Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Title: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Pages: 384

“Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica’s Senior Year “get-a-life-plan".

Enter a bizarre new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu who claims that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. He’s arrogant, officious, embarrassingly overprotective, and well, incredibly hot.

Armed with a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health and Emotions, Jessica tries to imagine the transition from an average American teenager to a glam European vampire princess. But just when things tart to heat up with Lucius, a devious cheerleader sets her sights on him.

Soon Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war- and save Lucius’s soul from eternal damnation. All of which leaves her to wonder: Wouldn’t life be easier if she could just fall for a nice mortal boy?”

~description taken from jacket cover

For those of you skimming, I'll say it now: Go out and buy this book. I made the mistake of getting it from the library, and now I have to wait a few weeks to have my own copy. Do yourself a favor and get your own.

Jessica, also called Antanasia, is one of the most appealing narrators I’ve ever encountered. She’s smart, honest, and most importantly, you really feel for her. When something goes right for Jessica, you cheer, and when something goes wrong you cry with her. I was entirely enthralled with the storyline, only putting it down when outside circumstances necessitated it. Even the ‘normal’ moments that weren’t especially climactic seemed it, simply because I was so interested in what happened to Jessica. This raw, emotional tie is incredibly difficult to pull off, and is what, in my opinion, truly makes a book great.

However, Jessica isn’t the only reason I love this book. I also attribute it to Lucius (or Luscious, as I like to call him... terrible pun). Lucius is nowhere near a perfect hero, but he is perfect for Jessica. He makes plenty of rude remarks about the American farmland Jessica’s grown up in, but she refuses to take any smack and hands it right back to him. Even from their first encounter in Jessica’s barn, you can literally feel the chemistry popping in the air when she stabs him in the foot with a pitchfork.

Seems a bit extreme? Just wait until you experience Lucius- you’ll understand then (and yes, he isn’t just a character, but an experience). Some of his lines are hilarious but others make you want to punch him in the face. But after you do that you want to snuggle with him all night long. Basically, he’s irresistible. One of the few heroes who you know you’ll still be fantasizing about months after you flip the last page.

The bad with this book? I couldn’t find any hints towards a sequel. There’s a brief epilogue story on the author’s website that I’m saving for when I’ve had a terrible day. Other than that, I’m not sure if there’s any planned continuation. The only consolation is that the author has published another novel, Jekel Loves Hyde, that I'll be picking up as soon as possible.

Grade: 5/5

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Title: Extraordinary
Author: Nancy Werlin
Release Date: September 7, 2010

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe, but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself. Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt.

Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasn't been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?

I think this one sounds really cool! Plus, the cover design is absolutely gorgeous, which always recommends a book to me. ;D

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read-a-Thon Update

Technically the read-a-thon started yesterday, but I haven't had time to do an official starting post until now. Here's a pic I took of the books I want to finish this weekend:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

I had started Dracula before the read-a-thon started, but haven't finished it. So, I won't count that one towards any contests, but I still want to get it under my belt. And btw, did you notice I said the word 'contests'? It's because there's quite a few going on. Check out the picture at the top of those post and enter the read-a-thon yourself. It's not too late!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (3)

It's Friday, which means it's time for my (usually) weekly Blog Hop/Follow Friday post! Both are great ways to find other book blogs out there so I recommend going to visit them and looking around. I'm quite serious- 99% of the blogs I follow I've found through these memes.

Book Blogger Hop

The weekly question for this is:
How many books do you have on your 'to be read' shelf?

Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA. adfkljashdfldk. Seriously? I'm going to go with well over a hundred. I can count of one hand the number of times I've visited a bookstore and haven't bought anything IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I'm also a library addict (it's like my own personal store!) so I usually don't get around to reading the books I've bought for a long time. So... I'm not going to try counting. It would take too long and just depress me. -_-

Review: Everlasting

Title: Everlasting
Author: Angie Frazier
Pages: 329

“Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: Marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous –and alluring- magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who –and what- matters most.”

~description taken from book jacket

Everlasting is an example of one of those books that are perfectly nice and enjoyable, but overall lack that intangible “it factor” that makes it memorable.

Camille, the heroine, is fun to read about, but just doesn’t stand out from the hoards of other YA protagonists. It’s not that she’s annoying or I had any problems with her- she was just generic, making it nearly impossible to empathize with her. The same can be said for Oscar, the man she loves. He’s perfectly nice and attractive, but forgettable. I only finished Everlasting last night, but I’m already having difficulty trying to scrounge up details about his personality. Because I can’t bring myself to care about either of the two, the romantic aspect of the book (which is quite large) falls flat.

Another problem I have regarding characters is Ira- the ‘funny sidekick’ as China Mieville would put it. He is by far my favorite in the novel, but is eerily similar to Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. I don’t want to throw around the word plagiarism lightly, but there are enough similarities between the two to be concerned about. They’re both criminals, have an affinity for wenches, mention alcohol –specifically rum- multiple times, use the exact same wording and phrases, and overall possess the same general attitude. The only real difference is that Ira isn’t as developed as thoroughly.

