Friday, November 30, 2012

The Real Story Behind the Across the Universe Cover Changes

Disclaimer: This is not the real story about why the cover designer(s) assigned to this series changed the covers so much. This is simply the entertaining take I have on it.

Original covers:


Pitch: "Dude, this takes place in space, so let's set the covers in space and throw in as many pretty stars as we can Photoshop in. Readers dig pretty covers!"

(Covers are largely well-received due to prettiness. Even I drool over them.)

Cover redesign #1, shortly before hardcover release of A Million Suns:

New covers: 

 Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)A Million Suns 

Pitch: "Duuuuuuude, I just had an even better idea! Let's give the series some covers that really get across how claustrophobic it feels to live on the Godspeed and makes readers sure this is sci-fi for serious. But we'll still release A Million Suns with the starry hardcover. We'll just give it the new cover when it comes out in paperback."

(I can't remember how these covers were received, but the new cover for Across the Universe matches it tone. My copy of the novel has this cover and I like it just as much as I like the stars.)

Cover redesign #2, July 2012:

New covers:


New Pitch Person: "Duuuuuude, we have to redesign these covers again. Let's use these font-centric covers so more guys will read them."

Old Pitch Person: "Dude, you must be new here.If a guy wants to read a book, he'll read it no matter what the cover looks like. I've seen them walking around with books that have shirtless guys, girls in pretty dresses, and baby ducks on the cover. They don't care. So take your gender essentialism and shove it. And what about the sci-fi-esque covers we came up with for Across the Universe and A Million Suns's paperbacks? Those appeal to both genders just fine. Besides all that, those covers look terrible. Readers won't like them."

New Pitch Person: "Disagreement on cover designs? It sounds like it's time for..."

Old Pitch Person: "A drinking contest! Because any other way of solving disagreements on cover designs is stupid."

-The pitch people chug vodka. The only rule: first person to pass out loses.-

-Old Pitch Person passes out.-

New Pitch Person: "D-dude, I wiiiiiiiiin. I kneeeeew I'd phuckin... Oh God, I'm gonna--"

-New Pitch Person searches for a toilet to vomit in-

(Readers generally dislike the new covers for various reasons, including how the covers of all the books don't match (a common complaint when redesigns happen), how old-fashioned these look, and the ridiculousless of the argument behind the redesign.)

END

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges

Title: The Unfailing Light
Author: Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Pages: 320 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

The Unfailing Light (Katerina, #2)Lush and opulent, romantic and sinister, The Unfailing Light, Volume II in The Katerina Trilogy, reimagines the lives of Russia's aristocracy in a fabulously intoxicating and page-turning fantasy.

Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.


Review:


What happened? When I read The Gathering Storm, I was halfway in love with it, though there were a few elements that never impressed me. The plot was well-paced, Katerina was awesome, and the book knew just when to time a switch to another plot line. Either my tastes changed or The Unfailing Light is a serious step down in quality. I spent most of the novel wanting to scream at it.

Katerina is still nothing short of fantastic and I love her only slightly less for a reason that will become clear in a few minutes. Some will read her repeated mentions of how much she wants to become a doctor as too much telling with not enough showing, but it works for me somehow. I even started to grow a little fond of the Montenegrin princess Elena, though the efforts to give her deeper characterization are more than a little slapdash.

Where The Gathering Storm was well-paced and seemed to know exactly when I wanted to get back to another plot line that got put on hold, The Unfailing Light is not so well-paced. The ghost mentioned in the jacket copy does not become anything major until over halfway through the book, and only stubborn persistence got me through that slow, uninteresting first half. Then the ghost is taken care of fairly easily. Only the plot point barrier put up by the empress kept it from being dealt with sooner.

George and the love triangle didn't impress me the first time around, but this book made me hate George. He needs a swift, hard kick in the nads. The girl he loves is a necromancer powerful enough to bring back the lich tsar everyone is so afraid of (along with hurting George himself with a mere kiss) and he says it's too dangerous for her to know what he's doing? Really? Then Katerina forgives him with nary an objection for how he fails to give her the respect she deserves. This is why I lost a little love for her. Danilo isn't even fun anymore. Now he's just flat, creepy, and in need of a kick in the nads. What are his motives? For that matter, where are the motives for the majority of the cast?

Irritating as this novel was, I'm not sure I want to stick around for the final book of this trilogy. Katerina's story disappointed me and if the third book is going to end up doing the same, I'd rather not waste my time. It always sucks when this happens to a series I like.

2 stars!


What am I reading next?: Delusion by Laura J. Sullivan

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated of 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So this week's topic is what books I'm most anticipating in 2013. I'm not going to give you my comments on any of them because any and all comments would amount to "AORITBAOTIBUNOI GIMME BOOK NAO!" (Except on #4. I won an ARC of that last night and I'm looking forward to it.)

Also, my number one pick is the final book of a trilogy, so its blurb will be spoilery. Read it at your own risk and don't blame me.

Premeditated10) Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein 

A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.




~


Some Quiet Place9) Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

Elizabeth Caldwell has perfected the art of pretending to feel emotion, but it’s always a lie. After a near-fatal car accident when she was a small child, Elizabeth lost the ability to feel any emotion, but along with that loss she gained bizarre abilities: she can see the personified Emotions she cannot feel. Fury, Resentment, Longing—they’ve all given up on her, because she doesn't succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one. Fear. He’s consumed by the mystery of Elizabeth’s past, consumed by her.

