Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

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

I'm side-eyeing this book something fierce because the whole using-alchemy-to-change-bodies detail feels yanked straight out of Fullmetal Alchemist, a show I loved in junior high and just recently got back into upon my discovery of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Trying to call it fresh equals me calling BS, but I'll still give The Alchemy of Forever a try. I may scream and I may nitpick, but it takes a little more than that to put me off a book.

The Alchemy of Forever
by Avery Williams
January 3, 2012
256 pages (hardcover)

Seraphina’s first love made her immortal…her second might get her killed.

Incarnation is a new series that introduces a fresh mythology perfect for fans of bestselling series like The Immortals by Alyson Noel and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

After spending six hundred years on earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to swap bodies with other humans, jumping from one vessel to the next, taking the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting—and falls for the human boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Pages: 400 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Read it on my Kindle

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)
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.

Review:

This review is dedicated to my dear friend Cillian, who read Born at Midnight in exchange for me reading Hourglass. Sorry about that, Cillian. You got the worse end of the deal there.

This book didn't turn out to be a good fit for me, but I do have some praise to give it. Hourglass was very readable and positively flew by. Truly terrible books feel like they go on forever, but the novel's liberal use of small cliffhangers at the end of every chapter made me hardly notice as I blew through the novel. Sure, I was skimming that last section, but it was still quick. While Emerson is... well, I'll get to that in a minute, the writing itself is easy to read, lending a hand to that great pacing. The idea Kaleb's character is a good one, but the execution will be given some attention later too.

Now for what I didn't like. This section is much lengthier.

Angst angst Michael Michael Michael Michael more angst about parents Michael Michael Michael Michael Michael Michael Michael Michael Kaleb Kaleb boys boys boys boys OMG I can't choose between them Michael Michael Michael Michael Michael. Throw another few moments of angst in as needed.

That was the main character Emerson's mind in Hourglass from beginning to end. She spends so much time putting down other girls, including her own best friend ("If [good-looking best friend Lily] didn't have a wicked sense of humor and more loyalty than a Saint Bernard, I would probably hate her on principle alone."), drooling over boys, making sweeping generalizations about teenage girls, and overall being one of those characters you wish would think with their brains and not their sexual organs that I am embarrassed to be a fellow teenage female. She is one of the most unpleasant narrators I've come across in a while.

When I was ten, I was a moron. Why? I shoved a wrench into an electrical socket and got the piss shocked out of me. Multiple times, Emerson mentions the electricity coursing between her and Michael, such literal electricity that it blows light bulbs (and I swear I'm not kidding). It's supposed to be romantic, but all I could think of when she was describing it was my own shock from the electrical socket, which was not fun or orgasm-inducing. Like with all heroines that do the same thing because this is hardly an isolated incident, I wondered what she was thinking. Not good description right there.

In fact, description does not seem to be the book's strong point. With the way he had to arrange his face until he could settle on the right expression, I was under the impression our romantic lead Michael was really Mr. Potato Head. (Come on, you know Mr. Potato Head is sexy.) Emerson had a terrible tendency to overdescribe Michael. It's awesome Emerson wants to do him. Really. Heroines who aren't afraid to think of or have sex safely earn extra points with me. Too bad Emerson lost those extra points and then some by constantly going on about about how hot he is. I can only take so much.

And then when he fogged up a glass with his hands--think about that because something is wrong with that picture--I couldn't resist the joke that he was a hot potato. Yes, I am occasionally punny. It's genetic. Shut up.

This quote pretty much exemplifies my problem with Emerson and Michael as a couple and it can expand to describe my problem with many popular couples in YA now:

""I don't know what any of this means, but I know that when I thought you were gone, I couldn't breathe. It felt like half of me was missing." I kept babbling, my edit button not only broken, but completely obliterated. "I'm seventeen. Who feels like this at seventeen?"" (Hourglass, 90% on my Kindle)
Partway through, Michael tells Emerson about the Novikov Principle, an important element that keeps them from messing up the timeline too badly with their time traveling. Just one problem there. Michael only knows about the Novikov Principle because of Future Emerson, who appeared to him and told him. Future Emerson only knew because Past Emerson knew, who only knew because Michael told her. Where is the starting point of this important piece of information? I have seen many plot holes as a reader, but this is the first one I've ever seen that produces a literal hole if put to a diagram in the mind.

Maybe it would have been easier to get into the "OMG Kaleb likes me and I kind of like him, but I really like Michael, but Michael might not like me back and he might like this other girl and OMG" love triangle drama if I actually liked anyone involved. I hated Emerson, Michael, Kaleb (while the idea behind his character was a good one, the execution of it as that typical flirty friend/third part of love triangle was terrible)--overall, the novel needed stronger characters, especially stronger female characters.

Hourglass tried to up the drama at the end with two mentions of the "powers that be" and no explanation of what/who they are or why they are able to keep people like Emerson from using their powers. I would think that would come up earlier in the novel, but I'm getting off-task. The attempt to make it dramatic and keep readers around for the sequel Timepiece didn't work on a reader as reluctant as I was. If you're looking for a quick read that you don't plan to think much into, just something for your brain to munch on while on a plane or something, this seems like a good choice.

2 stars!


What am I reading next?: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Friday, November 25, 2011

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Title: Audition
Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publisher: Penguin/Viking Juvenile
Release Date: October 13, 2011
Pages: 458 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it

When Sara is offered a scholarship with the prestigious Jersey Ballet, there's no way she can turn down the opportunity of a lifetime. But to take it, she must leave her family and friends for a strange city. Suddenly, she's thrust into a life of endless ballet class and rehearsal, of juggling schoolwork with hours in the studio, of constantly being critiqued, corrected, and judged.

Overwhelmed and lonely, Sara connects with Remington, a brilliant up-and-coming choreographer. Though he's too old for her, sparking scandal at the studio, Sara is thrilled to become Rem's muse. But as the secrets pile up and Rem's innovative dances start to attract wider attention, Sara wonders whose dreams she's making come true.

Debut author Stasia Ward Kehoe spins an intense and romantic page-turner about the deeply flawed yet irresistible world of ballet.

Review:

The scholarship to Jersey Ballet so she can become a better ballerina is supposed to be a dream come true for small-town Vermont girl Sara, but it's not turning out to be so wonderful. The other ballerinas with their sleek techniques and perfect movement make her feel inadequate and it isn't easy to juggle schoolwork with all the hours spent practicing at the studio. Miles away from her friends and family, her only comfort is her illicit relationship with Remington, a combination student/choreographer/teacher six years older than her. She's infatuated and creates wonderful dances with him, but is dancing her dream anymore? Could she have a new dream now?

Sara's character arc is a fulfilling one and the novel's style communicate her loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and other such emotions perfectly. The choice to write it in verse was a good one; it would not have been such a memorable novel if written in prose like most of the novel I read are. I felt bad for her because of how lonely she was and missed being at home, but she could be so frustrating! I nearly screamed at her multiple times about how bad Rem was for her, but it took her until nearly the end to realize it. It was all part of her character growth and self-acceptance, I know, but that doesn't make it not frustrating.

Audition is a slow-burning, character-driven kind of novel. Seemingly unremarkable and perhaps boring at first, it slowly warms up until the realization comes that hey, this is really good! Depending on how much one likes novels written in verse and such slow-burn novels, this can be a quick read or a very slow one. For me, it was quick; though there were six days between me starting the novel and finishing it, I read it for only three of those days and got through large chunks at a time, as large as two-hundred pages at once, because I could not put it own. I just had to see when Sara would realize enough was enough with Rem.

A lot of my friends are unimpressed by verse novels or don't care to read them because it's not their style. For those, I recommend looking for a library copy or online excerpt to try it out and see if this will be one they might like. If you're someone that can adapt to any style for the sake of a good story with a compelling heroine and, give Audition a second look. Also recommended if you want to learn more about the grueling world of ballet (and considering I want to learn more about dancing for an idea I have on hold, this was a huge help).

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

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

Most of the time, angel books and I do not get along. I don't know what it is, but I rarely like them. Then along came Unearthly during the course of my H.Y.P.E. Project (which is so terribly out of date now with hyped books and yet I know I don't have the time/money to adjust it and read more current books) and I fell in love with it. Hallowed is yet another 2012 novel that comes out near my birthday, so yet another one I can point people to as something to give me a a gift!

(And it makes me so sad the publisher won't give me access to it through NetGalley. I guess they don't like me because of negative reviews I've given to some of their titles, such as Starcrossed. Oh well. I'm not going to turn into one of those bloggers who thinks they're entitled to an ARC, so I'll be patient. But that doesn't mean I'll stop requesting. Oh, no.)

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Hallowed
by Cynthia Hand
January 17, 2011
416 pages (hardback)

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Described by Richelle Mead as “utterly captivating,” Unearthly received outstanding reviews, garnered accolades from New York Times bestselling authors, and was named an Indie Next Pick. In this heart-wrenching sequel, Cynthia Hand expertly captures the all-consuming joy of first love—and the agony of loss. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike.

(Yes, it is I who crossed that out. That kind of comparison will scare off readers, not bring them in. Trust me, this series is nothing like those books; it's far better than any of them.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

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

There was a pretty little novel I read a few months ago that I absolutely loved: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. I've been eagerly awaiting the second novel Enshadowed since then, and you can imagine my face when I realized it was pushed back from January 2012 to August 2012, two years after the release of Nevermore. You know the classic D: for expressing sadness on the Internet? That does not even begin to cover it. Still excited, though. I will be patient (and it can be a going-away gift instead, since I expect to be moving away for college around that time)!

 Enshadowed (Nevermore, #2)Enshadowed
by Kelly Creagh
August 28, 2012
560 pages (hardback)

While Varen remains a prisoner in the dream-world, Isobel is haunted by his memory. He appears to her in her dreams and soon, even in her waking life. But is she just imagining it? Isobel knows she must find a way back to Varen. She makes plans to go to Baltimore. There, she confronts the figure known throughout the world as the Poe Toaster—the same dark man who once appeared to Isobel in her dreams, calling himself “Reynolds.”

Isobel succeeds in interrupting the Toaster’s ritual and, in doing so, discovers a way to return to the dream-world. Soon, she finds herself swept up in a realm which not only holds remnants of Poe’s presence, but has also now taken on the characteristics of Varen’s innermost self. It is a dark world comprised of fear, terror, and anger.
 
When Isobel once more encounters Varen, she finds him changed. With his mind poisoned by the dream world, he becomes a malevolent force, bent on destroying all—even himself. Now Isobel must face a new adversary, one who also happens to be her greatest love.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Title: Dark Goddess
Author: Sarwat Chadda
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Pages: 376 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Dark Goddess (Billi SanGreal #2)

Still reeling from the death of her best friend, Kay, Billi is thrust into action when the Templars are called to investigate werewolf activity. And these werewolves are like nothing Billi has ever seen.

They call themselves the Polenitsy--Man-Killers. These ancient warrior women of Eastern Europe were supposedly wiped out centuries ago. But now they've come out of hiding and are on the hunt for a Spring Child--an oracle powerful enough to start a Fimbulwinter that will wipe out humankind for good.

To reclaim the Spring Child and save the world, Billi needs to earn the trust of Ivan Romanov, a young Russian soldier who is suspicious of people in general, and of Billi in particular.

Folklore and myth become darkly real in this stunning adventure, a story of the world running out of time. And of Billi SanGreal, the only one who can save it.

Review:

Three months after the events of Devil's Kiss, Billi has thrown herself into the life of a Knight Templar. Her latest mission involves the protection of a nine-year-old girl named Vasilisa, the target of a group of werewolves called the Polenitsy. She is an Oracle, an avatar, and what the Polenitsy call a Spring Child, a child to be sacrificed to their goddess Baba Yaga to keep her alive. The Knights Templar follow the wolves to Russia to save Vasilisa and must enlist the help of the Bogatyrs, and Billi grows closer to their future leader Ivan Romanov. As the time of sacrifice grows closer, can Billi save Vasilisa or will the child end up in trapped within Baba Yaga?

