Monday, August 5, 2013

We're Back! Here's What We Were Up To...

And we're back! Sorry for the hiatus everyone, but the winter semester of our college careers became a little crazier than we could imagine, and then, before we knew it, summer hit and we all had jobs! I actually took off to Europe for three months to teach English at the Krakow University of Economics in Poland, but that didn't mean I wasn't reading! It was quite the contrary, but I didn't really have time to sit down and write a review for each book I read.... and the internet was incredibly spotty, to say the least. ANYWAYS, what I am going to do now is post mini reviews! These aren't going to be like the normal reviews we do. Instead, they will be very direct with a rating. If you would like a summary of the book, I suggest heading to and searching for the book there. Sorry for the sudden onslaught of reviews, but for the sake of convenience, I will put them in alphabetical order. Happy reading!

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein
Bloomsbury, 336 pages

Having read some of Lisa Klein's books before (Ophelia and Lady Macbeth's Daughter) and having loved them, I couldn't wait to pick up this book! I waited for quite a long time to read this since it's release date was in 2010 and I waited for it to be initially released, and then waited for it in paperback. In order to completely enjoy this book like I did, I feel like you really need to love historical fiction. If you don't, I don't necessarily see anything exceptional about this book that would make it a must-read. But, in the YA historical fiction genre, I certainly think this book stands out. I loved how a solution was presented for the mystery of Roanoke Island, especially because it is pretty plausible. The main character was great to watch grow into herself while the rest of the characters really rounded out the cast wonderfully. If you like historical fiction, make sure you check this out!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry, 592 pages

All I have to say is... WOW! Can I just reiterate how much more I like The Infernal Devices than The Mortal Instruments?! While I love both, there simply isn't a comparison, in my mind. First of all, The Infernal Devices isn't dragged out, making each moment in the series much more significant. That being said, this book IS the end of this series, unlike City of Glass (which we all thought was the end of The Mortal Instruments). This means we won't have a "City of Heavenly Fire" problem for The Infernal Devices, thank god. Clockwork Princess was simply amazing at every moment. And, let me tell you, Cassandra Clare has written her best ending to a book yet! I simply didn't see THAT coming and I was so content that I was on the verge of tears. This book has been my favorite read of the summer, hands down. If you were thinking of starting The Infernal Devices, do it!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Little Brown, 528 pages

Laini Taylor is the master of the epic angel and demon love story. What really makes her books stand out is the writing, no question. It seems so effortless and lyrical that my eyes just drink it in. The world of her books is so intricate, but everything seems to have been carefully thought out. Flashbacks, history, and present day are so masterfully woven together that the changes between the settings aren't jarring at all. The story is equally achingly beautiful and horrifying that I can't wait to see how the entire epic is going to end. While some books seem to strive for that epic feeling so much that it is obvious, it seems like this book simply had the epicness grow naturally from within the pages, making you feel like you are reading something incredibly precious. I highly suggest you give this series a try, starting with the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

The Elite by Kiera Cass
HarperTeen, 336 pages

I read The Elite immediately after I read The Selection, so I felt that the first chapter was quite boring because Cass pretty much reiterated everything that happened in The Selection word for word. Ugh, talk about a boring way to recap. Anyways, besides sometimes wanting to punch the main character in the face, I found the book to be a worthy sequel. It had the same glamour that initially attracted me to The Selection, but it certainly had a dose of reality this time around. Things are heating up in the castle, and I don't only mean the competition... things are starting to get REALLY fascinating, so I am excited to see what happens in the next and final book, The One!

