Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mini Reviews

I've been on a reading binge which I'm now regretting because I'm out of library books and need to find something to read... a problem I never thought I'd have again! I'll probably reread something off my shelves and I do have friend bringing me a couple books tomorrow - phew! Anyway, when I get this behind on my blogging, sometimes it's better to get them all done at once, or the task becomes too daunting and I put it off even longer. So today I bring you... mini-reviews:

Stars: *****

This is the sequel to Delirium, which I loved. It's not that the concept is new or original. This series definitely has the same flavor as Hunger Games and Matched/Crossed, but it's Lauren Oliver's writing that I adore. She has a mesmerizing way with words and she can tell a story. It sucked me right in and even after I'd finished it I kept it close by so I could re-read parts, right up until the day I had to take it back to the library. I tend to like these second books of dystopian series. I love it when heroines start to actively fight back and manage to make differences in the world around them. There's a big fat cliffhanger at the end (that I saw coming before I even started the book), and I'm dying to finish this series and see how it all wraps up.

Stars: ****

From Goodreads:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

I enjoyed this, but even though it's only been about a week since I finished it I'm having a hard time remembering what I wanted to say about it. I think the problem is that at this point all these dystopians are starting to blend together in my mind and Article 5 didn't have enough originality to stand out. There's a lot of romance in the plot and not a lot else. I liked Chase as a character, because he goes through a lot of internal struggle, fighting between what he's been trained to do and ordered to do and what his heart wants to do. It takes a lot of time to rebuild up trust between Chase and Ember, which I thought was well done. Really, it was a fast read and I liked it, but there's no "wow" factor here.

Stars: **

From Goodreads:
What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starting position... suddenly she's hoping he'll see her as more than just a teammate.

I picked this one up because I walked past it at the library and it called to me. I don't know why. Maybe I just wanted something different. I needed a break from dystopia, and a cute contemporary romance was what I was in the mood for. I'd seen good reviews of it before too, so why not? Oh, I don't know Emily, maybe because of all the inappropriate content!!! NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: Carefully screen contemporary romances. I love the idea of contemporary, but I find so few that aren't full of swearing, drinking, and casual sex. Like this one is. Which is a pity, because I thought it was a very sweet and unexpected story, underneath it all.

Stars: *****

I'm pretty fluent in Greek and Egyptian mythology, but for some reason I've never spent much time learning about Norse. It's silly to neglect Norse because it's everywhere in our world. There are so many Norse influences in our culture it's crazy! I loved reading through this. The stories are beautifully told with lots of detail and the illustrations are fabulous. Highly recommended for any of you who may be mythology-obsessed like I am.

Stars: ***

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Girl assassin? Medieval Europe and magic? I thought I would love this. It turned out to be just too edgy for my tastes. Lots of talk about sex, some gruesome abuse details, too much sensuality, too much boring politics. But at the same time, I didn't hate it. I flew through it (no small feat because it's a FAT book). I enjoyed the setting and the whole magic system. I liked the way Ismae was able to interact with Death and thought she was pretty awesome. It reminded me a bit of the Poison Study series or Kristen Cashore's books (Graceling/Fire). I love this type of book, and would have loved this if I hadn't had issues with some of the content.

Stars: **

From Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.

Harbinger is bizarre. I had a hard time getting through it because I honestly couldn't follow the plot. I kept getting totally lost. Faye as a narrator was the problem, because she's partially insane, partially possessed, partially human and normal, and just in general not enjoyable to read. Another thing that bothered me was that for some reason I just don't understand Harbinger is in a future/dystopian setting. It was unnecessary to the plot which only served to confuse me and make me angry (what, did the publisher insist it be dystopian because that's what's hot right now?). Then there's the small matter of insta-love, which I hate in teen novels. Overall, Harbinger did not win me over.

Stars: *****

What a breath of fresh air this was! As soon as I started reading it I was so happy to be back in the 39 clues world. Humor, history, suspense, mystery, travel... it's awesome. In this second book (of the new Cahills vs. Vespers series) Dan and Amy traveled in Italy and Germany and learned a lot about paintings stolen by Hitler from Jews and hidden in Mad King Louis' Neuschwanstein Castle (which made me happy because I have been researching Neushwanstein a lot lately as I may be going there next year!!!! We're planning a trip to Europe! *happy dance*). Anyway, I love this series. It gets better and better with each book.

Stars: ***** (Can I give it six stars? I'm tempted)

From Goodreads:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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.

And this is exactly the book I've been waiting to find. I loved this so much. This is the first book in ages that I have sacrificed everything to read because I could not put it down. I devoted a couple straight hours to it and very nearly finished (was probably 10 pages away) when one of my piano students showed up for a lesson. It hurt to put it down! As soon as the lesson was over, I got out some yogurt and settled in to read the last few. Guess how many pages were really left?

One and a half.

I had taken maybe two bites of yogurt and just sat there, staring at the book. So mad that it was over. Such an ending. It's still killing me.

I'll never forget reading this book for the first time because of that. :D

And it's AWESOME!!! Talk about fresh and unexpected. A futuristic cyborg Cinderella! It's not too heavy-duty sci-fi, so don't let that turn you off if it's not your thing. It just adds a fascinating flavor and flair. Marissa Meyer puts such an interesting twist on a story that I'm sure you think you've heard a million times. The familiarity grounds it, the originality is refreshing, the whole thing is fantastic. I enjoyed the scientific aspects, and I thought the plague was a very compelling side-story. The romance was perfectly paced and so good. I felt like I got to know all the secondary characters well too. This is a multi-dimensional story and the writing is fabulous.

Can't wait for the sequels! One will be released each year starting with Scarlet (2013 - Cinder and Red Riding Hood in France), Cress (2014 - Cinder and Rapunzel, taking place on the MOON - how cool is that), and Winter (2015 - Cinder and Snow White in the Sahara Desert).

If you're looking for a new series I highly recommend Cinder.


melissa @ 1lbr said...

I just posted a bunch of minis, as you know, and I love seeing so many all at once. Good to know about Catching Jordan, I'll be avoiding that one. I've just got my hands on Pandemonium and I'm very excited.

Lynnette said...

I just read Delirium and I LOVED it!!! So, I now need to find Pandemonium. Unfortunately, I still love to buy books and I have no money so I at least wait for them to come out in paperback. I know, I should just go to the library. I bought Cinder through Scholastic book orders and I think it's next on my list. Thanks for your book blog. I can't keep up with your reading, though. I need a top ten list or maybe a top fifty list of your favorites. We tend to like the same books. Hmm, do you think that's because we're related? Love you!