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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: Once We Were

Synopsis: "I'm lucky just to be alive"

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

My Review: When I read the first book in the Hybrid Chronicles, I was pleasantly surprised, and the sequel was just as good.  I was really worried that the plot was just going to go off the wall crazy and there'd be a lot of running and having Addie and Eva always being hunted down.  Glad to say that my fears were unfounded.  Zhang did a great job of continuing the plot at a natural and well thought out pace.  

Having escaped the hospital were fellow hybrids were being surgically separated from their twin souls, Addie and Eva are now living in hiding with the people who broke her  out.  Eva and Addie have escaped one prison only to go to a new one.  They can't go to school, are discouraged from going outside, and most importantly cannot call home.  The only thing making life bearable is their old friends Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan are there with them.  Addie/Eva are tired of feeling useless in the fight for hybrids.  They're only 15, but they want to help.  Meeting a few older hybrids that are part of the organization that broke them out, is their dream come true.  These older teens want to make a difference and bring about change, faster than Peter, they're leader, is willing to go.  Addie/Eva are completely on board.  That is until their new group of friends get steadily more daring in their ideas and increasingly more violent.  

Like I said before, I really loved the plot progression of this novel.  These books aren't particularly thick, but they are just perfectly paced.  While the little plot twist to this story wasn't a real "OMG" moment, it was still impactful and Addie/Eva's actions are quite admirable.  Have to say, I really loved how this book ended.  It wasn't a filler book and had a very strong plot of its own to continue on the story.  

The aspect I most enjoyed about this novel was the growing development of Addie/Eva.  In the first novel, Eva was just getting back to being able to control their body.  Now, Addie and Eva switch back and forth between them easily.  The only trouble is, they both want different things, and different people.  Eva is out there trying to discover who she is and what she stands for, and if she tunes out Addie's protests or inhibitions its really not intentional.  Addie and Eva both want time just to themselves and they both struggle to balance both of their desires.  

All in all, a great sequel to a fine series.  Keep 'em coming Zhang! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: Indelible

Synopsis: Some things are permanent.

Indelible.

And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…



My Review: I haven't read a fairy novel in quite a while.  And really it's hard to impress me in this particular genre just because I have really strong favorites.  Have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It started out a bit shaky and frankly a bit cliche, but it only got better as it went along.  The pacing was pretty decent. I enjoyed the speed at which the story progressed in terms of plot.  Though I have to say that some of the events that took place could have been spaced out a bit better.  When you have multiple big plot developing events happening quick fire it kind of detracts.  That being said, the ultimate plot reveal still packed a wallop.

I really enjoyed Joy's character.  A lot of shit has happened to her, things that would leave any normal teenager reeling.  She wasn't immune to the emotional baggage that comes from family problems, nor was she an emotional wreck.  She was dealing with it, sometimes in a stubborn and childish way, but that was okay.  She was strong and when Ink enters her life, she keeps rolling with the punches.  She's more than a little horrified by this sudden world full of creatures she could only conjure in her own nightmares.  Yet Ink is able to balance out the horror with wonder.  

Which brings me to Ink.  Ink was this odd paradox of stereotypical bad boy mixed with a completely innocent child.  Ink does not act, speak, or behave anywhere near social norms and thus his rather "emo" appearance didn't detract from his character. So many love interests are the misunderstood bad boy and I'm happy to say that Ink did not fall into that category.  He was clinical and blunt and adorably oblivious. While he does become a bit more human, he still remains himself.  While his and Joy's relationship escalated rather quickly from "I'm pretending I want to be with you" to "I actually do want to be with you"it didn't really bother me. The two of them clicked and as circumstances had it, their relationship was a natural progression in the story.  

I really enjoyed the fey or the "twixt" in this novel.  I've never really heard of the "Scribe" concept before.  Ink and his sister Inq exist for the sole purpose of marking humans with claims from different sects of twixt.  It was a really awesome concept, and one that was new to me.  Their jobs were sometimes tragic but had an element of beauty to it as well.  I really enjoyed the parts where they performed their duties to mark humans.  The fey were awesome as usual.  Much more similar to Holly Black's fey than say Melissa Marr's, but still it's own unique kind.  A few characters I grew to really like just as much as Joy and Ink.  

