Waiting on Wednesday: Silver in the Blood

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

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Title: Silver in the Blood (Silver in the Blood #1) 22929540

Author: Jessica Day George

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

Summary: Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

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Surprisingly, I don’t think that I’ve ever read any of Jessica Day George’s other books, but I like that fairy tale retelling seems to be a theme with her. After hearing about this one though, I knew there was no way that I wasn’t going to pick it up. I love the time period, I love the setting, and I love the idea of shape-shifters in both. I hope that Dacia and Lou have a really close relationship and maintain that through the book, not even letting “dark brooding young men” come between them. I am a little nervous that there might be a dreaded love triangle, but I’m going to give this book the benefit of the doubt. I’m assuming that Dacia and Lou are going to have to deal with shape-shifting and how it affects them and their lives, and I hope that it actually feels like they are struggling with it. But on top of the supernatural struggle, I also want there to be turmoil between the family members, no doubt those who view it as a curse and those who view it as a power. Anyone that’s read paranormal or supernatural fantasy books, myself included, have thought at one time that it would be super cool to be a werewolf. But we all know that shape-shifting comes with a huge price and that’s something I want the girls to feel conflicted about. Overall, I think Silver in the Blood will be dark and enchanting, hopefully a little spooky, with a well written romance and two girls fighting for their humanity and freedom.

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Review: Sweet Evil

Title: Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1)  11808950

Author: Wendy Higgins

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 1st, 2012

Summary: Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.


Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

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When this first book came out a few years ago, I took one look at the silly cover with the creepy guy in black sniffing that poor girl’s hair, or whatever he is doing back there, and promptly stuck it back on the shelf. Yes, I happily judged this book by it’s cover. But come on, look at it. Look at her stupid scrunchy dress and his creepy face and chiseled jaw, the mysterious fog in the background… The whole thing just screams Twilighty tween bullshit. And what’s with her awkward arm across her stomach? Is she trying to stop her ovaries from exploding due to the raw sexy man-power radiating off the guy behind her? That’s got to be it.

Okay okay, but seriously, this book wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. I just couldn’t understand how these books had so much hype and such a freaking good rating on Goodreads, so I had to find out for myself what sort of sorcery was going on here. And it was exactly what I thought… Swoony, unobtainable guy, forces of darkness, angels vs. demons, sexy hot make out scenes, and a perky blonde heroine. The perfect concoction to guarantee tons of squealing fangirls. This author wasn’t messing around.

Right from like page three, this book had me giggling uncontrollably and reading lines that I found hilarious out loud to my younger brother who just looked confused as to why I was reading something so stupid. I mean, holy crap, I was almost peeing my pants at some of the things out innocent little Anna was thinking about Kaidan. How about a few examples?

“He was smokin’ hot. As in H-O-T-T hott. I’d never understood until that moment why girls insisted on adding an extra T. This guy was extra-T worthy.”

“His eyes were narrow and his eyebrows were a bit thick and… Oh, who was I kidding? I could pick him apart, but even the shifty slant of his eyes made him more alluring to me.”

“Kai, like Thai, only yummier.”

“Good gracious, he was sexy- a word that had not existed in my personal vocabulary until that moment. This guy was sexy like it was his job or something.”

“Gosh, his eyes were gorgeous- the color of tropical honeymoon waters ringed in dark sapphire and enclosed by thick lashes.”

Can you understand why I was cracking up?

So we have the obviously sheltered Anna, who finds out that she is the offspring of an angel and demon, Belial, The Duke of Addiction. She has super senses galore but hides it and only uses her powers for good because even the thought of doing something bad, like lying *gasp!* makes her so upset. She runs into Kaidan who is just like her expect his father is the Duke of Lust, which I’m sure none of you saw coming, and he explains to her what she is and how she has to start working for her father. Any kids of the Dukes have to spread their sin around, so for Anna that means drinking and selling drugs and things, and for Kaidan that means seducing a lot of chicks and getting into their pants. Yuck.

