Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Incarnate, by Jodi Meadows

Release date: January 31st 2012
Published by: HarperCollins Children's Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3/5 stars

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

My thoughts:

Incarnate first caught my eye by its cover – seriously, Harper Collins did an awesome job at it, and although I didn’t know at first why there was a girl with a butterfly mask in the cover, it has everything to do with the story. I’ve never read a book about reincarnation, so I was quite curious about it.

In the world created by Jodi Meadows, everyone who dies gets back in new bodies, with the same souls – and remembering everything that happened in previous lives. It’s fascinating and disturbing, and I found myself yearning for more information. However, the background wasn’t deeply introduced, and I expect more will be dealt with as the series progresses.

Ana wasn’t supposed to be born. Her soul is new, and basically, that makes her the only newsoul in the whole world. A stranger and a freak, Ana was raised – badly – by Lin, her mother. And when she turns eighteen, her only goal is to find out who she is, and why she was born. After all, there must be some sort of reason… right?

She crosses path with Sam, who apparently doesn’t have prejudice against her. He’s her guide, and takes care of her. He is – you can probably guess by now – the love interest of the book. To be sincere, I loved the way Sam took care of Ana, and how it didn’t matter to him if she was a newsoul. I loved how he turned out to be someone greater and more important than I imagined, and how, even then, his concern for Ana didn’t diminish.

Their relationship isn’t insta-love, but slow and tense and nearly impossible to exist. Jodi Meadows did a good job at it, but after one third of the book, things got out of control. You know when there’s that point in a relationship in which the characters throw themselves at each other, and don’t care for anything else, except their true love? Yep, that’s Sam and Ana. More than ever, I was annoyed that such a good relationship got this predictable. I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if they didn’t get together.

Oh, that’s not the only thing that made me say “What the hell” more than five times – literally. In the end, every possible thing happened, and the plot was so fast and full of blood and danger and death that it just didn’t make sense. There’s so much one young girl can handle, and Incarnate really forced it. Half of the things that happened in the end could’ve been avoided, and the other half really didn’t make sense. I’m not exaggerating.

Overall, Incarnate is a good debut, and I hope that, in the next books, the characters as well as the plot will get better, and be more realistic. Not that reincarnation can be that realistic, but you got my point. Jodi Meadows is a promising author, and I look forward to her next work, nonetheless.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You Against Me, by Jenny Downham

Release date: September 13th 2011
Published by: David Fickling Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge.
If your brother's accused of a terrible crime but says he didn't do it, you defend him.

When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the offense, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all, it's a book about love.

My thoughts:

Jenny Downham is brave, I have to admit that. The plot of You Against Me is so full of tension and hurt that's impossible not to be drawn by it when you start reading it. To talk about rape in your book requires sensibility and a big amount of realism, otherwise the whole thing will just sound fake. In that point, the author made an excellent work. It's obvious since the begginning how both families are suffering from what happened.

But the mystery of it all is, what happened? Mikey's sister seemed broken, fragile, and Ellie's brother was resentful and appeared to be innocent. So who's telling the truth, and who's lying? That's the core of this book. In this family drama, Ellie and Mikey met, and a relationship started to develop, despise the circumstances. I find a complicated love story very interesting, both characters struggling to be together against all the difficulties.

My problem with You Against Me, however, is not the romance. Both Ellie and Will were fantastic characters,and their relationship was adorable since the first time they met. The world "love" is not thrown around them like most YA love stories, and to say that pleased me is an understatement. They liked each other a lot, and that's it. Some might think that's not enough, but it was, and it fit the situation perfectly.

What really bothered me, though, is how everything is so rushly tied up at the end. A lot of answers are provided all of a sudden, and that just seemed convenient. To top it all off, we get to know what happened and who's guilty, and that's it, the book ends. Seriously, I wanted more. The author built all this tension up as the story went on, and at the end, she just cut it short, wrote a cliffhanger (kind of) and finished her book. I was left in the dark even with all those answers.

You Against Me would've been perfect, but the ending just blew it for me. If there was a sequel, I'd definitely read it, because there are so many loose ends that another book would be great. However, in general, this was a good story. If you want some tension and family issues with a bit of romance in it all, this is the right choice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deadly little secret, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Release date: December 23rd 2008
Published by: Hyperion Book CH
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 3/5 stars

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret. 

 My thoughts:

It actually took me a lot of courage to sit down and write this review. Not that I hated the book or anything, but my mind was a total blank, with not enough thoughts on Deadly Little Secret to create a decent paragraph -- and it seemed dificult to bring up any vocabulary. Oh, well. I'm better now, so let's just get it over it xD

Deadly Little Secret sounded cool and different from what I used to read -- a touch of romance with mystery and a possible killer? .... It turns out, the "touch" of romance was actually a lot more than I usually expected -- and a lot more like Twilight.

Camelia's life had been pretty boring normal. until Ben, the new guy with a dangerous past, comes into picture. They become lab partners and Camelia - surprisingly - starts to fall for him. The thing is, they've met before, on the day Ben saved Camelia's life. She knows it's him, but Ben denies their connection. Their romance starts to develop from that point, but honestly, I couldn't care less if they were going to be together or not.

Both of them were interesting, but I couldn't connect with Camelia, much less with Ben. They were superficial most of the time, including the secondary characters. The mystery around the threatning notes and packages was fairly good, the author managed to surprise me when the stalker's identity was revealed, but still, I couldn't shake that uneasiness off me. Deadly Little Secret would've been a fresh read, if not for this problem. I don't know why I didn't care about the characters, why being curious was the only thing that kept me hooked, and why I was nothing but relieved when the book ended.

However, I can apreciate a good book when I see one. Maybe I was just not in the mood for something like this, but the writing is phenomenal, the background is well defined, and the romance is great - although a little too fast for me. This series has 5 books, I think, but I'm not sure if I intent to keep on reading it. If you liked the synopsis, though, go for it. Deadly Little Secret may be the book for you =)

Angelfall, by Susan Ee

Release date: May 21st 2011
Published by:  Feral Dream
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

My thoughts:

If you’re hesitant about Angelfall, unsure if you will like it or not, if all the positive reviews and blurbs are right… here’s a tip: they are.

Angelfall has everything I enjoy in a dystopian novel – if this book can be considered that. Honestly, it feels like a paranormal dystopian. A society destroyed by angels sounds both interesting and mysterious. I particularly enjoy this kind of dystopias, simply because I love a good paranormal element in the story. Just like Angel Burn, I expected Angelfall to be all about bad angels and how they’re not as fluffy and cute as everybody believe.

I was right, but that’s not the only thing that impressed me. Penryn, the main character, is the kind of girl you’re proud of in a book. She’s aware of the destruction going on around her, and with her schizophrenic mother and wheelchair-bound little sister, Paige, surviving may not be so easy. So, to gather food and enough protection, Penryn does what needs to be done. She eats cat food if need be, fights with guys twice her size, and beat the hell out of an angel to find Paige. 

It’s so nice and refreshing to have a heroine that’s that badass. I loved Penryn, her sarcasm and frequent questions, but most of all, her devotion to her family. I’m probably going to sound very cold and cruel, but in the real world, not a lot of people would risk their lives to save someone else. But with the whole universe telling her that Paige’s dead, Penryn still goes out there and through some seriously rough situations for Paige. Even if making a deal with an angel, her worst enemy, is what it takes to reunite her family again.

The angel in question, Raffe, is the kind of guy – and love interest – that make an example out of the YA literature. He simply doesn’t care a bit about humans. He’s truly an angel, not a human with wings, and only helps Penryn because he wished to get his beautiful wings back.  Two enemies falling in love is not something uncommon when you think of it, especially in books, but to be convincing, it has to happen slowly, and not all of a sudden. The romance in Angelfall is so well developed that it feels natural at some point, and not something forced. Their conversations were dripped and covered with sarcasm and uneasiness that had me laughing at 5 o’clock in the morning. Yeah, that was how I began my last day of 2011, by the way - on my bed, cheering for Penryn and Raffe to save Paige and be together at the end.

One thing that I felt joyous about is that, not even for a single minute, Penryn forgot that Raffe is an angel, that he’s not human, and that they’re enemies. I simply despise those kind of relationships that are all about “Oh, you’re my foe, and you want to kill me? I don’t care. I trust you.” No, Penryn didn’t trust Raffe, and always wondered if he would betray her at some point. By the end of the book, they loved and hated each other, and that, my friends, is a good romance. xD

Another point that’s oddly great about it is how even the most disgusting thing didn’t make me want to stop reading. I don’t like books in which there’s a very vivid narration about gruesome parts. It just makes me feel bad, and I can’t enjoy the story after that. But Angelfall, strangely, didn’t fall into that category. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of weird and … bloody situations involving scorpions, but the narration, while still detailed, is contained enough to be realistic and not unnecessarily gross.