And then there are Elizabeth's cryptic, recurring dreams, in which there’s always love, and there’s always death. Haunted by these dreams, Elizabeth paints them, knowing that they somehow hold the key to the mystery of her past.

But a shadowy menace is stalking Elizabeth. Her survival depends on uncovering the truth about herself. And when it matters most, she won’t be able to rely on Fear to save her.
 


 ~


Nobody But Us8) Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.
 


~


Ink (The Paper Gods, #1)7) Ink by Amanda Sun

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.


On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.
 


~

Thousand Words6) Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown

Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."

But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

Acclaimed author Jennifer Brown brings readers a gripping novel about honesty and betrayal, redemption and friendship, attraction and integrity, as Ashleigh finds that while a picture may be worth a thousand words . . . it doesn't always tell the whole story.
 

~

Strands of Bronze and Gold5) Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
 

~

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)4) Just One Day by Gayle Forman

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one d
ay together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!
 



~

Paper Valentine3) Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.
 

~

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 2) Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
 

~

Boundless (Unearthly, #3) 1) Boundless by Cynthia Hand

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.
 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Soul Seekers Giveaway!

So guess who's hosting another giveaway just in time for the holidays? Me! If you think the Soul Seeker books by Alyson Noel would make the perfect gift for someone you know (or even for yourself!), here's a chance to get the first two.

Recently, I received paperback copies of Fated and Echo by Alyson Noel from the publisher. I already own an ebook of Fated and I'm planning to pick up an ebook of Echo as well because I like to have my series all in one format, so I'm going to give my readers the benefits of the publisher's generosity toward me.

The Rules:
  • If you would like to enter, please fill out the shiny Rafflecopter form.
  • All entrants must be thirteen years or older.
  • This giveaway is US-Only. Since I am the one in possession of the books and my mailing options while at college are limited, I can't ship international. Not even to Canada.
  • I will post the winner's name in a blog entry around December 12 (I have a final to take that day and we're driving six hours to my school December 11, so I may not have the ability to post either of those days) and email them. They will have twenty-four hours to respond before I choose another winner.
  •  I reserve the right to disqualify entries at my discretion. Speaking of which...
You will be disqualified if:
  • you pick up entries for something you haven't done or you attempt to stack the odds in your favor via stuffing the ballot box. I'll know if you do either, and ALL of your entries will be disqualified.
 Good luck, everyone, and thank you for being such loyal readers! I appreciate it like you can't believe.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

No video this time. Too few books and too little time. There are, however, pictures.





Gifted:

Everneath by Brodi Ashton (Signed and shiny and I give it a quick kiss it every day. Shut up.)

Received from St. Martin's Press:

Fated by Alyson Noel [review here]
  • A few weeks ago, a mystery package arrived for me from St. Martin's Press, but I couldn't open it because it was mailed to my home address instead of my college address. I finally got home for Thanksgiving this weekend and this was the result of the mystery package! Not sure why I got it when I already have a copy, but I'll put it to good use. Expect a giveaway in the near future. ;)

Received from Scholastic:

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
  • Because I'm impatient and have been reading ARCs on an alternating schedule anyway, I got to this one almost immediately after it arrived. I enjoyed it, but my review isn't going live until next month. I still think the old cover is better.

Bought:

Phantom by Laura DeLuca [review here]
  •  I really thought this book would be awesome, but I read it yesterday and was sorely disappointed, though anger was the more dominant emotion.
The Devil's Metal by Karina Halle
  • Because Karina is awesome and she has proven she's good at writing, I'll read this. I've sworn off any New Adult books if I don't already own them (and unfortunately, I own three others, all of them possessing fairly bad reputations; I may as well read them since I have them), but she's the exception. Looking forward to it!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Ember
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Pages: 326 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: audiobook clip | book trailer | author website

Please Ignore Vera DietzVera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.


Review:


This being a Printz Honor book and coming to me via a recommendation from an intelligent friend made me think Please Ignore Vera Dietz was going to wow me, but such was not the case. To an extent, what makes so many people love this novel and the author's works is clear, but what has made this such a darling of critics eludes me.

If it makes any sense, this novel is set apart from more typical friend/family member-dies books more by what it doesn't do wrong than what it does right. More than a few books get overdramatic about the teen's problems. "OMG MY BEST FRIEND/MOM/CAT DIIIIIED AND I'M SO SAAAAAD LIFE WILL NEVER BE OKAY AGAAAAAAAIN!" is how it turns out half the time. Vera's problems are handled much more subtly through quick bites of sarcasm and flashbacks to how things were before Charlie's death, back when they were still friends.

The relationship between Charlie and Vera is really well-written, and it amazes me that one relationship can be given so much shown support when another is completely and utterly told to us. Vera's voice is so direct that it's hard not to get with her sometimes. Occasionally, there are even some quotable bits. This came from page 44 after she explains how her father's policy for problems is "just ignore it":
"I'm sorry, but I don't get it. If we're supposed to ignore everything that's wrong with our lives, then I can't see how we'll ever make things right."
Moments like this happen on occasion and they are what makes me see a little of what my friends love so much. Still, I have more problems with this novel than good things to say.

Toward the two-thirds mark, the novel started to stall. I was no longer interested in the characters, the mean girl Jenny Flick is being demonized to hell and back (which made me pretty angry), and all the interesting bits that make the first part of the story fun to read seem to be gone. Eventually, I skipped to the last thirty pages.

Early in the novel, Vera slut-shames when she says Jenny looks like "a slutty linebacker raccoon" (p.55) because of how much eyeliner the girl wears. This is not the only instance by a long shot and each new one sent my blood pressure upward. Screw Vera. A pox on her house for that. Screw all the characters who were doing it, realistic or no.

Speaking of things that make me say "screw Vera," the all-important night on which Charlie died is one on which she was a massive idiot. She deals with her mistake, but I absolutely cannot see why she made it in the first place when there was obvious something more she could do to stop the fire.

I hear a lot of good things about A.S. King's books, but I doubt I will be reading more of them. Not my cup of tea.

2.5 stars!


What am I reading next?: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Friday, November 23, 2012

Phantom by Laura DeLuca

Title: Phantom
Author: Laura DeLuca
Publisher: Pagan Writers Press
Release Date:  March 30, 2012
Pages: 262 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Phantom The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.

Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.


Review:


Don't get me started on The Phantom of the Opera. Just don't. I love the musical and movie to bits, though I have different feelings on it than others might (like how I actually like Christine and Raoul together). Novels where people are performing drama productions, especially musicals? Me want. One where they're performing The Phantom of the Opera? OUT OF MY WAY BEFORE I CUT YOU.

This is not worth getting excited over. It's worth running from like it's got a knife in hand and it wants to stab you in the neck. Phantom is an insult to YA literature and to The Phantom of the Opera, among many other things. This book shouldn't even be allowed to exist, it's such an insult to The Phantom of the Opera. I could rant forever on this one, but I'll try to keep it trim and short.

So we have Rebecca, our oh-so-perfect heroine who naturally has a professionally trained singing voice that lets her hit all the notes she needs to for her role. Then there's Tom, the annoying first love interest, and Lord Justyn, the second annoying love interest who has the title Lord for absolutely no reason. I checked. There really isn't a reason. Justyn talks like he's from centuries ago. When he says he won't kiss her until he knows he has her completely, body and soul, it's creepy instead of romantic. Any teenage boys says that to me, they get tased in the nuts. Then there's our mean girl Wendy, who is flatter than a piece of paper and who earns way more of my sympathy than Rebecca. The love triangle is flat, the relationships are not well-developed, etc. etc.

The writing is nothing but tell, tell, tell and there are multiple errors throughout. We're told how shy Rebecca is, how Gothic Justyn (sorry, Lord Justyn) is, how irritating Tom's best friend Jay is, how horrible Wendy is for no reason, and more. There's not one thing about the writing that is enjoyable or actually shown. Andrea Bocelli's name is misspelled as Andre Bocelli, heroine is used where heroin should be used in another place, modus operandi is misspelled motis operandi, and there are many basic grammar errors

Then we've also got some casual ableism; just because students don't like the janitor Mr. Russ, he's a schizophrenic nut job. For whatever reason, Rebecca continues to date her boyfriend even after he starts to regularly assault the guy she really likes, and she also continues to do so when she suspects either guy could be the one killing people and making threats. Hell, she even decides to date Tom after he calls one of her best friends a fat cow! Brains: she has none.

Phantom is especially on my shitlist because of its complete disregard for how school newspapers work. I did journalism three years in high school and was senior editor for one of them. A non-staff member submitting a story that falsely calls a student a suspect in a murder case and implies the student was having an affair with the fifty-something murder victim? Like hell that's getting printed, especially without a fact check! That should be laughed at and promptly put through the shredder. Yet this somehow gets printed in their school newspaper. Are you kidding me?

And this is apparently the first of a trilogy--the Dark Musicals trilogy. Count me out. Ugh, this book makes me want to go bathe myself until I've scrubbed away my skin. Other Phans should hide from this book like they're trying to avoid getting eaten during the zombie apocalypse.

0 stars!


What am I reading next?: Quicksilver by RJ Anderson

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: December 6, 2012
Pages: 440 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC from an awesome friend
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

The Friday SocietyAn action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all
Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.


Review:


And then there was an explosion.

No matter what kind of book it is, I am going to imagine "And then there was an explosion" is the first line and not what the first line actually is. That line starts off The Friday Society (and four of its chapters) with a literal bang and it works because this book is a bang. Finally, a girl-power book that is actually a book about how amazing women are! The novel has a few fatal flaws, but it's still a roller-coaster-fun read from beginning to end.

Cora, Nellie, and Michiko are all fantastic characters. In quiet, sharp Michiko's case, I was fully invested in her and her story by the third chapter told from her point of view, and it often takes me longer to get even marginally invested in a character's story. Meanwhile, cheery, adventurous Nellie joins my glittering goddess pantheon alongside Ke$ha. Anyone who uses glitter as a weapon successfully is automatically promoted to goddess in my book. Cora is my least favorite of the three only by a little; if she'd had an outstanding quality, it would have been a three-way tie for my favorite.