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Bantam, 835 pages

A Game of Thrones definitely deserves all of the attention it has been receiving, that's for sure. I actually watched the TV series before reading the book, but after the reading the book, the reader/viewer is sure to understand each and every character much more than they would by simply watching the TV show. The relationships between characters and the history of the entire Game of Thrones's world is explained in much more detail in the novel. Thus, I still found myself finding new tidbits of information throughout the book despite already having watched the show. It's simply a marvelous and smart fantasy world to immerse yourself in and I absolutely suggest reading the novels even if you typically aren't inclined towards this genre. And for the record, I am quite impressed by how accurate the TV show has been considering the length and depth of the novels.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Gates of Paradise by Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion Book CH, 368 pages

For a while the Blue Bloods Series was becoming a little dull... I think this might have been due to the fact that the series has been going on for a long time now. My interest was waning in the series, and with each book, my memory of what happened in the previous book progressively got worse. One thing Melissa de la Cruz is really bad at is briefly reminding us what happened in the previous books. Which sucks. Because the books take so long to be released. While this is annoying, once I remembered what happened, the book was actually pretty fast paced and has a great twist ending.

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Goddess Interrupted by Aimée Carter
Harlequin Teen, 304 pages

Recently there have been two YA adaptations of the Persephone myth, Abandon by Meg Cabot and The Goddess Test Series by Aimée Carter. While I greatly dislike the Abandon adaptation, The Goddess Test has been a fun and fascinating read! I am so glad that someone could do a little bit of justice to the ever-fascinating Greek mythology. Goddess Interrupted shows what married life is like for Kate Winters, and let me tell you, it isn't all delicacies and ambrosia! A main conflict is introduced in this novel that is semi-consistent with mythology, and the conflict has continued into the final novel, The Goddess Inheritance, which I am currently reading. The series is an entertaining read, and I am proud of University of Michigan alum Aimée Carter making such fun novels!

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth borrowing.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Dutton Juvenile, 320 pages

Let me just say that this book is partly responsible for my newfound wanderlust, especially when it comes to my European adventures! Having absolutely fallen in love with Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went, this book was a must-read for me. While at times it felt like I was reading a book by a completely different author (because of the lack of such tragic material), I could still hear Forman's inspirational and moving voice throughout the novel. And, being an English major and Shakespeare fanatic, I loved the references to Shakespeare! This book is a great read for any first year college student, and I felt like I could really identify with the main character while she was adjusting to the college experience. Can the next book just come out already?!

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 304 pages
ARC Courtesy of Random Buzzzers

I was so excited to read the conclusion to The Iron Codex Trilogy, but when I pulled the book out of it's mailing package, I was a bit dismayed by how thin the book was compared to the first two, which both were quite lengthy. So, going into the book, I was worried that it simply wasn't going to be as good.... and I was right. But, the book was still a decent conclusion to the series! It just was missing something that made the first two books so special. It seemed that all of a sudden Aoife could solve her problems so quickly when they were so problematic in the first books. That might have something to do with the length of the novel. I just wish Caitlin Kittredge had spent a little more time writing a novel that was consistent with Aoife's struggles. But, overall, a good novel.

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 432 pages
ARC Courtesy of Random Buzzers

The Nightmare Garden is certainly one of the better sequels I have ever read. I really enjoyed the first novel, The Iron Thorn, but I must say, The Nightmare Garden is what made me fall in love with the series. For one, the relationship with Dean and Aoife is finally fully fleshed out. And, guess what? NO love triangle! Thank you, lord! Aoife's journey of self-discovery is what makes the series, and let me say that this book still has many secrets to reveal that the first one did not. I can't believe that I procrastinated to read this sequel for so long. It was a fantastic read!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Prodigy by Marie Lu
Putnam Juvenile, 384 pages

I devoured this book in one day. It picks up right where Legend ended, and from page one, the action doesn't stop. This book reminds me quite a bit of The Hunger Games, and I mean it as a complete compliment. It is very political and I love reading novels about how a younger generation can change their society for the better. I personally thought this sequel improved upon the first novel, and that's saying a lot considering that I thought the first novel was really good as well. While Legend clearly had inspiration from Les Miserables, I felt like the influence has mostly disappeared in the sequel and now is completely original in its concept. I can't wait to see what fate Marie Lu has in store for her world that she has built.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Requiem by Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins, 432 pages

I really don't understand what happened with this series. The first book, Delirium, was outstanding, the second book, Pandemonium, was pretty good, and this book was simply mediocre. I honestly felt like not much happened until the last third of the book. And I can't STAND the love triangle that Oliver presented. I typically hate love triangles anyways, but Oliver's love triangle really made me angrier than usual. And the ending of the series is the sorriest excuse for an ending that I have ever read. It was awful. Besides these negative points, the story was still interesting to follow to see how everything panned out, but otherwise, this book was a let down for a conclusion.

Rating: 3 stars -  I liked it. Worth borrowing.

The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 272 pages

This is supposedly the final book in The Lacey Chronicles, but I really wish it wasn't. Seeing as how each book follows a different brother, I don't understand why Eve Edwards won't write a book about the youngest brother, Tobias. Anyways, The Rogue's Princess lived up to all of the expectations I have for any book written by Eve Edwards. Historically accurate, beautiful writing, and super romantic. While this book is my least favorite of the three in the series (I blame this on the fact that the main character was a Puritan, thus, not very relatable to myself.), it still made for a great historical fiction read. It was certainly a different perspective of the Elizabethan court, and I really enjoyed reading about this.

Rating: 4 stars -  I really liked it. Worth buying.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
HarperTeen, 352 pages

I must say, I was hesitant to start this series because it was incredibly hyped up before its release, but then it received many mediocre reviews. And I now understand why. For one, let's be clear that I don't think it is because of the storyline that the book received mediocre reviews. The concept was incredibly fascinating, and for me, it didn't disappoint. What was disappointing, however, was the writing. At times, especially at the beginning of the novel, the writing was cringe-worthy because it was so cliched. The writing didn't get significantly better (It did a little!), but lucky for Cass, the story was strong enough to survive on its own. I was very entertained with this book, and that's all that matters when it comes down to it!

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 384 pages

What really made me love this conclusion to the Chemical Garden Trilogy that started with Wither and Fever, was that it truly makes you realize that not everyone and everything is what they appear. Things and people can change and you never truly know a person until you talk to them one on one. Also, this series is a prime example of there being more than one side to every story. Lauren DeStefano creates a hauntingly real world that makes you contemplate where our future is heading. In particular, I found this book a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. There are several surprises that you don't see coming, but each one happens with a reason. The ending is fascinating because it's impossible to decide if it is happy or sad. Either way, the book was beautifully written, as always, and the ending was very real and eye-opening.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Simon Pulse, 384 pages

Wow, I didn't see this book being as awful as it was. I was so excited to read this because I love Shakespeare adaptations, and when I found out that this was a modern adaptation, I was even more excited. Rosaline's story? Yes please! Unfortunately, I just couldn't like this book at all. Granted, it wasn't completely awful that it would receive one star from me, but still. What I couldn't stand was 1) all of the teenager cliches and 2) the reason for the feud between the two families. Ok, if I had to hear one more time about when a girl was going to start having sex with her boyfriend, or who she was going to homecoming with, or how awesome their clique was, I was going to puke. If all teenage girls sounded like that, I would have bitch-slapped everyone in high school. And let me just say that the reason for the family feud was pathetic. Really? I find it hard to believe this issue was a big enough motive for what happened at the end of the book. Needless to say, don't fall for the great summary and just choose to skip this one.

Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Harry Potter and Twilight: Know the Difference

By now I am sure that everyone has heard the infamous quote from Stephen King with his opinion on Harry Potter and Twilight. If not, let me refresh your memory: “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.” While there have been several opinions and mud slinging going on from both Harry Potter and Twilight fans, it is difficult to ignore the facts. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and I acknowledge that the Twilight saga is an entertaining read, but to go further and say it is superior to Harry Potter is where I draw the line. Having read all of the Twilight and Harry Potter books, I believe it is appropriate for me to say whether or not I agree with this quote, and I do so wholeheartedly. Harry Potter is superior to Twilight in so many ways, whether it is through the overall message of the story, the literary quality, the many social issues presented through all of the novels, or the hard facts of box office records.

