Review: Hexed

Title: Hexed (Hexed #1) 13597755

Author: Michelle Krys

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 10, 2014

Summary: If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

 

 

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You know how you can sometimes read the summary of a book and just instantly tell how it’s going to be written? Take this one for example. Based off this summary, I could tell you that the writing is going to be all cutesy and teenage girly (you know what I’m talking about), that the main character is going to be a bit of a sassy airhead, and that the love interest is of course going to be sarcastic and oh-so smoking hot. Oh, and the plot is probably going to stink.

This book was like a wannabe Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. They both have similar heroines (witches, sassy, cute), similar love interests (mysterious, sarcastic, sexy), and the same kind of light, fun tone. But, Hex Hall was actually pretty fun and interesting, definitely a lazy day read, but a good one. Hexed was not that. It failed in so many ways.

The characters were just a hodge podge of stereotypes. Indigo, the main character, is just an idiot. She is a popular cheerleader with the captain of the football team as her boyfriend and a snobby best friend. She has a hot body, a group of fabulous (looking) friends, and gets invited to huge parties where people drink themselves into oblivion and dry hump on the couches. Yay. Her mom runs The Black Cat, some occult shop that Indigo is so embarrassed of and she has a next door neighbor Paige, who wants to be her friend but it so nerdy and uncool. Talk about a hard life. This girl was ridiculous. I mean, really, everything she did was idiotic. She says several times that she has the third highest GPA in her school, but not once does she make a smart or logical decision. But most of all, she was just a straight up bitch. She was the mean girl we get in every YA book. She loved being popular, looked down on people who weren’t, and worst of all, she knew she was hot shit. This attitude drew absolutely zero sympathy from me throughout the book, and I wanted her to fail because she was so despicable.

Indigo was not a strong girl either. She ends up alone with her boyfriend at one point and is so submissive, it’s sickening.

He leans across the counter and kisses me. I don’t want to hear about how I never want to “do stuff” anymore for the next week, so I kiss him back for a solid good minute before pushing him away.

He is a huge jerk throughout their whole relationship but she just takes is because he “loves” her. She never stands up for herself to her rude friends and when her best friend and boyfriend sleep together, she just kind of slinks off to hide in a corner and nods blankly at them when they apologize. Her submissive attitude and clear lack of respect for her body is just sad to watch and sends the wrong message. That is not what a relationship should be like.

The worst part is that the author uses Indigo’s stupidity as an excuse to move the plot along. Like at one point, she finds Bishop and decides to take this potentially murderer/stalker to a huge party all of her friends are at. When questioned as to why she would ever do such a stupid thing, she just kinda says, I dunno, I want to see my hot boyfriend who got drunk and abandoned me the night before. Logically, she would never have made this decision. It was all just so she could see girls hitting on Bishop and get unreasonably jealous, find out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend (so she is now available for Bishop’s hot love and affection), and become a stronger person by ditching her group of friends. And later, she just follows Bishop into the woods, because she has already made a million decisions so why not one more? Yes, that is really her reasoning. But if she had been smart and avoided the stalker guy, she would have never found out that she is a witch. Apparently, the author had no idea how to make these things happen without these cheesy, illogical set ups.

Now on to Bishop. Dark, mysterious, swoony Bishop… The same guy that we see in every single book like this. He is drawn to our cutesy heroine in ways he can’t explain, he is a huge bag of dicks, and has a beautiful, possibly evil ex-girlfriend.  Oh wait! He also has a tattoo of naked Betty Boop on his neck. How could a girl possibly resist that? Oh, on top of that, he just so happens to be a stalker. And a rude one at that. He basically creeps around for a while, watching Indigo shake her ass at crowds during the football game, making fun of her, and using his constant snark to cover up the vulnerable, caring, lonely boy we all know is hiding deep down inside him. Did I mention that he apparently can’t die?  Guess we won’t be getting rid of him anytime soon.

This book was kind of sad. I felt like the author was trying hard, but ultimately everything felt like a cheap knockoff. The war between evil and good was the most obvious and overused path from this book to take, but there is was. And the villains, on top of being slightly less than intimidating, had no reason to do the evil things they were doing, except that they were bad guys. The witchy Bible situation was almost silly, just because Indigo’s mom constantly blathered on about how it was the most important thing in the world, and she hid it upstairs in her shop. Because it’s so safe under some dusty floorboard. Nothing was really elaborated on or had any depth. Things were they way they were and that was that.

Now, the writing wouldn’t have been so bad if the characters weren’t so unlikable. It was pretty fast paced and could be fun at times. I just couldn’t help but dislike so many of the messages this book gave. We are supposed to like and cheer for the main character, who is petty and superficial and places herself above everyone else. How is that an okay way to behave? The humor was okay, but mostly I laughed at how absurd and rude everyone was to each other. So to a degree, I did enjoy this book. Just not for the reason the author intended. I’d honestly say you really shouldn’t bother with this one.

RATING: 

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Review: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)

Title: Unravel Me 13104080

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 5, 2013

Summary:

tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

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Eh. I feel like I’m going to get a lot of hate from this review but honesty is the best policy. And just as a warning, a lot of this is going to be spoilers. I read Shatter Me a little while ago, after all people were telling me was that this series was amazing and I just had to read it. Shatter Me was interesting and dark and I enjoyed it just fine. The author’s writing style was different and refreshing, if a little hard to take occasionally. But all in all, I had a good time reading it. So I jumped on the wait list for Unravel Me at the library, and just yesterday, I finally got my hands on it.

And holy shit, talk about romance over-kill. This book made me so angry and mad and kind of sick to my stomach. Every single chapter was just like ten page chunks of Juliette poetically swooning over every single little thing about Adam. This literally took up almost all of the book. I was excited to see how Omega Point ran, what they were doing to rebel, other people’s powers, but that was barely even touched at any point in the book. And because of the heavy amounts of romance, the author’s writing just became annoying. I was literally just skipping over paragraphs because I felt like it was the exact same thing I read in the chapter before. Not to mention that every single time that Juliette even sees Adam, it’s her trying not to swoon. Example:

Page 14: I could touch him from here. His eyes, dark blue. His hair, dark brown. His shirt, too tight in all the right places and his lips, his lips twitch up to flick the switch that lights the fire in my heart and I don’t even have time to blink and exhale before I’m caught up in his arms.

Page 36: The way he looks at me. His eyes are heavy now in a way that worries me, but his gaze is still so tender, so focused and full of feeling that I can hardly keep myself out of his arms when I’m around him. I find myself watching him doing the simplest things- shifting his weight, grabbing a tray, nodding good morning to someone- just to track the movement of his body. My moments with him are so few that my chest is always too tight, my heart too spastic. He makes me want to be impractical all the time.

Page 83: “Juliette,” he says, but he’s not looking at me; he’s looking at all of me. His eyes are searching my body as if to ensure I’m still intact, arms and legs and everything in between. It’s only when he finds my face that he meets my gaze; I step into a sea of blue in his eyes, dive right in and drown. I feel like someone’s punched a fist into my lungs and snatched up all my oxygen.

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There is so much more where that came from, it’s not even funny. Now I have nothing against romance, I’m a huge sappy mess when I ship characters and Adam and Juliette are fine, I liked them together more in the first book. My problem is that there is just so much of this shit, pages and pages of poetic make-out scenes, Juliette’s poor body about to die every time she looks at Adam, it’s just tiresome to keep reading about. But the thing that makes me the angriest is that the author knows she is doing this. At several points during this book, Kenji calls Juliette out on how she needs to stop moping around about her love life and actually start doing something. The author is aware that Juliette is being a self centered, overly romantic and whiny little girl, and the author is aware that everyone is this place is annoyed by it (readers included) but she does it anyways. I think she thought that Juliette having flaws and being so needy after being locked up for years would make her likable and realistic, but it had the opposite effect on me. And she doesn’t get a free pass on piling up the romantic bullshit just because she has another character address it. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

The plot seriously suffered because of this. It moved slowly and never really addressed the things that I wanted to know about, Omega Point specifically. Plus, I felt like the author’s need to make everything super descriptive and beautiful sounding weighted down a lot of scenes. I just find Juliette as a character hard to relate to because of this writing style. That and the fact that she was so up and down all the time. She was either completely wracked with self loathing and guilt, or she was some powerful feeling bad ass. I know that she is going to have some emotional and mental problems after everything she went through, and I try to keep that in mind while reading.

Now I have to talk about the whole Warner situation. Not only was this completely predictable, but it was almost silly. I mean, I’m on team Warner if I’m being honest here, but the silly part was how almost this whole book was just Juliette panting after Adam, and she spends three seconds with Warner and they are literally sucking face and about ready to bang. She does not understand a single thing about self control. I like Warner more than Adam, he is a more interesting character to me, but there are some problems. Yes, he is sad and broken and abused so it’s not really his fault that he’s crazy and evil sometimes. But, he still did kill a lot of people and torture Juliette and various other evil acts. I’m all for forgiveness but he has done some really bad shit and I’m not sure if that’s just going to be ignored in the next book because the power of love can overcome any obstacles. Blech.

Also, there were a few scenes that I made me just wanted to smack my head against the wall. Uhm, how about the scene where Juliette finds out that he touching Adam hurts and drains him. So what do they do? They furiously make out, almost have hot steamy sex but are sadly interrupted by Adam’s near death… Just let that soak in for a minute. It was so stupid and ridiculous, I kind of hoped that Juliette would kill Adam just to give her a nice little reality check and knock some sense into her. Oh and did I mention the scene where Juliette get’s shot by Warner’s father, who just leaves her there to die. But wait a second, he left before she making sure she was actually dead and conveniently forgot about the two girls he went through all this trouble to kidnap, that can heal. So of course, Warner goes and grabs them and they save her… Wow, wasn’t that just lucky as fuck?

I tried really hard to not rant but I was just so frustrated by this book. I expected so much more and was very disappointed. The only characters I really liked were Kenji and Warner, and only a small portion of this book was actually interesting. Am I going to read the next one? Yes, I’m going to finish the series of course. Do I have any hopes or expectations for the next one? Nope, I’m just hoping it can’t get any worse at this point.

RATING: 

Review: Brightly Woven

Title: Brightly Woven 6580510

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: EgmontUSA

Publication Date: March 23, 2010

Summary: The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness….

Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country – and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets – about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North’s sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.

 

 

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I am a huge fan of Alexandra Bracken’s Darkest Minds books and thought that I should probably read her first novel. And I’m really glad that I did. This was a really cute, adventurous, fun read that I found myself thoroughly enjoying.

Sydelle is living in a dry, dusty little village, where a drought has been going on for years. The day it starts raining, a young wizard, Wayland North, shows up in her village and whisks her away to travel arcoss the country in an attempt to stop a war. She isn’t sure why North takes her with him, but it soon becomes apparent that they need to stop the war that could destroy her land. But it becomes clear that while Sydelle isn’t a wizard, she might have some power of her own, power that several people seem very interested in using for their own gain.

Sydelle was a fairly likable character. She seemed whiny and over dramatic at times, but unlike most annoying, bitchy teenage girls, she actually had a good reason to be that way, and I found myself feeling sympathetic. She was basically sold off by her parents, taken away from her home only to watch it overrun and nearly destroyed, then forced to travel by foot across the country with a man she doesn’t even know, assaulted by other wizards and never getting any answers. I think she is entitled to a few tears. But, she was also very strong, laying down the law with North, being persistent and stubborn about her opinions. I loved how she was tough with North when she needed to be, but so soft and caring on the inside.

The real winner for this book was Wayland North. Snarky, adorable, stubborn Wayland North. I love that in this fairly short book, the author was able to create a complex character like this. North is both sweet and and bitter, stubborn and hopeless, kind and self destructive. I love that he is so tormented inside, by his pain and insecurities, but so funny and caring. For those of you that haven’t realized this by now, I have a weakness for snarky boys and North constantly had my giggling with his smart ass comments. The whole mystery surrounding him was so sad, I just wanted to pull him into a big hug, but I loved how Sydelle just took all of them in stride and tried to help him, tried to mend his poor broken soul with lovin’s.

I really liked that the romance kind of took a backseat with this. It was never overwhelming, I always felt like the plot came first and the romance felt natural and not forced. It was such a breathe of fresh air to see two characters working towards a goal, fighting through the challenges they ran into, falling in love as this all went on, instead of cheesy insta-love love being the main story line. Now, there were some sappy romance spots of course, but they were just sweet and never seemed out of place. Seriously, I NEED more Sydelle and North lovey time.

As for the plot, I really liked the interesting way that magic is used in this land, with their talismans and what all the different colors mean, it was fascinating and very effective in this story. The whole jinx situation was unexpected but I loved how it created so much conflict, but in the end, everyone came to turns with it. I’m being cryptic on purpose so I don’t spoil anything. I liked how all the wizards have to be ranked and how they are really the only ones that fight. The religion aspect of this story was interesting, seeing how Sydelle had so much blind faith in her goddess and the warring beliefs of the other country. Plus, the political intrigue was fun, just because everyone was plotting behind each others’ backs and trying to fuck each other over. Who doesn’t love a bit of good back stabbing?

The problems I had with this book was mostly that the writing was a little hollow and bland. This was Alexandra Bracken first novel, and I’ve definitely seen how she’s improved. It’s just an easy, simple read with a writing style that wasn’t anything extraordinary. This shows through in some of the one dimensional secondary characters and flat dialogue. On top of that, I wish there was so much more. I want to know more about the land and magic and the other countries and it just felt like there could have been so much more meat added on and it wouldn’t have made the book boring. I would call this a relaxing rainy day read.

Also, if Alexandra Bracken just so happens to read this, I NEED a sequel. Seriously, that ending was so unsatisfying and there was enough world building in this book that you could easily make a second one. I’m being haunted by thoughts of what happens after the end of this book. Just whip it out and publish it… For me.

RATING: 

Review: Panic

Title: Panic  17565845

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Publisher: HarperCollins

Summary: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

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The concept of Panic seemed really unrealistic to me at first. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in a tiny town where something like this goes on, but it just doesn’t seem likely to me. I just can’t imagine that so many people play and support a game where death is very likely and where if anyone breathes a word of it, they get nearly beaten to death and their car smashed apart. The whole time that things like this happened, people were just totally unaffected and okay with it. I found that whole situation to be weird, like everyone was brainwashed into thinking that this was acceptable.

The thing I enjoyed about this book was that it has very realistic characters. There was Heather, who made a spur of the moment decision to join, after seeing her boyfriend with another girl. She stays in the game out of desperation, to save her and her sister from living with their drug addicted, shit excuse of a mother. Heather was the type of girl, that you looked at her life and saw how it turned her into the person she was. You could see how she was shaped by her bad living situation, by her awful mother, and a lot of her decisions were based around trying to get away. I liked her because you really see her grow and become stronger as the game goes on, and you see her become more confident in herself and what she wants.

Then there is Dodge, the boy who wants revenge. His sister competed before and lost the use of her legs after a boy sabotaged her car.  Dodge is driven by revenge, his “secret”, which isn’t much of a secret because you know what it is almost right off the bat. But you can see how he changes as the chance for revenge gets closer and closer. I liked that his drive to win was dark, to get revenge, to destroy a life for destroying his sisters. It made me like him for his determination and loyalty.

The character I really had a problem with was Nat, Heather’s best friend. She was just awful and I felt no sympathy or connection to her what so ever. She sucked right from the start, as a competitor, as a friend, as a love interest, but she just leeched onto everyone. I hated her and her rotten tricks and how stuck up and childish she was.

This book is definitely kind of slow paced, since it feels like most of the challenges are internal, more psychological. I was a little disappointed by this because I was hoping to read about this competition, to see people actually compete, but that was only a tiny piece of the story. The competition itself was pretty anticlimactic, usually over within a few pages, if that, and a majority of people got eliminated just by chickening out. I did like though that it seemed like pretty fair odds, nothing was really overly physical, so someone who wasn’t as strong would lose. It focused mainly on overcoming your fears and being ballsy.

Setting and atmosphere was a big part of what made this book successful. The claustrophobic feeling of a small town like this, where everyone knows everything, it played a big part in giving Heather determination to win. She wants to leave this town, leave this people, leave everything behind. There are clear social differences, from people living in Meth Row, to those in their cookie cutter houses with white picket fences. It really creates a feeling that makes you understand exactly why Heater wants to leave so badly, why people play this deadly game for a chance to win a ticket out.

The romance in this book wasn’t bad, it just fell a little flat for me. It was predictable, but non of this insta-love crap, it was more of a slow build that I could understand and relate to. I just found that it felt a little awkwardly placed at times. Also, Dodge, being a teenage boy, had a problem with thinking perverted thoughts all the time. He was constantly aware of boobs and thinking of his love interest being undressed and it was a little out of place the few times a random dirty thought would pop into his head. Understandable, but out of place.

Overall, Panic was by no means a bad book, just not necessarily what I was expecting or looking forward too. The psychological study was interesting and I actually enjoyed it, but the pace could have definitely moved a little quicker. The problem was that this book didn’t really leave me with a sense of anything when I finished it, there was no impression left by this story. A quick, easy read, interesting at times, but pretty forgettable.

REVIEW: 

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer 11408650

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publication Date: September 27, 2011

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Summary: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

 

 

 

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I’ve been putting this one off for years, this shining example of a sappy teen romance hidden behind a pretty cover and the promise of paranormal mystery. I mean, just look at how awesome and kind of spooky that cover is. It holds so much promise of a good, creepy, mysterious book about a girl that’s lost and trying to find herself, all while being plagued by visions of her dead friends. Unfortunately, a majority of what we get is swoony insta-love between Mara and smoking hot British sex bomb Noah Shaw.

Mara was an okay character. She is obviously messed up, constantly seeing her dead friends, losing chunks of time, potentially killing people, you know, everyday girl problems. That and her obsession, and I mean obsession, with Noah. My problem was that I just found her kind of floppy. Like a dead fish. I felt like she is the kind of girl that sighs a lot and just says “okay” in a semi depressed voice any time someone asks her to do something. Now obviously I have no idea what waking up with no memory and my friends dead feels like, so maybe I’m being harsh. But she was so back and forth on everything. She is just a quiet artsy girl with no friends, then suddenly she is standing up to the bully teacher and kids are applauding for her as she leaves the class. One second she was strong and wanting to find out what happened, the next she was downing anti-psychotic pills like there was no tomorrow. She was going to ignore Noah Shaw and he was so annoying, then suddenly she changes her mind and is all over him. Flop, flop, flop, she just went back and forth. And on top of that, I absolutely HATED her at the end. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here but she just completely loses all reason and makes the most idiotic decision of all time and I never wanted to punch someone in the face so bad.

The other thing about Mara, when I read that her mom was Indian, I was excited, thinking there was going to be some interesting diversity in this book. But conveniently enough, she got her father’s pale skin tone and the most we hear about her mother’s different culture is that she cooks curry for dinner one night and Mara goes digging through her mom’s closest for a sari for a costume party she is going to. And doesn’t even end up wearing it. What a disappointment.

Noah Shaw was exactly what you would expect him to be. Super hawt, supposedly slept with every girl in the school, but suddenly along comes Mara to bring out the big protective softy in him. He smokes (yuck!) but it’s okay because he looks super sexy when he does it, he is super rich with daddy issues, super arrogant and self confident, a mega genius, constantly makes snarky comments with his smoldering British accent, and he beats people up for being mean to Mara. Everyone’s dream guy, right? But I have to admit, he honestly wasn’t all bad. At no point was he really giving Mara the cold shoulder or flirting with other girls, or hey, he actually wasn’t trying to kill her. Luckily, he managed to avoid those cliches. And even though I hated the fact that he was just another bullshit YA love interest, I couldn’t help but admit that he had a certain charm I usually don’t get from characters like him. I’ve been up all night ponder just what it is about Noah Shaw that was better than the rest, and I honestly couldn’t tell you.

There of course has to be a super mean, ultra bitchy popular chick, spat forth from the depths of hell itself, with the sole purpose to humiliate Mara and ruin her life, all while trying to do the dirty with Noah. I am beyond sick and tired of this annoying stereotype being thrust into books like these. I honestly don’t believe that there are apparently hundreds of girls roaming around that treat the new kids like absolute shit and make it their personal goal to give them hell, all within the first few seconds of meeting them. I have never in my life encountered a person like this. I mean, if the antagonist did something to warrant hatred, I could maybe roll with that. But when the mean girl is just absolutely horrible, before they even learn the person’s name, it makes no sense to me. I don’t understand the need to throw in a character like this, but it constantly ruins books for me. One top of it, in this book there was a psycho teacher that was out to get Mara too, for absolutely no reason.

When it comes to the plot line, there is of course, a lot of time dedicated to the romance. The mystery surrounding Mara and the night her friends died is actually interesting, it just didn’t get much time to shine in the book. Also, there were some really fast paced, kind of random parts thrown in that you read, don’t quite understand, read again, then scratch your head in a confused way, trying to figure out what just happened. For those of you that have read this, I’m talking about the kidnapping part and the voodoo priest part. The big secret about Mara is pretty predictable, the mystery with Noah was very convenient and… wait, wait, WAIT… Speaking of convenient, holy shit, (slight spoiler ahead) I had to call bullshit on one massive thing. So Mara’s family decides to move after the accident, for a change of scenery to help Mara cope. So they just move to some random place in Florida and on Mara’s first day of school, she runs into Noah who looks at her like he knows her. Because he heard her voice once in his head and they are mysterious connected, of course. BUT HOLD ON. Would someone care to explain to me, how magically, out of all the places to move, her parents pick the very city that Noah lives, and conveniently enough, Mara’s mom is a snob so they have to go to some private school. Where Noah just so happens to also be. NO WAY. That is not even semi-believable.

I’ve spent a lot of time ranting about the bad, but now there isn’t much good for me to say.The writing style wasn’t bad, and I laughed a few times during this book. I know a lot of people have problems with guys like Noah making pervy and snarky jokes or comments all the time, but I find them funny. Most of my friends are guys, and I promise you, that’s how they actually are. Plus I have a huge soft spot for Jace from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, which if you’ve read those, you know he is the king of snark. So I’m not even ashamed to admit that I did find Noah’s inappropriate comments amusing at times. Mara’s brothers were okay through the book, until I realized that they were both weird robots and accepting of everything, never questioning a single thing. So actually, I guess they weren’t necessarily a good aspect of the book. It was still a quick, easy, light read, it just had nothing to help it stand out from every other YA romance book out there. At least there wasn’t a love triangle.

REVIEW: 

Review: Cruel Beauty

Title: Cruel Beauty 15839984

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Summary: Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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The fact that the first line of the summary compares this book to Graceling is very upsetting to me. Graceling was an interesting, kick ass fantasy with a strong heroine, who was flawed and powerful and afraid and brave and I loved her. This book was not really a kick ass fantasy and the heroine was definitely flawed in a few of those categories.

This book starts with Nyx (thank you for that creative, oh so original name) who is getting married to to a demon prince that the people refer to as the Gentle Lord. He goes around making bargains with people that ruin their lives and a few hundred years ago, he swooped down and murdered the last prince and took away the sky and the sun. Nyx’s father wanted her mother to have his babies, so he made a deal with Ignifex, which of course did not go well. She gave birth to twin girls, dying a horrible, bloody death in the process, and as payment, one of the daughters gets to be married off to the demon prince once she is old enough. To try and take advantage of the situation, Nyx’s father and a bunch of other old windbag magician guys decide to train her to murder the demon prince and set their land free.

There were two things I actually liked about this book. Number one surprisingly being that Nyx was an interesting character. She is often described as having poison in her heart, and this is true. Straying away from the typical, sweet as honey with a smile like the sun sort of girl, she actually thinks spiteful thoughts and hates her family for selling her off to a monster. I like the sort of honesty that she has, refusing to lie to herself but still accepting the way things are, but so so angry inside. It was kind of refreshing to get this view of a teenage girl that despises everything because her life is unfair and she knows it and hates it. She hates her father for making the bargain and loving her sister more, she hates her sister for not being the one sold off, she even hates her dead mother for dying in the first place and making this all happen. The problem I have however is that I feel like Nyx is this hateful, bitter character, simply because the author thought about what kind of girl would a demon lord love, and realize that someone like that would of course love someone with darkness in their heart. I felt like Nyx was made the way she was simply to fit into this role.

On top of that, she wasn’t very assassin-y. Sure she hit him and tried to stab him a few times and had her super duper secret master plan, but she didn’t really follow through with anything. She wasn’t secretive about anything, she basically told him immediately that she was there to kill him along with her plan. The plot line that I was most excited about, the scheming and murdering, it got shoved to the side for a dramatic love story.

The other thing I liked was the mixed up mythology this book had. It obviously wasn’t very original since it was all just like Greek mythology with a few add on’s and twists, but I still enjoyed hearing about how all the gods came into play in this version. I feel like the author could have been more original and create maybe her own gods and a whole new religion, but this book was only like 350 pages and the mythology already felt rushed as it was. And I never really got immersed into this world. Anytime some long story or explanation came up, I found myself skim reading and not really taking in a single word. It just didn’t quite do it for me.

My main problem with this book was unfortunately the romance. Right off the bat, there was tons of random lip locking and tongue hockey going on. Her aunt’s idea of training her was basically trying to turn her into a whore, but this girl was serious. On like the first night there, she was kissing some other guy, while continuously thinking dirty thoughts about Ignifex. Also, she had no problem totally throwing her heart around. One day she was in love with one guy, then a week later she was in love with Ignifex, then she was back to the other one. It was like watching a ping pong match and I was super dizzy by the end. I understand that Nyx didn’t get much love and affection as a child (you know, since she was going to be sacrificed) but this was just pathetic.

On top of that, I found the actually story to be a little boring and predictable. Her wandering around the big sinister tower was interesting, as were the things she found, but the main mystery was easy to figure out and I felt that the ending was really rushed. It was over so quick that I was almost confused and startled, and had to go back and reread what had happened. It wasn’t necessarily a bad ending, just not executed as well as it could have been.

I would probably recommend this book to myself like 5 years ago, when I was just getting into young adult fantasy and didn’t really care if it was good or not, just as long as there was some kissing and a sappy romance. Nyx being a semi interesting character was definitely a surprise, but unfortunately still not enough to save this book.

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Review: The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys 17675462

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Summary: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

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I need to start this review off by just saying what an amazing author Maggie Stiefvater is. The way she writes always makes me feel like the most simple things in the world are suddenly beautiful. She has a way of describing things in such a magical, stunning way, it’s easy to see everything she is writing about.  She creates such interesting, realistic characters, I’ve come to realize that I don’t think I’ll ever be disappointed with one of her books. That was definitely true with this one.

The Raven Boys is about a girl named Blue who lives in a house full of psychics, but she isn’t one. She has a rare gift to basically amplify others’ powers, to “make things louder” for everyone else. Blue only has two rules: One, stay away from boys, because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards. The problem is, the spirit of a boy Gansey, who just so happens to be an Aglionby boy, speaks to her, so not only is he going to die within the year, but she is either the one to kill him or he is her one true love. Deep stuff, right? Oh did I mention that if Blue ever kisses her true love, he will die? So maybe it’s both with Gansey. Add in a mystery, a journey for an ancient lost Welsh king, and a bit of magic, and you have yourself a fantastic book.

The story revolves around Blue, Gansey, and his three loyal friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. A lot of what I liked about this book was the friendship between the four boys and they way they relied on each other. Gansey was like the glue holding them all together, but each boy had a part to play. This brotherly bond, the way they interact with each other, playfully and anxiously, it was more interesting to me than the romance aspect.

Starting with Gansey of course, he was my favorite character. Ever since he had a near death experience, he has been obsessed with finding ley lines and awakening Glendower, the ancient king that was supposedly hidden somewhere in Virginia. He is passionate and driven, and likes to use big words in everyday conversations. I loved that he had such passion for everything in his life, his pursuit of the king, his relationship with his friends, he didn’t do anything halfway. I loved the way he spoke and was oblivious about certain things, but he seemed so sophisticated and old, like an ancient soul sometimes. He doesn’t fit into the stereotype of a rich, privileged snob of a boy, instead he is simply inquisitive, adventurous, and determined.

Ronan is someone that I’m hoping the next  book will go more into. He is kind of the dark, tortured soul of the group, fighting people, drinking all the time, skipping school. His life went downhill when he found his father dead and it ripped his family apart. He fights with his friends a lot, but is loyal to them down to his core. But there is something fascinating about him as person, that under his rebellious exterior, there  has to be more inside, a deep regret or sadness that he hides under the darkness. We know for sure that he is keeping a secret, and I can’t wait to find out what.

Adam is the scholarship kid, working part time jobs, trying so hard to fit in. He wants out of the life he has so badly (not that you can blame him) and he works hard for what he gets. He has his friends, he got into the prestigious academy, but it isn’t enough for him. I actually didn’t like Adam that much. I felt really sorry for him, but he was really an asshole to Gansey a lot. It was like he blamed Gansey for having all the money that he wanted, and it was his fault for wanting to help his friend. Adam is a little too money hungry and proud, and I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that he is going to make some bad choices because of this.

Noah wasn’t in the story that much, he was always just kind of hovering around the outside of the group. The big reveal with him was kind of predictable, although maybe that’s just because I’m a genius. I’m hoping now that certain (spoilery) things have been resolved, he will have more of a presence in the next book.

Blue has lots of heart and spunk, I loved her so much. It makes me sad though to see the burden she has to live with, to want to be just a normal girl and have her first kiss. Her close relationship to her mother and the rest of her family was a bright point in her life and she showed it. I also liked watching her form bonds with each of the boys, in different ways. Her romance with Adam in this book was sweet but a little sad, because I’m pretty sure that Gansey is her true love, and Adam doesn’t need any more heartbreak or sadness in his life. I almost want to hate Blue because I’m so afraid the romance aspect of these books are going to cause complications in the boys’ friendship that I enjoy so much. However, I have to say, I hope she ends up with Gansey. Sorry, but I can’t resist a passionate, scholarly, complex guy.

Overall, the mystery in this book was intriguing, as well as all of the folklore and psychic stuff, but it was the characters that really did it for me. Blue and her boys, Barrington Whelk (yes, that’s really his name), her mother and the rest of the psychic women, they were all so interesting and real. I never once felt bored with the story line or the characters, and the end of this books holds lots of promise for the next one, with the mystery surround Ronan and the curious case of Blue’s father. This quest that Gansey is leading them all on, it feels like one of revelation and destruction.

Also, that last line… uh, what? If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. My brain exploded.

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