Waiting on Wednesday: “A Confusion of Princes” by Garth Nix

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and showcases new releases that we can’t wait to get our claws… err, hands… on. :D

I really like this cover. The color scheme is so pretty 😀

Title: A Confusion of Princes (Click  to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Garth Nix

Expected Publication Date: May 15th, 2012 (for the U.S. release, anyway).

Summary from Goodreads: You’d think being a privileged Prince in a vast intergalactic Empire would be about as good as it gets. But it isn’t as great as it sounds. For one thing, Princes are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Khemri discovers that the moment he is proclaimed a Prince.

He also discovers mysteries within the hidden workings of the Empire. Dispatched on a secret mission, Khemri comes across the ruins of a space battle. In the midst of it all he meets a young woman named Raine, who will challenge his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.

 Why I’m Waiting: I’ve loved Nix ever since I read The Ragwitch when I was twelve. Since then, I’ve pretty much devoured everything he’s ever written (even Shade’s Children, which was a little too hard SF for me but whatever), and I can’t wait to see how he incorporates his own military past into this lovely little sci-fi.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below and let me know/link me back to your WoW post. :)

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Book Review: “Partials” by Dan Wells (Partials #1)

Title: Partials (Partials #1) (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Dan Wells

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook

Maturity Level: Upper YA. Teen pregnancy, a relationship between an older man and a teenage girl, and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy books about plagues; if you enjoyed Cinder; if you like cyborgs and/or genetic engineering; if you enjoy straight sci-fi with no paranormal elements.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you have triggers related to teen pregnancy and/or relationships in which one partner is significantly older/more experienced than the other.

The world of Partials certainly looks, from afar, like an intriguing one. After a war with the biologically engineered Partials, humanity is very nearly extinct. The survivors live on an island, and fight daily against the harsh realities of life in a post-apocalyptic world. To top it all off, the weaponized virus that killed the majority of the population still continues to kill every baby that’s born, forcing the government to take drastic action in the form of pregnancy laws. Kira is a medic. She watches all of this go on every day, and she’s determined to find a cure for the virus—even if that means coming into close contact with the deadly Partials themselves.

My main problem with this book is that it felt like set-up. I feel like the first half could easily have been condensed, and maybe some of the plot points that will hopefully be addressed in the sequel could have made it into this one. I also disliked the “evil evil government” cliché, as well as the creepy relationship between one of Kira’s teenage friends and her boss, a senator.

Overall, though, it was decent. I enjoyed it, for sure, but it just didn’t have any “wow” factor for me. Hopefully book #2 will be a little more engaging.

Pros

  • I love the world, especially the literal “urban jungle” of New York.
  • I happen to think the Partials are a pretty cool concept.
  • Kira’s definitely got some badass qualities.
  • The characters. They all have differing, complex motivations and this flavors their interactions in a very interesting way.

Cons

  • I thought this was a bit mature for YA—I’m not saying that we should sensor YA, by any means, but I think this book would be pretty alienating to the younger end of the YA readership.
  • I’m a little tired of the Orwellian government being so prominent in sci-fi.
  • Marcus is a total douchewad. Was so glad when Kira gave him the boot about halfway through.

Favorite Line (s): “You could get high on his farts.”~pg 41.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5

Final Grade: B

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Check ’em out! 😉

There’s something you should probably know about me before you start reading this post.

I LOVE characters (which is probably a good thing for my writer-brain), and I get attached to them in ways that are probably unhealthy. I weep for them, I laugh with them, and I mourn them when they’re gone. Don’t get me wrong– I love “real people” too. I just have a fangirl problem.

So be ready. There will be MASSIVE fangirling ahead. MASSIVE. (Also, it’s a darn good thing this one is limited to books/graphic novels– I have half an hour to jot out this post and if I had TV/movie characters in there as well, it might literally take me all day. :P)

1. Crowley (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Yeah, Crowley gets top billing here. Badass Angel-Who-Sauntered-Vaguely-Downward who has a weakness for good food and classic British cars? Me likey.

 

 

2. Aziraphale (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Annnd I couldn’t mention Crowley without Aziraphale, now, could I? I appreciate his book obsession, and also the strange balance of utterly selfish and pervasively GOOD that Gaiman and Pratchett have achieved within his character.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Remus Lupin (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series)

I try not to play favorites with HP, since I love all the HP characters, but Lupin has always been and will always be a character that I really appreciate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Katniss Everdeen (Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games)

Katniss is a badass with a heart of gold. ‘Nough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Daine Sarrasri (Tamora Pierce, The Tortallbooks)

Daine was always a girl after my own heart, and her character progression throughout this series is FANTASTIC.