The jacket copy doesn't even begin to hint at all the twists and turns the well-paced plot makes. Bomb threats, a mysterious society, a man obsessed with eyes, the murder of flower girls, the murder of a bunch of men who seem to be connected to one another,... There is always something going on and there is rarely a chance to get bored. The resolution of the main plot line comes out of nowhere in the very best way, but one minor plot line can be quickly solved even though its solution comes at the very end of the book. Just pay attention to the clues and spot the red herring.

On the romance side of things (because it's hard for a YA novel to have no romance in it anymore), it's a bit disappointing. The two romantic relationships don't get much development. Cora's insta-love-tainted relationship with Andrew, the other assistant her boss hired, ends exactly the way it should: badly. I thought Andrew was a creep from the moment he made his intentions obvious and he only got worse from there. Good on Cora for figuring it out. Nellie's romance does end well, but its development is only slightly better. Cute, but not entirely believable.

Kress also uses some anachronistic language in the narrative voice on purpose, so anyone who finds themselves annoyed when novels do that will want to be prepared for it. Nellie once says something gives her the heebie-jeebies when the term didn't come about until ten to twenty years later in another country; another time, the narrative calls Cora "super hot" in a dress. I really do understand why she did it, but it still bothers me a little. As much personality and wit the voice came with, I prefer voices in historical novels to not use language from centuries in the future.

The jacket copy hints at the possibility of a series but my Google searches didn't indicate this will be a series, so I don't know what's going on here. What I do know is that I enjoyed this novel and look forward to any other YA novels Kress may write.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (38)

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

The RuiningThe Ruining
by Anna Collomore
February 7, 2013 (Razorbill)
272 pages (hardcover)

I don't know where I'm going wrong, but Penguin won't approve me for anything on NetGalley. Many sads are being had, especially since this book (and a few other goodies) is up and I really, really want to read it. I hope I figure out what I'm doing wrong so I can get access to it.

Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door.

All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play?

The Ruining is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silent No More by Aaron Fisher with Michael Gillum and Dawn Daniels

Title: Silent No More:
Author: Aaron Fisher with Michael Gillum and Dawn Daniels
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Pages: 240 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Silent No More: Victim 1's Fight for Justice Against Jerry SanduskyVictim 1, at fourteen years of age, spoke up against Jerry Sandusky in the Penn State scandal, and now for the first time tells his story.

Aaron Fisher was an eager and spirited eleven-year-old when legendary Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky recruited him into his Second Mile children’s charity. Offering support at a critical time in Aaron’s life, Sandusky gave him gifts and attention, winning the boy’s trust even as he isolated him from his family and peers. Before long, Sandusky’s attention escalated into sexual assault. When Aaron summoned the courage to speak up, he found himself ostracized and harassed by the very people who were supposed to protect him. The investigation set off by his coming forward would drag on for three years—and would launch the biggest scandal in the history of sports.

In Silent No More, Aaron Fisher recounts his harrowing quest to bring Sandusky’s crimes to light—from the intense feelings of guilt that kept him from speaking up earlier and the fear he felt at accusing a man who was a pillar of the community and a hero to the largest alumni network in the world, to the infuriating delays in the arrest and conviction of his abuser. He catalogs the devastating personal toll the case took on him: the shattered relationships, panic attacks, and betrayal of trust that continued to haunt him even after the charges went public in the fall of 2011. But he also speaks of his mother’s desperate efforts to get him out of harm’s way, the invaluable help of psychologist Michael Gillum, and the vindication he felt at inspiring numerous other victims to step forward . . . and at knowing that, thanks to him, there would be no future victims of Jerry Sandusky.

In the end, Aaron Fisher won his fight to expose the truth, achieving some measure of closure. Told in the honest and unforgettable voices of Aaron; his mother, Dawn; and his psychologist, Mike, this inspiring book completes Aaron’s transformation from a nameless casualty into a resounding voice for change.


Review:


Dear Aaron,

Before I say anything else, I want to thank you for having the courage to go public with your identity and story. I followed the scandal from the moment your abuser was arrested in November 2011 to the trial in June 2012 to now, when I found out about this book and knew I had to read it despite it being far from what I usually read. I knew a little about what you'd been through, but after reading Silent No More, I feel like I know so much more.

Honestly, you're much stronger than I am despite only being two months older than me. I feel like I understand you in some small way because when I was twelve, my brother's best friend sexually abused me. It was only one night compared to your months of hell, and I am constantly thankful it wasn't any worse than it was. Still, it took me six months to tell my family. My parents never considered calling the police or talking to someone who could get him arrested. I didn't think about it either. I never saw a therapist until I got to college and that was for an unrelated issue.

To this day, he walks free and has a military career, wife, and newborn son. April 2013 will be seven years since I woke up in the middle of the night to his hands crawling all over me, grabbing me in places he wasn't supposed to. At this very moment, he's visiting my family and considered another son. Apparently, I said it was okay for him to come back into our home when I was fourteen, but I don't remember this conversation. Even if I did, I was fourteen and they pressured me into saying he could come back into our home. If I could be pressured into letting a total creep stay in our house for six months when I was seventeen, I was definitely pressured into letting him back into our home.

The point is, you're not alone. I'm sure you know that, especially after the trial, but I also said all that to get across the point that eventually, it may get better. I can think about it and talk about it without wanting to cry or vomit. Hopefully, you'll be able to one day too.

Of course, it may not. It depends on the person. I think you're strong enough to make it.

Your story is so raw and so painful. Even if I weren't already so invested in what will probably go down as one of the biggest scandals in college football history, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to put your book down any more easily. I always try not to judge and think in dimensions, but after reading about what you went through and the hellish legal process that led up to Sandusky's arrest and trial, I feel like the even-handed thoughts I had during the trial are just shallow and as judgmental as all the people who called your mother horrible for not realizing what was going on sooner.

I'm a little disappointed most of the book is narrated by Mike, but I understand why. He has more professional experience in these matters, he was more involved in the legal wranglings that make up most of the second third of this book, and you weren't able to put parts of your years-long nightmare into words yourself. Still, hearing Mike tell me how you felt during such-and-such time lacks the impact of you telling me that yourself. This book is supposed to be your story and your hell and when he's telling most of it, it loses some of the power it needs to have. He's also very conspiratorial when a lot of his conspiracies and speculations have no base or support.

I wish I could meet you in person and tell you this myself, if that doesn't sound too creepy. The way they had you posed on the cover and the look in your eyes makes you seem so vulnerable and I'd like to be your friend even though the posing was quite purposeful. We'd never have to talk about what happened to us unless we wanted to either; we could talk about our dreams and stupid things that happen in our lives and just be who we are. People like us need friends who understand.

I hope you'll be able to become a state trooper one day like you want to, and I hope your book will be able to open the eyes of at least one person. There may be very little in your book that I haven't found out during my research and while watching trial coverage, but hearing it in your own words makes it that much more powerful. Our experiences, unfortunately, have made us who we are, but they will never define us.

All the best,

Ashleigh Paige

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

Friday, November 16, 2012

An... Interesting Cassandra Clare Bookish Link

I felt like I needed to post today because NaNoWriMo and real life have caused my blogging to decrease pretty dramatically this month and I found the perfect thing to post about: Cassandra Clare (who will be henceforth referred to as CC because her name is too long). Just as a warning, some of the links can be long. If you don't care enough to read a few lengthy texts, I'm sorry.

She's everywhere. In the last few days especially, her name has been all over the place because the teaser trailer for the City of Bones movie was released. When my mom goes to see Breaking Dawn Part II on Sunday, she'll probably see that teaser trailer, but she'll know better. She'll know that woman is a plagiarist, liar, and cyberbully who conveniently forgets her own behavior and attempts to control the Internet by getting anyone who talks about her past shut down.

Have I got links to support all those claims? You bet your ass I do.

Last month, Sinéad of the Tumblr blog An American in Britain posted about CC, her well-received post about cyberbullying (which a blog dedicated to making people aware of CC's past indiscretions deconstructed very well, but she got them deleted over copyright infringement; that link also includes a good deal of information about what kind of person CC is), and how CC attempted to get her kicked out of her university by framing her as a hacker. The attempt failed and Sinéad actually had a strong case if she wanted to sue CC and the relevant fan board for harrassment. She didn't only because she was so tired of that bull.

Some people are going to immediately say Sinéad is lying, but I believe her. Why? Well, CC has already proven herself to be a plagiarist, which makes her a liar by proxy. Will I believe the wolf who has already proven herself untrustworthy many times over or the person who braved the fear of CC's rabid fanbase to put this out there? Fiddle around on Goodreads for as long as I have and you'll see how bad CC fans can get if you besmirch her name and how ardently they'll deny her status as a plagiarist.

She was a major feature on Fandom Wank back when she was still a Harry Potter fanfic writer and in case someone doesn't know what Fandom Wank is, it's a place for pointing and mocking at stupid people in fandom. CC even has her own page on the site's wiki that details some of her biggest wanks. The pages are biased, true, but the wiki is meant to be funny and entertaining. This ain't Wikipedia, people.

Her most famous wank is the plagiarism scandal, which got her kicked off Fanfiction.net in 2001 and resulted in her move to FictoinAlley, where she continued to post her fanfics until 2006, when she went pro and removed all her fics from the Internet. This link and this link give specific examples of what she plagiarized from where.

So how does society reward this woman after she plagiarized a published novel (which is not okay whether you're writing a fanfic, an original novel, or a poem about ducks and rainbows and she should have known better as someone working as a reporter), lied about it all, acted like a hypocrite, and tried to frame someone for hacking just to get her kicked out of her school? Bestseller status, a fanbase that has plenty of sane people in it but also has a great deal of batshit people in it, multimillion dollar pulishing deals, and an upcoming movie adaptation of her books.

Nice going, world.

I have known about her behavior for years. It feels only right to make others aware of it so they can make their own decisions about whether or not they should support her, especially considering recent revelations.

Total time taken to put all this together? Half an hour.

If anything happens to this post anytime soon or it goes down, assume I was forced to take it down or it was deleted by someone else. If it's my choice, I'm not taking this down.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

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

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue SeaBetween the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by April Genevieve Tucholke
August 15, 2013 (Dial)
368 pages (hardcover) 

 You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lying Season by Karina Halle

Title: Lying Season
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Pages: 348 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: From the author for review
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Promotional Materials and More: series website

Lying Season (Experiment in Terror, #4)Ama­teur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has bat­tled ghosts, fought off skin­walk­ers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she sur­vive bunk­ing down in Seat­tle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girl­friend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tor­mented by a mali­cious spirit from Dex’s increas­ingly shady past? With love and life in the bal­ance, Perry must dis­cover the truth among the lies or risk los­ing every­thing she's ever cared about.

Review:


Same song and dance as usual: the author is one of my friends and this did not influence my rating or my review in any way.

-bites lip- My. God. I can't... There aren't words for some things, and I think one of those things is any short reaction to how I feel about Lying Season. Excuse me while I throw some words on the computer like I'm a pitcher throwing baseballs and hope they get across my feelings.

Perry and Dex are both imperfect people. That's part of what makes them so interesting and fun to read about, and I accept them as imperfect people. Perry is still very insecure, refers to dressing sexily as slutting it up (which I get is contemporary speech, but it still annoys the piss out of me), and can be oblivious; Dex has been through a lot, isn't the nicest guy on the block, and is scared of change now that he has found some sort of balance in his life. Still, my frustration with these characters bubbled over the top and I just about blew up.

Perry messing with Dex's medication was beyond wrong and though she admits it was wrong, that it occurred to her and she did it at all was too much. Dex is not the first fictional man to have "I'm scared of change" keep him from getting with the person he likes/loves, but he is no less irritating with it. I'm normally kinder to his issues because his complexity explains it, but this is one issue I found myself unable to be merciful with him for. In general, the will-they-won't-they vibe Perry and Dex having going on is one of the appeals of this series, but in Lying Season, it was simply too much. Forced, I think I want to say.

The focus is more on the characters than anything Perry and Dex have to film for the show, but that doesn't mean the book is short of scares and sexy scenes. There are plenty of both. The descriptions of the main ghost haunting them in particular are well-written. Oh God, the image of that ghost... -shiver- I don't wanna see it. I don't wanna! There's also a minor plot line involving a copycat show, and though what we see of it is good, it doesn't have a large presence in the story.

The ending is a category all its own. We think everything is going to be awesome from here on out, but NOPE! Cliffhanger of utter pain and agony. Number of f-bombs dropped during it by me: dozens. The focus on the human characters meant a greater emphasis on the human drama and after a book full of it, I wasn't prepared for an extra-large bomb of it to be dropped in my brain with the detonator about to go off.

This book sent me to bed frustrated (not like that, all the perverts reading this!) and I need a small break before I read On Demon Wings, the fifth book in the series.

3 stars!


What am I reading next?: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette

Title: Dark Star
Author: Bethany Frenette
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Pages: 368 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC in a swap with a friend
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: audiobook clip | author website

Dark StarAudrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human--something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers--livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person's memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers' next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won't let Audrey out of his sight.

When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything--and everyone--she loves.


Review:


Before I even had the chance to read this novel, everyone and their French poodle made it clear that it was best to not let my expectations hold me back while reading this novel. Many people went into it expecting a superhero novel and got something completely different. The jacket copy really does make this sound like a superhero novel, but it turns into a book about demons and the people who fight them. Demon books! Yay! There are never enough demon books to please me. Demons > superheroes.

Frenette's worldbuilding is fantastic and despite some issues with staying interested (I'll get to those in a minute), there was never a time I didn't want to keep reading and leave all my questions about the Kin, the Harrowers, and how their world works unanswered. The prose has some pretty good moments (I want to quote some, but I forgot to mark then; darn it!) and the fight scenes are well-written most of the time.

For a little while, I worried I knew what the big twist of the novel was and that I'd yet again found a predictable novel. A streak of horrible and/or easily predictable novels lately had me wondering if I was getting too smart for YA or if YA was getting dumbed down. It turned out my prediction was wrong and a red herring got me. I came out of the book feeling happier and more satisfied than when I went in. Perhaps I'm being kinder because the last few books I've read were horrible and should not be spoken of, but that's good for Dark Star.

The biggest issue the novel has is its inability to keep readers hooked from beginning to end. Some scenes, like the cake fight and when Iris uses her amplification powers to enhance Audrey's Knowing, grabbed me by the throat and squeezed as hard as they could. Those are scenes to go back and reread. Most of the novel, unfortunately, is difficult to get swept up in. It's like there's a wall between reader and book that keeps me from being able to connect to Audrey and get invested in what she's going through. For some books, this can be a deadly flaw, but Dark Star has enough good overall to just barely save it and keep me from DNFing it due to lack of interest.

This is only the first book of a series and there are plenty of places for Frenette to go with book two. As much fun as I had, I think I'll come back, but I hope book two will be easier to connect to.

3.5 stars!


What am I reading next?: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Recent Cover Reveals/Critiques

Sorry for the radio silence, ladies and gents! Life has kicked me sorely in the ass, I'm 24,000 words deep into my NaNoWriMo novel (and the evil twin brother just got introduced; I've been waiting to write that scene for TWO YEARS!), and I got ahold of a few 2013 ARCs I was too impatient to not read now. Some of them were disappointments, sadly. Le sigh.

ANYWAY, I've seen a few new covers around lately and I've been posting them on my Facebook page, but I'll bring a few of them over here so you can get my opinion on them.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore (hardcover left; paperback redesign right)

GiltGilt


My verdict: Good choice! I hated the hardback's cover because it's not like I want to see into the endless tunnels of the girl's nose. I love the font and I'm glad they decided to keep it for the paperback. The new image is pretty steamy and it will catch someone's eye in the bookstore. Not a fantastic cover by any means, but MUCH better than the old one. On another note, I own this book and I'll eventually get to it. Eventually. Maybe.