Typically when comparing Harry Potter and Twilight, a person would want to explore how each story presents the concept of love. The fact is that the love depicted in the Twilight saga between Edward and Bella is oppressive and obsessive. Their relationship is unhealthy, especially when the reader sees what happens to Bella in the second book when Edward leaves her. She becomes incredibly depressed and can’t find anything worth living her life for. She begins to ignore her father, isolate herself from her friends, and becomes near suicidal, as displayed by the cliff diving incident. If you are not familiar with this particular scene, Bella decides to go cliff diving by herself into dangerous waters. She decides to do this because Edward has left her and the only way she can remember him is when she does something risky. So what does she do? She risks her life for an imaginary glance of Edward, and she would have died had it not been for Jacob Black rescuing her. If a relationship gets to the point that someone would be near suicidal, it simply can’t be healthy. Bella even admits her obsession to herself: “I was consumed by the mystery Edward presented. And more than a little obsessed by Edward himself” (Twilight, 67). There should be a healthy balance in every relationship, and if one person is completely consumed to the point of not caring about anything else in their life besides that one person, it simply can’t be healthy. That person becomes entirely dependent on the other, and in Bella’s case, if Edward leaves her, she lacks a purpose for her life.

It is bad enough when one person in a relationship is entirely dependent on the other for his or her existence, but it is even worse when the other is as well. Edward does not have a purpose for his life, that is, until he meets Bella. Edward isn’t even initially attracted to Bella for who she is, or even what she looks like. He is attracted to her because her blood smells good. Essentially, he has an incredible urge to kill Bella and suck her blood. “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him” (Twilight, 195). Not only does Edward have an urge to kill Bella, but also Bella knows all about this and loves him in spite of the threat to her safety. Edward even knows that he is a threat to her safety, and yet, he ignores it for his own selfish desires. “I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted. I knew that if I continued to ignore you as I should, or if I left for a few years, till you were gone, that someday you would say yes to Mike, or someone like him. It made me angry” (Twilight, 303). While Edward and Bella’s relationship appears to be toxic, it is even harder to believe that the two would love one another in the short amount of time they had known each other, which was only for a few months in the first book. The two barely knew each other and could not back up why they had the feelings they did, suggesting that their feelings for one another are simply lust, not love. Their relationship is unhealthy and should not be a role model for couples today.

When we compare the two main relationships in the Harry Potter series to that of Edward and Bella’s, we realize that the relationship between Harry and Ginny, as well as Ron and Hermione, is one that we would want to emulate in our own lives. Harry and Ginny, and even Ron and Hermione, knew each other for many years before their relationship developed into a romantic one. Their feelings had time to grow, and they each had time to recognize what they loved about each other. When Harry had to leave Ginny in the last book to keep her safe and help defeat Voldemort, Ginny did not sit back and watch life go by, unlike Bella. Instead, she loved Harry so much that she supported him from the home front by attempting to steal the Sword of Gryffindor for Harry, restarting Dumbledore’s Army with Neville and Luna, and even fighting alongside Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts. Ginny held her own without Harry and was not dependent on him. Instead, she showed her true love for him by making a difference in spite of his absence. Then there is Ron and Hermione. Their relationship started out as one of two best friends and grew into love through all of their shared hardships and experiences. Ron and Hermione are their own person and did not make their decisions based on their feelings for each other. Hermione cared about more than her relationship with Ron – she cared about maintaining excellent grades, accumulating knowledge, and house elf rights. Her life was not devoted to Ron’s, nor was his to hers, showing that love should not require dependence on each other for survival. In fact, the relationships in Harry Potter that are on the same level of obsession and oppressiveness as that of Edward and Bella’s are not shown in a positive light, like the relationship between Voldemort and Bellatrix, for example.

While it is quite obvious that the relationship between Edward and Bella is unhealthy, unlike those in the Harry Potter series, what really makes the two series stand out is their primary focuses. Twilight focuses on the relationship between Edward and Bella. There really is no other purpose to the story besides that. In Harry Potter, while love plays an integral role to the story, romantic love is not the focus, and even if it was, the relationships are positive and healthy ones. Instead, the series decides to put romantic relationships in the back seat while the battle of good versus evil takes the wheel.

Another reason Harry Potter is superior to Twilight is that it is much easier to relate to. For example, in Twilight, we see Bella enter a new school where all of the guys are infatuated with her. All the human males at the school are instantly in love with Bella without knowing who she is. This may not seem too strange at first read, but the fact that each guy makes their feelings known to Bella and are falling over her feet is what makes it bizarre. In reality, this simply would never happen. Sure, a few guys may be interested in the new girl, but for every guy to be mesmerized by her is to set unrealistic expectations for any girl in a high school setting. Even when Fleur appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the first time, we knew that many of the male students found her spellbinding. The difference here is that not every one of those students went and declared their feelings for Fleur - with the exception of Ron (which did not turn out well for him) - which is much more reminiscent of a real young adult social setting.

Stephenie Meyer also fails to acknowledge the different types of students in the school. We only see Mike, Jessica, Angela, and Eric at Forks High School, one normal group of friends. At Hogwarts, we see people from all kinds of different friend groups. Luna Lovegood, the quirky outcast; Neville Longbottom, the dorky quiet kid; Hermione Granger, the smart girl; Ron Weasley, the slacker; Harry Potter, the normal boy; Viktor Krum, the jock; Fred and George Weasley, the jokesters; and the list goes on! Beyond the students in the school, we also see an incredibly diverse world in terms of magical creatures. Stephenie Meyer only addresses vampires and werewolves in her novels where J.K. Rowling addresses both of those and more. There are witches, wizards, goblins, elves, centaurs, giants, dementors, hippogriffs, and blast-ended screwts, to mention a few. Rowling even talks about social issues in regards to some of these creatures, like house elf rights, for example. She doesn’t treat you like you’re too young to think about these issues, and encourages each reader to evaluate their social situations. The capability to be relatable and the diversity of the Harry Potter series compared to the Twilight saga is immense, and it is part of what makes the novels superior.

While most of these arguments on why Harry Potter is better than Twilight are based on the overall themes and messages of the story, it is also important to examine the literary quality of each. While each series has their flaws, Twilight has many more flaws than that of Harry Potter. For example, let’s take a look at the very last book in each series, Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Each book has an extremely strong climax, whether it is the Cullen’s facing down the Volturi, or Harry walking to meet his death in the Forbidden Forest. From a literary standpoint, there would typically be some sort of a satisfying ending after the climax that would make the reader excited. In the Twilight saga, nothing happens. The Cullens face the Volturi, and then they each go home pretending like all their problems are solved. Many readers of the books complained about this specific part of the story, even if they were fans of the entire saga. I know that I myself, as a reader, found the ending incredibly unsatisfying, and I believe that the producers of the movie did so too. In fact, at the end of the last Twilight movie, they couldn’t help creating a dream sequence that never occurred in the book, depicting a battle between the Volturi and Cullens. This sequence seems to express the producer’s feelings toward the end of the novel – it was unsatisfying and needed a little more excitement.

Unlike that of Breaking Dawn, the ending of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was exciting and wrapped up the entire series as a whole. Even when the last book was at the climax where Harry sacrifices himself, it is not the end of the story. It is the beginning of the end, and so many more exciting and important things happen after this moment. For one, Harry actually defeats evil in the series, unlike Twilight where they let them get away. The end of the book also provides an epilogue that takes place nineteen years later, instead of an immediate epilogue like that of the Twilight saga. By doing this, Rowling creates a sense of finality in her work and satisfies her readers by assuring them that their favorite characters are alive and happy. The ending was exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time, but it was much more satisfying than the ending of Breaking Dawn.

