Review: The Unnaturalists

Title: The Unnaturalists (The Unnaturalists #1)12988074

Author: Tiffany Trent

Publication Date: August 14, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Summary:

In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.

Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.

As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so confused but strangely fascinated by a book in my life. I feel like the author had a great idea for this world, but transitioning it from her head to paper wasn’t as successful as it could have been. The whole alternate history/ fantasy world/ steampunk blend was actually fairly cohesive, but overwhelming.

This is one of those books where once I finish, I just sit here trying to piece it together and understand what it was that I just read. So what it is, to my understanding so forgive me if any of this is incorrect, is that back in like the 1800’s, the big wig scientists somehow transported London to a different alternate world London? Maybe? I think they created an invention and it opened a gateway and swooshed a bunch of people through. So now, the people have a New London, where magic is outlawed and they have like the Holy Scientific Bible and Saint Tesla and run all of their machines off of myth, basically the life force of all the magical creatures that they are rounding up and killing. Yeah. It’s basically just a big mash of stuff.

Now, I actually found myself enjoying this world. But so many things were just fuzzy. I can always appreciate an author who plunges us into a story and actually believes us to be smart enough to figure things out for ourselves instead of holding our hand and walking though it all, but this book could have seriously used some of that. Like there is this dead zone called The Waste that I assume is caused by the killing of all the magical creatures, but we don’t really know why and it seems to be a sentient being but again, we don’t really know why. Or the Empress, like the evil ruler of the city, we never find anything out about her, or her mysterious daughter. Absolutely zip.

I did really like the alternating viewpoints of Vespa and Syrus. I wish we could have learned more about the Tinker society but Syrus ended up leaving that pretty quickly due to certain circumstances. I liked that Syrus was just kind of an angsty (with good reason) young boy who was independent and out to fix the world, following his beliefs. Vespa was a little bit harder to like for me. Where Syrus had a reason to be angst filled and sad, her reasoning for those emotions were the usual over dramatic girl blah blah over some guy and the mistakes she made and yawn…. No thanks. Actually one of the characters I ended up liking the best was the Minotaur. Who was in the book just a few small times. So I’m not sure where that came from but I enjoyed her for the few encounters we got with her.

This book does end up getting extra brownie points for the reason that I honestly did enjoy it. The world was fun, the adventure was fun, the characters were all kind of fun, and I might end up reading the next book, just in hopes of learning more about this world.

RATING:

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Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold

13721341Author: Jane Nickerson

Publication Date: March 12, 2013

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Summary: 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.

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I had some many mixed feelings about this book, I’m not really sure where to begin. I actually kind of liked Sophie, which normally I don’t really do the simpering female characters. But she had a lot of hidden strength and it came out when she really needed it. I liked that she actually used her brain and played it smart after a while, and it was a breath of fresh air to have her actually sit down and rationalize about everything that was happening and logically come to the conclusion that something bad was happening, no matter how much she didn’t want to. She was honest to herself.

However, in books like these, I can’t help but put myself in Sophie’s shoes, and as I’m reading, I just always think that I would leave. I would just run away immediately. So it always bothers me when they come up with some reason to stay, and I can’t stop thinking that she must be an idiot for not running. Now that being said, I’ve obviously never been in some horrible situation even remotely similar to hers, so my opinion doesn’t really hold much weight.

Now the romance. Right off the bat, I was never wooed by her godfather. Not for one second. Even if I hadn’t read the description and realized something sinister was going on with him, he still would have given me the creepy crawlies. So it was honestly hard for me to read all of Sophie’s romantic gushing thoughts about this creepy old guy. Then the second love interest guy just pops right out of no where. I felt like Sophie was just desperate at this point to prove she could love someone young and not creepy and rage filled who possibly murdered women in his spare time. I mean, she jumped all over that new guy and was head over heels for him in like three seconds. Eh.

I did really enjoy the story though and this time period and the writing and the undertones about slavery and the Underground Railroad was a nice touch. I liked the big old mansion she lived in and all the dusty rooms and secrets they held. The end was a little too anti-climactic for me though, and it felt like it was nicely wrapped up and topped with a big glittery bow.

RATING:

Review: The Nightmare Affair

Title: The Nightmare Affair ( The Arkwell Academy #1) 12411635

Author: Mindee Arnett

Publication Date:  March 5, 2013

Publisher: Tor Teen

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

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Well I just realized that the cover of this book is very similar to the previous book I reviewed, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. Except this one looks more like it’s some sad excuse of a mystery book with a badass girl who talks to ghosts. You know what kind of book I’m talking about.

Anyways, I had mixed feelings with this book. The second I read that it’s about a school for witches and wizards and all things paranormal, my inner Harry Potter lover got super excited. Another school with interesting classes on controlling magic, hidden passage ways, and mysterious teachers. Except there was absolutely none of that in here. Sure, Dusty went to her classes, but it’s not like she ever actually did anything besides stare at hottie new guy and get mysterious tingles. I swear, the only reason this book took place at this school was just so the mean girl had plenty of opportunities to be bitchy to Dusty, and so there could be mysterious tunnels under the school for people to get ganked in. Seriously, I have no idea why those tunnels were there.

Also, I don’t know if I’m just getting really good, but this whole plot was ridiculously predictable. Like every time the author threw in something to make you gasp, I would just let out a big yawn because it was completely see through. Apparently this book just didn’t stand a chance against my amazing skills of deduction.

Dusty as a character was fine. Yeah, just fine. I mean, she was there. doing stuff. Blah. And the whole romance love triangle thing with her was completely yawn worthy. There was no chemistry with one, just convenience, and the other guy was constantly hot and cold and of course with the flawless arch nemesis bitch girl. Plus, one of them had a ponytail. No thank you. Unless you’re pirate Orlando Bloom, you have no right to such a foul hair style.

However, I did like the whole idea with The Will controlling everything and keeping like everything kind of in balance. That was a pretty cool concept, unfortunately, I wish it had been address a bit more, other than how not having it would be bad.

So overall, this book was just way to blah for me. I felt no connection or concern to any of the characters at all, maybe because I knew all of the “betrayals” actually weren’t, or maybe just because they were all one dimensional. And the villain, in all honesty, was just kind of silly to me. Which makes me sad because I’m sure he will be in the next book. Not sure if I’ll be reading that one.

RATING:

Review: Unspoken

Title: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)10866624

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Publication Date: September 11, 2012

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Summary: Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

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I just want to start by saying that I really love the cover of this book. It’s different and I find it to be mysterious and gorgeous, if a little similar to Shiver by Maggie Steifvater. I raced through this book in a day, really enjoying this fun, witty, exciting ride that this book provided. However, there were a few problems.

Kami: Kami is the main character in this book, and she was definitely a spunky specimen. I found myself laughing at a lot of the clever things she said and her stubborn way of tackling situations. But, I felt like the author tried too hard to make her fun and witty. Like, as I read the book, I found myself feeling very sad that I would never be able to come up with some of the comebacks that Kami seemed to pull out of no where. But then I felt better realizing that the author probably sat there for an hour trying to think of a clever response, and there is no way someone is just naturally that quick and witty. I understand that the author wanted to create an interesting and unique female character, but I felt like she was trying to hard. Kami’s character was just not easy to relate to and unbelievable to me.

Jared: Jared is of course one of the romance interests and a dark, brooding guy with a mysterious past, which I will admit, I usually like. And I did enjoy Jared a lot. He kept up with Kami’s wit in a believable sort of way and I felt that most of his reactions to things were realistic. He was very hot and cold though. One second he is being a rude jerk and demanding that Kami stays away from him, then the next second, his thoughts are all warm and fuzzy and sweet. I definitely felt like he was the most tormented character.

The other minor characters were just kind of blah to me. I liked Angela, even though she was mean and all the author seemed to want to tell us about her was that she napped all the time. Ash was again, just one dimensional, and what he does at the end, you really have no idea why he does it… There is just lack of depth.

I was a little disappointed because the big mystery was really predictable, and the mysterious reasoning behind Jared and Kami’s connection was just kind of thrown out there quickly. Also, the ending was just quick and almost too silly for me to get into. Let’s just say that Angela suddenly became a ninja and was swinging around chains and doing some major damage. Overall though, this book was pretty fun and I enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I hope the second book has a bit more on the villain and develops the minor characters a bit more .

RATING: