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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Iron Knight

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought. 

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive. 

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side. 

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale. 

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice. (from Goodreads)

So I'm debating or not whether I'm glad to have read this. On the one hand, I really prefer The Iron Queen's ending to this one. But on the other hand, this book really improved my thoughts on the Iron Fey world and on Julie Kagawa's writing. I think, because of this, I'll read the spinoff trilogy starring Ethan Chase, Meghan's brother. I'll start off with the bad, then get to the good. 

I don't know if all fey (or half fey) except for Puck are like this, but Ash was really, really mopey in this book. Meghan turned on the waterworks in every chapter of the books she narrated, it seemed. And even though Ash never cried, he moped around and thought a lot about Ariella and Meghan and lost loves. I really think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had been from Puck's view, but maybe he'd have been moping around, too, lamenting the fact that Meghan wanted Ash, not him. 

The tests. I don't know what was so bad about them, but those were not 'impossible.' And just a head's up, Kagawa, making your MC live through all his worst mistakes is not a good way to get your readers to like him. Especially when one of those mistakes was making a girl fall in love with him just so he could break her heart.  (Highlight to view spoiler)

The best part of the book, of course, was Puck. He was the one that kept the book from being a mopefest. And when Ash was being particularly mopey and blaming Puck for Ariella's death, telling him that he'd never felt loss like Ash had, Puck put Ash in his place. As you can tell, I'm Team Puck.

The other great part was the worldbuilding. Seriously. The River of Dreams reminded me a lot of the River Styx. The Phaed, where creatures forgot who they were and their existence. Those parts were significantly creepy to distract me from the mopefest that was the narrator. 


Really a 3.5. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hourglass

One hour to rewrite the past . . . 

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Where should I begin? With the crappy romance? With the really high stakes that Emerson faced? With the horrible romantic interest? With the MC herself? 

It seems that all paranormal romance today is a hot guy, an instant connection, obsession, and electricity. Yeah, you read that right, electricity. And this book was no exception. Every time, every single time they touched, Emerson went on and on about how sparks flew and all that. And that was only the touching. I'm betting if/when they have sex, a bomb or something's going to go off, they create so much electricity. Or lightning will strike and kill someone. And then there was the whole stalking/obsession thing that every paranormal has. It's getting so old.

Michael was the stupidest character you can imagine. He also ranked quite high on the possessive boyfriend list and the crappy romantic interest list. For reasons I can't remember (and I read the book yesterday), Michael didn't want Emerson to know about the Hourglass. But then he leaves business cards with the address on them in his room. Emerson goes stalking (because, you know, it hurts so much to be away from him for even a second) and finds them. And because he never told her why it was so dangerous, she goes.

One of the biggest complaints that I have about this book is that the stakes that Emerson faces just aren't that high. If she decided to walk away, there wouldn't be any plot. There wasn't anything - besides her unfailing goodness, of course - that kept her in and made her try to prevent the death. 

Which brings me to Emerson herself. She was obsessed with Michael to the point where she snuck into his room and lay on his bed, just so she could get his scent. This is disturbing, to say the very least. The number of times that she mentioned a part of some guy (abs, muscles, lips, whatever) was astounding. The first time is fine. When you're breaking up a fight, it's not. Seriously, the book would be a chapter or two shorter if all that was taken out. And this is backed up by the fact that there is no diversity WHATSOEVER. Lily was the most diverse, being Hispanic. But there wasn't an ugly or even average-looking person in sight. They were all super gorgeous and SPESHUL. 

But on the upside, Dru was a pleasant surprise. I expected her character to be bitchy and Emerson-hating, almost like an evil stepmom, but it wasn't. She played the mom role far better than many real mothers in YA today. 

The whole time-travel thing was so complicated that I don't even want to get into it. My brain's still spinning from all of the information. My two main questions: 1) Why did Emerson stop seeing rips after Michael came? 2) How is the ability to control water something to do with time? I thought the Hourglass people all had abilities just relating to time. 


One star for Dru, and another for Kaleb and Lily. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one. 


But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do. (from Goodreads)


This book was amazing. It was a historical fiction/fantasy, which you don't see a lot of in YA, and it was one that was well done. Really well done. It's the kind of well done that makes me give the whole paranormal contingent the stink eye. 

All YA paranormal writers of today should read this book and take a lesson from it. And I'm being serious. Because she got the one thing that so many writers today forget. As Gail Carson Levine put it, 'it takes a mean author to write a good book.'  And Rae Carson understands that. She has enough confidence in her MC and in her plot to make bad things happen. Laugh at me all you want for ranting about this, but it's true. The Hunger Games wouldn't be so popular if all that happened was Katniss sitting around, watching Prim die in the arena and hunting with Gale in the woods. I'll say it again: bad things make a good plot. That aside, there were so many other great aspects of this book.

Elisa herself was probably my favorite part of this book. First off, kudos to Carson for going a non-cliche route - she has dark skin in a kingdom of mostly fair-skinned people, and she's fat. Not your usual I'm-going-to-say-I'm-not-pretty-even-though-I-am-just-to-make-me-seem-humble main character. It's clear here that Carson has enough confidence in herself and her writing to get away from cliches and all that. It's also clear that I'm going to read her future books.

The whole Godstone mythology was pretty interesting, and even though it dragged down the plot at times, I liked it. The only thing that bothered me a little bit was the fact that Elisa wondered how her enemies could worship the same god she did, as though they were too unclean and savage for that. Most religions, at least the ones of today, want more people to worship with them, not the other way around.

The secondary characters were just as developed as Elisa herself, but very few fell into stereotypes. There were characters that turned around and surprised me, characters that grabbed my heart instantly, and characters that made me ache for them to turn around and undo their mistakes. There was such a diverse cast of characters, and I think that's what sets this book apart from its counterparts.


Will I be reading The Crown of Embers? OH HELL YEAH. 

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

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

My WoW this week is...



In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny. 

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy. (from Goodreads)

I just finished The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which is a great book. Epic. And this blurb looks tantalizing and the cover is beautiful, so...why does September have to be so far away?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Gathering Storm

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart? (From Goodreads)

This book was really, really good. There were so many different aspects that I loved about it, and I'm definitely going to read the second book in the trilogy. 

First off, the setting. RUSSIA. I think this was the first book I've read that's set in Russia. And what was even better was the fact that the setting actually had something to do with the plot; Bridges weaved in stories about the tsar. So there were the balls and parties and stuff, but there were also the creepy parts in the woods and stuff. And I liked the fact that Russia's need for alliances with different countries like Montenegro also played a role in the plot. This book nailed the setting.

There was surprisingly little romance. But that was okay, because the romance that it did have also related to the plot. It also shaped Katerina and helped her change for the better, which is what any good romance does. Even though she had to do horrible things, it was all in the name of something good. And even though the blurb suggests a love triangle, it wasn't really one. Yes, there was the whole two-guys-one-girl thing going on, but she never really tried to decide between the two. 

Katerina was a kickass girl who wasn't afraid of taking matters into her own hands. The plot was her actually doing things, not her sitting around watching other people do things for her. She was a little naive at parts, but not so naive (like Emily from Elizabeth Miles' Fury) that she made me want to strangle her. All in all, one of my favorite MC's that I've read about in a while. And her power was appropriately creepy, too. My only complaint is that it would have been nice to read about it a bit more - where it came from, what it felt like as she was using it, that sort of thing. But hopefully that will be explained in book two.

Most YA books tend to leave out characters as the book progresses, most often the parents. But in The Gathering Storm, the parents weren't forgotten. In fact, they actually played a large role in this book, and especially because Katerina did several things in the name of protecting them and her brother. 

My only real problem with this book was that it got a tad confusing at times, especially with the different types of supernatural creatures and the people. Lots of people and creatures were introduced in a short time, and many of the names sounded similar. At some points, it was hard keeping track of who was who and what was what. But other than that, this book was awesome. 


This book was great. It had everything a YA paranormal should have, and it had more. A definite recommend to everyone. 



 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wings of the Wicked


Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.

Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.

She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.

She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay. (from Goodreads)


This book was actually far better than I was expecting. Sure, it was a bit long and the plot dragged a bit at some points, but it's lack of cliches in some parts made up for this. And once the plot actually started, it didn't stop.

For the first thing, in this book compared to the first, Ellie is way less whiny and Mary Sue-ish. Sure, she has her moments, but as the book goes on, she becomes more and more like a real person, not some cardboard stereotype. She grieves when she needs to, tries to balance her paranormal and regular lives, and doesn't let all this stuff about being Heaven's warrior get to her head. In other words, she was a narrator whose head I didn't mind being inside. She was also still as kickass as in the first book, maybe even more so in this one, and it was nice to see a narrator that didn't sit back and let everyone else do all the work. 

I also liked the fact that Ellie and Will's relationship went beyond chaste kissing. In fact, nothing about their relationship really annoyed me (except for, of course, the fact that he's about a thousand years older than she is). He got a bit possessive at times, but backed off quickly. If you ignore the age difference, it could seem like a relationship that normal teenagers today have. 

Kate was a pretty cardboard character, but the fact that Ellie didn't totally forget about her in favor of Will was really nice. So many 'best friends' are lost after page 20 when the main character meets her 'soulmate/love/significant other/whatever'. 

So, the love triangle. I suppose it is one, according to today's standards, but for once, Ellie actually picked the guy that she's known longer over the guy she's just met. Even though I don't really like either love interest, it was still gratifying to see that. 

In fact, there was only one real problem I had - the ending. It's not the fact that the ending was a cliffhanger, or the fact that it was sad. It was the fact that, even though there's supposed to be a sense of urgency in it, I didn't really feel any of it. 


Except for the ending, I actually enjoyed this book, much more than I originally thought I would. 



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

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

My fourth WoW is...


Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.


Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg's existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn - despite their very different attitudes to her secret.


Thrilling and fast-paced, this is the first unputdownable story in a bewitching new series.

This book looks epic. Pretty cover, magic, pre-Elizabethan England, Princess Elizabeth herself, the list goes it. It looks epic, and I can't wait until July. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lovetorn


When Shalini’s father gets a new job in L.A., she is torn away from her life in India and the boy to whom she’s been betrothed since she was three. L.A. is so different, and Shalini dresses and talks all wrong. She isn’t sure she’ll survive high school in America without her fiancĂ©, Vikram, and now she has to cope with her mom’s homesickness and depression. A new friend, chill and confident Renuka, helps Shalini find her way and get up the courage to join the Food4Life club at school. But she gets more than just a friend when she meets Toby—she gets a major crush. Shalini thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.


In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen.


Author Kavita Daswani has always been fascinated by child marriages and betrothals, and this story of a traditional girl from India, who is exposed to so many more freedoms and experiences after being dropped in a completely alien culture, is a fresh and contemporary look at the subject. (from Goodreads)


I was really, really looking forward to this book. And it didn't disappoint. 

In some ways, this book was like a lot of other general fiction/romances: new school, mean girls, little sister that makes friends easily, culture shock, etc., but there were also a lot of things not seen very much: her mother's depression, the Food4Life club, and most of all, Vikram's attitude. 

Most books that I've read that have a love triangle like this made the character that Vikram represented an asshole, or someone that never played a huge part. But in Lovetorn, even though he was in India and Shalini in L.A., he was constantly on her thoughts. And from his emails and his talking on the phone, he seemed to really care about her.

Shalini wasn't a cardboard cutout character. She was her own person with flaws and everything, not just an empty shell of a person for the reader to slip into. 

In fact, there was only one slight problem I had with the book - the climax and the resolution were too quick, too rushed. I felt that there could have been more conflict and more of an ending if everything had been drawn out and explained a bit more. 


Except for the ending, I loved this book. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Merchant's Daughter


An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. 


Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart. (from Goodreads)

I really don't think that I'm the person for Dickerson's writing. This is the second book of hers that I've read, and although it was better than the first, there were still too many character flaws, plot holes, and such. 

Annabel was a Mary Sue in ever sense the word. Not a page went by when someone didn't remark how beautiful she was, she knew how to read (Latin included), her family members were so mean to her, and she had at least three men lusting after her. Maybe even more. This almost felt like a retelling of both 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Cinderella,' because in the original Beauty myth, Belle was an only child with no mother but had a very close relationship with her father. And her brothers felt like the evil stepsisters and her mother like the evil stepmother. She had everything: kindness, beauty, smarts, perfection, perseverance, etc. Everything but flaws, that is. 

I couldn't decide if this was supposed to be set in medieval England or in a fairy tale setting. It seemed to be medieval England, but there were some inaccuracies that led me to believe otherwise. Take Annabel's ability to read, and in Latin, too. It's highly, highly, 99.9% unlikely that any girl, even a rich merchant's daughter, would know how to read. And it's also highly unlikely that a lord like Ranulf would get close to a servant like he does with Annabel. 

I also found it odd that Annabel compared Gilbert to Tom. They were nothing alike, and even though Annabel didn't want to marry Gilbert, I would have liked it more if she had said something other than that he made her feel 'sickening.'

The way the book ended was just too perfect, and what Annabel does is just too easy to be believable.

The last thing about this book was that I found the slamming of the Catholic church to be ridiculous. I'm not at all religious, but this bothered me for two reasons. 1) It basically said that all Catholics were female-hating old guys who could barely read the Bible, which isn't at all true. 2) What other sect of Christianity would they practice? Henry the Eighth didn't break with the Catholic Church until the sixteenth century, and Catholicism was the main English religion up until then. 


One star for the attempt at a historical retelling, and another for Stephen, who was a funny character. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Past Perfect

All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new. 

Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it…(from Goodreads)

I don't quite know what the cover has to do with anything. It never rains in the book, and most of the summer is spent in the Essex colonial village, wearing a colonial gown. I think something relating more to that would have been better, but whatever. I'm not reviewing this based on its cover. 

My favorite part of this book was the setting. Yeah, I know it sounds dumb, but the whole colonial-village-reenactment was pretty cool. Especially the whole war between the colonials and the Civil War-ers. That was really fun, and added a whole element of forbidden love.

The ending was slightly letdown-ish. I mean, I knew exactly what was going to happen and all that, but this book was one really that, with a different ending, could have been a lot stronger. I still liked the book because of characters and such, but a less cliche basic plotline would have been nice. 

Chelsea was okay. She wasn't an amazing character that sticks with you long after you've closed the book (say, Anna and the French Kiss), but she wasn't a huge bitch who I hated from page one. She was simply there, just your average MC. 

Fiona was funny, and she really added a lot to the story. When Chelsea started to forget her and her friendship, she didn't put up with that. It was easy to see that she cared about Chelsea and their friendship, but she wasn't going to put up with much blowing off. She has a small subplot which was pretty cliche, but it still worked. 

There wasn't a lot of physical romance, as is often the case with these sorts of books. Most of it was Chelsea thinking about it, and learning from the past. That was fine, as she really got over her breakup with Ezra and into this new relationship.


If this book had had a less cliche ending, this would probably be five stars. The plot itself was pretty cliche, but the secondary characters and setting made up for it. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

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

My third WoW is...

Auracle by Gina Rosati

16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she's only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe. 

When there's a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna's body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn't take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them. 

Astral projection? Murder? More dimensions? This book looks really good, more than your average paranormal. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Incarnate

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Heart

Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies--human and creature alike--let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

So I didn't really know what to think about this book. It got a ton of hype, had a pretty cover, and a blurb, that intrigued me and confused me at the same time. 

One of my biggest problems with this book, at least early on, was the world building, or the lack of it. I felt as though I was reading a sequel - the world had already been introduced, and the reader was expected to know all about it. Like, what the heck are newsouls and nosouls? Why are trolls only mentioned, never actually show up?

But the part that bothered me the most was the whole reincarnation bit. It's not the reincarnation in and of itself bothers me - it was just the way it was portrayed in Incarnate. Like the fact that Ana wore clothes that Sam wore when he was female in a past life. That two souls, supposedly 'in love' with each other in every lifetime, had killed each other when they were in bodies of the same gender. Like the fact that no one knows why Ana's soul was born, yet there's this whole 'Soul Council' (not the exact name) that regulates souls. If these things had been explained a bit more, the book would have been much stronger. 

The romance was also a bit iffy. For the most part, Sam seemed like a fine character, and Ana didn't annoy the crap out of me, but there was just no chemistry. It was obvious the author was trying to make some, but there just wasn't anything really natural about the relationship. After one awkward 'almost kiss' (which Ana talks about for the next 200 pages) practically nothing happens between the two of them besides piano playing. I swear, 75% of this book was music, Sam/Ana awkwardness, and the butterfly metaphor. Gah, the butterfly metaphor.

This is the second book I've read in 2012 that has the MC referring to herself as some sort of winged creature. (Shatter Me with the bird metaphor was the other). And the metaphor once or twice is okay, but when it comes in every chapter two or three times, it gets a bit excessive. And, like in Shatter Me, the butterfly metaphor in this book got to be a little too much. I mean, the cover is gorgeous. It's what got me to read the book in the first place. The first time Ana mentions that she's like a butterfly, I was all 'okay, whatever.' But by the time she was getting ready to make her dress, I knew exactly what she was going to be. 


This book had the potential to be great, but it fell flat. It wasn't flat; it was just something weak that left me with more questions than when I started it. (And not in a good way).

And so the pretty cover strikes again.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Playing Hurt

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college--and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain--or finally heal their heartbreak? (from Goodreads)

This book was totally not what I was expecting. I was expecting your typical summer romance novel with a bunch of cliches thrown in. But this was definitely, ah, steamier than the cover and summary imply. It was also told in two POVs, which was a bit odd, considering that the summary focuses on Chelsea only. But, overall, I liked the book.

Chelsea - and Clint's - characters both grew extensively over the course of the book. Much of this was because of the romance. It's one of the things that I liked most about the book. They both saw the flaws in each other and the obstacles in the way. Both helped the other person overcome these obstacles. To put it simply, they brought out the best in each other. There was no love at first sight (although there was a bit of 'lust at first sight'). I could imagine that this would happen in real life, as opposed to 99% of the romances in paranormal today. The romance developed at a good pace. It was easy to understand what they saw in each other besides looks. 

Gabe was just - ugh. I know that Chelsea depended on his a lot after her accident, but if I were her, he would have been long gone. He was possessive and really clingy. When they're apart, he calls, texts, and emails constantly. Chelsea kept going on about how sweet he was, but I just never really saw it, not enough to make up for the clinginess. When Chelsea pulls into the driveway, back from Minnesota, he's already sitting there, waiting for her. Stalkerish, anyone?

Maybe it was the way it was portrayed, but Chelsea's cheating on Gabe didn't really bother me. Normally, it does, but this time it didn't. Maybe it was because Gabe wasn't a really important character and barely came in at all. 


PLAYING HURT was much more than your average summer chick-lit romance novel. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spell Bound

*Contains spoilers for first and second books*

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted. 

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. 

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late? (from Goodreads)

I couldn't put this book down. It was great. I wasn't hating on Archer, Cal was great, Sophie was sarcastic and funny, and Elodie was great. Five stars for sure! I thought. 

And then I got to the ending. 

Something happens. Something bad happens. Something really, really bad happens.

And then the book just ends.

Poof! No closure, explanation, nothing. 

This is the perfect example of how a bad ending can spoil a book.


But because the first two-thirds were great, this is getting a 3/5. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Allegiance

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....

Sometimes, after I've loved a book to death, it kind of seems surreal reading the sequel. Like, are these really the characters I've grown to love in Book One? They're so...not how I expected them to be! The plot's changing too much! Am I really reading the sequel? Am I the only one who does this? 

As with Clockwork Prince, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with Allegiance. It was just a bit of a letdown after the first book wowed me so much. 

There was almost no Narian (sad face), but Steldor was around quite a bit, in all his chauvinistic glory. One thing I really liked about this book was that it showed his softer side, not just his womanizer side that made up almost all of Legacy

One thing that bothered me here was Alera's role. I mean, the book starts out with her coronation? Don't Queens have better things to do with their time then run away from their husbands out into the countryside, seeking the comfort of an old lover? That might have been acceptable as Princess, but I have a hard time believing that etiquette allowed that sort of thing.

My favorite character in this book was probably London. I hadn't really noticed him when I read Legacy for the first time, but he had a huge role in this book. He was really the only one - besides Narian, of course - that could keep Alera under control, and it was nice to see her meet some resistance. 



Overall: As good as the first one? No. Still pretty good? Yes. Will I read the third, Sacrifice? Absolutely. I love the world and (most) of the characters, and there's a pretty good teaser chapter for Book Three at the end of this one.