What is also important to examine when debating on whether or not Harry Potter is better than Twilight is the capability for each series to be re-read. If one decides to go back and re-read Twilight, they will find nothing new in the books. It will be the same story all over again, and this is because Stephenie Meyer gave the reader all of the answers immediately. J.K Rowling did not do this. Instead, if one goes back to read Harry Potter all over again from the beginning, the amount of foreshadowing Rowling has in her books is astounding. It only goes to show how complex the entire series is and how much Rowling had a purpose to all of her novels. She knew how the story would end from the very beginning, and this enabled her to leave hints of what was to come beginning in book one. Clearly the Harry Potter series is superior to the Twilight saga when a person can read the series over and over and discover something new each time they do.

Harry Potter is also superior to Twilight when it comes to the box office. Every book in both series had their own movie, and both of the final books had their movies split in two. As such, each series had an equal opportunity to have their stories represented. When we take a look at box office records, we realize that Harry Potter holds many more number one records than Twilight. Harry Potter has been number one in the categories “Opening Weekend Worldwide,” “July,” “Thanksgiving 3 Day – All Movies,” “Thanksgiving 5 Day – All Movies,” “Single Day,” and “Opening Day” for box office sales. Twilight has been number one in the categories “Holiday,” “November,” and “Opening Wednesday.” As such, Harry Potter has been happily received by many more people than Twilight has, and it has even achieved the most important record, that of “Opening Weekend Worldwide.” This specific record accounts for box office sales in the first weekend a movie is open for the entire world. If we take a closer look at the top ten record holders in this category, we see that Harry Potter holds positions one, two, nine, and ten whereas Twilight holds only position eight (All Time Records). These records speak for the world itself, showing that the people prefer Harry Potter to Twilight.

While everyone will have their opinion on whether or not they like Harry Potter better than Twilight, it is near impossible to say that Twilight is superior. When one examines the overall message, the literary quality, and box office records of each story, it is obvious that Harry Potter is superior. It is not to say that Twilight doesn’t make for an entertaining read, it is just that it is unreasonable to say that Twilight is the superior story. Harry Potter and Twilight have been exposed to the same group of people and ended within a year of each other. Neither one has a distinct advantage over the other, but it is quite obvious that Harry Potter is the more respected book series. As I recall, there isn’t a class at the University of Michigan that is about Twilight, but there is one on Harry Potter. I think that speaks for itself on the superiority of Harry Potter over Twilight.

"All Time Box Office Records." Box Office Mojo. IMDb, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and, 2005. Print.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. by Caissie St. Onge
Random House, 240 pages
Courtesy of Random Buzzers

"For Jane Jones, being a vampire is nothing like you read about in books. In fact, it kind of sucks. She's not beautiful, she's not rich, and she doesn't "sparkle." She's just an average, slightly nerdy girl from an ordinary suburban family (who happens to be vampires.) Jane's from the wrong side of the tracks (not to mention stuck in the world's longest awkward phase), so she doesn't fit in with the cool vampire kids at school or with the humans kids. To top it all off, she's battling an overprotective mom, a clique of high school mean girls (the kind who really do have fangs), and the most embarrassing allergy in the history of the undead, she's blood intolerant. So no one's more surprised than Jane when for the first time in her life, things start to heat up (as much as they can for a walking corpse, anyway) with not one, but two boys. Eli's a geeky, but cute real-live boy in her history class, and Timothy is a beautiful, brooding bloodsucker, who might just hold the key to a possible "cure" for vampirism. Facing an eternity of high school pressure, fumbling first dates, or a mere lifetime together with Timothy, what's a 90-something year-old teen vampire to do?"

This book should be retitled Jane Jones: Worst Vampire Book Ever. I understand that the point of the book was to be humorous and entertaining, but I don't think it was any of those. When the book was supposed to be funny, I found myself cringing for the main character, and I didn't find it entertaining. If I could have the time back that I wasted on this book, I would take it in a heartbeat.

This book was clearly supposed to target younger readers of the genre. Even so, I think one would be hard pressed to find one of these younger readers that actually really enjoyed the novel. Everything just seemed ridiculous and randomly thrown together. I found myself counting down the page numbers until the end of the book instead of actually appreciating the plot. As such, it's very difficult to pay attention to what's going on because you get bored.

Everything simply fell flat. I blame this on the length of the book (only 240 pages) because there wasn't enough time for character development. To be honest, I really don't have much more to say about this book. If you want an entirely mindless read where you are cringing in embarrassment for the main character, go right ahead. Otherwise, skip this one and find something better to occupy yourself with.

Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hidden by P.C. & Kristin Cast

Hidden by P.C. & Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin, 320 pages

"At last, Zoey has what she wanted: the truth is out. Neferet's evil has been exposed, and the High Council is no longer on her side--but she's far from done wreaking havoc in the vampyre world. First, a mysterious fire ravages the stables. Then, Neferet makes a devastating move that will test them all. With the tension at a breaking point and friendships on the line, can the nerd herd come together to stop the spread of Darkness before it's too late?"

Why is this series still going? WHY?! Sure, it's entertaining enough, but honestly, I was almost going to rate this two stars. Enough is enough, and nothing really progressed too much in this book. I can certainly describe this series in one word: disappointing. If we took all of the junk and fluff out of the series, we would most likely have a gem. But, unfortunately, that is not the case.

Let's see... everything has been beaten into our heads like crazy. Neferet is a psychotically evil. Aphrodite likes to call Stevie Rae a bumpkin. Kramisha likes to talk like she is from the ghetto. Zoey has a million guys in love with her. Zoey is really close with her grandmother. Kalona wants redemption. Yeah, we get it; this is great and all, but tell me something I don't know. I'm just... tired. I'm ready for things to end... this is the tenth book, so I'm pretty sure it would be okay if it did!

The content of the book just seemed incredibly silly. Neferet capturing Zoey's grandma? Really? That's the best you can do? The only two things I liked in this book was 1. the relationship between Zoey and Stark and 2. Kalona's character development. Thank the lord for these two things, or the book would be nearly irredeemable. Not only did the central conflict seem silly, but the author is trying to bring back Heath! WHY? Was that ridiculous, aggravating love triangle for 6 books (!!!!!) not enough? Zoey doesn't need Heath, and dare I say it, but he is so much more tolerable when he is DEAD.

Needless to say, this series needs to end. Like, soon. And I really am not looking forward to the next book all because of the one incredibly obnoxious character whose name starts with the letter "H" that doesn't know how to stay dead.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars - Liked it, but was incredibly annoyed.

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Disney Hyperion, 294 pages

"With more than a million Gallagher Girls books sold, a legion of fans have fallen in love with the New York Times best-selling spy-girl series, and the fifth book delivers the most nerve-wracking, high-stakes adventure yet. The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, her memory is a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails. All she wants is to go home. But even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers as Cammie and her friends face their most difficult challenge yet. With only their training and a few clues to guide them, the girls go in search of answers on the other side of the world. But the Circle is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer."

I'm going to be honest and say that for a while that I didn't even realize that this book had been released. It has been under the radar for a while now, and as a result, my interest has kind of waned. Granted, the book was still an enjoyable read, but I am kind of wondering when the story will end....

If we take a trip down memory lane, we will remember the first book in the series, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You, as an incredibly fun and light read. I loved THAT Cammie and her friends, and while the story has gotten darker and more intricate, I miss what made me love the Gallagher Girls series in the first place: the easy friendship between Cammie and her friends, secret passageways in the school, and using spy techniques to sneak out of the school to meet a cute boy. While I know it was pretty much inevitable that this lightheartedness would disappear with Cammie becoming older, I still can't help wishing some of it was back.

Let me tell you, remind yourself what happened in the previous book before starting this one! Honestly, you will be entirely lost if you don't. Things are incredibly confusing in the beginning of the book, but fortunately things start to explain themselves later on. More and more was revealed in this book about the Circle, and hopefully this means we can look forward to a finale soon. The characters are losing their zing, though. Cammie seems so distant and her friends don't seem to be as close with her anymore. I just don't feel the connection anymore.

First and foremost, I want to make things clear. I really enjoyed this series... when I was in sixth grade. Yes, that's right. Sixth grade. This series started in 2006, and as such, it's 2013 and it still isn't finished and we only have 5 books to show for. I don't want it to seem like I don't like the series, but I think maybe it's about time to hope for the next book to be the last. The hard truth is that I'm getting older and losing interest in this series, and that can only mean that there are several others out there just like myself. While I still liked this book, the past few books have not been as great as the first ones. If I went back and read the first books right now, I would like them just as much. Clearly something is lacking in the storyline, and hopefully we will get a satisfying ending soon.

Rating: 3 stars - I liked it. Worth borrowing.

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore
HarperCollins, 352 pages

"It all began with nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians - who scattered on Earth and went into hiding. They look like ordinary teenagers, but they have extraordinary skills. The Mogadorians killed Number One, Number Two, and Number Three. They tried to kill Number Four ... and failed. Number Four (aka John Smith) has now teamed up with Number Nine, while Six has gone off to find the others. With the Mogadorians hot on their trail and time running out, they must find a way to come together, before it's too late. Power in numbers will save them all."

Let me start off by saying that The Rise of Nine certainly exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed I Am Number Four, the first book in the series, but I felt that the second, The Power of Six, was definitely a slump. It was boring, and to be honest, not much happened. I still wanted to read the third book, though. When I start a series, I simply have to finish it. As such, The Rise of Nine reminded why I liked this series so much to begin with.

We finally get to meet almost every single member of the Garde (with the exception of Number 5)! The action seemed to always be going, and it was actually equally spread out between each character this time. Four and Nine were hilarious to read about. Their brotherly interactions with each other made me laugh almost every time at some point. Reading about Six and the other Garde members is always exhilarating because 1. Six is completely badass and 2. Finding out all the different legacies is an adventure in its own.

The author certainly knows how to end novels with plenty of action! The endings of every single one of his books, including The Power Six, are simple fun and thrilling to read. The entire series is one rip-roaring adventure that is a blast to read. It's a fun way to take a break from books that have heavier content so you can just sit back and relax while you enjoy it. That is, IF you can relax during the action scenes....

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Rebel Heart by Moira Young
Marion Lloyd Books, 432 pages

"The Tonton have been defeated. Lugh has been rescued. The heartstone brought Jack and Saba together. Now, Saba and her family head west to meet him and start a new life. All should be well. But the shadows of the dead are stalking Saba. And another kind of shadow is creeping across the dustlands. Then a messenger shows up. With news of Jack."

For me, Rebel Heart was a long awaited sequel to Blood Red Road. Because Blood Red Road ended with some main characters going their own way, it only made the reader want to see how they were going to get back together again. While I enjoyed Rebel Heart a lot, Blood Red Road definitely had an edge on it. Maybe it was because everything was brand new and mind-blowing in Blood Red Road, but regardless, Rebel Heart made for a great sequel.

For once we actually get to see Saba and Lugh interact with each other. In the past, we only had flashbacks, and because they are such opposites, I was really wondering how they would actual act around each other. And to be honest, I was correct in thinking there was going to be some issues. The relationship between the two feels very genuine; it's not mushy in the slightest as they have some serious issues to work out with each other. Unfortunately, I really started to dislike Lugh in this book.... and wouldn't you know it! Saba gets Lugh back and we have this glorified image of him, and it just isn't accurate... at ALL.

DeMalo was only briefly encountered in the first book, and I think Young made a great choice by making him a main player in the series. The first book focused on rescuing Lugh, and by creating conflict with DeMalo, we now have something else to focus on now that Lugh is rescued. I don't want to say too much about DeMalo's role, but let's say he certainly mixes things up.

All in all, the book was satisfying. I particularly enjoy this YA series because it seems to be targeted at the older readers of the genre, such as ages 16-18 (Not that anyone older or younger wouldn't enjoy this book!). If you've read Blood Red Road, this is a must-read. If you haven't, go get a copy of Blood Red Road and get reading! You certainly don't want to miss out.

Rating: 5 stars - Loved it! Buy a copy!