Now, I just have to talk about the ending… Authors love to break our hearts, and Susan Ee was no exception. It left me with a longing and need to know what the hell is going to happen next. Seriously, what was that ending? Though not as heart-breaking as Cassandra Clare’s books, it still filled my eyes with tears. I profusely regret not reading Angelfall sooner that I did. Thank you, my Goodreads friends, for writing such positive and good reviews, and encouraging me to read this book. It was SO, SO, SO, SO worth it <3 

Ps:  I read this book back in 2011, but am only posting the review now on the blog because, you know, I had completely forgotten about it. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Million Suns, by Beth Revis

Release date: January 10th 2012
Published by: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

My thoughts:

A Million Suns is one of the most anticipated books of 2012 for me. I couldn’t wait to see where Beth Revis would take us next, what secrets would be discovered about Godspeed, and if the ship’s mission would be accomplished, after all. Jessica Rules the Dark Side made me hesitant about this one, but I went as deep into Amy and Elder’s problems and struggles just as I had with Across the Universe.

Now forced to take his place as Eldest, Elder fights to control Godspeed without the use of drugs, and his strongest wish is for everyone at the ship to just have a choice. The poor decisions made by the previous Elders left the population at Godspeed not only fearful, but determined to take back what has been stolen from them – free will. But with free will, Elder has to deal with uprisings, individual thought, and discordance on board. In the middle of all of this is Amy, who’s fighting a battle of her own, trying to fit in with her strange looks.

One of the things that enchanted me in Across the Universe was Amy herself – her stubbornness, personality, and strength – and Elder’s determinate resolve to be faithful to his subjects as a leader. In A Million Suns, those characteristics stand out even more, as both Amy and Elder get enrolled in their own problems.

But they’re not the only one with a problem. Dark secrets that could either save or destroy them all have been kept hidden from Elder for too long, and as Godspeed’s mission is threatened by lack of food and supplies, they must discover what’s been delaying their arrival at the new planet, or else everyone might die.

It always surprises me how Beth Revis manages to reunite science fiction, a bit of romance – just enough to make you enjoy it and yearn for more -, mystery, and a really detailed background. All of these factors make Across the Universe and A Million Suns formidable books, and I can’t say how many times I jumped in the couch, eager to find out what was going on inside Godspeed.

And the ending was no easy thing to read, either. Seriously, shame on you, Beth Revis! Shame on you! How can you be such an evil writer? How can this book end up like this? I waited a year to read A Million Suns, and that’s how it ends? Oh my frexing Eldest, how am I supposed to wait for the last book in the trilogy?

4 questions in a single paragraph are enough to make a point of how much I loved this book. If you love science fiction that doesn’t look like science fiction – if that even makes sense (let’s just pretend it does) – go and pick this series up. To say that it’s a must read is an understatement :D

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side, by Beth Fantaskey

Release date: January 10th 2012
Published by: Harcourt Children's Books
Genre:  Young Adult
Rating: 2/5 stars

It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

My thoughts:

After waiting for so long, Jessica Rules the Dark Side finally came out. And I couldn’t have been unhappier. Why, you ask me, is the second book such a disappointment, since I absolutely loved Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side? There are not only one, but at least three reasons. And I promise not to be disrespectful to this book or its author, for even with my dislike, I was still able to enjoy the story.

After marrying Lucius and going to Romania, Jessica – Princess Antanasia – must go deep into her role as a Dragomir Princess, and fulfill her place beside Lucius. Problem is, she doesn’t sound like a princess, she doesn’t look like a princess – most of the time, that is – and doesn’t even want to rule. So you can imagine what a poor excuse of a princess she ended up being when Lucius was accused of murdering one of the Elders, and taken away into prison, and it was Jess that had to clear his name.

If my husband were in jail, and his life in constant risk – after all, vampires can’t live without blood for long (assuming my husband were a vampire, of course) – I would do anything to clear his name and save him from certain destruction. In fact, I believe every single woman who’s married and loves her husband would do the same. Hell, Catherine Crawfield would agree with me. But, as always, every rule has an exception, and Jessica is that exception. She did nothing to find evidence in Lucius’ favor, and I mean it when I say nothing. All the new Princess did was wimp and complain about what she was going to do now that Lucius wasn’t there with her.

