Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fallen: A Review

Fallen (Fallen, # 1)

By: Lauren Kate

Published: January 1, 2009 by Delacorte Press

452 pages

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy

Source: Borrowed from my friend, Paula

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Goodreads description--There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, FALLEN is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

I'm giving Fallen ****. This was another book that I put off reading because of a review I read on Amazon. But I just could not get over the cover art. I know, I know. Never judge a book by its cover. But sometimes you just get a feeling about a book, and I say go with it. You just never know what you're going to get. Could turn out to be a waste of time and you wish you could have those hours back. Or you could fall in love with the story and the characters. At the very least, it could be mildly entertaining and help you pass the time until you come across the next book/series that blows you away.

As always, I'm going to do my best to review this one without any spoilers. That being said, I think you can tell what I'm about to say just by reading the prologue. So...I have to say I'm quite the sucker for relationships with history. The "soulmate principle" as I like to call it. And this book didn't disappoint.

Many of my questions were answered in time throughout this book and many new questions were created there at the end. One of my initial questions was about how Daniel treats Luce. The wishy-washy bordering on downright mean behavior towards her. But Lauren Kate explains that quite nicely. The shadows that pop up around Luce all the time, that was something I was trying to figure out the whole time. I didn't get the right answer exactly, but I like what they turned out to be. But there at the end, specifically the last few pages created a whole new set of questions that I can't wait to explorer and uncover in book 2, Torment.

Though this was the most major question of all, "what is Daniel exactly?", I don't think Lauren Kate really tried to keep that answer a secret. That was the biggest negative thing I read in the review on Amazon that was holding me back from pursuing this one. The writer of that review remarked that it wasn't a big surprise what Daniel turned out to be (paraphrasing here). And while that's true, I don't think Lauren Kate intended it to be a big secret. She dropped hints that just about directly named his species from pretty early on in the book. And so while this felt like a huge question, it wasn't really. Yet, I don't feel like the book suffered because of it. I think there are plenty of other questions surrounding Luce and the story that prevent this question's answer from being a make-or-break factor.

Not really sure if I would call the ending a cliffhanger. In the sense that an unexpected event occurred that called some things the read believes to be fact into question, it was. But the event itself was not so mind-blowing that I would consider it a cliffhanger. It most definitely piqued my interest and I am very much looking forward to reading Torment soon.

Waiting to see what all books I get for Christmas to decide what I'm going to read next. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Check out Fallen by Lauren Kate. 4 Stars.

*Updated: September 6, 2013

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Books I've Read 2010

I’m taking down the Books I’ve Read in 2010 list to the left of my posts to make room for the upcoming list of Books I’ve Read in 2012. But so the reader might be able to locate this list, I decided to put in a post before I take them down. These are not all of the books I read in 2010, they’re just the ones I can remember since I wasn’t keeping this blog back then. Anyway, here it is and their rankings:

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy Series) – Richelle Mead (*****)

Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers (****)

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices Series) – Cassandra Clare (****)

The Power of a Praying Wife – Stormie Omartian (****)

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – Stephenie Meyer (***)

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (***)

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy Series) – Richelle Mead (*****)

It’s All About Him – Denise Jackson (****)

The Dead Tossed Waves – Carrie Ryan (*****)

Burned (House of Night Series) – PC Cast & Kristin Cast (***)

Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely Series) – Melissa Marr (***)

Shadowland (Immortals Series) – Alyson Noel (**)

Blue Moon (Immortals Series) – Alyson Noel (***)

I’ve already reviewed Last Sacrifice, Spirit Bound, and The Dead Tossed Waves in 2011 since they were my only 5 Star picks. I’ll now give a brief (one sentence or two) review on the others from 2010 since I’ve had some distance and clarity on these.

Redeeming Love – Excellent book with Christian background and influences. Changes the way you think about how God speaks to you and is working in your life—or at least offers a different way of looking at it. Beautiful story based on the book of Hosea.

