, alli_cat's wonderful characters and writing style make up for it. Jace and Hayden felt very real to me - although this is a romance short story, they have their flaws reasons why they come to the train station.

You can read this story here. And if you're looking for another great read, the story Shattered Glass by the same author is wonderful. Mark my words, we're going to be seeing alli_cat's books on the shelves one day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Ideas

So this is a screenshot of the blog post that encouraged me to write my first outline ever...Thanks, Bri, for sharing the post with me!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Like Simple Clockwork - the new and improved blurb!

Passion and power go hand in hand with pain.

Ellie Thompson’s past has taught her to keep everyone at arm’s length. She knows she’s not normal, not with eyes that glow silver and the ability to cast spells more powerful than England has ever seen. People feel safe and comfortable with normal, and Ellie doesn’t fit their mold. She lives as an outcast on the edges of London society, working for the one man who will accept her – Jack Cross, King of Thieves.

All is not peaceful in London. The automata[1] that have kept the city running for decades have grown and developed minds of their own; they are revolting against their human masters. Before his death, Ellie’s father taught his daughter a spell that could enslave them. Only she can cast it.

But Ellie can’t draw attention to herself. Someone called the Meistr[2] is after Ellie and that spell and will do anything to get them both. Anyone – from one of the servant girls to the mysterious newcomer who has a way with the dead – could be a spy for the Meistr. Ellie feels as though she cannot trust anyone.

Bran Smith fled to England to escape and to forget. He, like Ellie, has secrets that he would prefer be kept hidden. A chance meeting on the street lands him a job working for one of the most powerful men in London. Bran has a chance to reinvent himself, and he takes it.

Ellie dislikes Bran from the moment she meets him. He knows too much about her – he knows parts of her past that she would rather stay buried. She has to hide.  And in order to disappear, you can’t be seen or known.

It’s not easy hiding when the Meistr wants you. But Ellie has to. Her life and the future of England depend on it. And Bran is the only one who can help her – if Ellie can put aside her judgments and trust him first, no matter who or what he is.

[1] Automaton: a mechanical figure that acts on its own power, a robot. Plural: automata
[2] Meistr: Welsh for ‘Master’

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Signs

The Signs
If you asked me before him where I wanted to be, nine times out of ten I'd say somewhere else. Paris, or New York. San Francisco, even. But after him, it was more like two out of ten, or possibly three.

Zoe hates small-town living; she's counting down the days until she can get out. When a new family moves in next door, she just knows that they'll be as dull and sleepy as the rest of the town. What she hasn't counted on is a boy her age with something that makes him unlike anything she's ever known.

Coming soon to inkpop

Friday, August 12, 2011


Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough.... (from Goodreads)

I picked up this book with apprehension. I knew it was about a relationship gone wrong, and I don't normally read those. But I had heard great things about it, so I decided to give it a try, and I am so glad I did.

Stay wasn't about a relationship that was physically abusive. Christian was literally obsessed with Clara staying with him, and that was even scarier than a physically abusive one, because it can be hard to tell.

The one quote that really got me comes from the middle part of the book when Clara says, "In their mind, you are theirs and will always be their and your own choice about that matters very little...A person shows signs...of jealousy, of guarding you...But these signs can be so small they skitter right past you. Sometimes they dance past, looking satiny, something you should applaud" (158). This made me realize that there is a very fine line between 'falling in love' with someone and being obsessed with them, and that it's very hard to distinguish the two. 

Stay was told in two parts. They alternated every chapter, and really helped the reader feel what Clara was going through. The first part was during her relationship with Christian - how everything went from fairy tale to horrible. The other part was her life the summer after Christian - how she got over him and met a new guy, Finn. 

There was only one part of this book I didn't like: I felt her relationship with Finn moved too quickly. If she was getting over Christian, wouldn't she be more wary of getting into a relationship with someone? 

This book was excellent. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


"Cuz these things will change
Can feel it now..."
-"Change" by Taylor Swift, who happens to be one of my favorite singers.

No, there have not been changes like the one in the song, but there have been changes to this blog all the same. It is still the same blog with the same topics, but it has a new header. I felt my old one was too busy, and this one conveys a better message. It is also easier on the eyes and the title is more meaningful to me.

Kudos to anyone who can figure out where I got the title from! *winks*

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Magic in the Tapestry

I first learned about inkpop when I saw a post by author Gail Carson Levine on teen publishing. I had heard about online writing sites but had never looked closely at one before, so I decided to take a look at it. I liked what I saw, so I created an account. My plan was to post part of the book I had been working on and off for two years. Needless to say, when I went back and looked at it, I was horrified with what I found and knew I could never post something like that for other people to see.

After having an account for a couple of days, I felt weird being on a writing site and not having any projects posted. So I posted the only thing I felt was presentable - my short story "The Magic in the Tapestry." As with every piece of writing, it has a story behind it.

In English, we had to write and finish one short story that we would get a grade on at the end of the year. Because I was in one of my 'off' writing stages where I couldn't bring myself to write anything, I dithered and procrastinated. By the night before it was due, I only had half the story done and no idea how it was going to end. I was up all night tearing my hair out, trying to figure out how to end it.

After posting it, I was curious what people's reactions to my story would be. Inkpop is a teen writing site - there aren't many projects on there with unicorns in them. I began swapping for it, more to see what people's opinions were than to raise its ranking. Inkpop then changed its format - before, it was mostly books that got into the Top 5. Now there are three separate categories - fiction, short writing, and poetry. More and more people started picking Magic because of the category changes. Magic's ranking moved steadily upward.