I had a really hard time with Anna just because I found her so unrealistic and I wasn’t able to relate to her at all. She was so angelic that it was almost sickening and I found myself laughing at her the whole time for being so silly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good person or not having sex, but Anna was almost just annoying how she constantly cried over things that upset her or acted stupid just to do something nice because she wouldn’t help it. But it was also annoying how I really didn’t get much of a sense of internal conflict from her. I mean, she finds out that she is going to have to start doing bad things, and she just kind of goes with the flow the whole time. And after being around Kaidan for five seconds, she is more than ready to have sex with him. She was so hot and cold that her character felt almost lost and undefined.

And it was so completely ridiculous because a decent chunk of this book was Anna and Kaidan on a road trip to find her demon dad and talk to some nun. But how, you might ask, did she manage to get her parents to let her go with some sexy guy they don’t even know who would clearly take advantage of their daughter? Well that’s a funny question. Anna’s overprotective, freakishly sweet and goodhearted “mom”, who has done everything in her power to keep Anna safe and protected, randomly comes up with the idea herself. That’s right, mommy dearest suggests that they go on a road trip together, but she’s sure nothing could go wrong because she asks the son of The Duke of Lust to pretty please not deflower her daughter? I think I know who’s going to get mother of the year award.

The romance aspect of this book was pretty steamy, I’ll admit that. But it was so freaking dramatic. Kaidan was just the definition of the hot, mysterious guy who wants the heroine so bad but can’t be with her because it’s too dangerous, blah, blah, blah. I mean, one minute he is all over her, trying to seduce her and get laid, and the next minute he is freaking out and smashing lamps and being a cold jerk because she likes him. It was frustrating. There was intsa-love and a weird, awkwardly placed love triangle that I didn’t even understand the purpose of, except to make Kaidan jealous. But I was really excited because at one point in this book, they aren’t around each other very much, and I always like to see the heroine being productive and doing things without constantly needing her man at her side. But Anna just goes into this dark depression because she isn’t seeing Kaidan and is literally just the most pathetic thing ever.

The plot and writing wasn’t anything amazing, but it was fun. Everything was fairly predictable and cliche but in a familiar, relaxing sort of way. I did find the mythology pretty interesting, and getting to meet the other kids with all their different parents and what sort of bad things they have to do was pretty cool. And I do love angel and demon stuff, so the background with Anna’s parents and the struggle between heaven and hell was intriguing too. I have to give this book brownie points for being a fun read, even if I got annoyed a lot, I was still having a good time reading it and interested enough to see where it was going that I kept reading and finished the book pretty quickly.

Over all, this book was pretty much what I expected, but I had a better time with it that I thought I would. Anna didn’t really do anything for me, and I didn’t have much connection with any of the other characters but the ridiculous drama between all of them was entertaining enough that I made my way through it. I actually did order the next book from the library, so I must have liked it a little bit. I just feel bad because the only parts I really did like about it were ones that made me laugh for being so utterly silly. I feel like that wasn’t the author’s intention, but it was a nice quick book with a fun plot and lots of steamy moments, which was exactly what I was in the mood for. Still doesn’t make it a worthy of it’s 4.17/5 rating on Goodreads though.

RATING: 

Review: Written in Red

Title: Written in Red (The Others #1) 15711341

Author: Anne Bishop

Publisher: NAL Hardcover

Publication Date: March 5, 2013

Summary: No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

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Wow. This book… it was amazing. Amazing. AH-MAZING. I can’t stop thinking about it and all I want is to get my hands on the second book. I need it now.

Written in Red starts with Meg stumbling through the snow, running away from the Controllers who kept her imprisoned, selling her to the highest bidder since she can see the future and speak prophecies when she is cut. She finds herself inside Howling Good Reads, a bookstore run by a werewolf, inside of a business district run by the Others. She asks for a job, knowing that she could be safe from the people hunting her in a place where human laws don’t apply. But whether she’s safe from the creatures inside is a whole other matter, especially since before she ran away she had a prophecy that foretold her worn death. These vampires and werewolves aren’t your modern misunderstood, angsty supernatural teenagers, they are dangerous and take pleasure in killing.

