Friday, January 30, 2015

'Polaris' by Mindee Arnett


Jeth Seagrave and his crew of mercenaries are pulled into one last high-stakes mission in this breathtaking sequel to Mindee Arnett’s fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi thriller Avalon.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew are on the run. The ITA, still holding Jeth’s mother in a remote research lab, is now intent on acquiring the metatech secrets Jeth’s sister Cora carries inside her DNA, and Jeth is desperate to find the resources he needs to rescue his mother and start a new life outside the Confederation. But the ITA is just as desperate, and Jeth soon finds himself pursued by a mysterious figure hell-bent on capturing him and his crew—dead or alive.

With nowhere to run and only one play left, Jeth enters into a bargain with the last person he ever thought he’d see again: Daxton Price, the galaxy’s newest and most fearsome crime lord. Dax promises to help Jeth, but his help will only come at a price—a price that could mean sacrificing everything Jeth has fought for until now.

The conclusion to the story Mindee Arnett began in her acclaimed novelAvalonPolaris is a dangerous journey into the spaces between power and corruption, life and death, the parts of ourselves we leave behind, and the parts we struggle to hold on to.

The characters were really interesting. We got a new girl named Aileen Stock. We have more on Jethro. We have more about Marian his mother. 
We got more about Jethro. His mom comes back. He is forced to wear an implant. He gets both happiness and loss at the same time. Yet, he's still unmoving and staying strong. He won't accept the Axis until he is completely forced to. (And I'm not sure when this happens in the book.) Jethro has the mental battle with the Axis. Refusing to become someone he wasn't, he resisted the Axis, trying to pull him in. I liked reading his emotional turmoil. That sounds cruel, but it's true. People deal with those situations in different ways. Jeth just wanted to protect his family and their secrets. That's all. I admire that. He's brave to keep fighting. 
Aileen Stock. She was an interesting character. I don't want to give too much away, though. She was deemed badass in my mind. Until I started reading more. Her backstory was fascinating, though. Her personality? Not so much. I thought she would be sly and coy. But she was more snappish than I cared for. I didn't really like her entirely. Only parts of Aileen was interesting. No offense to her, of course. She's a bit more sarcastic than I care for. 
I thought Marian wasn't a very good character. You might wonder why. It's because she seemed too obsessed with the Pyreans. She cared more about an alien race than her own family. Though I'm not a big family person, that still is extremely rude in my eyes. I know that the Pyreans were important, but she could have lied. Making your family think you're dead is a complete trick. I didn't like that. Marian, while devoted, wasn't a good character overall. 

That action...
We are plunged right into the action. This was fresh and new. It has been a while since I read a book that thrust you into the action. We start off with a casino job. The crew is trying to sell something.
What happens next?
This action is pulse-pounding. You want to know what happens next. You can't not know. It's a yearning.
The fighting sequences. It gave me the chills.
Bam! Punch! Smack! 
I truly loved the action. It's been a while since I got this type of action. 

I really liked the emphasis on family and friends. You typically just get romantic relations. But this book had siblings and a mother. (Has anyone noticed the recent influx of orphans in young adult?) I liked this. Emphasizing familial relations is great. It shows another type of bond. You don't just get kisses and sex. You get sisters toying with brothers and mothers teasing sons. We have that all. It's nice to see how characters as unemotional as Jeth react in situations with their family members. It shows another side of them. You see them without their walls up. Or maybe they are more secretive. It all depends. 

I didn't like the romance. I didn't agree with Jeth and Sierra as a couple to begin with. They weren't very cute.
And I definitely didn't need to know that they had sex. (Really didn't. Don't tell me those things.) 
They didn't have chemistry. I didn't see anything between them. Physical contact. The only one who took it far enough to make me even notice was Sierra when she promised to kill Jeth if he was getting out of control. I admired that moment. But that's more of Sierra's personality than their relationship. 
Their relationship wasn't the best. Stolen kisses. Sleeping together. I didn't feel much for them. I could have cared less if they were torn apart. I didn't enjoy this relationship. 

I didn't like the ending. It could have  been better. I felt like the Pyreans are too god-like. They're gods in this series. They can make Jeth not do things when the implant, a dead Pyrean, tries to make him do things? Uh... I'm not sure how that works. Not sure how the mind control from the implant world at all. But that seems...odd. Doesn't it? I actually wanted to see if he could do it. Or if his love of his family was too strong. Too bad the Pyreans intervened. 
I thought this was a duloagy. But the ending gives you a question. A very important one, if you ask me. What next? Will they make it to Empyria? What happens when they get there? You are left with questions and no answers. 

Sunny with a 50% chance of rain

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Nightingale' by Kay Causer


Naomi and Jesse have been living peacefully for the past few months, like normal teenagers, but now the spirit world has a new task for them. Another girl has been called but no one seems to have any idea where she could be. Never mind the revelation that Jesse’s grandparents are hiding something important from him. 

In London, Ava’s dream of studying music has finally come true but she’s completely terrified, and she hasn’t even met the Shadows yet. Ava doesn’t want to be a shadow weaver but, with her unique abilities, she may be vital against the growing forces of their enemies.

With secrets lurking in Jesse's past and both new and old enemies to contend with, it looks like their troubles are only just beginning

Naomi wasn't a bad character. She is, as usual, with Jesse. She's still tough. Still a fighter. She is someone who kept going. I liked that she cared to help Ava. She might have been reluctant before, but she grew into helping her. I liked her better in this story, though. She was more interesting. I liked that she started to become a heroine. She took charge. She gained control. I liked that. 
If Ava had been developed more, I would have liked her better. She seemed to be Naomi's replacement as the main character. (Even though we get enough of Naomi.) She isn't very strong, physically. She was interesting. She could have had a better story. She could be better if she had more personality. She's shy. And hidden. She doesn't put herself out much. She could have. But she didn't. She wasn't a very good character. She could have been focused on more. 

The world is quite interesting. It gets more developed. We are introduced to the Souldrinkers. (Man. They are creepy to the maximum.) The shadow weavers are interesting people to begin with. They're mysterious. Different. I don't mind them. They're pretty cool. The Souldrinkers were nice elements to add. More types of shadows. Different, more crueler ones. I admit that the Souldrinks made me antsy. But they were also great villains. (I wish there was more development on Clarice. She was interesting. Who did she choose for a body? Why? I would like to know about the one that was in Jesse's father's body. Where did he go? Why?) If they were only written about more...that would have been amazing. 

I don't like the romance. Jesse and Naomi are a...kinda cute couple. I've read better. I would have preferred if they had their relationship more developed. If they had more pages. If they were better together.
I see they care for each other. I just...didn't care for them. They are alright on their own. But together? Another story. They could have been better. They weren't a couple I was rooting for. (I knew there would be a couple in the first book. I just knew.) 
There were too many times when Naomi could do nothing. I didn't like that. She could have done more. Tried harder. She cared enough. It seems like she cared more for him than he cared for her. 
It's hard to describe exactly why I hated this relationship. I know it's hard to understand.
Let's leave it at this.
I didn't like the relationship. 

There is also a small attempt at diversity. By this, I mean, Bastian being gay. This isn't even hinted. It is thrown on you as a surprise. Like a last-minute surprise party. As much as I support the LGBT community, this was a weak attempt at diversity. At least we had Minhyun in the last book. (He was not Caucasian.) We don't have much this book. We have passing mentions of Minhyun. Ava and Bastian are, most likely, British. We didn't get much diversity. Anyways, you are told Bastian is gay. You typically get hints or something. Or it's told early on. I felt like him being gay is a last minute attempt for diversity. (No offense to the author, though. I personally never wrote very diverse characters.) 
I am huge on diversity. I like diverse books. (I am Chinese American. I am questioning. I am diverse.) I would have preferred more diverse characters. It could have been better. 

The plot seemed to abruptly end. And the way Ava defeated the monster. She just used one scream? And no one else fought it? And she is oh-so powerful that she killed it with one fell swoop? Believable. (Sarcasm.) I would prefer if she fought it. Sword on arm. Or something. She just used her magical power and defeated it. Just like that. Such a quick ending.
And the story's ending. It just ended. Without anything else. It wasn't a good ending. It simply ended. There wasn't any resolution. It just ended after the fight, the climax. 

Cloudy with a 5% chance of rain

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

'The Darkest Part of the Forest' by Holly Black


Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

This is a good book. I haven't read a good book in a long time. 
I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. I didn't think I would like it. 

I liked the fantasy world. It was magical and drew me in. I wanted to be a faerie knight. A Tam Lim. I am not a big fan of faeries. (Truly. I only really liked it with an anime series whose name eludes me currently.) But this was a good faerie book. It was a fascinating world. Not only with the cruel 'king' but with the changeling Jack and the other characters. The deal Hazel makes to get Ben into the music school. I've read some other faerie stories, but none of those quite measure up to this one. It's a magical world. 
It drew me in. I do like magic. Magic has its benefits and downsides. Consequences for using it. Consequences for releasing it upon poor innocents. Magic is intriguing. Authors write it differently each time. Elemental magic. Curses. Illusions. The magic used in this book is, without a doubt, different. Heartseeker. Heartsworn. Two beautiful blades with special powers. Special magic. Different magic. And the magic to make Hazel forget. 
Anyways...does anyone know the correct way to spell faerie? I've seen it as fairy, faery, faerie, and, simply, fae. Which one is the correct spelling? I'm not sure. 

As much as I hated Hazel at first, I started to like her. She's like moss. She grows on you. 
I didn't like her because she was with so many guys. (And had feelings for Jack.) I don't like that in a person.
As the story moved on, we got more about Hazel. How she protected the city. And how she went so far to help Ben get into the school he wanted to go to. (Even if it was for selfish reasons.) She's quite brave. I was surprised by her bravery. I admired her after a while. After I got the entire story, I started rooting for her. (Not to be with Severin. To win. To be successful.) 

And diversity. Severin and Ben? Adorable. I don't like those fluffy relationships. But they were adorable together. (Absolutely adorable.) It's a diverse couple. It isn't emphasized that Ben is gay. (Nor is Severin's homosexuality even mentioned.) You just know there are a pair of guys who love each other. (I mean...luuuurrrvvveee each other. Haha. Sorry. I had to.) You're not drowning in it. It's not a constant reminder. 
They were homosexual, but it wasn't shoved upon you. You weren't forced to swallow their homosexuality. It was there but not there. I liked that. That was good, though.

Even though I said this was a good book, there were problems. 

As much as I thought Severin and Ben were cute together, I didn't like the romance. Either one really. Severin and Ben or Hazel and Jack. I don't like romance in general. But I didn't like these especially.
I didn't see why Hazel and Jack got together. Cool, you like each other. Why? Why was Hazel attracted to Jack? Why was he attracted to her? If I only saw the flirty Hazel, not best friend's sister Hazel, I wouldn't like her. (I don't like those people. I prefer people I like not to cheat.) Even if I saw best friend's sister Hazel! I wouldn't like her. She's not very kind on the outside. Not very caring. I don't see why either of them like each other.
And Severin and Ben. I know Severin knows Ben's secrets. And...there is chemistry. I just don't know why they liked the other. Ben saw Severin. Didn't really talk except when Severin told the story of his sister. So...romance building? None really. Ben seems physically attracted. Severin emotionally attracted. (Since he knows Ben's secrets. You know...Ben admitting things to Severin when he was the horned prince.) So...I don't see it. 

The plot started out slow. It picked up action, but the slow beginning was a major turn-off. I was waiting for something to happen. The synopsis promised something great. So I kept waiting. And waiting. Until the action began. Severin escaping is one thing. Hazel fighting is another. (And I prefer the latter. Mysteries don't sit well with me.) I liked the action. Heartseeker and Heartsworn competing for dominance. Wow. Just wow. What a rush.
But I had to wait a long time for that. For the fights to begin, I had to sit through mysteries and Sorrow appearing at terrible times. I had to read Jack bringing Hazel to Faerieland. (And her getting drunk.) I had hints of something. ('Sir Hazel' ringing any bells?) But I had to wait. I am not a good person with waiting. I get anxious. And annoyed.
But...the action was worth it, but it wasn't. I liked it. To an extent. I liked the sword fighting. I liked the seemingly impossible fights. But they were too quick. They came and went like the wind. I didn't particularly enjoy that. 

Overall, this book won me over. (Even with its downsides.) It was enjoyable. I recommend it for fans of fantasy. (Especially faeries. I know I'm a dragon/phoenix/elemental magic girl. But those with other loves, even with those who might hate the Fair Folk, can enjoy this book. Okay. Maybe not Fair Folk haters...)
One last thing. Remember to keep oatmeal in your pockets and iron around your neck. You might need it someday.

Sunny with a 15% chance of rain

Sunday, January 25, 2015

'Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West' by Blaine Harden


New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived. 

North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.

In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

*This will be a short review. A very short one. There isn't much for me to say. 

Let me say this first.
Humanity is a very cruel group of beings.
We fight. We kill. We willingly kill. (Ehem. Genocide.) 
Now. Know this. I don't read nonfiction. I really don't. I'm not against it; I just don't like it. I will put that aside to write this review, though. I had to read it for my book trivia. I won't say I liked reading it. 

I liked how this book painted a picture of Shin's story with the gory details.
It showed the pain and struggle of this North Korean escapee. It was raw emotion. It wasn't painted over. It was pure emotion. Pure struggle. Pure suffering. It's not covered. It's not hidden. It's the struggle. The humanity laid out. 
This book shows how cruel humanity is. It really does. You can see how much torture Shin went through. How much pain. This book isn't fiction. But it does seem like it. How can people do that? Why? Why? Those are great questions. But we might never get answers. 

I admired Shin. He was strong. He snitched. But he had to survive. You do what you need to survive. You don't really think about everyone else. You focus on yourself. He didn't hide that he was a snitch. He snitched for his life. (If that makes sense.) 
He might not think he's strong. He might never. But he is strong. He is brave in odd ways. He's a survivor. A fighter. Even if he did snitch. He survived. He survived.

I didn't like that the story was interrupted by the historical aspects and other people's stories. I prefer pure fiction/story. This is nonfiction, I know, so it must have facts. But I prefer when I get a straight out story. Admittedly, I know there are reasons for the information. But they annoyed me. Even if I saw this as a nonfiction book. 
I would have preferred a story through and through. But I had to accept this. I had to.

I didn't like the way the story doesn't seem to end. It just...tapers off. I didn't like that. I would have preferred the ending. What Shin did then. Did he end up happy? Did he end up assimilating? What did he do? I wanted to know things. What happened to the other North Koreans? Did they end up happy? What about his father? I had things I wanted to know. And I didn't get many answers. His story doesn't get an ending. His story isn't done. But I would have preferred something else. 

Sunny with a 50% chance of rain

Saturday, January 24, 2015

December 18, 2014: 'Branded'

Welcome to Book City
Date: December 18, 2014

Spoilers Ahead

*Note: I didn't realize I hadn't published this. Whoops...

Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.

To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.

Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.

Constant darkness.

Brutal and savage violence.

Excruciating pain.

Every day is a fight for survival.

But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

City Calendar:
This is what happened during the week.
Lexi is taken to the Hole and branded for lust. She is guarded by Cole. She goes to the orientation for her job at the hospital. On the way back, she is attacked, but Cole protects her. She hurts her ankle. She goes to work for the first time. She sees an execution on the way. Cole has his guard friends over at  their rooms, and Lexi doesn't stay to watch. She goes to work another day and sees a dead patient. After being reassigned to Alyssa, she tries to coax the sick girl out of her shell. Lexi finds a book to read to Alyssa. Alyssa loves it. To make Alyssa happy, she finds a girl who has makeup and puts it on Alyssa. She asks Cole  to be Alyssa's date for a night. She stays with Alyssa after Alyssa's date. Alyssa worsens. Cole goes out for a job one day. A drug addict comes in for the morphine Alyssa has. Lexi fights, throwing a chair out the window to attract Cole's dog Zeus's attention. The addict gets a tainted bag of morphine. Alyssa dies soon after. Lexi follows her body to the crematorium where she is cornered by guards on her way up to the eighth floor. She is almost raped but is saved by Cole. Cole helps Lexi go through the process of washing Lexi's hair. C gets a friend Bruno to watch Lexi while Cole trains to keep up a semblance of normality. Sutton checks up on Lexi and takes out her stitches. Bruno starts to teach Lexi self-defense. Cole tells Lexi he has to go on a mission to find and eliminate Lexi's brother Keegan. Cole leaves. Bruno trains Lexi. Both flee the building when Bruno thinks people found out about him guarding Lexi. They go to the hospital to hide. Cole comes back, saying he let Keegan escape. Cole and Lexi kiss, admitting feelings for each other. A lockdown happens. Lexi goes to work. Wilson takes Lexi, confronting her and making her think about a deal to find Keegan. Lexi kisses Cole, and Wilson comes back. Lexi finally makes the deal with Wilson with Bruno watching. She flees to the doctor Sutton. Sutton tells them to Keegan. They go to Keegan who welcomes his sister back with open arms. Keegan separates Cole and Lexi. Lexi trains, becoming stronger each day. For the mission, Keegan makes Lexi part of his team. The attack happens. Soldiers catch the rebels. Only a few on Keegan's team makes it to the Commander's mansion. Lexi and Keegan find the camera room and see Sutton and the Commander arguing. It is revealed that Sutton is the Commander's brother. The Commander and Keegan fight. Sutton is shot, and Keegan is killed. Cole jumps in, killing the Commander when Lexi can't. (The Commander being her abusive step-father.) The rebels flee to Lexi's namesake Lexington Bay. 
And that's what happened this week.

Personal Ads:
Lexi Hamilton.
Branded for lust. Almost raped by stepfather. Abused. Dead father. Missing brother. Wants to fight back. Likes Cole. Cares for people. Caring. Scared of being hurt. 

I've heard a lot of praise for this book. I will admit how disappointed I was. I think that I'll stop reading books everyone else loves. Seems like I always end up hating them. I end up on the opposite end this time. Black sheep of the group really. 
I really liked Sutton. His kindness to everyone. He was a truly warm-hearted person. He cared. For everyone. He loved his friends like family. He is, by far, one of the best people in the entire book. He is kind. Funny. Caring. I admire that. He only wanted the best. I, like Lexi, was distraught to find out that he was shot. Poor Sutton. He only wanted the best for everyone. 
The theme of good versus bad was intriguing. The sinners versus the guards. The outside versus the inside. It's a person's job to determine who is good and who is bad. It's always a struggle. Always. The story was interesting on how it expanded on this theme. Lexi being conflicted between loving and hating Cole. Her caring for Alyssa but she dying. (Though, that was predicted to happen anyways.) It's the versus that is always interesting. The rebels. The themes in this book were quite interesting. I wasn't fond of the book, but the themes it exuded were typical themes and well executed. 
The premise was good. I thought it would be interesting. The Hole. A place where sinners rot. Lexi unfairly branded by lust. Falls in love? Oh gosh. I expected an action story. A rebel. I didn't find that. The premise was good. It really was. It wasn't expected. Not something done before. The seven deadly sins are simply interesting. You got to love the idea. Greed. Lust. Pride. Wrath. Envy. Gluttony. Sloth. It's interesting to see how a storyteller approached the subject. Though, it is slightly religious just because. I think these two did a good job weaving the seven deadly sins into the story. I wanted more brands, though. More Wraths. More Envys. It would have been interesting to see Lexi, the darling dear, fight a Wrath. Just saying... 
I didn't like the romance. Man. The romance. Stop thinking about it. Kiss him. We know you want to. Get it over with. I typically don't encourage death to a character, but Cole and Lexi were asking for it. I wanted them to get caught just to die. It was annoying. I typically enjoy the 'We can't be together' relationships like in Wesley Ayers and Mac from 'The Archived', but this book drew that to another level. They were aggravating apart. Together was worse. Lexi went through Cole-withdrawal. She was whiny without him. Weak. Confused. Lost. He was the typical mushy guy. I was expecting him to hold a boom-box over his head and toss flower petals at her feet. Blegh. He was not very into it. I think Keegan was right. For once... He thought Cole was using Lexi. I think so too. If they weren't worried about guards or being caught, they would have had sex long before anything else happened in the book. I think that these two are just blinded by lust. Really. Is that what the authors are hoping for? I hope so. They succeeded. Lexi seemed too into the relationship. And Cole did not. 
Or Lexi. Whiny. Annoying. 'Don't touch me' Lexi. Gosh. I wanted to shake her so hard... She was by far one of the worst dystopian girls I've ever read. Ever. Maybe one of the worst girls in my entirety of reading. And I've read 'Isla and the Happily Ever After', folks. She annoys me so much. She is so weak that she relies entirely on Cole. For everything. I was excited when she decided to fight, when she wanted to learn self-defense. But her 'take charge' attitude went backseat to hot-and-heavy scenes with Mr. Guardman himself. Man. Did that annoy me. Lexi had potential to be great. I thought her emotional torture was a good plot point. (Not that I would ever condone rape. But I say that she was struggling. A bad past. It intrigues you, makes you want to know why they do things they do.) Her change into a fighter was interesting. But no. We had to read the kissing scenes while Lexi grew stronger. But her training was quick. Short. And I'll say that it seemed impossible to have muscles in that short span of pages. 
Or Cole. He is needy. I think he really is using Lexi. He doesn't really care for her. He sees a pretty face. That  much is repeated over and over. Cole acts like he owns the world. Like he's the best. News flash. You're not. I feel like young adult is overusing tough guys. I want a weaker guy who can't bench anything more than fifteen pounds. A guy who isn't like Cole. Gosh. Cole is the stereotypical jock. Annoying. Mildly jokey. Likes the pretty girl. Tough. Buff. Handsome. Why oh why? Can't we get a weaker character? It is true that buff guys bring in the money. I know that. But why can't we have a guy that people can relate to? All the guys I know are pretty...skinny. Pretty...muscle-less. What guy can relate to Cole? Definitely not one that reads. (I'm not trying to judge. But...Cole. Get a grip on reality. Most guys his age are in college. Or working McDonald's. Or maybe at a different job. Or at home. Or in the army. Not benchpressing two hundred pounds a day and having rock-hard abs. Unless you know different.)
The quick ending was also annoying. We had such a great building. Would it work? Would they survive? Who would be shot? Who would die? Would the mission even work? What if Cole simply...disappears? We had a rushed ending. The plot was blasting through the mission. Something I had been waiting for. The action. Less kissing. More fighting. What do we get? Only a few pages of actual fighting. Fun. 
The training seemed to take only less than fifty pages. How can she become that muscled in such a short span of time? That takes time. Effort. Sweat. Blood. She seems to be perfect at it. (Too perfect.) She doesn't really get hurt. Only, you know, a few bruises. A few scars. While other books take the entire book to train, this one takes a chapter. Maybe less. I'm not sure. It's annoying. How can you learn to fight in such a short time? Yes. She trained with Bruno. For how many days? A week? Two? Time seems irrelevant here. Really.
And the fast plot. Goodness. All the good actions scenes seem to skip all the good parts. The action is breezed over to make way for the romance. Yes. Lexi 'loves' Cole. They gotta kiss. All day. Every day. That definitely is what teenagers are like. That's definitely what teenagers want. The hot guy sucking a hot girl's face off. One word. Blegh. I prefer the action. The fighting. We skip over the good parts for sucking face. Yes. Indeed. We jump through each scene like nothing happened. Great. It's fast. Too fast. Hard to keep up with. The only scenes that take longer are romance ones. Does anyone else notice how fast the plot is? It's like weeks pass with only a few pages. I swear. That's how it actually was written. Which annoys me to no end. Weeks take more than a chapter. 

Cloudy with a dense fog 

'Gilded' by Christina Farley


Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.

This book has a lot of diversity. It is set in South Korea. It has Korean characters. It has a heroine. (A tough heroine at that.) This is a good, diverse book. The culture of South Korea is part of the setting. The foods. The language. (Some phrases are in Korean. And hankul/hangul is mentioned.) We have the Korean mythology. (Admittedly, it is quite intriguing. The Haemosu and Pricess Yuhwa story vaguely reminds me of Persephone and Hades. If Persephone was strong enough to fight Hades.) I didn't know much about Korean before this book. I knew the language used hankul a combination of phonetics and logograms. I knew of North Korea. And that South Korea had gained help from the Unite States of America. I didn't know much else. This was an interesting book. I was exposed to the culture. The culture of a place I've never been to. It was quite intriguing. 

I liked the main character Jae Hwa. She's a tough girl. I Black belt in tae kwon do. Archer. She is a no-nonsense girl. Tough. Brave. I liked that. I like tough heroines. They're special. They're rigid but have good intentions. They're good people. They care about people. Even if you don't see it. (This is the case with Jae. She acts tough but cares a lot about her family.) I didn't like that she started melting with Marc, though. I admit that I like when girls open up to other people. But when it's romance involved...not so much. She could have been better if she had stayed vigilant. She could have been a tough girl throughout. But she fell fault to Cupid's arrow and lost some toughness. 

The way it weaves the fantasy and reality is quite good. The demigod Haemosu taking Jae away from reality to 'court' her. You see the fantastical realm of Korea's version of Tartarus/Hell/the Underworld in Haemosu's realm. (Or what I assume is the Tartarus. It could just be a startlingly bleak realm.) It's a magical world. I liked it. And metamorphosis? Cool. Really cool. I would love to transform into animals. Any animal. Ah. That would be amazing. Kind of having a spirit animal but having the spirit animal that is actually you. (Confusing, I know.) But it was quite interesting. I didn't know much about mythology other than the Greek and Roman, and some Egyptian, mythology. It is great to know the myths from Asia and not just the Europe area. (I know Egypt isn't Europe. But it's close. And I know mostly European myths.) 

There isn't much plot. It felt like the plot was a bit dull. Not enough action scenes. (There are some, though. But they're quick. Too quick. I prefer prolonged action scenes. Unless they're too long. I'm very picky.) I wanted more drama. More craziness. I got only some. I wanted to know about the myth. About the mysterious society Haraboji and Yomo are part of. Who are they? What are they? You don't get much. And Jae seems to not care about the society, focusing on Haemosu. (Not that I wouldn't do the same.) I wanted more. The plot wasn't much. I felt like it was lacking. It seemed rushed. We blazed through scenes, jumping from scene to scene. I would have preferred if it was slower. Dedicated more time to the scenes. That would have been better for me. 

I didn't like the romance. Why? Why does romance always ruin books? Why does it ruin good characters? Jae turned to mush. That's the only way to describe it. She turned to mush. She fell for Marc. Hard. It was...unbearable. I couldn't stand it. She was such a good character. Tough. Mildly rebellious. Kind to her friends and family. Caring even if she didn't show it. Marc ruined that. 
I also didn't see chemistry. There is no basis for their relationship. Yet they keep going. I saw physical attraction. Not much else. I was disappointed by this relationship. I actually expected Jae to fall for Haemosu. (Blame 'Cruel Beauty'. Just blame it.) You might know I don't like romance. This is exactly why.

And the ending... It could have led to something interesting. I just felt like the ending didn't work for me. This book could have been a standalone. But it wasn't. I would have preferred if it was a standalone. It could have been better. A happily ever after. No hints. I mean...I didn't have questions like I typically do. I would have preferred a standalone. Not a series. 

Cloudy with a 20% chance of rain

Friday, January 23, 2015

'Ghosts of Heaven' by Marcus Sedgwick


A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet's obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book's final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick's gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession

This book is something you either like or don't like. It's a style of writing. Not everyone will like it. 
The spirals. You can love how the author mentions them, or you might get tired. 
You might like one story and not the next. It truly depends on the person. 

Whispers in the Dark

The curiosity of the character was different. She wanted to know the truth. She wanted to find out what the world was. Curiosity is the best and worst thing. You can be drawn in by the curiosity. I liked this girl. She had a past to her. She had shame, in a way. And she had inane creativity. Something hidden. Something deep within that yearned to be free. 
The setting was pretty interesting. You can be drawn in by her lifestyle, the lifestyle of her people. It could also turn you off. You might not like the pre-written history character. You might like it. Or you might not. I personally liked it. It shows a side to our past, as human beings, that not many write about. The most you get about pre-historic times comes from fantastical pieces or articles about bones be uncovered. It's an interesting lifestyle. Gathering. Hunting. You have to appreciate it, in a way, to enjoy this story. 
I disliked how the story is written. I have never been a big poetry fan. (Of reading not writing.) I don't know how to read it. How to analyze it. Poems are windows into the soul, like eyes, but they are read like stories. Poems are not stories. They can tell a story, but they aren't the same. It has always been hard for me to read poems. Truly. I've always had a hard time comprehending them. This poem was easier to read. But the way it was written...I felt like there was an underlying message I was missing. 
I didn't like the ending. It didn't seem to suit this girl. She should have gotten a better ending. A happier one. She didn't have to end that way. Such a horrible way to go... I pity her. This unnamed girl. She deserved to go out, guns blazing. But. Not everyone thinks that. 
You learn, as you read, that this book doesn't offer happy endings. 

The Witch in the Water

girl underwater woman dress swim wallpaper

The history. I was never a big fan of historical stories. To me, history is gone until you revive it. In writing or in art or in song. This story, though, caught my interest. The Salem witch trials are interesting. How could someone do this? Our ancestors, even. How do you take it? Can you imagine that you have that blood coursing through your veins? The blood of those who punished? You see the history become open. You see the truth. The painful truth. 
This story shows how dark humanity is. How cruel. It shows something else. Humanity is starvation, greed, and scorn. We are the people of now. And we are closer to the past, to the people of Then, than we think. We consider them monsters or masters. We are the same. We are the punishers and the punished. We torture and be tortured. Humanity is built on two sides of the coin. One 'bad'. The other 'good'. But which is which? 
I didn't like shortness. I wanted more. The character didn't get to tell the story I hoped for. I wanted Anna to run. For her to sink. For people to find the truth. There are many what ifs. (They are answered, later, in 'The Easiest Room in Hell'.) I wanted to have a witch hunt. A trial. This story could be a book on its own. 

The Easiest Room in Hell

Wow. This one has got to be my favorite. This story is truly amazing. I loved it. 
You get to see the older practices to cure insanity. The malaria. The punishments. It's fascinating. As a prospective student in psychology, I was fully interested. The why. The how. Why did they do it? What results showed conclusive results? How did they do it? How did they sleep at night knowing they were torturing poor men and women further down the spiral of insanity? It's always interesting to see what people thought would work back then. And even now. 
Secrets of the doctor narrator. He had many. Verity. His wife Caroline. And I felt like he too was falling into madness. Slowly, though. Very slowly. Hiding things is something not all characters do. Some are open. Some are shut. Some are windows. Others are doors. They hide things. Part of a secretive character's allure is their want to keep things secret. And there's a why behind it. Always. I wanted to know what exactly the doctor was hiding. And why? Because of selfish reasons? To make things look better in his life? To prevent embarrassment? It all depends. 
The ramblings of a madman. I didn't know why I liked the long and winded monologues Dexter seemed capable of. He would keep talking and talking. But the topics he discussed were fascinating. I got many great quotes from his conversations with the good doctor. The way he spoke. Ah. I wish people typically spoke that way. It was amazing to read. Fantastic. 
I didn't like how the story ended. I wanted to know more. I wanted another story. Or a whole book dedicated to this. To Dexter's past. To the doctor's future. It was intriguing. An intriguing premise. Setting. Characters. Wow. I am astounded by this story. 
I also wanted to get the narration from Dexter. Why? Because I wanted to see things from his eyes. How did he see spirals? Or the force from Solway? Or the good doctor? What did he see? What did he think? I thought it would be interesting to see things from his perspective. 

The Song of Destiny

I didn't like this one. It just didn't appeal to me. 
Sure. The descent to madness is quite interesting. You can enjoy that. He turned crazy. But slowly. And you see it. In the actions. The words. Wow. It was actually quite good how it was written. Confusion. And acknowledgement of the truth. Wow.
The story ending with the beginning of 'Whispers in the Dark'. It shows that the world is a cycle. Going around the cycle and starting all over again. I liked this. The world is a cycle. Around and around. I liked how this was added in. Showing things that have been done can be done again. It was nice how the author did it. Not too obvious. 
The two Bowmans is confusing. It's intriguing, though. Two of the same person. Not as in twins. As in something else. Dopplegangers. If you believe in those. It is confusing because of how it's written. Who killed who? What? I'm left with questions. And no answers. I would like to have it explained to me. Plainly. I can be quite daft at times. This is one of those times. How was it possible? I may never know. 

Sunny with a 20% chance of rain

Sunday, January 18, 2015

'Two Boys Kissing' by David Levithan


New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

I'm at a loss for words. This is truly interesting book. I can't say how I feel about it. 

I love the diversity. You get a transgender Avery. A lot of gay guys. (All the characters are gay.) I love the diversity. You don't typically get these types of characters. All the characters are gay. You get a whole bunch of LGBT. There is also diversity in the characters. One is Korean, or so the book says. We have characters from other countries. 
I like this. I'm a fan of diversity. Always great for the young adult fiction world. Shows the teens that there isn't just Caucasians out in the world. We have other people as well. We're a diverse world. We have different ethnicities, different sexualities, and different races to name a few things. 

How Levithan approaches these real topics is quite amazing. He doesn't make these people seem like monsters. Even though history has painted that picture. We get the truth. These guys and girls are just people. Simply. Who they kiss shouldn't matter to us, matter to anyone. These people are friends. Family. We get many perspectives to LGBT. We have the transgender Avery. The video gaming Neil and Peter. We have Harry and Craig, and the online-loving Cooper. 
We don't get just gay characters. We have self harm and abuse. It's a short book to have all this piled on. We have real problems. Not just being bullied because you're gay. You have people who are tortured souls. This is something important to me. The sadness. The pain. I love how Levithan wrote it. Without hesitation. But slightly skimming over it wasn't the best. I wanted him to take it head on. But he at least wrote about it. 

I feel like I should like it more, though. I feel mildly disappointed by the book. I expected it to be amazing. It wasn't bad...but not the best. I like the major parts. The LGBT. But the book doesn't appeal to me.

I don't like the plural 'we' narrators. It seems...necessary. I read the back. I know that it's for the deceased. I know that. But the way the story was told could have been better. I would have preferred third person. Or maybe first person. 
As much as I like new ways for point of view, plural first is a bit too much. I could read it. But it was harder to understand. The story seemed to be cut off. The narrators seem to not get enough depth. It didn't seem personal enough. Just a scratch on the surface really. 

I also don't like the plot. It didn't have much to it. It seemed to revolve around the kiss. And not much else. I want more. I want to know what happens to these people. What happens? Do they win the record? What do they do to celebrate? What about Cooper? Do Avery and Ryan get together? I have questions that the plot didn't fill. We also didn't get much drama. It was mostly from Craig and Harry's part. We have the kiss. And some milder plot points. Not an exact plot line. 

The multiple perspectives were not very good. I don't like how they were set up. They seemed rocky. And they weren't planned right. I would have preferred different chapters for each narrator. The multiple perspectives were good to see how diverse the LGBT community is. I know that. 
The problem is that the story was told awkwardly. The perspectives were mixed. Sometimes, that makes you want more of a story. It didn't work like that in this story. You get tossed from character to character, but you don't get enough of the first to want more. 

Sunny with a 20% chance of rain

Parched Grande Finale

A themed tour with Prism Book Tours.

We're blitzing the GRAND FINALE for
By Georgia Clark

Robots, renewable resources, and romance get tangled together in this thrilling 
futuristic adventure novel about a utopian city struggling to keep its peace.

Did you miss any of this tour? Go back and check out what you missed...

Launch - More About the Author and Parched
What do you hope readers take with them when they read your book?
Parched is about a girl who joins a rebel underground group to fight for what she believes in. I hope this book inspires readers to do the same.

Hope To Read - Tech Speak: The New Technologies of Parched
One of the most fun parts of writing a sci-fi is getting to invent cool new technologies. Here?s a few of my favorites from my new novel Parched, and where their inspiration came from.

Book N Blog - Review
"Parched by Georgia Clark was an enjoyable and interesting read that gets you thinking about big brother, world domination and what will happen when AI becomes a reality."

Kelly P's Blog - Interview
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Ooh, hard question. I love them all!

Coffee Books & Art - Interview
Did you do any kind of research to determine the details of your characters lives / lifestyles?
I did a ridiculous amount of research! I interviewed experts I tracked down online, subscribed science-y magazines, read articles, listened to podcasts. A lot of podcasts, specifically, Robots and Singularity 1 on 1.

"This book was intense. There was always something happening and I felt that if I blinked I was going to miss something. . . . Parched was dynamic, mind boggling, and just outright good. It is definitely worth the read."

The Written Adventure - Interview
Where did you get the idea for Tess?
Tess is a combination of me, some of my friends, and other YA heroines. I love creating spunky female characters who are brave, but flawed, who are active, emotional but not just boy-crazy. Tess is not a girly-girl, and neither am I.

Mel's Shelves - Review
"There were some twists, turns and surprising revelations and Tess needed to figure out who she could trust. Once I got involved, I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. If you enjoy dystopian Sci-Fi, this is a book you will want to check out!"

I Am A Reader - Introduction to the world of Parched
Welcome to the world of Parched: a rollercoaster ride of robots, rebels and romance, of secrets, impossible choices, and a fight for freedom, all in a domed city and a sprawling desert?

"Upon starting to read it, I found that I just kept wanting to read and read and read. Nothing could distract me from wanting to find out what was going to happen to Tess next."

"I'm quite impressed by this book. . . . I was suddenly spending my last hours awake reading it."

Colorimetry - Three lady memoirs I'm loving
How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran
Warning: Do not start listening to this book unless you?re prepared to have your internal monologue hi-jacked by a Brit. It?s driving me literally balmy! It?s a testament to Caitlin?s distinctive voice as a writer that I?m able to channel her so successfully.

"Even though I am not a huge fan of robots, I felt like this was such a good story. Plus how many sci fi/YA/romance stories are out there that are this awesome!"

100 Pages A Day - Recommended YA Reads
Having to select your favorite books is like having to select your favourite cake: impossible! They?re all so good! But I bit the bullet and tried to whittle them down. Best enjoyed over a slice of salted caramel something?

"Parched is exactly what I expected and nothing like I expected. You will enter a world of robots, choices, and the chance to do what is right no matter the cost. It is true to the YA Dysotopian genre but with a spin all it?s own."

Literally Jen - Review
"After I finished reading Parched, all I could think was ?wow.? There is so much to take in here, between the richly thought-out world, the customs of each society, and the intricate relationships between all of the characters."

Lilac Reviews - Meet Tessendra "Tess" Rockwood with Dream Cast
Following her mother?s murder, Tess fled her safe and easy life in the domed city of Eden to spend an aimless year in the rough ?n? ready Badlands. Here she changed her name, taught herself the local dialect Malspeak, and learned to hunt, protect herself and survive on her own.

Wishful Endings - Meet Hunter Adams with Dream Cast
Tess is first introduced to Hunter when she returns to her home of Eden?a lush, technically advanced and socially conscious city that thrives under a clear dome?after spending a year in the rough ?n? ready Badlands. He?s her uncle?s teaching assistant, socially awkward if thoughtful: ?his curious, darting eyes seem to exude intelligence?.

"I just finished reading Parched and I liked it very much. Anyone who loves to read about a future world with robots and some romance mixed in will like this book. I thought the storyline was good and I liked the action."

Beck Valley Books - Interview
Can you tell me more about the book beyond what it listed on the back cover and what inspired you to write it?
I grew up watching great sci-fi movies like Bladerunner and Star Wars and have always been attracted to the genre: equal parts exciting/fun and thoughtful/insightful. I loved The Hunger Games and felt inspired to write something of that ilk: a young girl in a brave new world, fighting for what she believes in.

by Georgia Clark
YA Romantic Sci-Fi
Hardcover, 312 Pages
March 14th 2014 by Holiday House

Sixteen-year-old Tess lived in Eden, a seemingly idyllic, domed city where access to information and water is regulated by the governing Trust. After a rogue robot killed her scientist mother, Tess fled with a terrible secret to the desperate, arid Badlands, where she?s recruited by Kudzu, explained to her as a ?nonviolent collective working to undermine the Trust and free the Badlands.? Learning Kudzu plans to destroy Aevum, the Trust?s latest advanced robot, Tess reluctantly returns to Eden, where she finds the luxurious life morally unconscionable and secretly trains with Kudzu. Living with her uncle, who?s involved with Aevum, Tess is strangely attracted to his sympathetic assistant, Hunter. During a Kudzu raid on the Trust?s lab, Tess discovers that Aevum will be used to eradicate all inhabitants of the Badlands?and that Hunter?s not what he seems to be.

Tess? first-person, present-tense voice lends chilling immediacy to her no-nonsense story of mixed loyalty, disturbing secrets, and ethical dilemmas associated with diminishing natural resources and scientific experimentation.

Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Indie Bound

Georgia Clark is an Australian writer and performer based in Brooklyn. She is the author of the young adult novels SHE?S WITH THE BAND (Allen & Unwin) and sci-fi/romance PARCHED (Holiday House). Widely published online and in print. Won some awards/grants/residencies. Has a play on at the NY Fringe festival. Pretty keen on cheese plates. 

Tour-Wide Giveaway

$20 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Signed copy of Parched (US only)
Ends January 25th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prism Book Tours

Saturday, January 17, 2015

'Killer Instinct' by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

I liked the twists and surprises. You didn't expect them. You couldn't expect them. You don't feel like you know who is the killer. I You can't tell. You guess the obsessive lady's son did something. And you wonder if it's the professor or someone else. You keep get leads thrown your way. As you read, you wonder who did not. You start to speculate. As a fan of the show 'Castle' a crime show, I was trying to figure things out. I had guesses. (I also cheated and looked ahead. Don't blame me...) I think this is amazing how you get the answers. It is. Truly. You would never suspect the true killer. 

We get to know more about Dean. He's a mystery. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know about his past. His father. What his father did. How he killed. These were lingering questions in my mind. I had the 'want to know's. I had a lot. And we got some answers. We did. I got just enough to satisfy my curiosity. I learned about his past. His father. What his father looked like. How he killed. What Dean did in his past when the FBI pursed his father. Wow. Just wow. The poor kid. He went through terrible things. How is he not crazy? He must be a very strong guy. Mentally strong. He went through things that would break everyone else. Wow. 

I didn't like Cassie. She's too nice. Honestly. I didn't like how nice she acted. How caring. It made her reckless. It made her do dangerous things. She was crazy. I think Cassie is good. She just was too nice. But it wasn't just that. I couldn't stand how she kept leading the guys on. Really. She made both like her. And she led them on. She kept making passed at both Michael and Dean. And how annoying she got. She acted as if she had a reason to sympathize with Dean. I sided with Lia on that one. She had gone through something similar. But it wasn't exact. And she wasn't a daughter of a serial killer who made her watch. No. She went through different things. But similar. She kept acting like she was Dean's female mirror. I didn't like that. 

I also didn't like the romance. The great thing was that Cassie chose. Huzzah! It's always great when the girl chooses. At last... I didn't know who she would choose. It came as a surprise. I had a feeling, though. Those two got closer in this book. Really. I didn't like the romance, though. It annoyed me. Where did it form? Is the love triangle needed? I didn't think so. I felt like this book didn't need a love triangle. She could get with Dean and let it be. It was good that Dean saved her. Great even. But Michael didn't need to be involved. There didn't seem to be much from the relationship(s). And not a lot of chemistry. I just didn't like it. 

I didn't like the plot. It seemed a bit...slow. It felt a bit tiresome. The story seemed a bit dull. The plot had twists. But a bit boring for everything else. I felt like the plot could have been better. If it was a bit faster, more action...yeah. It wasn't bad. Just not amazing. 

Cloudy with a 50% chance of thunderstorms