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore


My verdict: Eh. There's nothing extraordinary about it. The font stands out less and this is a typical pretty-girl-in-a-pretty-dress cover. I can look at it without my eyes burning, but it's not especially arresting.

Mystic by Alyson Noel

Mystic (Soul Seekers, #3)

My verdict: A little underwhelming compared to the other two covers in the series. There's not a lot of consistency and it's turned into the typical pretty dress cover that chops off the model's head. Those poor headless models! The series is starting to grow on me like fungus, so I think I'll keep reading.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen


My verdict: Maybe I'm weird, but I love what they do with her name on the new covers. They mix colors and it's so preeeeeetty and please excuse me, I'm being distracted by the pink. Anyway, I like this cover a little, but it's not fantastic. Great use of colors and it's a lovely image, but it's not really grabbing. Maybe I'm just not used to the new style of her covers yet. She had one style for so long and they changed everything all of a sudden. It bugs me. Might read this one, might not. I liked the two Dessen books I read, but I don't get the hype.

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (Confessions, #2)

My verdict: I like it! She's got a great pose, what little I can see of her facial expression is perfect, and I love the way she's clutching the flower. I thought she was wearing a veil at first, but then I realized that's just an effect on the top of the page, not a veil. Harlequin Teen can produce some lovely covers when they try.

There are plenty of new covers out there and I'll try to be more on top of cover reveals in the future, though college life might keep me from that. Keep an eye on my Facebook page because I'll be posting them there most of the time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Undeadly by Michele Vail

Title: Undeadly
Author: Michele Vail
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Pages: 27 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.


Review:


Undeadly reminds me a lot of the House of Night series. This is not a good thing. At all.

This novel is still leagues and leagues better than the bestselling vampire series, but there are a few similarities between them. An annoying, judgmental heroine who has been chosen as special beyond all others by her kind's deity, mean girls and cliches galore, and failed attempts at teenspeak are just a few of the similarities.

To begin with, I originally quit reading the novel sixty percent of the way in because I wasn't enjoying myself, but I came back to it a few days later and finished it because I wanted to give it the fair shot it eventually showed it did not deserve. The first few chapters and our introduction to Molly's world are filled with inelegant exposition of how necromancers are an everyday thing and everyone goes to them for their zombie needs. This includes bringing zombies to life, suppressing their massive appetites, and reattaching their arms when they fall off. Though I disliked the artless way in which the world was built, the world itself has a lot of potential. Potential that goes unfulfilled, sadly.

Molly's narrative voice is one of the most forced teen voices I have ever found in young adult literature and it fails badly at seeming even slightly realistic. She uses outdated slang like "it was a mondo ick mess" (80s/90s slang, mind you) and "major suckitude" is at least as old as 2003. One bit of slang, "gigging up my ju-ju", doesn't even use gigging right! Gigging is typically associated with dancing, excitement, or moving from music gig to music gig as if one were clubbing. I believe this takes place in the present day, albeit in an alternate universe, not in the past.

Tolerating her for more than a chapter or two at a time was difficult. Looking down on her fourteen-year-old sister for being passionate about zombie rights? Ugh. Having the cliche-of-all-cliches freakout when she learns something about her family early in the book? Worse. Abbreviations like WTH and BTW in her narrative? I can't. If there is one thing I want from a book, it's that there are no abbreviations in the narrative itself. It's irritating and makes the narrator seem dumb and brings down the quality of the novel.

The side characters were unremarkable. There are the cardboard friends, the jerky new love interest and "old" love interest, the mean girls making Molly's life suck, and all the other requisite elements of paranormal YA. After reading it for so many years, stories like this that indulge in the tropes without doing anything new or deeper with them tire me. I also had a niggle with a character's name; Russian character Irina Derinski's name should be Irina Derinska, as per Russian naming traditions. The character herself? Let's not talk about how transparent she is in her motivations.

There simply isn't any depth here to make Molly and her world interesting enough. There are no questions about how ghouls and ghosts feel about being bound to the living world, as if they have no feelings at all. Molly never thinks about how Henry must feel to be bound to everyone of her family line that comes to Nekyia Academy and being forced to stay around if there is no one of her family there. There could have been so many great questions about what life and death really mean, but they are all passed over for melodrama.

Warning: Undeadly ends on a strong cliffhanger and there's no telling exactly when Unchosen, book two of the Reaper Diaries, will be in stores next year.All I know is that I will not be reading it.

0 stars!

What am I reading next?: The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (4), aka My Voice! My Face!

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Guess who decided to make a vlog for Stacking the Shelves instead of taking pictures like usual?

Sorry the audio quality isn't very good and it's out of sync for part of the video. I have no idea about video editing and it uploaded strangely. I just used the webcam in my laptop for this.


Books Mentioned:

Books received for review from the publisher:

  • Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs
  • Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Books received in swaps with other bloggers:
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • Dark Star by Bethany Frennette 
Books sent to me by a fantastic friend:
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (forgot to mention it, but it's SIGNED!) 
  • The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge
Books bought:
  • Slammed by ColleenHoover
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  • Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt 
  • Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
  • Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
  • Drowning Instinct by Isla J. Bick
  • Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (and the rest of the Iron Fey series)
  • Wolf Pact by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Skylark by Meagan Spooner
  • Inbetween by Tara Fuller
  • Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman
  • Gravity by Abigail Boyd
  • Branded by Keary Taylor
  • Wander Dust by Michelle Warren

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs

Sorry for another negative review, darlings. My bad-book streak is showing no signs of letting up, but I swear I will try and find something good to read so you can see me happy like I was when I read Some Girls Are a few weeks ago instead of angry.

Title: Dinner with a Vampire
Author: Abigail Gibbs
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 18, 2012 (ebook), March 5, 2013 (paperback)
Pages: 544 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: book trailer

Dinner with a Vampire (The Dark Heroine, #1)Violet Lee is the sole living witness to a horrific pre-dawn mass murder in Trafalgar Square, London.

But before she can alert the authorities, she is taken by the group of murderers, who, to her shock, are vampires. Kidnapped, Violet is forced to live among them, for they've discover she is the daughter of the UK's Secretary of State for Defense… who has been secretly dealing with the vampires for years.

Now a pawn in a game of politics between humans and vampires, Violet begins to doubt her allegiance, especially when she begins to fall for Prince Kaspar, the heir to the throne of the vampire world, as well as his best friend, Fabian. Swept into a complex love triangle, will Violet leave her newfound life, or return to the human world?


Review:


Any novel that makes it okay when the primary love interest threatens/attempts to rape his love interest is on my shitlist. Dinner with a Vampire is the topmost name on said shitlist for this and more. I slogged through 400 pages of this bloated, melodramatic mess before it became impossible.

There were dozens of dynamic opening lines I considered for this review, but that one in particular gets across exactly what someone is getting into if they decide to read this novel. Some people are only going to glance over the first lines of this lengthy review and I want to make what little they'll see have a serious impression on them. Despite receiving six figures for it, Gibbs' novel lacks any redeeming qualities and immature in its execution and characterization.

Right off the bat, we're hit with a lack of logic. Considering the police and Violet's dad already know about vampires and want an excuse to come after them, it's actually safer to let Violet go free than to keep her among vampires. She's kept more because the plot of the book demands it than because it makes sense. Even after reading the entire novel, I'm still not sure why Kaspar didn't kill her.

Violet, despite being the daughter of the Secretary of State for Defense, says "Vampires are monsters. Monsters do horrible things. Humans don't (Dinner with a Vampire, p. 39)." Has she never heard of Ed Gein? Charles Manson? Ted Bundy? Timothy McVeigh? Adolf Hitler? I could go on and on with all the humans who have done monstrous things. This is supposed to establish how in denial she is about what's happening to her and it works somewhat. What it does more of is establish what she is throughout the novel: naive and annoying. I can't remember any redeeming qualities she has.

The beginning isn't so offensive or cliched, but this doesn't last long. Kaspar's bed buddy Charity is almost immediately established as mean girl love rival number one. This happens around the same time the Kaspar/Violet/Fabian love triangle sets in. Then Lyla, Violet's insta-best friend, turns into a second mean girl love rival. Slut-shaming is everywhere, and it's portrayed as wrong when it's Violet being called a slut, but it's apparently  right when it's Charity. What? NO. Double standards are not welcome here. Kaspar starts playing hot and cold, the antagonists are flat like paper, and it steals the "are you scared of me?" "I'm not scared of you" bit straight out of Twilight.

Unfortunately, this is not the only double standard of the novel. When Violet takes Kaspar's condoms as a prank, he responds by ATTEMPTING TO RAPE HER. This get brushed off and he remains the primary love interest. When another guy attempts to rape her and then kill her? He's evil.

WHAT IS THIS? Whether it's a vampire novel or contemporary novel or any other kind of novel, it is NEVER okay for the love interest/hero to threaten to rape the heroine, condescend to her all the time by calling her Girly, blame her for the terrible things he does to her, or do pretty much anything Kaspar did to Violet. The way she shrugs off all the bull he throws at her and still fawns over him? That is called RAPE CULTURE and it's dangerous. It's why society still says "she asked for it" when a girl gets raped or assaulted.

I know vampire lit. Dracula has been one of my favorites since the age of seven,. Vampires remain my favorite monsters despite the oversaturation of them in the current market and there is no counting how many vampire books I've read. I have written my own book centered on vampires (and nothing I have said or will say about this book has anything to do with professional jealousy, so don't even try it) because I love vampires so much.

I could wax about all the ways in which I establish the antagonist vampire in my book as evil, but the point: I never use rape to do it. Rape is THE cheapest way to portray a character as evil because it lacks effort and is beyond offensive. Really, what of the double standards? Another character is evil for trying to sexually assault Violet, but Kaspar is good and droolworthy when he does the same thing? This issue is never addressed.

This book reinforces the rape culture people like me have spent so much time fighting and makes teen writers such as myself look bad. If only I'd recognized that I read part of this when it was still on Wattpad as "Dinner with a Vampire. Did I Mention I'm Vegetarian?" It was awful then and it's awful now. I just have a better sense of exactly how bad it is. On the bright side, I didn't pay for this fat piece of badfic.

DNF!


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