Not only did this teach me a lesson in procrastination, but after being on inkpop for two months (tomorrow  marks that day exactly) Magic has reached the Top 5 with a ranking of four. I am so grateful to all of the inkies who have read, picked, or critiqued Magic. I really couldn't have done it without you all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Are Nightmares Always this Beautiful?

No. But this one is. If you even call it a nightmare in the first place.

I had the pleasure of reading Bri's outline of her upcoming novel, and boy, am I glad I did! You might think - since angels and demons are all the rage now - that this story would be filled with millions of cliches. Bri will prove you wrong.

Her characters are fresh and original. Even just from reading the outline, I could tell they were fully fleshed out and well-rounded.

You can read it here. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Set on the island of Nantucket, Starcrossed tells the tale of Helen Hamilton, a young woman whose destiny is forever altered when she meets Lucas Delos and tries to kill him in front of her entire high school. Which is terribly inconvenient, not only because Lucas is the most beautiful boy on the island, but also because Helen is so achingly shy she suffers physical pain whenever she is given too much attention.

Making matters worse, Helen is beginning to suspect she’s going crazy. Whenever she’s near Lucas or any member of his family she sees the ghostly apparitions of three women weeping bloody tears, and suffers the burden of an intense and irrational hate. She soon learns that she and Lucas are destined to play the leading roles in a Greek tragedy that the Three Fates insist on repeating over and over again throughout history. Like her namesake, Helen of Troy, she’s destined to start a war by falling in love. But even though Lucas and Helen can see their own star-crossed destiny, they’re still powerfully attracted to each other. Will they give up their personal happiness for the greater good, or risk it all to be together?
(from Goodreads)

So this was the third of the Dark Days of Supernatural books I read. And I'm disappointed to say that it fell below expectations. Granted, I had high expectations for the book, but this book fell far below them.

Helen and Lucas were your stereotypical characters without flaws but with amazing extraordinary powers no one has ever seen before. It was the same old cliche: hot guy and beautiful girl hate each other, but then realize that they're soul mates and can't live without each other. Lucas was your typical black-hair-bright-blue-eyes hot guy that's seen in half of YA books today, and Helen depended on Lucas too much.

I also felt as though Josephine Angelini was trying to fit too much into one book. Helen and Lucas had at least five powers each. It would have been all right if the powers were ordinary, but no. The talents that these two had were rare; they were the only ones of their generation to possess them. I also felt that Helen hadn't really changed by the time the book ended. If possible, she went from bad to worse.

Don't get me wrong: there were things I liked about this book. Cassandra was a strong character, Claire was cute, and the writing style was pretty good, but the major plot and character issues overlooked that.

I give Starcrossed a 6/10. It was a nice break from vampires, but this book just didn't do it for me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Like Simple Clockwork

This is a part of the prologue of my book Like Simple Clockwork, set to release on inkpop September 1st. Enjoy!

Prologue: Deadly

January 1, 1835
London, England
On the bank of the Thames

It was time, and the anticipation was delicious. He could practically taste it on his tongue.

“Bring it to me!” the man snapped. He stroked his small pointed beard nervously. The ritual could only be completed on the stroke of midnight on the first day of the new year. It had snowed the night before, and now the thick coating of ice over the Thames held a dusting of it. The man shivered and blew gently on his chapped hands. The conditions were perfect. 

The metal creature held out a golden net so finely woven that nothing could pass through it. It was beautiful, a work of art, but its purpose was one so unnatural that defied both Heaven and Hell. 

“Good, good.” The man lay it down on the ice. Steam rose up from around the net. “They should be coming just about…now!” 

The water vapor materialized into human forms. Souls.

These were no ordinary human souls, however. These were ghosts, the souls of people who were unclean – murderers, adulterers, and the like. They were tethered to this world by past mistakes, and until those mistakes were resolved, they couldn’t leave. Some of them would be stuck here forever; their mistakes were too old or too large to be undone. Some mistakes had forgotten. They were constantly seeking forgiveness – it was the surest way a ghost could atone for their past sins. Another was to do an act of good so large it would overlook their past, but it was hard to judge an act. 

The ghosts tried to flee, but the power of the net was too strong. It sucked them back down and tethered them there. Moaning in horror, the ghosts tried to escape again, but to no avail. They were trapped.

The man smiled. So that spell he had come across in the Kensington palace library was true, after all. “Speak to me!” he cried, throwing his shoulders back. 

The ghosts watched him with worried looks on their faces. None of them had any idea what he was talking about.

“’Scuse me, sir,” a peasant called, “but are you sure you ‘aven’t ‘ad too much to drink?”

The man looked at him irritably. “Do you have any idea of who I am, of what power I hold?”

“Yes,” came a clear voice from the back of the crowd. “Yes, we do know who you are and of the power that you’ve abused, John.” Her voice was filled with scorn.

“Ah, my lovely Grace,” John smiled. “I was wondering what had become of my Air.”

Undaunted, Grace looked John directly in the eye. “William and I swore with our dying breaths that you would never catch her, John. She knows of you and your cursed ways, to be wary of your twisted metal machines. William may have been a Metal, but even he knows how you’ve turned public workforce into your own private army. Mark my words, you will never catch her,” she spat. 

John smiled. Unwittingly, Grace had given him the answer he needed. “Thank you, Grace,” he said. “Now come along.” He snapped his fingers.

One of the machines came forward and picked up the golden net. Another held out a wooden box, and the first thrust the net into the box and slammed the lid shut. 

“You fool.”
John could hear Grace’s voice, muffled by the box. He didn’t stop to listen to the rest of what she was saying. “Come along. This night has proved quite helpful indeed.” He set off for the Kensington, flanked on either side by his two machines. “Now I just need to find the perfect boy…”