Overall, pretty decent read. Can't wait to see where future books in this series lead.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: Black Spring

Synopsis: In a savage land sustained by wizardry and ruled by vendetta, Lina is the enchanting but willful daughter of a village lord. She and her childhood companion, Damek, have grown up privileged and spoiled, and they’re devoted to each other to the point of obsession. But Lina’s violet eyes betray her for a witch, and witches are not tolerated in a brutally patriarchal society. Her rank protects her from persecution, but it cannot protect her from tragedy and heartbreak. An innocent visitor stands witness to the devastation that ensues as destructive longing unleashes Lina’s wrath, and with it her forbidden power. Whether drawn by the romantic, the magical, or the gothic, readers will be irresistibly compelled by the passion of this tragic tale

My Review: I have to say that I was rather thrown by this novel.  I'm a big fan of Alison Croggon's Pellinor series, so I naturally jumped at the chance to read another one of her novels.  Not what I was expecting.  At all.  The Pellinor series is high fantasy and has a very richly developed world. I hate to compare, but Black Spring just did not come even come close.  I'm not going to turn this review into a comparison of which book is better, so I'll move on.  Just a warning to fans of the Pellinor series, this will not be even remotely close if you are looking for something in the same genre.

I have to say the way the POV was written in this novel was very unique.  I don't think I've ever come across a writing style like this before.  The only think comprable would be Lisa McMann's writing. Croggon pulled a complete 180 on her writing style and while it took me a while to adjust she pulled it off well.  It was meant to be read in a certain manner and she achieved it.  I should mention that this novel was inspired by Wuthering Heights.  I will tell you right now, I have not read Wuthering Heights and am not a good judge of whether it was a good adaption or retelling or spin off of said novel.  I will say that the tone she set for this novel and the world itself definitely fit into that era of writing.  Very Victorian gothic feel, and I enjoyed the darker aspect of this story.

Croggon does an excellent job of pulling you into the story.  The only time you ever get a peek at Lina's thoughts is a brief portion of the novel that is written as her diary.  You read everything from an outsiders perspective, and I have to say that was clever.  The first POV of the book is a complete stranger and outsider to Lina and Damek's lives and you're left wondering what the hell is going on.  Your curiosity as to just what the hell is happening never really ceases until the very end.

The world this was set in was very interesting to say the least.  As messed up and twisted as it was, I felt like I hardly knew anything about it.  Not a lot of world building was done, but what was there was compelling.  Frankly I would have liked more of it.

This is definitely one of the few novels where there really was not a single character I grew attached to. I didn't care for Lina or Damek and nobody else in the story lept out at me.  The two of them just did not inspire much sympathy.  Considering the context of the story, I guess that really wasn't the goal.  Terrible things happened to both of them, but in turn, they did terrible things to others as well.  If you're looking for a happy story turn away right now.  This is one of the most depressing and angst ridden novels I have ever read.  There is no happy ending.  And I'm not saying that is a bad thing.  Not in the slightest.  It's not my usual cup of tea, but it was well written and in the end it was a very chilling tale.  Would I recommend this to everyone? No.  But hey, if you like Wuthering Heights or that genre then give it a shot.  It will be right up your ally.

Ultimately, while different, it was still a good read.  All in all, I'm still a firm fan of Croggon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Fragments

Synopsis: Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence--it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what's left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira's journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn't even know existed.

My Review: Partials was such an amazing debut novel, that Fragments definitely had a tough act to follow.  Sequel books just as a trend tend to fall flat from the first novel.  Happy to report that Fragments was just as strong of a story as Partials was, if not stronger.  

It's been a few weeks since Kira left East Meadow in search of ParaGen.  Her recent discovery that she was not human, and in fact a Partial was a staggering blow.  But she is no less determined to save both species from the imminent time bomb that will destroy them both.  Humans and Partials both face extinction and Kira is one of the few that realize that their only hope is to work together. Meanwhile Marcus is back in East Meadow, trying to keep the island together.  When Dr. Morgan and her Partial army decide to take over the island in search of Kira, living in East Meadow becomes a struggle for survival.  Through it all Marcus is trying to piece together the enigma that is Kira and her adoptive mother Nandita, the woman who they all thought they could trust.  Nandita has disappeared, but the Partials are still after her, and Marcus is determined to figure out why.  

The bitter hatred between the two races is just as strong as ever in the sequel.  Both sides want to eradicate the other in order to try and save themselves.  And yet despite the mutual animosity there are some surprising twists.  Marcus, pure brilliant, goodhearted Marcus, suggests the unthinkable.  There are different fractions of Partials, some of which are attacking Dr. Morgan and her division.  His idea is perhaps even more radical than Kira's was, seek out the Partials for an alliance.  It's the first step in ending this ridiculous war, and Marcus isn't the only one who is able to take a leap of faith.  Both sides begin to step towards a tentative trust.  It was honestly one of my favorite moments in this novel.  A Partial willing to trust a human and even more importantly risk his own life for them, and vice versa. Things are still far away from being ok between the two races, but it was a step and I can't wait to see more of this new sympathetic Partial that has joined with Marcus. 

Kira's discoveries about ParaGen just keep getting more and more disturbing.  After running into Afa Demoux, a former IT head at ParaGen, who has been surviving on his own for 11 years, Kira learns some uncomfortable truths about the company that created her and their intentions towards the Partials as well as the human race.  Afa's mind is broken from having been alone all this time and most of the time his manic side is in control, but those brief moments of lucidity where he's a technological genius is invaluable to Kira to get the true information she needs about ParaGen.  

Eventually Samm and Heron find Kira and Afa, and they set out on a journey to Chicago and then across the acid rain filled wasteland that is the midwest to get to Denver, the headquarters of ParaGen.  They go through incredible hardships and loose more than supplies when they finally reach their destination.  The headquarters of ParaGen are nothing like they expected and they are faced with unthinkable decisions.  

I was absolutely blown away by the plot twists in this story.  There was supposed to be this master plan behind why the Partials were so integral to curing RM.  And yet the explanation was so f-ed up and yet it made perfect sense in a very sick way.  Never saw that coming to say the least.  And there is one other major plot reveal that I had no freaking clue about.  Just wow.  Mind was blown.  And the implications are terrifying to think about.  In the end, both Samm and Kira put the survival of both races above themselves.  It was probably the most heart-wrenching and scream inducing endings ever.  Yes I was yelling at the book and struggling not to throw it.  Maybe I got a little worked up.  Just why, Dan Wells, why would you do this to us?  

Well, during Partials I was just so happy that there was no love triangle in that book.  It had the potential to turn into one, and it didn't. I was ecstatic.  Ya well, now there is a love triangle.  And I don't hate it.  Weird right? And with the way this story line is going I don't know if there is even a remote possibility that it's going to happen anyway.  Just, so many plot twists! Curse plot twists.  

It's safe to say that I am dying for the third book already.  Why do I do this to myself really? I should just learn not to buy a series until all the books are out.  Waiting is killer. But worth it.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Of Triton

Synopsis: In this sequel to OF POSEIDON, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half- Breeds should be put to death.As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

My Review:  I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, Of Poseidon, but I was like what the heck, might as well give the second one a shot.  I ended up having the same opinion of the sequel as the first book.  

Of Triton really just picks right up where Of Poseidon left off, albeit with some overblown dramatics.  Emma's mother, the newly discovered lost Princess, panics and not only goes ninja warrior ass on all of them, but ferrets Emma out of there as quickly as she can.  She's convinced that the Sirena will send a capture team and kill Emma once they discover she's a half breed.  Emma's mother is convinced that she's the one that killed Grom, and thinks that the Sirena will punish her for her imagined transgression.  All the while she's implanting doubts into Emma's head about Galen's true intentions towards her.  Meanwhile Galen has fetched his brother and they're desperately trying to catch up to Emma and her mother.  

Despite their own little personal drama, the rest of the Sirena world is being thrown into a state of chaos.  With Emma's mother's reappearance, power hungry Sirena try and upset the applecart and gain power for themselves.  Emma has to decide what will be best not only for herself, but the Sirena.  Will she expose herself or stay hidden?   

I have to say my biggest problem with this book was the beginning.  It was just such overblown dramatics and how easily Emma doubts Galen just made me want to bash my head against a wall.  The beginning was just rushed and everything happened at a fast and furious pace.  It just kind of threw me off since the ending to Of Poseidon was such a big reveal.   I still don't really know how I feel about Emma's mom and Grom.  It's kind of just an awkward situation.   

As far as the rest of the plot went, it was fine.  Not really any huge surprises or plot twists, but I like the direction where the story led.  In the end, everything ended up working for the better.  I just wish the story had been fleshed out more.  These books would be ten times better if they were just LONGER.  The story is just so squished that it barely feels like there's any development going on.  Everything happens in such a tight sequential order that it doesn't leave you any room to breath and truly enjoy the story.  Maybe I'm being picky, but I like gradual build.  

There was a character death.  Obviously I'm not saying who, but I just felt like it was unneeded.  I didn't feel any emotional attachment to the character, which is probably why they got killed off because reader's wouldn't get too upset, but there was just no reason why they needed to die.  

Overall I just kind of feel meh towards these books.  Apparently there is going to be a third installment, though I can't see particularly why since the ending to this was pretty well wrapped up.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Scarlet

Synopsis: Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review: I have been dying for this ever since I finished Cinder.  It was such a fresh retelling of Cinderella (and believe me I've read quite a few) and yet it is so utterly different and such a story unto itself you can't help but fall in love with it. And of course it's not just a retelling of Cinderella, it's Little Red Riding Hood as well.  I have to say I was originally kind of shocked to know that there would be more fairytales incorporated into the story as well.  I was worried that Cinder's story would get lost and we wouldn't see it as prevalently in the story anymore.  Which is always a legitimate fear when brand new characters and plots are introduced, but Miss Meyer blended the stories beautifully.

In this new installment of the Lunar Chronicles of course we have our beloved Cinder, the cyborg-mechanic-lunar princess, back in action.  She's managed to escape prison and picked up another prisoner along the way.  But her escape comes with a heavy price, mainly for Emperor Kai and the looming threats of war from the Lunar Queen.  And of course our new heroine, Scarlet has problems of her own to deal with.  The criminal cyborg lunar girl that is always on TV is hardly her concern.  Her grandmother has been missing for two weeks, and the authorities have closed the case since there were no signs of foul play.  She knows that her grandmother didn't just leave, someone took her, and the mysterious young street fighter named Wolf just may be able to help her find the culprits.

When I first started in and was introduced to Scarlet I couldn't help but wonder how the hell Meyer was going to connect these two story lines.  The common denominator between the two plots quickly emerged.  (It's been a while since I read Cinder, it took me a while to remember the connection) Meyer switches POV's from Cinder to Scarlet and even occasionally Kai and Wolf.  Switching POV's with more than two characters can sometimes get sloppy, but Meyer executes it perfectly.  There's merit to everyone's point of view and I didn't find myself wishing for the POV to switch like I normally do in some stories.

Scarlet and Cinder were so alike and yet so different all at the same time.  Both have such an unwavering loyalty to those they love.  They're willing to sacrifice themselves if that means saving someone they care about.  It's an admirable trait in both of them.  While Cinder is more cautious and analyzes every decision, weighting the pros and cons, Scarlet is all bold action.  She goes on her gut instinct and is angry and stubborn if someone doesn't go along with her plans.  Scarlet is just as fierce and fiery as her hair suggests.  And it's that fire that really captures Wolf's attention.