Similar to how the romance feels lackluster, the plot is equally unenthralling for the same reason: I couldn’t care about the characters and therefore couldn’t be concerned about what happened to them. This is a bit sad since the events of the novel are actually put together quite well- everything works and remains within the suspense of disbelief. It’s for this reason that I’m annoyed at the unsubtle hints of a sequel near the ending. I think it would be more beneficial for Miss. Frazier to drop the characters, take it as a loss and move onto a different storyline.

Ultimately, there’s not much that’s technically wrong with Everlasting, but there’s not much right about it either. It is a fun, light read and I did finish it to the end. However, I cannot actively recommend it since there are so many other, better books out there. One example is Juliet Marillier’s Cybele’s Secret. It also features a seafaring romance and a search for a magical artifact, but features that ever illusive “it factor”. I’d recommend picking that up instead of Everlasting.

Grade: 3/5

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Read-a-thon This Weekend


This weekend I'll be participating in my first ever read-a-thon! With hyphens and everything! It's being hosted by the Bibliophilic Book Blog, and you can check it out by clicking on the picture


It takes place starting this Friday at 9 AM and ends the following Monday at 9AM. The theme is to read books you already own, so no cheating with library books! This will be especially good for me because I've had a backlog of books going since middle school...

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

In case you haven't heard of it, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's where you get to talk about what upcoming books you're absolutely pumped for and spread the word around to other people. Here's what I want to read:

Title: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Release Date: 8/31/2010

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

~description taken from goodreads

This book probably wouldn't have caught my eye normally, but I've seen a bunch of other blogs raving about it. From what I can tell it doesn't seem like the average 'herp derp- I'm gonna write aboot high school stereotypes' book. I guess I'll just have to read it to make sure. >: )

Title: Jane
Author: April Lindner
Release Date: 11/11/2010

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

~description taken from goodreads

I'm a Jane Eyre lover, so I'm really, REALLY looking forward to this one. Luckily it comes out during Columbus Day weekend so I can pick it up and have time to read it then!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: The Iron King

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pages: 363

“Meghan Chase has a secret destiny- one she could never have imagined...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan sense that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth- that she is the daughter of the mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face... and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.”

~description taken from the back of the book

I’m glad I waited for The Iron Daughter to come out before I picked up The Iron King. Not to be overdramatic, but I think I’d die of anticipation otherwise.

The Iron King is Julie Kagawa’s first novel, but it doesn’t read like it. The plot is seamless and runs at an incredibly smooth pace. It doesn’t rush at the climax like other books do (especially debuts), and there are no dragging points, even at the beginning. It’s just written really, really well. My only peeve was that Kagawa isn’t subtle with her foreshadowing. By the tenth time she’s mentioned Meghan’s iPod you already know that it’s going to be important somehow. However, this is really minor and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel at all.

But onto more important things like –cue drumroll- THE ROMANCE. Since The Iron King is published under Harlequin Teen, you know that there’s going to be some steamy action, even if it’s not as scandalous as what’s present in the adult imprint. Now, normally I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to judging romantic interests in YA series. I’m enough of a feminist that I get infuriated when the female characters suddenly lose all semblance of a personality when they enter a relationship but I do enjoy a well thought out ‘bad boy’. The Iron King strikes a perfect balance between the two.

Ash, the winter prince described on the book jacket, is overbearing and pompous. There are certain times when I want to step in and smack him hard, or at least have Meghan do so. Yet, despite these obvious deficiencies he’s still really appealing! The problem is, so is Puck, Meghan’s friend from childhood. Although Meghan seems to have made her choice between the two bachelors, there are two books left so the decision is far from set in stone. Personally, I’m Team Puck. ;D

Overall: Make sure you have a copy of The Iron Daughter ready for when you finish this.Whether you’re reading for the faery war plot, the romance, or the desire to see Meghan develop more of her powers and kick some butt, you’ll want to have the next volume on hand.

Grade: 5/5

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun Ranting Times

So, I've seen this link floating around several other YA blogs recently. Although I've developed an aversion to the New York Times because of its inability to report from an unbiased standpoint, I eventually decided to click and see what the fuss was about. Basically, it talks about how many adults now choose to read YA books in their free time rather than adult literature.

I've always thought of myself as an anomaly in this area- when I was in High School all my friends had already left YA lit behind in middle school, so I thought I was too old for it, even though I was technically still in the target age group. It wasn't until I discovered the book blogging universe that I realized there were other adults out there who choose to read YA not for their jobs, but for pleasure. It makes this quote

According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.
all the more interesting. Where are these masses of 18-24 year olds reading YA lit? I'm in that group and I don't see my peers checking out that section of Barnes&Noble or any of the other bookstores in my town. When I'm riding the bus or subway I don't see other people perusing The Hunger Games. If the aforementioned numbers are actually accurate why can't I find a physical interest in YA, not just one on the internet?

My theory is that people are just too embarrassed to admit it, which the article touches on as well. Once in my Victorian Lit class we were talking about sensationalist novels and what the modern equivalents would be. Most people agreed that the most derided genres today are romance, sci-fi and YA, since they're all "aimed at people who are just reading for enjoyment rather than any wish to think". If this is the stigma that's attached to YA novels, why -would- adults admit to reading them? It's much more respectable to be seen reading the latest bestselling trade paperback. Save everything else for before you go to bed at night, when nobody's watching.

I'm rambling.

What I -INTENDED- to talk about is why I, personally, choose to read YA over books aimed at me. It's simple: I think they're more enjoyable. I like the characters more, the plots are more imaginitive and there's just more "entertainment value". If I'm reading for myself, that's what I'm going to go for, not some random novel about a depressed janitor going through his mid life crisis.

However, I also study literature and plan on being a librarian. I really love reading the classics and other 'thinking' books. The thing with me is, if it's literature but not a classic, I don't make time for it. There are so many universally acclaimed books still being printed after 200+ years that I don't want to spend my time reading a piece of adult lit that came out two years ago and everyone will have forgotten about in ten. If someone genuinely enjoys adult lit like I loves me my YA that's an entirely different story. But to say that one is more literary than the other? No. They'll pretty much ALL be out of print sooner or later.

To sum up, I have the same general attitude as the esteemed individual Eric Cartman.

"Whateva, whateva, I read what I want!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a meme held by The Story Siren. It's where you list all the books you've received through the mail, or got in general. For me it's just ones that I've bought or have borrowed from the library.

I haven't done this in a few weeks, so I have a lot to list! Also, I found the USB cord for my mommy's camera so I have pictures, too!


Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis (bargain book on amazon!)
The Morganville Vampires Volume 1 & 2 by Rachel Caine
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Manga Purchased

B.O.D.Y Volumes 4-6
Honey Hunt Volumes 2-3
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Post Card Book (not reading material, but I still wanted to post it!)

From the Library

Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
13 to Life by Shannon Delany

A good number of these are either vampire or werewolf books, so you can tell I'm going through Twilight withdrawal. Right now I'm trying to locate a replacement series, so if you have any suggestions please tell me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex
Eoin Colfer

“Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? This goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common in guilt-ridden fairies, not humans, and most likely triggered in Artemis by his dabbling in fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing confessions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time, A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city if Atlantis, Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind- and the grips of a giant squid- in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?”

~Description taken from jacket cover

I’ve been reading the Artemis Fowl books since the first one was published a decade ago. Its one of the select few childhood series I’m determined to see through to the end, proving that it isn’t limited to the age 9-12 audience. Given this background, I’ve been waiting anxiously for The Atlantis Complex since I heard it was coming out six months ago. It’s because of this build up of excitement that made me so disappointed in this installment, and makes this review somewhat painful to write.

One of the many reasons I’m completely enamored with Eoin Colfer as a writer is because of his superior sense of pacing and suspense. In previous books, he’s put Artemis and Holly in such desperate situations that, even though you know in the back of your mind they’ll survive, you still can’t put the book down. Half of this is because the passages are so well-written, and the other half is waiting to see how Artemis will figure a way out of the bind. There’s no comparable scenario in The Atlantis Complex. For instance, the book jacket mentions a scene in which a giant squid takes hold of Artemis, promising to be an enthralling bit. In reality, it’s short, poorly executed, and Artemis is rescued by a deus-ex-machina rather than one of his own plans. All I could think was “Colfer’s done this before and he’s done it better.”

However, this plot rehashing is most annoying when he places in a random character death in the first fifty pages and parallels it to Commander Root’s. When Root was killed in The Opal Deception I actually cried, which rarely happens when I read a book. The death in The Atlantis Complex, on the other hand, seemed random and included solely out of convenience or that he didn’t know what to do with the character. I find this so perturbing because Colfer has proven himself to be a better author than to have to rely on such an amateur trick as this.

This isn’t to say that there was nothing redeeming about The Atlantis Complex. Orion, Artemis’ ‘other’ personality, is one of my favorite characters simply because he’s so ridiculous. He incessantly professes his love to Holly, much to Artemis’ chagrin and can’t stop citing romantic poetry. He’s also, in my opinion, the center of one of the best comic moments in the series (it involves the mention of a birthmark, but I won’t say more than that). I’d really like him to show up in the next book, if possible.

There’s a huge amount of unsubtle hints to the next, and reportedly last, book in the series. Mostly, the constant references to Opal Koboi, but also the tense romance between Holly and Artemis. It makes me wish that Colfer had skipped over The Atlantis Complex entirely, and just written one final, excellent book. It would have fit in better with an otherwise stellar series.

Grade: 3/5 Stars

Note: Although this review is harsh, I remain by my opinion that Eoin Colfer is an amazing author. Including The Atlantis Complex I’ve read eleven books by him, and this is the only one I wouldn’t highly recommend.