Dark Goddess starts out slowly, with the inciting event of Vasilisa's kidnapping happening around to 100 page mark, but once the novel gets going, it doesn't slow down until the last page is turned. Billi, still a mess after Kay's death, is a wonderfully complex character and her relationship with her dad is still one of my favorite qualities of the book, though it got more spotlight in the first book than in the second one. Concerning Kay, it's great she moved on from her "soul mate's" death; on the other hand, it felt a little quick for how much he was supposed to mean to her. But who am I to judge another on such a thing until I've been through it? For that, I let it slide.

You know, it's been about two years since I read Devil's Kiss. It didn't make much of an impression on me when I first read it, but Dark Goddess made me appreciate just how good it was in many regards and rethink my feelings on it, which is just what a good sequel should do. There were many bits I've forgotten over those two years, but Dark Goddess helpfully reminds me without infodumping or being overwhelming.

Though Baba Yaga is the uncontested antagonist and in the wrong for what she plans to do, the reader can understand why she feels that way. If you were connected to the earth itself and felt pain when humans dumped waste into the waterways and cut down trees until almost nothing was left, you might be angry at humans too and want to start over by wiping them all out with Fimbulwinter. The pain she has gone through over the centuries by human hands almost makes her pitiable. Almost.

My main issue with the book was its tendency to switch from past-tense narration to present-tense for flashbacks, dreams, even dramatic moments such as the killing blow during the climactic scene. I like consistency in my narrative and the switching between where the past is told in present and the "present" is told in past was confusing. I can't deny its intended stylistic effect, but it did not have the effect it was supposed to on me.

Readers hungry for a warrior heroine with depth and complexity need look no further than Billi SanGreal's series, starting with Devil's Kiss and continuing with Dark Goddess. Chadda stated on his blog back in August 2010 he had plans for a third Billi book, but there were no plans to publish it at that time and it all depended on sales of the series. I hope sales pick up because I would love to see more of Billi, especially after reading the little idea teasers the author offered. Please buy the books. Please? (Want details? Here you go.)

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Title: Unleashed
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Pages: 382 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine-provided ARC

Unleashed (Wolf Springs Chronicles, #1)Katelyn McBride's life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains.

Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It's a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths.

And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything.

Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night--welcome to Wolf Springs.

Review:

After an earthquake kills her mother, Katelyn McBride is sent to live with her grandfather Ed all the way out in Wolf Springs, Arkansas. The transition from LA to small-town America is a rough one, but other matters come to occupy her time. Two girls die from wolf attacks, there's a program just outside town to help people "release their inner wolves," and her new friend Cordelia is hiding something about her family. Then there are the two boys in her life: Justin, Cordelia's cousin and a hottie whose gaze sets her on fire, and Trick, the sweetheart she rides to school with. Katelyn may turn out to be what the people of Wolf Springs have been waiting for: the end to an ancient war.

Katelyn is a petty, judgmental brat. Would you not dislike a heroine who seriously expects to go to school in a small town to see students wearing overalls and cutoff denim shorts, chewing on straw, and driving tractors? I hate, hate, hate characters who are mean about small towns or small town life. Then you add in her saying another girl must be putting out to have a certain guy as her boyfriend and you have a character I would happily push over a cliff. At the very least, Katelyn admits she is too stupid to live, but this does not make her any more tolerable or likable. If anything, it shows that someone thought through how ridiculous she is and still did not change it.

Some personal bias comes in concerning the budding relationship between Katelyn and Justin. It's a long story, but the short version is that a good friend of mine and her boyfriend have a toxic relationship that has hurt her badly and her boyfriend claims to be a werewolf.  My dislike of him translates into a dislike of werewolves, but I didn't realize this until after I requested a copy of Unleashed, so bully for it.

There are multiple similarities between my friend and Katelyn and then the boyfriend and Justin, the most important being that the guys both had girlfriends when they met the girls and cheated on their girlfriends with the girls. Infidelity is a huge pet peeve of mine. Supporting Justin and Katelyn is already impossible because of their heavy resemblance to my friend's toxic relationship, but if not for that, it would still be impossible for me to support them because Justin is cheating on his girlfriend for Katelyn. No magical connection makes cheating okay.

Other than that, characterization is thin. Justin is a disgusting creep who always manages to seem like he's turned on, Trick is... well,  Trick doesn't get much characterization, and there are multiple characters who only exist to be around for a scene or two, tell Katelyn this important plot point at this point in time, and then get put on a bus by divorce or fading into obscurity. With all these infodump characters lying around, you think one could explain how an old man living out in the middle of the woods would know a high school guy like Trick and convince him to drive his granddaughter an hour back and forth each day for school.

The title of the novel, series name, and cover make it obvious what kind of book this is. The painfully predictable events of the novel make it even more obvious. Yet Katelyn does not figure out what's going on at any point--someone else has to tell her, and that doesn't happen until page 278 out of 382 in my copy.

There was exactly one scene in this book I liked, and that would be the earthquake scene at the very beginning of the book. The Fenner family dynamic with a father suffering from dementia and a mentally disabled little brother captures some of my interest too, but some is also lost due to the cliche characterization of the rest of the family. Otherwise, there isn't anything I liked and the novel is full of holes, like how a room full of werewolves--at least ten, up to thirty--with enhanced senses of smell managed not to smell Katelyn when she was close enough to hear them.

Writing this negative review isn't exactly fun when there's so little praise I can offer, but it has to be done. I'm not going to lie about liking something when I didn't--I'm a truthful reviewer. I only ever get so negative when there is something to be negative about. My advice is to skip this one, but make your own decisions on it.

1 star!


What am I reading next?: Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

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

I've had my eye on this title for a while anyway, but some Goodreads friends recently got ahold of advance copies and all I'm hearing from them is good word. The worries I had about the content based on a warning word or two and dubious phrasing? Yeah, they're gone now. And it comes out shortly after my birthday~! I think I know what I'll be asking for.

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Everneath
by Brodi Ashton
January 24, 2012
370 pages (hardback)

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear Bully by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

Title: Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories
Authors: Megan Kelley Hall and Carie Jones (anthology editors)
Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Pages: 352 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.


Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their StoriesYou are not alone.
 
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
 
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

Review:

Bullying has always been a serious issue, but it has become even more serious in the past few years. The suicides of gay teens that led to the It Gets Better campaign gained an unearthly amount of publicity, and teen suicide cases gain attention anyway because of the tragedy. In the Dear Bully anthology, seventy authors--some readers will know, be familiar with the same with, or may not know at all--tell their own stories of being bullied.

As the book points out, seventy-five percent of students are subjected to various types of harassment by others, be physical, emotional, online, or one of many other ways. Each story has great emotional resonance, especially to someone like me--I've been  bully, been bullied, and stood by while someone else was bullied. No one story is greater than the others, but Michelle Zink's story of frenemies and Sophie Jordan's "The Eulogy of Ivy O'Conner" are very familiar to me and have stuck with me. It's been only a few days since I finished the novel, but I'm sure they will continue to stick with me, as will many others.

My main problem with the book is that it is perhaps too ambitious. The message that bullying needs to stop rings true, but it loses its potency because of how many stories there are in the book that hammer this message in. Methinks seventy was a few too many stories for one book. There was one particular story in the anthology that bothered me for reasons it shouldn't have. One story in particular felt almost... fake, and I feel terrible for admitting I feel that way about it.

Dear Bully was a truly affecting anthology. The pages of resources in the back point the curious to anti-bullying programs, programs such as the Trevor Project and Reach Out, and numbers teens can call if they are feeling suicidal or are overwhelmed with problems. The novel itself is a great resource for anyone wondering just how badly bullying can affect a person, and I'm certain this novel will help someone out there.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Breath by Rachel Caine

Title: Last Breath
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Penguin/NAL
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Pages: 335 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires, #11)With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace.