Guys, this book was so freaking good! To start it off, the world building. The magical, beautiful, wonderful world building. Anne Bishop creates this world that is so well formed and close enough to our own that it is eerily realistic. Seeing the interactions between human and the Others, how everyone is so afraid of them but fascinated by them, it was intriguing. And as I was reading this book, I could help but ask myself whether or not I would ever venture into one of the Others’ business districts, to see them for myself but risk it. With the whole “human law does not apply” thing going on, it’s a huge risk but at the same time, as I was pulled into the story, I could understand the appeal and desire to go into a place like that, to see supernatural beings with my own eyes. There was loads of action and danger and suspense, the whole gritty and dark tone had me biting my nails in anticipation, never knowing what would come next, half excited and half afraid to find out.

I also absolutely love how the supernatural beings were actual bloodthirsty, menacing, creatures of death. Hehe, okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they actually kill and eat people and all of those things that real werewolves and vampires would do! The werewolves can half shift or shift all the way, and like to hunt and eat humans. Vampires can turn into smoke and suck the blood out of people in multiple ways. Along with them, we also meet Elemental’s, like Winter and Spring, horses that can cause natural disasters, crow shapeshifters that like shiny things and peck out people’s eyes, etc. Every… species? I don’t know if that’s the right thing to call them but that’s what I’m going with. Every species is so defined, with their owns rules and quirks and characteristics, seeing the dynamics between them all living together in peace was something I’d never really read about before and it was so refreshing.

Meg as a heroine was very refreshing. Being kept in a cage her whole life and not knowing how to interact with people or things in the real world made her kind of like a child. She was very innocent and vulnerable, and watching her struggle with her addiction problems just added to that vulnerability. Her blood prophecies themselves were really interesting and just as confusing as they were enlightening, but you start to get a sense of how they work through the book. Watching her interacting with all of these different characters, Simon especially who is so gruff and snarly, it was funny and heartwarming that the same time. She is so sweet and innocent and he is a big manly wolf man, so they don’t really know what to think about each other. But it’s so frustrating because if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know that insta-love is a big no for me. But then in books like this where there is just a hint of romance, a realistic foundation for a relationship to maybe happen later, it drives me crazy because I just want them to smooch it up! Gah!

Part of what really made this book such as success to me was the huge slew of interesting and well written secondary characters. Most authors have a hard time creating one or two fleshed out, layered characters but in this book, we get a whole town of them. And being able to read from constantly changing POV’s usually annoys me and creates distact between me and the characters, but not in this book. Instead it added so much to the story and characters, to be able to read from their POV and see what they think and how they interact with each other. We get Vlad the vampire, Tess the something scary, Simon the werewolf, Monty the human police officer, Asia the stupid antagonist, and a whole bunch of others. I loved how each character had a distinct voice and how the change of POV added to the book instead of taking away, and in my opinion, really helped the pacing.

Speaking of pacing, this book moved at a fantastic pace and kept you hooked the entire time. Being able to read from Asia’s POV (the antagonist) kind of gave you hints and clues so you knew that something was happening, that something big was coming, you just didn’t know what or when and it really teased you. And between the mystery of Meg and her prophecies, Simon and a possible drug going around that was causing angry slaughtering of humans, and Monty the police officer adding an outside view and more political information, I couldn’t decide which I wanted to read more about.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m head over heels in love with this book. The whole story kept me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t put it down. The characters were beyong great, the story was engaging and interesting, the romance was just a huge tease, and the mystery is making me ready to murder for the next book. This is a must read for anyone that likes urban fantasy or just an amazing read in general.

RATING: 

Review: Sea of Shadows

Title: Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)

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Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 8th, 2014

Summary: Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author, takes an exciting new direction with this big, breathtaking blend of fantasy, romance, horror, and pulse-pounding action, perfect for fans of Graceling and Game of Thrones.

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court–one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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This book claims to be “perfect for fans of Graceling and Game of Thrones” but speaking as a fan of both, I have to disagree. Graceling and Game of Thrones are both full of complex characters, action, interesting fantasy, great world building, the list goes on. While this book does have some action, it’s not really engaging, the fantasy elements and world building that go with it are a little bland and the characters aren’t particularly memorable. I read some of Kelley Amrstrong’s other books a few years ago and remember enjoying them (although my taste back then was questionable at best) but this book was very disappointing.

So Moria and Ashyn are a couple of hot, strawberry blonde twinsies with polar opposite personalities. Moria is hotheaded and bold and idiotic while Ashyn is calm and collected and overly sympathetic. It’s like a two-for-one cliche package deal. Woo hoo. They are in charge of putting spirits to rest and keeping there village safe. A job they apparently suck at. Ashyn fails to put the spirits to rest and Moria does nothing to protect the village as everyone is slaughtered by swirling death shadows. So Moria of course gets pissed and Ashyn just feels terrible because it’s possibly her fault so they set out to try and save the children left and warn everyone. And what ensues is actually a bit of a snore-fest.

It’s not that I hated Moria and Ashyn, it’s just that they were both huge cliches. It’s bad enough having one in a book, but now we have two. Moria is constantly being retarded and rushing into situations without thinking, a “warrior”. Ashyn is constantly feeling sorry for herself and crying over other people and being a damsel in distress. They are supposedly special with their Keeper/Seeker powers but that only comes into play in the beginning and like one other part where they hear spirits whispering to them. I was really hoping that their abilities to communicate to the spirits would come into play, like to help them escape places or help them during fights or anything. But it’s virtually non existent through the story. And with every couple of chapters going to the other girl’s point of view, I felt like you don’t really get enough time with either girl to get to know them, let alone each love interest too.

Speaking of love interests, Ronan and Gavriel really missed the mark for me. They are both fairly interesting characters, but we never really get time to get to know them, Ronan especially. Gavriel got a little more time because he was more important to the story, but I never felt like I knew them as a character. They were just names on the page, playing their parts and that was about it. It was like the story itself was slow but the characters were rushed. Ronan was just kind of constantly popping ion and out of Ashyn’s story line, doing sneaky thief things and saying mushy stuff to make Ashyn’s romantic little heart leap. Then Gavriel was being a sulky poop, fighting off guys with his big man muscles, keeping mysterious secrets (which I knew almost immediately what they were) and popping boners over Moria wiggling in his lap while hiding from bad guys. There was a lack of depth, more so when it came to Ronan.

The book started off okay. People were being taken to the Forest of the Dead and left to die, hopefully at the hands of unimaginable horrors. Then people in Ashyn’s party start dying and there is lots of blood and hearts impaled on branches, and I started to get excited. After that though, things started to go downhill. The girls start to travel separately through The Wastes and it slows down. The back and forth of the point’s of view really took away from the sense of urgency for either character and it was just boring. In a few chapters, party one makes it through to the nearest city. Oh, but wait, now we go back to party two and they have to make it through to the city. Okay now back to party one facing crap in the city. Wait, back to party two also facing crap in the city. It made me angry and tired at the same time. And the whole thing with all the beasts and monsters from legend coming back could have been really cool. I was excited to see what attacked them but we got a giant acid spitting worm and a big bird. Which were taken care of with a few slices of a sword. Then everything was all good. Yawn.

Another problem is that a lot of the elements of this story just don’t seem to connect. There is some random Japanese stuff thrown in with family names and things, but I never really get a Japanese vibe. There are all sorts of different skin tones being described but everyone seems like they were living relatively close to each other so I’m not sure how all the different races got where they were and what separates them. Then some things just don’t make sense, how spirits are known to be real, but shadow stalkers or possession or god forbid, sorcery are absolutely positively impossible. There isn’t really any world building or history or politics that would make a lot of this make sense. Instead, you just feel confused.

I really had high hopes for this book. It has a cool summary but the execution is terrible. Everything is either too rushed or drags on way too long. Characters are bleh, romance is bleh, world building is basically non existent. I was engaged during certain parts of this book, so it wasn’t terrible. I’m just not sure if it’s worth your time. Maybe if you are a fast reader and don’t mind skimming a lot of chapters. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.

RATING:  

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: 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.

RATING: 

Review: The Diviners

Title: The Diviners (The Diviners #1) 7728889

Author: Libba Bray

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

 

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For some reason, I thought this was a book that came out recently, apparently I was wrong, so now I’m horrified that it’s taking so long for the second book to come out. Seriously, what’s up with that?