I really loved Wolf.  He's definitely one of those awkward character's that doesn't seem to get what's going on sometimes, and then turns deadly on the flip of a dime.  When he fights, it's all animalistic grace and deadly ability.  He is fiercely protective of Scarlet, and despite his actions in certain areas, ultimately he just wants to keep her safe.  He'd never hurt her, and sacrifices everything for her.  I usually hate those couples who fall in love in a matter of days. I didn't mind this time.  It was just too perfect for me to nit pick. And what has become of Cinder and Kai? Well obviously Cinder is still head over heels for him, and despite her big revelation Kai seems to still have feelings for her and finds himself defending her more often than not when he should be hunting her down.

The Lunars just get nastier and nastier as this story goes on.  Okay, well not the Lunars in general.  It's not their fault they have a psycho queen that controls everyone.  But the Queen should definitely be afraid of Cinder.  She may be new to her abilities, but she's already a force to be reckoned with.  And Cinder is no longer hiding.  She plans to fight back, and take down the Queen by any means necessary.

A fabulous addition to this new series.  Scarlet keeps you riveted and I'm just as eager for the third book as I was for this one.  Will there be a third fairytale added to the mix? I hope so.  I have to admit I kind of love that about this story.  Meyer astounded me with an incredible novel yet again.  Can't wait for the  next installment.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: The Rules

Synopsis:1. Never trust anyone 2. Remember they are always searching 3. Don’t get involved 4. Keep your head down 5. Don’t fall in love. Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

  My Review: I've loved Stacey Kade's books since she first put out the Ghost and the Goth, so naturally I jumped at the chance to read this.  I definitely was not disappointed.  Kade's really branched out from her kind of peppy genre with sassy characters.  The Rules definitely had a more serious tone, and I absolutely loved it.

Ariane's one goal in life is to blend in.  To hide her almost white hair, her small frame, her unusually sharp cheekbones, and her near pitch black eyes.  The Rules help her do just that.  She stays inconspicuous, out of the lime light.  She only has one friend and even that's hard to maintain, because what's truly important is to not slip up.  Ariane is hiding in plain sight and her life is a charade, because she's not entirely human.  Ariane has lived by the rules for ten years.  Ten years of managing to slip under the radar, right under the noses of those who want her captured.  That is until the day that Ariane can't reign in her feelings any longer.  Daring to stand up to the most popular and intimidating girl at school in defense of her friend, Ariane isn't so invisible any more.  She comes to the attention of Zane, part of the popular crowd, and despite how hard she tries, she can't help but relish in the attention he is suddenly giving her.

I really loved Ariane.  She may play the meek and quiet girl, but in reality she is a fierce individual who will not stand for people picking on others who are weaker than them.  She's quick witted, stubborn, and truly a fiery personality.  She just doesn't take bull shit and calls others out on it. What truly made me love Ariane was her willingness to take a chance and open herself up to others.  She was kept in a lab until she was six years old, basically poked and prodded like a lab rat every single day.  She tends to shy away from people because of it, and avoids physical contact at all costs.  And yet when she and Zane start their rocky friendship, she opens herself up and trusts him to not hurt her.  She's gone through incredible trauma, but she doesn't let it dictate her life.  That really made her a strong character in my eyes.

I really loved Zane as well. Both Zane and Ariane are broken to some degree, hurt by people in their lives that should have protected them.  While Zane used to sit back and let his friends mock and tease others, he's changed.  He's sickened by their childish actions and really starts to stand up for himself.  He can't help but be fascinated with Ariane, the only person who has ever dared stand up to his friend Rachel.  Soon curiosity turns into outright infatuation, and Zane isn't the only one who's falling fast. He really was a great guy, and I enjoyed his narrative just as much as Ariane's.

I really enjoyed the plot for this as well.  It definitely threw me for some loops.  While a few things caught me off guard, I got back on my feet quickly. One in particular was pretty devastating to think of the implications.  Both Zane and Ariane received some nasty surprises, but in the end things worked out for the better.  It was well paced and the length was just right in my opinion.  The story happens in a relatively short amount of time, but I wasn't left dying for more pages.  Perfectly paced.

I'm really excited to see where this series goes.  I really enjoy Kade's writing, and I've pretty much fallen in love with Ariane and her story.  I'm sure the sequels will be just as fantastic.