 

6. Numair Salmalin (Tamora Pierce, The Tortall books)

Part of what drew me to Numair is that he is a TOTAL DORK…. but he’s also a badass who could kill you with his pinky finger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Jem Carstairs (Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel)

Plays violin. Kicks demon ass despite his physical limitations. Kind, generous, and loving. Yeah, Jem is my favorite.

8.  Death (Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

Doesn’t look like this. Also, BEST NARRATOR EVER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Anna Korlov (Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood)

I just love her so much, both as a vengeful ghost and as the girl Cas falls for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Juushiro Ukitake (Tite Kubo, Bleach)

I’m cheating a little, because he is actually from an anime/manga, but whatever. At first, I kind of hated him because to me he broke the flow of the whole Soul Society arc, but he grew on me as time went on. What can I say? He became one of my all-time favs. Funny how that turns out.

 

 

 

 

What are your Top Ten characters? Let me know in the comments or link me back to your own TTT post! 😀

Book Review: “Illuminate” by Aimee Agresti (Gilded Wings #1)

One thing I can say in favor of this book-- the cover is beautiful.

Title: Illuminate (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Aimee Agresti

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: YA. Gore, violence, sexuality, but no language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy slow-moving and slow-developing plots; you have a strong base in Judeo-Christian angel/demon mythology; you’re a fan of Twilight, Hush Hush, or Evernight.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re looking for something fast-paced; you enjoy fresher takes on angel/demon mythology such as Angelfall; you don’t like “angel books”.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS.

Let me start off by saying that I really did want to love this book. It has a lovely cover (that, as many people have pointed out) is actually relevant to an event that takes place in the book. The main character, Haven, is a smart honors student with a bright future ahead of her and a mysterious past. It should have been wonderful, but unfortunately, it came off as rather flat instead.

Part of the problem with this book is that NOTHING HAPPENS. Literally. The majority of the first half is taken up with photography and sleep on Haven’s part, along with a rather creepy romantic relationship that she develops with her boss. I found myself nodding off at times— and I’m not the girl who falls asleep reading. The plot is so vague that had I not gone into this knowing that it was an angel book, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the angel/demon overtones.

Which brings me to another issue: the mythology. It’s not a particularly inspired take on angel/demon mythos. The angels in this book represent Ultimate Good and behave as such—when they’re not being overly emotional, whiny teens or invisibly writing in notebooks. As a mildly agnostic atheist who has read pretty extensively about religions all around the world, I actually found this portrayal to be startlingly inaccurate, given that the A’s are, in fact, badass soldiers of God who have been known to level entire civilizations before in the pursuit of their goal. I’m not poking at anyone’s belief systems here, but to me, that’s a complicated moral conundrum, and I like it when my angels are aware of that (Raffe from Angelfall is a pretty good example) and either choose to leave/reform that society (I’m thinking season 6!revolutionary!Castiel of Supernatural) or make their peace with it and go on (to some extent, Raffe, although he is a self-professed agnostic). I do not like it when they are the only good guys, and I dislike whiny emo teenagers in general, so that’s two strikes against this book. Also, the demons didn’t frighten me AT ALL. They sat around getting their pictures taken and occasionally stealing souls/killing people, and didn’t do much else until the final 20 pages. Even Lucifer was pretty lukewarm. (Oh, the irony.)

Now, there were a few things I liked that stopped this book from going in the DNF pile. I liked Dante and Lance quite a bit, and the descriptions of the hotel and the historical 20’s tidbits were quite nice. Unfortunately, they didn’t make up for the overwhelming slowness or the patchy mythology, resulting in the 2.5 star rating.

Pros

  • 20’s/Capone background details.
  • Dante.
  • Lance.
  • The luscious descriptions of the hotel.

Cons

  • Really long beginning.
  • To paraphrase my notes, “creepy ewww boss romance”.
  • Dante’s stereotypical “gay bestie” attitude.
  • The overwrought, very purple prose.
  • Waaaaayyy too long.
  • Nothing happens until the last twenty pages.
  • The stupid notebook subplot.

Favorite Scene (s): On page 307, things are kind of getting badass and hardcore as people literally sign their souls away…. And then Haven starts musing about sanitation and I lose all interest whatsoever.

Favorite Line(s): “Answer correctly, and you have further cemented your reputation as a brainy, hopeless outcast. Answer incorrectly, and not only are you considered a bookish nerd, but you’re even bad at that.”~pg 3

Star Rating on Goodreads: 2.5 out of 5.

Final Grade: C. Might read sequels, will probably not reread.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books that Were Totally Deceiving (To Me, That Is)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Disclaimer: It’s not that hard to deceive me. I often buy books based off of the cover and the summary blurb without really looking inside. Your Mileage May Vary.

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Why: The red shoes are in the forefront of the cover, which made me think that this was going to be more of a fairy tale.

From the cover, I kind of assumed this was more of a fairytale, less of a sci-fi. I was okay with it, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. (Also, I still have an unfortunate association for the name Meyer. Why, Stephanie? Why??

2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


Why: Stock YA cover with stock YA Paranormal summary on a pretty unique book.

From the cover and blurb, this book looks pretty run-of-the-mill. However, once you start reading, run-of-the-mill goes out the window, to be replaced with awesomeness!

3. I‘d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You and sequels by Ally Carter

Why: Stock YA covers on awesome books

Again,the covers on these are unremarkable. Their content, however, wows and amazes pretty consistently.

4. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Why: Cover is more creepy in tone than content.

The cover is creepy. That girl feels like she’s staring right into your soul. But the content is more urban adventure fantasy than horror.

5. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Why: Cover looks like a Gothic/Victorian novel, not a modern paranormal.

This cover is so beautiful…. but there’s something distinctly Victorian about it, and aside from the Jack the Ripper plotline, very little Victoriana in the actual book.

6.  Romances in General

Why: The covers on pretty much every romance suck.

Julie at TBAB already mentioned these, but I thought they deserved another mention. There are a lot of romance authors who I actually quite like, but it’s hard to weed out good from bad when every cover and summary looks the same.

7. Vacations From Hell by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Claudia Gray, and Sarah Mlynowski

Why: The cover fails at being relevant.

I don’t remember ANY of these stories being about a pink flower. That said, I might have forgotten…. (Overall, these stories themselves are pretty unremarkable, but check out Bray and Johnson’s contributions if you do ever pick it up. They were both awesome.)

8. Pretty much every cover for the manga Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada

Why: The covers are very shojo and don’t really do a good job of conveying the things that Ono and Inada are good at it.

Again, a pretty cool series falls prey to Stock Cover Syndrome. Ono is good at constructing a creepy narrative that’s still definitely aimed at girls, and Inada is pretty adept when it comes to capturing that with her art. Also, while Mai does have damsel-in-distress tendencies at times, she does take a level in badass as the series goes on– the cover of the volume 11, which I own, does not capture that progression very well. At this point, Mai’s doing less staring at beasties with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and more saving-everyone’s-bacon.

9. The new covers for Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series.

Why: Stock Cover Syndrome again.

I used to own copies of the original Immortals quartet with the nice cover art. They were destroyed in a move, when a box of books was soaked through, and I bought new copies that had new covers that I simply didn’t like as much. Then, I saw the new covers for the Alanna books and began frantically picking up copies with the original covers wherever I could, because if the Immortals covers were meh, then the new Alanna covers are just BAD. The clothing on the models looks too modern, and the hulking Twilight male leads brooding on the cover of the third book don’t look Jon or George-like (also, Alanna would have clunked their heads together for flanking her like that.) This series is very dear to my heart, and while I appreciate that the publishers are trying to make them more marketable, I really did like the old fashioned girl-with-a-horse-and-sword covers– I feel like they captured the spirit of the series, whereas teh new covers are simply flimsy window dressing.

10. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Why: Cover is beautiful, summary is engaging– content is blah.

Disclaimer: I have not yet finished Illuminate– mainly because of the following:

a.) It’s an angel book– with none of the things that make angel books awesome. No flaming swords, no kicking ass and taking names, no Raffe-and-Penryn style badassery, no wings, no awesome powers, no intense moral qaundary– just a main character who sleeps a lot and takes instruction from a notebook that generates writing for her.

b.) It drags terribly for the first 3/4, making it hard to get through.

In short, this is the opposite of Stock Cover Syndrome– this book has Boring Content Syndrome, wrapped up in a nice cover and an exciting summary.

What books are in your Top Ten? Let me know in the comments! 😀

 

 

Book Review: “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake (Anna #1)

What an arresting cover. Just... wow. And the color scheme continues inside the book itself, with the type done in a very attractive burgundy that's both pretty and easy to read.

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: Mid-to-upper YA. Quite a bit of violence, blood, and gore, and one sensitive scene that directly addresses violent assault on a child. Strong language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy the TV shows Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you like a strong horror story; you’re a fan of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s; you enjoy paranormal investigative fiction; you’re looking for a fast-paced, evocative read.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like YA or horror; you dislike gore and violence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Theseus Cassio Lowood has a job to do, and it’s not the normal teenager’s occupation of bagging groceries: he hunts and kills maleficent ghosts. It’s a legacy that’s been passed down through his family for ages, and Cas is pretty okay with it. And luckily, he has his mom (who sells charms and potions that she brews up on her kitchen range), her ghost-sniffing half-Siamese cat, and a motley group of friends and informants across the world to help him out. When one of them tips him off about a ghost known (ominously) as Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas immediately finishes his current job and takes off to Thunder Bay, Ontario…. Where he just might find more than he was looking for.

Anna Dressed in Blood is by far one of my favorite books read in 2012. The pacing, characters, and concept come together to form a fast-paced read with lots of humorous/chilling/downright scary moments. Cas’ world is not all that different from ours, but the way in which it is realized is a joy to read. I absolutely ADORED Cas’ mom (particularly scenes where she was trying to sell him on different colleges based not on academic subjects/cost/career opportunities, but on the population of ghosts in the immediate vicinity) and Tybalt (warning: if you’re a cat person, there’s at least one scene in this book that will squick you out). Anna was brilliant, and the relationship she has with Cas is quite a beautiful one, a tenuous connection between a guy who purposely pushes people away and a girl who has been burned one too many times by betrayal. She’s also a badass with a conscience, which is always a plus.

Annnd the references. I almost don’t know where to start with those. There’s the obvious Supernatural connection (ESPECIALLY in that first scene with the hitch-hiking ghost), along with myriad references to Buffy, Harry Potter, Bruce Lee, The Hulk, The Matrix, and GHOSTBUSTERS (which lead to several scenes in the book that made me laugh out loud). These references could have become very heavy handed and derivative, but Blake is pretty skilled at nodding to other fandoms and then going right on to her own story.

Overall, this was a super fun read with ghosts, blood, and a kickass cast. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of horror and ghost stories, and will most certainly be rereading it as soon as I have the chance. 😀

Pros

  • Tybalt.
  • Theseus Cassio Lowood. Most awesome name ever.
  • Awesome worldbuilding.
  • Cas’ mom.
  • The romance. ❤
  • Blake obviously did her research regarding ghost stories, lore, and Wicca.

Con

  • Cas is just a little bit pretentious.
  • A lot of sentences are the same length.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pgs 1-10. Excellent opening that had me hooked from the beginning. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of SPN references to excite my inner fangirl: Cas, a classic car, and a hitch-hiking ghost? Yes, yes, and YES.
  • Pg 200-205. Here’s where we find out exactly what happened to Anna, and it is absolutely CHILLING. I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut after reading it.

Favorite Line (s): “Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”~pg 132

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade: A+. Nice read, very slick and full of references to things that I love. Solid ghost story that looks like it’s going to be continued excellently in the upcoming Girl of Nightmares , which I am eagerly awaiting.

Book Review: “The Only Ones” by Aaron Starmer

This cover kind of sums up everything I love about this book.

Title: The Only Ones (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Aaron Starmer

Available In: HardcovereBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: YA. Some violence and disturbing imagery.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoyed Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner, or The Hunger Games.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re not fond of post-apocalyptic tales.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Martin Maple knows a terrible truth. He and the rest of the children who live in the commune that they have called Xibalba were not only left, but Forgotten. All of the adults in the world disappeared on one fateful Day, and the children are now alone.  But according to the animal-whispering “prophet” Nigel, Martin has the capacity to bring them back—and he just might be right.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was very dreamlike and beautiful, if occasionally confusing. The paradox was very well done, and I really enjoyed the wistful, nostalgic finality of the last two pages. Martin was a very relatable main character for me, and I was pretty attached to Darla, Lane, Marjorie, and Nigel as well. The only thing that I didn’t like was that I really didn’t understand why Henry pulled his little stunt towards the end—it didn’t match with his prior characterization and kind of seemed to come right out of the blue.

Overall, this is a lovely little post-apocalyptic tale with a wonderful little paradox woven into it. Starmer’s really accomplished something here, and this book is definitely one of my favorites that I’ve read so far in 2012. Well done, Mister Starmer. Well done.

Pros

  • The Forgotten. Loved all their distinct personalities and the way in which their society functioned.
  • Nigel.
  • Marjorie.
  • Martin’s childhood. I loved that he learned through books—something that I can really relate to. 😉
  • The paradox.
  • The last 2 pages. So lovely.

Cons

  • Henry’s little stunt didn’t make any sense to me.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pg 18-20, when Martin is busy learning about the outside world through books. Really struck a chord with me.
  • Pg 58-64. I love this hands-on concept of the Internet.
  • Pg 318-319. Just so beautiful.

 

Favorite Line (s): “I’m sure your kitten is a prodigy.” ~ Darla to Marjorie, pg 245.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 5 stars.

Final Grade: A+. Such a lovely book. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Starmer in the future.

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