Seriously, the girl didn’t do anything to save her husband’s life! She knew that he wouldn’t last one week without blood… and five days after his imprisonment, she was learning Romanian and talking to Mindy about her best friend’s love life with a surfer vampire. And she still had courage to think that she wouldn’t be able to live without Lucius? That if the verdict ended up being guilty, she’d rather die than rule without her husband?

Now that I mentioned Mindy, I can’t understand why she was in this book. Not that she didn’t play an important role, really, but her point of view was shallow, self centered, and I swear, if I read another “like”, I’m going to kill someone. Not only did her use of a ridiculously “modern” English seem forced, it felt brute compared to Jess’ contemporary but well written point of view. However, I loved how Lucius’ trial was told by Mindy – how she didn’t sound like an immature teenager, at least in this few chapters.

Oh, and Mindy’s love interest was just as uninteresting as her – and as irritating. Not that I have anything against Raniero. The letters exchanged between him and Lucius while the latter was in jail were funny, if not for the constant “LOL” that seemed to accompany every single sentence written by Raniero. Dude, what are you LOL-ing about? Your friend, whom you consider a brother, is in jail, succumbing slowly until he’s dead, and you’re laughing? Am I the only one here who actually cares about Lucius?

The whole mystery behind Claudiu’s murder was so obvious I felt like switching roles with Mindy just to shake some sense into Jess. Yeah, it was that obvious. If Jessica had spent less time complaining and more time actually doing something, Lucius wouldn’t have had to spent so much time suffering from lack of blood. I’m sure I was so supposed to look like this when I found out who the murderer was:

But I looked like this, instead:

As it is, it took way too long for Jessica to, like, grow up and realize that there were bigger things at stake – no pun intended – than how her life changed now that she was in Romania. And when she did change, it fit her character like a glove, like it was right at her face, the whole time, what she was supposed to be, and she was just too blind to see it.

I just can’t give 1 star to Jessica Rules the Dark Side because even with so many irritating flaws, I still loved to see more of Lucius as a husband as well as a ruler – he was the only that didn’t disappoint me, really – and the last part of the book was good. No more comments.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake

Release date: August 30th 2011
Published by: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My thoughts: 

Anna Dressed in Blood, by its cover and synopsis, seemed like a creepy book. And indeed, it was – in a very good way. To say that this is one of the best books I’ve read in 2012 so far it’s an understatement. I believe Anna Dressed in Blood is the best book about ghosts that I’ve read.

The characters, for once – especially the MC – were realistic and felt right for the story. I don’t usually read books with male POV’s, not out of prejudice or anything, but because I don’t stumble across those a lot. Percy Jackson, Across the Universe and Angel Fire were the only ones I have experience with, and Cas’ point of view was surprisingly refreshing. It was so well written that it didn’t, even for a second, look girly. I was hyper aware as I was reading that it was a boy narrating the facts, because while Kendare Blake’s writing is full of details, the focus was on the right places. That alone pleased me immeasurably.

Now that I’ve mentioned the writing, can I say that some scenes scared the hell out of me? Horror and thriller aren’t usually my choice of reading, and Anna Dressed in Blood caught me off guard. The descriptions added suspense to the setting and made my imagination run wild, especially when, um, body parts and blood was related. This turned the story pleasantly frightening, I assure you.

It’s impossible not to be touched after discovering what really happened to Anna. The girl didn’t deserve that kind of end, and it broke my heart to see how she felt about herself and Cas. His job is to kill ghosts and send them elsewhere, but even he felt sorry for Anna. The background, not only Anna’s, but of all the characters, was really realistic. It was nice to see, for once, the Queen Bee of high school not being a bitch.

Is it only me, or have someone else gotten this Supernatural thingy while reading it? I kept thinking about Sam and Dean every time Cas took his knife out of his pocket and called someone for advice and information. Yep, I’m crazy about Supernatural, and this book resembled the Winchester’s life a lot more than I thought it would. Also, the fact that his nickname is Cas made me think of Castiel every single time :D

I’m really broken-hearted about the ending, though. What the hell? was the first thing that passed through my mind, and I’m curious about how this series will progress. I can’t wait for the sequel, and gladly, I won’t have to wait too long. Anna Dressed in Blood was fantastic in a lot of ways, creepy scenes or not, and Kendare Blake kept me hooked till the end. And am I the only one who loves Cas? Seriously, the boy is awesome. I think I’m developing a crush. Oh, well. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Release date: January 3rd 2012
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

My thoughts:

I put Cinder in my to-be read pile right after I found out this was a retelling of Cinderella – one of the most adorable faerie tales. But that’s not the only thing that kept me impatient for its release. A dystopian society in which cyborgs live amongst humans sure is an interesting setting, and adding Cinderella to the mist only leads to a hell of a book. My expectations were high for Cinder, and I wasn’t disappointed. Not at all.

Cinder, a mechanic cyborg that lives with her witchy step-mother, is our main character. I didn’t hate the girl, but nor did I love her. She was just a girl that lived with what she could have, and made the best out of it. I liked the way she viewed things, the way she was consistent in her thoughts, centered, and knew her place in society – even if that’s the toughest thing to handle.

Her life spins out of control when Prince Kai enters her booth and asks her to fix his android. The young, handsome boy is Commonwealth’s star, but there he was, about to contract Cinder. Being the hero of the book – and the love interest – I expected Kai to be serene, thoughtful, Edward-like, but that’s not what I got. Kai is suffering with his dad’s decease, and his cheerfulness is shadowed by his responsibilities. He’s such an adorable man, and every time he tried to court Cinder I smiled like a silly girl. Even though the romance is not thrown at the reader, it’s definitely there, slowly wining Cinder and who’s reading.

I enjoyed the dystopian aspects of the society as well. The Earth has gone through 4 World Wars, and a lot of cities were destroyed by the constant conflicts. The technology has evolved a lot, and it’s always funny – and a little disturbing - to see how each author works with this world, if enough background is presented, and if it all makes sense. Marissa Meyer did a great job at it, but I was a little lost throughout the story. I wanted to know how the cyborgs were introduced in society, how the world came down to this point – and I admit, being a history geek, I was curious about the third and fourth World Wars. Cinder is the first book in a trilogy, so more answers will be provided in the next book (I hope).

I was halfway through Cinder when I realized that this was a trilogy. And I was like, “What? No! I want the happy ending now.” The ending of this book feels like a cliffhanger, and honestly, I don’t know if I will be able to wait so long for the sequel. I just have to find out what’s going to happen next. Marissa Meyer managed to write her own story, based on its own world and background, with elements of the original Cinderella – just enough so that the reader can tell that it’s a retelling, but without being obvious. This may very well be one of the best retellings I’ve ever read. Well done, Mrs. Meyer!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Archangel's Blade, by Nalini Singh

Release date: September 6th 2011
Published by: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

My thoughts:

I read Nalini Singh’s previous books in the Guild Hunter series last year, and I was fascinated by the creatures that were introduced in our world – angels, archangels and vampires living alongside humans. That – and Raphael’s characterization – were enough to make me fall on my knees for this series. But I was not happy when I saw that the fourth book, Archangel’s Blade, was going to be about Dmitri. I wanted so badly to know more about Raphael’s childhood, and Elena’s life before she met Raphael.

Archangel’s Blade deliciously surprised me. Dmitri’s personality and Honor’s trauma immediately pulled me into the book, and Nalini Singh, - as always – managed to throw a series of issues and villains at her main characters that, together, kept me hooked. I can’t honestly say how much I loved the romance – how the impossibility of it made it all that much more enjoyable. Dmitri was haunted, for a thousand years, by his wife’s death, and ever since, hasn’t been able to love and feel – it’s like he doesn’t even have a soul. And Honor, on the other hand, was haunted by two awful months of her life, in which she was kept in a basement, being abused, beaten, and hurt by a bunch of vampires.

And then you ask me, how one of the most dangerous, cruel, and sexy vampires of New York managed to fall in love with a broken hunter who, since they first met, was terrified by him? Hah, that’s the magic in Nalini Singh’s books. There’s a reason I love this series so much. The author can create a romance so complex and well-developed that, even with these weird circumstances, feels real at the end. Dmitri’s heart growing softer and softer throughout the chapters and Honor’s fear of everything with fangs being slowly replaced by acceptance over what happened to her can only lead to a 5-star book.

Really, I wanted to give this book 5 stars. But to say I enjoyed it as much as Raphael and Elena’s story would be make me a fat little liar. The ending was not so great. I felt like there should be something else, like the big fight at the end wasn’t all that good. To me, the resolution of Honor’s problem and Dmitri’s as well was too much of a coincidence, and it didn’t feel real enough. Honor didn’t bleed, Dmitri didn’t even sweat, and after finding out something pretty damn incredible – pardon my language – Dmitri acted like it didn’t surprise him much.