This book had a rocky start, that’s for sure. Evie is getting shipped off to live in New York City with her uncle, because her parents just can’t handle her bad behavior anymore. The thing that got me was that I immediately did not like Evie on bit. Not one teensy little bit. She was snotty and snooty and annoying and she thought she was just the best thing in this whole damn world. I just knew that she was going to ruin this book for me. So I pushed through and dealt with her obnoxious attitude, then about a third of the way through the book, I realized that she was starting to grow on me. Yep, I don’t know how Libba Bray managed to pull this one off, but by the end of the book, I actually liked Evie. Sure, I still wanted to punch her in her pretty face like every five minutes, but she felt live and real and fun. She was spunky and sassy and brave (if a little stupid sometimes) and I just liked her life. I was surprised, trust me.

This book has a few different characters in it. Evie is obviously the main character, but some chapter has other people’s points of view, since there are several storylines running together as one. And I really liked all of them. Theta and Henry’s relationship was perfect, I loved how he picked her up from her sad past and gave her a new life and they were sticking together no matter what. Even if Theta’s past was absolutely horrifying. Memphis was super intriguing, and I liked the different perspective we got from him, since he lives in Harlem. The only character that I felt a little blah about was Mabel. She is just kind of the plain, boring best friend that hangs around just to offer a sulky, depressed perspective on what Evie finds fun and exciting. But I’m hoping that in the next book, she is going to grow and be more of her own person. Sam was hilarious. I loved how charming he was and the witty banter between him and Evie had me constantly cracking up.

Jericho was probably my favorite secondary character. He was interesting and once we found out his secret, my jaw dropped. I honestly wasn’t expecting that, and I really want to know more. But I love how the first impression you get of him is that he is just some dull guy that works at the museum, but he ends up playing a bigger part. And I like the sort of character he is, the strong, steady, silent rock sort, who just provides comfort and support.  This author can seriously write. Most authors have a hard time giving life and personality and depth to one character, Libba Bray just successfully did it with like ten. Not to sound like I’m gushing, but she is an inspiration and lots of authors could take some pointers from her.

Obviously there is romance in this book, but I’m not going to say between who, because I don’t want to spoil anything. However, it was great. The best thing about it was that it didn’t, at any point in time, take away from the story. That’s right, this YA book was not completely centered around some sappy love story. I could kiss Libba Bray right now. I love that it took me by surprise instead of going to the way I was completely expecting it too, it was very refreshing and I found it to be more realistic.

The mystery was definitely spooky and intriguing enough that it kept me interested, I was legitimately getting goose bumps at some parts. I was really fascinated with all of the cult stuff involved in this book, it was one of those things that was so disturbing to the point where you just want to know more. The storyline and the mystery both had so much depth to it, between the past and the present and everyone point of views, it was wonderfully written. The whole book was wonderfully written. This book had such great world building and Libba Bray brought so much life to this time period, I felt like I could close my eyes and see everything. I don’t know how she did it, she isn’t old enough to have been alive during that time, but I’m wondering if she isn’t hiding a time machine somewhere. I understand this was a horrible time period and things sucked, and she showed that in a dark, gritty way, but she also managed to write it in a way that makes me just want to go there, just for a day. The city had such life.

The one thing I was disappointed about was the ending. Not to spoil anything, but it felt a bit anticlimactic to me. I realize that nothing about the ending or what Evie had to go through with inevitably facing Naughty John was easy, but the solution, while creative, seemed… I don’t know, almost cheesy. That’s not really the word I’m looking for, and maybe the bad ass in me just wanted to see an ultimate showdown, but when you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The ending ending (after the face off with Naughty John) left me wanting the second book so bad. Stupid Evie made stupid, silly, selfish decisions again, and in the next book, it is going to hopefully bite her in the butt. There is just so much mystery that still needs to be solved, so much more character development and twisty plotlines that I need right now!

Libba Bray, if you ever read this, PLEASE SEND ME AN ARC OF LAIR OF DREAMS! PLEASE!

RATING: