Thursday, January 31, 2013

Prodigy Review

Prodigy (Legend, #2)Title: Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend
Volume: 2
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction

Why I Read It: It's the sequel to Legend, which was definitely one of my top books last year. I was really excited for this one. I went out and got it the day it came out, and alternated reading and studying in order to finish it.

A Quick Intro: June and Day are enroute to Las Vegas, to find the rebel group the Patriots. There, Day hopes to find Tess, whom was in his care until he was arrested as well as get help to find and rescue his remaining brother. Both Day and June are grieving their own personal losses, and, on arriving in Vegas, find out that the Elector has died, to be replaced his son. And on finding the Patriots, the first task Day and June are given is to assassinate the new Elector.

But Anden is different from his father, and June becomes concerned that this assassination may be a mistake. Day and June are again forced to consider who is on their side, and whom they can trust. And they both worry that it might not even be each other.

What I Thought: The start of this book displayed some early signs of second book syndrome. I was worried that it might not pull me in like the first. And then it did, and I was frantically racing to the finish. It's definitely a whirlwind of a book. Marie Lu really knows how to use alternating points of view to her advantage- there was always something pulling me into the next chapter, and there were definitely a few parts that felt like a blow to the stomach. We find out more surrounding Metias's death. I could talk about a love triangle, but to me it really wasn't a main focus- and it was more some sort of quadrilateral. Day and June both had up and down points in this book- points where they don't trust each other, and points where they don't trust themselves, and the suspense definitely piles up toward the end- ending with a bit of a cliffhanger. I'm really, really hoping Ms. Lu hurries with the last book.

Fun Fact: This one is about the author. She's also an artist- and she's done character sketches. You can check them out here. (Also, a sample is on the right).

 And now for the other fact. The Plagues are a legitimate concept- germ warfare has been used before, and there are governments looking into biological weapons now (to me, this is a very bad idea- you don't mess about with viruses and bacteria).

Struck Review

Struck (Struck, #1)Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Series: Struck
Volume: 1
Genre: Paranormal, dystopia

Why I Read It: The pitch was sort of interesting. Again, I'm not really sure why- I was grabbing anything remotely interesting off of the Library shelves.

A Quick Intro: Mia Price is addicted to lightning. She's been struck before- many times, and she just loves the feeling of all of that energy coursing through her body. But (obviously) lightning is dangerous, often deadly, and Mia and her family live in Los Angeles, where, apparently lighting rarely strikes (is there a statistic for that?), and where she's safe. Until a devastating earthquake strikes. In the aftermath, Mia is being hounded by two rival cults, who see her as the only way out of a prophecy predicting the end of the world, and that she is connected to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake.

What I Thought: I'm not fond of this one. I actively dislike the heroine- she annoys me. The insta-love drove me a little mental, especially because I didn't see much that was all that great about the love interest. And, I'm sorry, but the plot got on my nerves. Warning-incoming genre rant. I didn't go into this book thinking it was paranormal, but that seems to be the most fitting genre for it now that I've finished it. It didn't really feel that dystopic to me (why did the rest of the world just give up on Los Angeles? That didn't really make sense to me.) I was kind of hoping for something more science fiction, but I defy anyone to call this science fiction- for one thing there doesn't seem to be much substantial scientific evidence of a link between electrical storms and earthquakes. *End genre rant*. The plot really felt like it went off the rails Maximum Ride style (which means very, very badly)- suddenly we have doomsday cults and the apocalypse on it's way and somehow this is all linked to Tarot cards.

Fun Fact: Lighting is almost always negatively charged. Positively charged lightning does exist, but it is quite rare.

P.S. I know a lot of people loved this book, and you can feel free to remind me of it's better points in the comments. Just please be civil.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dead and Buried Review

The Dead and BuriedTitle: The Dead and Buried
Author: Kim Harrington
Genre: Paranormal

Why I Read It: Because I'm un-brilliant. Or possibly because I keep looking for a book that will make me like the paranormal genre. (By the way, aliens are not paranormal. Aliens are science fiction.)

A Quick Intro: Jade has just moved into a haunted house. The clues start showing up when her younger half-brother starts seeing a glimmering girl who can't talk in his room. She soon finds out that the daughter of the house's previous owners was killed in an accident which may or may not have actually been an accident, but which ended in her falling down the stairs to her death. And now the ghost girl, Kayla, is threatening to hurt Jade's family if Jade can't find out who killed her. Everyone seems to have secrets and so everyone is a suspect- the dead girl's friends, boyfriend and enemies.

What I Thought: Sorry. Not really my thing. I didn't really like the heroine, or the love interest or particularly care about the plot. I didn't feel passionate hatred or anything, I just didn't really like it. The characters bothered me most of all I think. I just found them irksome (but then, I can be very picky sometimes).

Fun Fact: You're kidding, more paranormal facts. Ugh. Oh- I know. I'll just talk about rocks, since Jade wears a different pendant for different purposes. The hardness of rocks is measured on Moh's scale of hardness, on which talc is a 1 and diamond is 10.

Review: Princess of the Silver Woods

Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess, #3)Title: Princess of the Silver Woods
Author: Jessica Day George
Series: Princesses of Westfalin
Volume: 3
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy tale Re-telling

Why I Read It: This is the third in the trilogy. At least, I think it's a trilogy. When I read Princess of Glass, I didn't realize that it was the second book. I read Princess of the Midnight Ball afterward. I was kind of surprised to see this one on the shelf at all (this, folks, is why browsing is important).

A Quick Intro: This one is a twist on Red Riding Hood. (Princess of the Midnight Ball was a twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Princess of Glass was a twist on Cinderella). This one focuses on  Petunia, the youngest of the twelve princesses, who is now sixteen, placing this story at eight years after the first book.

Princess Petunia (Poppy was right, these flower names are kind of a mouthful) is kidnapped on her was to visit a noble lady (who may or may not have ties to the King Under Stone), whom she is fond of when she is kidnapped. Well, sort of kidnapped. It was an accident. And even after that little encounter gets untangled, things aren't going well. The girls are all having nightmares in which they are all transported back to the Palace Under Stone, and becoming increasingly concerned that these are more than just dreams- especially since her would-be kidnapper, Oliver, spotted shadows sneaking around the princess's lodgings- living shadows.

What I Thought: Sorry for the long intro (not so quick, I know). This is one of those stories that will only make sense if you have read the first book. You can get away with reading the second without prior knowledge (ask me how I know), but this one would be quite confusing.

Unlike some readers, I really liked Princess of Glass, Poppy is definitely still my favourite princess. Petunia is somewhere between Poppy and Rose in personality, and she's also the only one of the sisters who gardens. The story was good, if a little confusing at times, and some of the plot was a little bit anti-climactic. These books are interesting in that they take place years apart, so Poppy, who was the lead in Princess of Glass has grown up (she's 21 now) and Rose is 26.

The romance was... sort of spontaneous, but it is a fairy tale after all, and the was some build up, and it wasn't incredibly overdone. Basically, insta-love, but I was able to try and suspend disbelief. I really liked how some elements of the original fairy tales were woven in, as with the other two books, I found the twist marvelous. It was a quick read, and a decent conclusion, but Princess of Glass is still my favourite.

Fun Fact (And yes, I had to do some research, this is one original fairy tale I don't know... but ask me about Sleeping Beauty some time. Oh- or the Little Mermaid.): The original tale of little red riding hood involved cannibalism, and sometimes no red hood (and sometimes the main character gets eaten). It was also French. The woodcutter was an addition by the Brothers Grimm.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spookygirl Review

Spookygirl: Paranormal InvestigatorTitle: Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator
Author: Jill Baguchinski
Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction

Why I Read It: Je ne sais pas. I kind of just read it because I felt like I should? (Why? I don't know- I have some very weird impulses.)

A Quick Intro: Violet sees ghosts. Like her dead mother, she can see and speak to the spirits of the dead. And now, at her new school, the girl's locker room is giving of some serious, dark paranormal energy. Now Violet has to learn about her powers and conduct a paranormal investigation with a couple of unexpected allies and possibly re-starting her mother's paranormal investigation agency. Oh, and what was that about a haunted house.

What I Thought: This one wasn't my cup of tea. Maybe it was the genre, which I haven't found a lot of books enjoyable from before. I wasn't really fond of the main character, or any of the supporting ones for that matter, and I felt like  things got wrapped up to easily. Also, I have issues with ghosts. (So, self, why did you read it? Well, self1, I don't know.). I think my main problem was that things ended a little too cleanly- that ghosts were the solution to everything so to speak without giving to much away. I would probably gear this more toward a younger audience, actually, maybe 13-14 years old or so.

Fun Fact (I really have to think on this one, hauntings are really not my area of knowledge- wait. I can just talk about funerary practices. That's death-related enough, right?): Wearing black to symbolize mourning is more of an American or European ritual, the Chinese wear white when mourning the dead.  (Not exactly a fun fact, but I'm a little stuck.) Oh- here's one about spirits: the ancient Egyptians believed that the soul was in five parts- the Ib (heart), Sheut (shadow), Ren (name), Ba (soul), Ka (for lack of a better word- essence) (and yes I had to look the specifics up). This contributed to making their afterlife planning complicated.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vessel Review

VesselTitle: Vessel
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: YA Fantasy

Why I Read It: I have a soft spot in my heart for the fantasy genre. There's not enough of this in YA literature. (There's a lot of urban-fantasy, which I also like, but I really do enjoy reading something entirely in a created world.) Also, there is a quest. I do like a good quest.

A Quick Intro: Liyana is going to die to become a vessel for the goddess of her desert clan, dancing in a the ancient ritual that will allow her clan to survive. But when she dances, the goddess doesn't come. Fearing that the goddess has deemed her an unfit vessel, her clan leaves her in the desert, virtually abandoning her to her death.

Until the trickster god, Korbyn, already in his vessel, walks out of a sandstorm, bearing the news that her deity  far from refusing to enter her, has been captured along with several others. Liyana knows that her clan will perish if she cannot free the deities, but, as the journey progresses, she finds increasingly that she does not want to die.

What I Thought: I really liked this one. It was the first one this year that I was really, truly fond of. I've never read something from the view of someone was essentially to be a human sacrifice, and found that Liyana was a strong character who grew throughout the story. There was some really enjoyable banter between the characters, and it was interesting to see how all of the vessels coped with their task. There was a bit of somewhat unrealistic romance toward the end, but it didn't really ruin the reading experience for me. (Insta-love seems to be becoming a pet peeve, doesn't it? At least the love interest wasn't ridiculously cliche this time.) Liyana's world, in addition to gods and goddesses, also contains it's own unique form of magic as well as some rather interesting creatures. Also, as mentioned, I like books that take place on a quest.

Fun Fact (these have kind of become a habit): The Sahara desert is expanding. This is made more rapid by the farming practices used on the edges of the desert, which sap the soil of nutrient until it is nearly unusable for growing any sort of crop.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Exam Time

Exams are upon me, so I might be absent for a couple of days.

P.S. Prodigy come out in 5 days. No offense to whoever plans the releases, but the timing is un-great.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Quarentine Review

Quarantine: The Loners (Quarantine, #1)Title: Quarantine: The Loners
Author: Lex Thomas
Series: Quarantine
Volume: 1

Why I Read It: Hmm... apocolyptic-ish. It was an experiment.

A Quick Intro: High school is pretty tough for David. After losing his mother in a car accident, his life sort of fell apart, and he really isn't looking into forward to going back. And when he does go back, the school is put under quarantine, following the outbreak of a disease that kills any adult. Now it's been almost a year, and what were cliques have now become almost tribes. School is a vicious place, especially if, like David and his brother Will, you don't have a group.

What I Thought: This is one of the more brutal books that I've read this year (so far), and the first written more from a teenage boy's perspective- which I always find hit an miss. This one was more of a miss. I genuinely didn't like the characters very much. I found the girls to be more objects than people- very two dimensional, and the boys in the story also seemed sort of superficial to me. Though I guess teenagers sometimes are. I guess I just didn't really feel the characters' journeys , and often disliked them. I don't think that it was that the book was necessarily bad, it just really wasn't my style.

Tokyo Heist Review

Tokyo HeistTitle: Tokyo Heist
Author: Diana Renn

Why I Read It: I was drawn by the word "heist" I'm in need of more mysteries and heists.

A Quick Intro: Violet is spending time with her father, who is working on an art commission in Japan. The comissioner a wealthy Japanese couple and their nephew who have recently had several van Gogh sketches stolen. Soon enough Violet is knee-deep in mystery, in danger and a hunt for the missing sketches with no idea who she can trust half way around the world from home.

What I Thought: It was hard to keep track of what was going on in the story, I sort of lost track of the mystery. This was another one where I didn't feel much attachment to the characters. It wasn't so much that the plot was predictable as that it didn't really draw me in, though I did guess the twist, and the culprit fairly early on in the story. It almost was like there were too many characters in the story, or too many focuses. Personally, I wasn't fond of Violet's random use of Japanese terms- it's something that kind of bothers me when people I know do it, and it annoyed me in the book as well. I did want to know how it ended, but it wasn't a book I would say that I couldn't put down.

Fun Fact: Kimonos are worn crossed left over right. Right over left crossings are typically only used for the dead.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let It Snow Review

Let it SnowTitle: Let It Snow
Author(s): (in order of appearance) Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Why I Read It: It was mentioned in a review at The Broke and the Bookish (here). Also because I've come to the conclusion one should read Christmas books when it is not Christmas.

Summary: This is three stories in one. Three stories about one town, one train, fourteen cheerleaders, miscommunication, Starbucks and a teacup pig name Gabriel.

What I Thought: Fluffy. I very rarely do fluffy, so it seemed really out of place for me. Besides that, it's a light, quirky read, and there are some humourous moments. I wasn't particularly attached to any of the characters or the plots, but they weren't something I felt needed emotional investment. I don't have a lot of opinion on this one, to be honest.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Breathe Review

Breathe (Breathe, #1)
Title: Breathe
Author: Sarah Crossan
Series: Breathe
Volume: 1
Genre: YA Dystopia

Why I Read It: This was a book that I wanted to read because I liked the cover. The concept is neat too.

A Quick Intro: Breathe takes place in a future where oxygen is a controlled resource  After "The Switch", Earth's atmosphere is depleted of oxygen and what remains of humanity must survive in protected domes. Without government produced oxygen, the people wouldn't survive, the government controls the only living plants. Outside is a barren No-man's land. Quinn is a Premium, one of societies wealthy class. Bea is his best friend, though she is a "Sub", or a lower class citizen whose family can barely afford enough oxygen to live on. And then there's Alina. She's part of the Resistance, stealing plants to try and return organic oxygen to the people. When she is caught, her only choice is to flee the dome with enough oxygen for a couple of days- and Quinn and Bea in tow. The outside is different from what they expect, and the truth is out there.

What I Thought: I do enjoy dystopia, and the premise of the book is interesting. Control over air  gives the government almost complete control, since no one can live without it.  We never really find out what caused The Switch, only that it is probably linked to human abuse of the planet, and that the result is oxygen depletion. I found myself wondering how far in the future this is- it seems to be less than 100 years after The Switch, but everything else about the world seems to be basically the same. Besides the market on oxygen, tablets containing trackers and biweekly vaccinations, there don't really seem to be any futuristic technologies.

The story is told from the points of view of Quinn, Alina and Bea. There's a little bit of romance, but it was never the main focus of the story. Quinn's crush (it really was just a crush) on Alina it what first inclines them to help her, and Bea's love for Quinn means she sticks with him, but, given their personalities, they might have made these decisions anyway. And there is no love triangle, really (thank goodness!). I wasn't completely drawn into the story, but it did make me think, though the plot line was a bit predictable, I still found myself rooting for our main characters. The action was decent, and I enjoyed seeing how the rebels lived. Overall, Breathe was an enjoyable read, and I will probably read the sequel when it is released later this year.

Fun Fact: Oxygen used to be toxic to many living things. In fact, it still is. And yet we can't live without it. This isn't mentioned in Breathe, but you can read more about it online.

Erasing Time Review

Erasing Time (Erasing Time, #1)Title: Erasing Time
Author: C.J. Hill
Series: Erasing Time
Volume: 1
Genre: YA science fiction, dystopia

Why I Read It: It was new and shiny at the library (that's the thing, there's not much in the YA section I haven't seen before), and sounded interesting.

A Quick Intro: Identical twin sisters Sheridan and Taylor Bradford are suddenly dragged forward in time, four hundred years in the future, and as far as their aware, they have no way home (theoretically, things can only move forward in time, not back in the story). The world is a very different place. Everyone lives in protected domes, warring with other domes. Everyone has dyed their hair and painted their skin- fashions have changed, society has changed. Everyone's rank is displayed on their chest. The language is so different that they need a translator. There are only two people who understand their language in the future. Echo and his father, Jeth are historians. And not all is well in the pods. The Dakien, which are an organized crime group seem to run the city from the shadows and the "Doctor Worshipers" have a religious (religion is forbidden) resistance of their own. And now the twins are the target by the corrupt government and the Dakien, four hundred years from home with no one to turn to but Echo, who was a twin himself, and secrets of his own.

What I Thought: The concept of time travel is always risky. The concept of how they move through time was relatively sound-I could see the explanation working (the time freezer), and the DNA composition seems pretty sound, the only part that doesn't sit with me is the looking for DNA in the time streams. But that's the "what if" part of science fiction. I really like the changes in language. That was neat because languages can change very fast.

The romance didn't really work for me (I mean, it was okay toward the end... but... instalove and spontaneous snogging (though the second may just be a normal future thing)...). The plot twist was something that I kind of called. It was a bit predictable on some points, but it was still a neat read.

Fun Fact: The city pods are somewhat similar to the ancient Greek city-states, which were often at war with each other. They were also the birthplace of democracy, in Athens (though it didn't last long, and disappeared for a very long time after that).