Overall, Archangel’s Blade was a really great book. But I think the series is losing its focus. The next book – or so I heard – is going to be about Jason, the black-winged angel. Seriously, who cares about him? I want more Elena and Raphael, I want to see what’s going to happen with Raphael’s mother, and how his change is going to affect his relationship with his consort. Jason just isn’t important to me, and to say that I’m going to take a long time to pick up his book is an understatement.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith

Release date: January 2nd 2012
Published by: Poppy
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

My thoughts:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight caught my attention because of its cover and promise. I mean, come on, love at first sight? Since when is this good in a book? And I was wrong, terribly wrong. This debut is so freaking cute I was smiling like an idiot when I read the last page. People, this is the way a romantic story should be written!

Hadley, the main character, is going through a tough time – her father is marrying another woman, and the tension that’s been lurking around her house since he made this decision simply makes Hadley grumpy. She just wants to get to the bloody wedding, in London, and go back to her normal life as fast as she can.

Destiny (or bad lucky) makes her miss her flight, and an already pissed off Hadley has to wait for the next one in the airport. In these circumstances, she meets Oliver, a British boy who’s on his way to London and – big surprise there – is on the same flight. One conversation leads to another, and soon, they’re sharing life experiences and frustrations.

Oliver and Hadley were great characters, and to be honest here, Oliver is so adorable the romance worked – even if it developed in 24 hours. And then you may say “Aha, then insta-love is not something to despise in a book?”. But every rule has an exception, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is that exception. I bow deeply to this author, who managed to write such a great love story, based on situations and issues that could very well be anyone’s case.

This review’s going to be short, because really, I don’t know what to say. This book is a must read just because of Oliver, because of the romance that works so well… but most important, because it changes your mind about a lot of taboos in literature. After reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I realized that a good love story can be developed in 24 hours and be as enchanting as one that develops in a year, if it's well written. And trust me, Jennifer E. Smith is a hell of a writer.

Bloodrose, by Andrea Cremer

Release date: January 3rd 2011
Published by: Philomel
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars

This review will have spoilers of Nightshade and Wolfsbane. If you haven't read these yet, then I suggest you don't keep reading this.

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

In the final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Cremer creates a novel with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its final pages. A dynamic end to this breathtaking trilogy.

My thoughts:

Nightshade and Wolfsbane, the previous books in the series, were action-packed and set in an interesting world, but to be quite honest, I didn’t care whether the main character, Calla, ended up with Shay or Ren. I, however, didn’t like Ren, so I was always “Team Shay”. This indifference continued with me as I was reading Bloodrose, but I was still able to enjoy Calla’s final adventure.

The Searchers’ only hope is for Shay to dive into his role as a Scion, and finally, release all the Guardians from the life-long bond that have always kept them by the Keepers’ side. The mythology introduced especially in this final installment was really great and kept me hooked, but Andrea Cremer could’ve explored each mission to retrieve a piece of the sword a little more deeply. I couldn’t feel the tension that always seemed to be on Calla’s shoulders, because the characters themselves sometimes acted like they weren’t at war at all. That kind of bothered me. I wasn’t looking for a dark book in which war is dutifully described – like Mockingjay or Harry Potter 7 – but some jokes just didn’t fit with the situation, making the scene fake.

Calla’s mood, while fierce in a way that made me proud of her sometimes, was forced at some points, and her angry reactions didn’t make sense most of the time. I often found myself thinking “Something is wrong with this girl”, because I just couldn’t get her.

The romance, however, was decent. The love triangle wasn’t that obvious, and Andrea Cremer managed to make Calla seem confused and torn between two guys, without being slutty. The ending, I admit, brought tears to my eyes. Andrea Cremer is not afraid to hurt, break, or kill her characters, and this is one of the reasons I liked Bloodrose. What happened in the end was acceptable both for the love triangle and for the characters as well. It was realistic without being cruel. Just something that could happen, and in the end… it did.

Nightshade – although not one of my favorite series – was a great trilogy. I can say that Andrea Cremer did an excellent work. Her series has everything to attract readers as well as fans: A good main character, decent love triangle, well built mythology and creatures, and most important, an ending that’s not disappointing. Thumbs up!