Clockwork Angel – Took some time getting started, but when the storyline started picking up, it got harder and harder to put down. Was somewhat afraid that this series might follow the same overall arch as The Mortal Instruments. Looking forward to reading Clockwork Prince that released this month. Hoping to get it for Christmas.

Power of a Praying Wife – Excellent for married women wanting to improve their marriage. Though not quite as good as the Power of a Praying Woman.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – Interesting to see the background of Bree and some of the things going on behind the scenes that affected the story of Eclipse. Especially after the battle scene when the Volturi show up. It ended right when it got good, but so it seems was the short second life of Bree Tanner.

Beautiful Creatures – Read in one day but only because I had opportunity to read not because I couldn’t put it down. Was better initially thinking than after I had some time to dwell on it.

It’s All About Him – Was recommended to me by my father, and I was right determined not to like it at all. Turned out to be way above my expectations and challenged my thinking on some things as well as challenged me to improve my own prayer life and release control (that I never really had in the first place) to the ONE who actually controls it all.

Burned – Can’t remember much about this book specifically, but the House of Night series has been steadily declining in my opinion since perhaps the range of books 4-6. I will finish the series, but it’s not a priority anymore. Only vaguely wish to get the newest book (Destined) for Christmas.

Ink Exchange – At this point, I started questioning the Wicked Lovely series. Not my favorite. Didn’t like that the focus of this book was on Leslie and not the characters from book 1. Though this was probably slightly better than the next book in the series, Fragile Eternity, which took me an eternity to read.

Shadowland – Another book that took me an eternity to read. I had to force, I mean physically force, myself to read this book. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Blue Moon – Consider how much I didn’t like Shadowland, this book was surprising good. But still only okay.

So that’s that for my 2010 reads. Moving on to 2012. Can’t wait to see what adventures I’ll experience in the upcoming year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Northanger Abbey - Review

Northanger Abbey

By: Jane Austen

Published: first published 1818

251 pages

Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction

Source: Own, Personal Library

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Goodreads description--A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.

Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.

So it’s time to review another classic. Ugh, these are probably the hardest ones to review for me. I’d give Northanger Abbey 3 Stars. I did like this book and it definitely had moments where I was extremely curious to know what was going to happen next, but as with all of Jane Austen’s novels that I have read thus far, there are moments that are more boring in nature and therefore allow me to put the book down easily.

The more I read of Jane Austen’s writing and the more familiar I am with other works from the same time period, the easier it is to read these works. I’m more familiar with the phrasing and general canter of her writing style than I once was, but sometimes I still have to slow down in order to absorb what it is that she’s trying to say.

Northanger Abbey’s heroine, Catherine, appears to me to be surrounded by several people who’s speech is contradictory to their actually feelings or actions, Isabella, John Thorpe, and Mrs. Allen. And Catherine herself appears to me to be one of the most ignorant of Jane Austen’s heroines. I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily. It’s just that Catherine doesn’t always know what is proper and usually defers her own judgment to those around her assuming that they know better than she does. While Catherine does appear perceptive in some cases, as in disliking John Thorpe very early on, she also appears the opposite in other cases, such as Isabella’s true nature as well as John’s supposed attraction to herself.

I like the fact that while Jane Austen’s heroines seem to be similar in some ways, they all have very different circumstances and experience which makes each story very much unique to itself. I do find that there has been in at least 3 of the novels that I’ve completely finished a character that I wholly dislike…and it’s usually the one that talks the most about things they know nothing about. In this case, it’s Isabella Thorpe. One thing I was disappointed in was the ending. It’s not that she didn’t satisfy my desire to know what happened or that I wasn’t pleased with the end result; however, she essentially summarized the ending rather than letting the reader experience it as it happened.

Anyway, a short read, but well worth it if you’re an Austen fan. If not, I wouldn’t suggest reading this one first, but work up to it.

*Updated: September 6, 2013

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Glass Wall - Review

The Glass Wall (Return of the Ancients, # 1)

By: Madison Adler

Published: September 5th 2011 by McAzadi Services

354 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--17-year-old Sydney's only interest in life is flying under the radar.

But destiny has other plans when the tall, handsome, formal, and unusual Rafael Channing moves into the neighborhood. Athletic and with killer looks, he wears black eyeliner like a magician and seems to be watching Sydney's every move.

What starts out as a light-hearted investigation with her gadget-happy foster father takes a serious turn when she discovers that Rafael isn't human. Add Jareth, the country's latest rock sensation, into the mix and Sydney is swept into a mysterious world of Tulpas, the Fae, and the Brotherhood of the Snake.

Sydney doesn't know she's a Blue Thread of Fate. She doesn't know the fate of humanity depends on her choice of whom to trust--Jareth or Rafael. And she certainly doesn't know that she's taken the first step on the unexpected path of love.

4 Stars.

This book kept me interested. I just really wanted to figure out what these supernatural beings were. I think I figured it out a bit sooner than our main character, Sydney, did though. Oh well. I like that she didn’t exactly guess correctly and even when she did find out what they were, she tended to revert back to her original assumption.

I like the storyline of Sydney developing her relationships with her foster family verses her real mother. I like how Grace has a crush on Rafael first and how she behaves about it—though I’m also glad that Grace isn’t the main character. I like how Grace’s attentions are shifted from Rafael. Oh and Al, Sydney’s foster dad, at the Thanksgiving scene, was hilarious. Down-right hilarious. Loved that scene. Laughed out loud reading that scene.

*Possible SPOILERS ahead, please proceed with caution.* However, I don’t like how Sydney seems not really oblivious to boys….but uninterested…and then all of a sudden she is…interested. And I don’t like how all of these other people keep saying “they see how Rafael looks at Sydney,” but there really feels like there’s no reason for him to like her. Or at least as a reader, I didn’t understand why he does. And there were times when I was reading that I flat just didn’t believe that he did like her. It didn’t feel believable to me. It felt like the author needed Rafael to like Sydney not that he actually did. I actually got more from Jareth in the way of feelings and reason to have feelings for Sydney than I did from Rafael. Now granted maybe all will be explored and explained in the upcoming books, guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Oh and I get that Rafael is a supernatural being and all—and all supernatural beings have their pros and cons—but he’s just a little too hetero for my taste. The makeup and sequins were just a bit too much. Especially when he crossed over into feather territory. Some eyeliner I MIGHT be able to handle. And yes I understand that Steven Tyler has a feather in his hair. You also see more pre-teen girls with the feather in their hair to mimic Steven Tyler than you do grown men or teenage boys. But the sequins? I can’t…just can’t buy that for a dude.

Overall good read. Check out The Glass Wall by Madison Adler.

*Updated: September 6, 2013

Hollowland - Review

Hollowland (The Hollows, # 1)

By: Amanda Hocking

Published: September 28th 2010 by Amanda Hocking

312 pages

Genre: YA, Horror, Zombies

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Let see… I’d give Hollowland 4 Stars. For not having this book go through the typical publisher with editor and line editor process that most books go through, Amanda Hocking did a really superb job and I really have to commend her for that.

Hollowland kept my interest the entire way. I did have some opportunities to put it down in the beginning but that was mostly because I was finishing up some other books and not because I wasn’t interested in the story. Some of the storyline felt convenient, like finding a fully gassed up vehicle at the first house they stop. And then being provided with another fully gassed vehicle later. However, I’m sure the same could be said for plenty of other books on the market. In the same way, the condition of Remy’s brother Max was really convenient as well.

I can’t really think of any plot twists that threw me for a loop or that I couldn’t see coming. But I also didn’t feel like everything was predictable. The characters definitely faced ongoing peril instead of persistent safety. And then there’s the ending. It pretty much just ended. I mean I think she was going for a cliffhanger. And while I do really want to know what happens next, overall the ending felt…unpolished.

Good book. Much better than I could have done self-published. And also much better than some books I’ve read over the last year that had the help of seasoned publishers and editors. 4 stars. Check out Hollowland.

*Updated: September 6, 2013