She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone who has just moved to town: a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's newest resident, Claire is certain that magnus isn't merely human. But is Magnus a vampire--or something else entirely?

One thing is clear: Magnus is to blame for the disapperances. And if vampires are turning into victims, what chance does a human like Claire have?

Review:

Michael and Eve are ready to ring the wedding bells, but the rest of the town isn't so ready for their marriage. Neither side is willing to let the two races mix and considering previous precedent of what happens when humans and vampires marry, their worries are almost understandable. As the group fights for the couple's right to marry, Claire is seeing a man no one else can see, a nondescript man that...turns to water? Who is he? What is he? Whoever or whatever he is, his presence has the vampires ready to run away, but the capture of people near and dear to them sends them into the monster's lair.

See how different my summary is from the back cover summary? That's because the "official" summary lied.

Last Breath was a fast-paced thrill ride that could keep a reader glued to their seat. It can be occasionally interrupted by shifts in the point-of-view (there are five narrators this time around, giving the reader a better look at characters they have already come to know well), but it. is generally a straightforward novel. The numerous tension-filled scenes and fights are wonderfully written and fly by in a flash. Funny, shocking (and it really is this time--can you say another main character death?), complex--it's everything a Morganville book should be and just a little bit more.

And there went all the praise. Crit time!

It appears the reader is supposed to be on Claire and co.'s side about the marriage, but I found myself on Amelie's side. It isn't fair for them to be denied their right to marry, but Amelie has never pretended to be fair. She wants to keep Morganville peaceful and letting the two get married would cost the town what small and fragile peace there is. Solid rationale by a person whose decision could either make a small group unhappy or send the entire town into chaos.

The dual plots of Magnus's presence in Morganville connected to the vampires going missing and Michael and Eve's struggle to get married are unevenly balanced--the marriage plot conquers the entire first half of the book with minute appearances from the Magnus plot, then the Magnus plot takes full control and the marriage plot is (understandably) completely forgotten--and I still have questions about it that were never answered. Why could Claire see Magnus when she wasn't supposed to?

Somehow, I have only just now managed to notice the lows of the descriptions. Between all the not-facey faces and the eyes-but-not-eyes, I wanted a decision to be made already about what they were or were not. Then there was a gem in Eve being described as poisonously fierce (that is going to be a memorable example of bad description) and after so many descriptions of Eve's Goth makeup and Goth clothes and totally-not-described-but-totally-there Goth underwear, I wanted the book to stop. She's beautiful. She's Goth. Point made. Describing them so much so many times is a waste of precious words.

And that was the end of our objective segment (and yes, that was my twisted version of objective). Now is where I stop considering the true quality of the book and get down to how I felt about it in my heart of hearts and yadda yadda yadda.

See, I have a longstanding tradition concerning the Morganville Vampires series: I read each book in one sitting during one day. They were just that good (though Bite Club was another story, but that's neither here nor there) and kept me glued to the pages so I could find out where Claire, Shane, Eve, and Michael were going and what they would do.

This time? It took me two days, and the tradition was not broken out of necessity. No, it was broken because I was so disinterested in the book that I procrastinated reading it, mostly by working on my NaNoWriMo novel. A terrible sign indeed. (AND I HAVE SAID NOTHING OF MY DARLING MYRNIN WHEN MY LAST TWO REVIEWS OF MORGANVILLE BOOKS BABBLED ABOUT HIM. Could there be a worse sign?)

Does the book have problems? Absolutely. Is the book terrible? No. Despite my indifference to it this time around, I do recognize the book's quality (why else would it be getting four stars instead of the three I think it deserves?). It is a marked improvement on Bite Club, but it appears I've checked out on the series at this point. Not even a huge cliffhanger promising that the next book Black Dawn will be a dramatic one full of good fight scenes interests me now.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie