Okay, here are the best books I've read this month:
1. Shadows on the Moon
3. Tiger Lily
4. Falling Kingdoms
5. City of Ashes
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Author: Cassandra Clare
Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace.
Review: I don't particularly like the story, but I keep reading this series because I want to find out answers. In this book, I wanted to know how the author was going to resolve the problem of sibling romance. I've got some questions from this book for the third book to answer for me. In the first book, Clary didn't fight because she had never been trained. For the second book, though, I expected that to change. It didn't, which makes me wonder: Is the Clave really just letting Clary run around demons without any instructions on how to kill them? I expected more from her in this book. A lot of people think Jace is a jerk, but I find him kind of funny, if a bit annoying. Simon did well in that battle during the first book (more than Clary did, that's for sure), but in the second book I just want him to die. I know that sounds heartless, but in this book he escapes from the brink of death exactly three times. Once, I could have been okay with, but twice? And the author doesn't even explain how he escapes death the third time!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Author: Kiersten White
Rating: 5 stars!!
Summary: Evie's paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.
The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie's hands.
So much for normal.
Review: After a whole year of waiting, I finally got to read the third Paranormalcy book! The Paranormalcy Trilogy is one of my favorite series of all time. It takes many different creatures from fantasy and paranormal and combines them into something different, new, and absolutely amazing. I love the humor, and how there was some in just the right places. Many YA heroines today are either frustratingly useless fluff or I-refuse-to-share-any-characteristics-with-teenage-girls warriors. The latter is cool, but Evie is a girly-girl who can kick some serious butt. She proves that you can love pink and high school soap operas and still fight with your pink, jeweled tazer. I thought I had figured out the ending, but I was happily surprised to find that it was completely different from expected. I can't believe this series is over, but the ending was absolutely perfect. It was all tied up with a bleeping big pink bow, and knowing there's a happy ending helped ease the pain of having to say good-bye to Evie for good. Oh, bleep, I'm starting to tear up again.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Author: A.S. King
Rating: 1 star
Summary: In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.
Review: This book had a lot more mature topics than I thought that there were going to be. I expected a certain level, given the pirates, but not that much. Then there's the little "doggy lessons" scattered throughout the book. Emer tells the reader how to take care of their dog, then follows with her own experience as a dog in whatever situation she's talking about. Saffron (that's Emer's current reincarnation) keeps talking about herself and Emer as separate entities, but she has all of Emer's memories and in reincarnation, don't you keep your soul? So Saffron is just Emer in a different body, yet she goes on about how Emer is telling her to cut out people's eyes and other violent things. Angry cannot even describe what Emer felt when her happy ending was destroyed and she was cursed, but no mention of revenge is ever made! If she's so upset and so violent, why not go get some revenge for how she suffered? Also, the ending was annoyingly tied up with a little bow. Everyone got reincarnated, Saffron escapes her horrible family, and she gets her own happy ever after.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Author: Gemma Malley
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Summary: It's the year 2140 and Longevity drugs have all but eradicated old age. A never-aging society can't sustain population growth, however…which means Anna should never have been born. Nor should any of the children she lives with at Grange Hall. The facility is full of boys and girls whose parents chose to have kids--called surpluses--despite a law forbidding them from doing so. These children are raised as servants, and brought up to believe they must atone for their very existence. Then one day a boy named Peter appears at the Hall, bringing with him news of the world outside, a place where people are starting to say that Longevity is bad, and that maybe people shouldn't live forever. Peter begs Anna to escape with him, but Anna's not sure who to trust: the strange new boy whose version of life sounds like a dangerous fairy tale, or the familiar walls of Grange Hall and the head mistress who has controlled her every waking thought?
Review: Now that no one grows old, anyone who is born whose parents didn't opt out of the Declaration (document that says I won't have kids if I get the youth medicine), are illegal and sent away to be trained as servants. The kids, called surpluses, are not treated well, and are raised to hate their parents and believe they are don't deserve to live. The story drew me in, but I didn't feel for the characters. Usually, when characters are in situations like Anna's, I want to go into the book and save them, and I hate whoever is in charge of it all. That wasn't the case here, and I think part of the reason why is that Anna accepted her life, and believed that that was what she deserved. I didn't agree that she deserved it, but since Anna was so convinced, I didn't really disagree, either.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
Review: Jodi Lynn Anderson takes the story of Peter Pan and focuses on a character that no one pays much attention to. This story of Tiger Lily is both heart-breaking and exciting, as you discover that there is so much more to Tiger Lily than meets the eye. I fell in love with her. I wanted everything to go her way, for everything to work out in her favor. I bemoaned her inability to share her feelings with others, I was close to tears after what happened to her father, I tried to convince myself that everything would work out with Peter, and above all I wanted her to find happiness. She is a wild, free-spirited tomboy living in a community where almost everyone wants her to be more of a girl, and be more like how they think she should be. Tiger Lily must discover who she is, and figure out her relationship with her friends, her tribe, and, of course, Peter Pan. The author give back stories for some things (how Tinker Bell originally belonged to Tiger Lily, how the crocodile got the clock in his throat), and re-imagines certain characters: Captain Hook is an old man who becomes an alcoholic after his dreams of finding Neverland and staying young forever fail; Smee is a serial killer who kills those he admires, then sheds tears for them; the lost boys were captured by the pirates and then rescued by Peter Pan. I dislike Wendy, not only because of the hold she had over Peter, but also because she was one of those girls who can't imagine things not working out the way they want them to. She never thought the lost boys would be against her bossing them around, she never thought Peter and Tiger Lily could love each other, and she never thought that Peter could not love her, or love anyone other than her. The story is told from the first-person point of view of Tinker Bell. This allows the reader to get to know her, because in the movies she's a mute fleck of light, in this book she describes what she sees, and tells her thoughts. This POV also allows the reader to a deeper look into the characters because although Tink cannot speak, she can hear other people's thoughts. This is a bittersweet coming-of-age story in a land where no one ages.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Author: Rae Carson
Rating: 3 stars
Summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
Review: Even though the magic-system is mostly religion-based, I really liked the concept of the Godstones and the animagi. Also, the world was wonderfully written. Elisa is described as really fat, and it's a refreshing change from most princesses. The problem is that she feels useless, and doesn't do anything important until after she's dropped some weight. It's like saying you have to be skinny before you can do anything that matters. The romance was minimal, which was good, but it was so much so that I wondered what the point of including it was. Elisa didn't love the king, and I think she got too much of an easy out on that one. All in all, an okay high fantasy novel.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Rating: 4 stars
Summary: In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Cleo started out as a girl who got everything she wanted and didn't care about much else other than her own happiness. It takes the death of a stranger and her sister being on the brink of death to make her realize her responsibilities and her strength.
I didn't understand Jonas' obsession with Cleo. Aron killed his brother, yet all Jonas can think about is get revenge on Cleo. He is one of the good guys, though; he wants to save his dying kingdom, no matter what doing so entails.
Magnus was not a favorite of mine. The author tried to make him a good guy who seemed like a bad guy; he pretended to be a ruthless warrior around his father, but in private he was much nicer. I would have liked to hate Magnus much more if he was completely evil.
Lucia was magic prophecy girl. I think she could have been a really cool character, but there wasn't much to her aside from her magical powers.
The author has no problem with killing off minor characters, so don't get too attached. That was actually something that I liked because in almost all YA books nowadays, characters manage to be pulled from certain death at the very last second. The switched point-of-view every chapter is cool during the battle because you're reading four different perspectives of it, both the offense and the defense. This is definitely one to make note of for high-fantasy fans.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Author: Zoe Marriott
Rating: 5 stars
Summary: On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before.
Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.
Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.
Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?
Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.
And nothing will stop her. Not even love.
Review: Lots of people have called this book a Cinderella re-imagining, but Shadows on the Moon kicks Cinderella's butt.
Suzume saw her father and her cousin (who was like a sister to her) murdered, and hates herself because she was able to get away when they weren't. She thinks it's her fault they are dead. Right after this, she must assume a new identity. Not only are the two people Suzume loved most in the world dead, but everyone is acting as if they never existed and that Suzume is someone she is not, so she beings cutting herself. This is a first for me because usually when main characters go through things like that, it makes them stronger, makes them become warriors, and they go for revenge. But watching loved ones die is emotionally scarring, and it doesn't really affect someone positively. I really enjoyed the feudal Japan setting. I totally called it on the stepdad, and the mom, too. I wanted Suzume to get her revenge so badly, but I didn't want her to give up everything for it. I wanted that monster to get his comeuppance, but I also wanted Suzume to stop blaming herself for her father and cousin's deaths and realize it wasn't her fault. As the saying goes, "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Well, I got my cake, and I ate it too, but it wasn't very delicious. The revenge wasn't nearly enough. I wanted him to suffer, like he had made so many people suffer, and I was so angry that he got away with a punishment that wasn't harsh enough. I wonder who Suzume was at the end, though. Was she the Suzume she was at the beginning, or was she Yue, or perhaps Pipit?
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Author: Carach M. O'Brien
Rating: 1 star
Summary: In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.
Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
Review: This is similar to many dystopian books: there is a huge difference between those that have who live in a secluded fancy area, and those that don't have who live outside the fancy area in not so great conditions. The main character has been scarred and/or is considered ugly, but she is still confident and intelligent. She discovers all is not right in her "perfect" society, so she fights back. In this case, there wasn't a total overthrow of the government or the beginning of a revolution, so it seemed kind of pointless. Gaia's life was completely destroyed, her parents were killed, she has to run away to a barren wasteland that may or may not exist, and the Enclave still got the information they wanted. Yes, now people outside the wall will be able to find out who adopted their children, but how does that help? And if those inside the wall are so eager to adopt children from outside the wall, why is there a wall? Not only is Gaia's life destroyed for nothing, the reasons for it being destroyed are questionable at best.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Rating: 2 stars
Summary: Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.
She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.
She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay.
Review: In the first book, I enjoyed the idea of the Preliator, and a heroine that really fights. Now that I've read several books very similar to this, the shine has worn off. Ellie and Will's relationship seems to consist of make-out sessions and saying "I love you but we can't be together." The reason they can't be together is that Michael will kill Will for being with Ellie. Yet when they start making out and repeatedly proclaiming their love for each other, Michael doesn't even bother to show up.
Why I can't stand Ellie: She whines about everything. How she can't be with Will, how much her life sucks, that her mom's dead, how mean Ava is, ... the list goes on.
Ellie fights just as much as any other heroine in books like this, which is to say, not much. No matter how much she trains, she always relies on Will to save her when a battle gets really serious. Whenever he's in danger, she just freaks out about how she can't lose him.
She keeps putting herself in potentially dangerous situations because she wants to be a normal teenager. She gets angry about how her life has changed and storms off, telling Will to stay away. He ends up coming in the end every time, because he has to save her from the mess she's made.
All the other characters do is either try to kill Ellie or save her. I'm surprised anyone's trying to save her at all.
Author: Elizabeth Norris
Rating: 1 star
Summary: Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.
Review: This was a pretty good young-adult science fiction book, but there were a few things that bothered me.
The science in the novel is never explained. It's simply "the science," it works because they called it "science."
Janelle falls in love with Ben right when she wakes up. Now that he's brought her back to life, she realizes just how amazingly perfect he is. After a few weeks, she's all, "I feel like I've known you my whole life!" This is even more annoying when Janelle is described as a "clever, strong, intelligent, won't take no for an answer" kind of girl. The author seems to be adding components to her book based on what's popular: strong heroine and an instant, true-love romance.
Elijah, one of Ben's friends, is constantly dropping f-bombs. He uses it in almost every sentence, and it was really annoying.
*This is a spoiler. Skip if you're planning on reading the book*
I don't understand why Reid (one of Ben's friends) is the one opening the portals between universes. (Ben, Reid, and Elijah are from an alternate universe, having accidentally traveled here and are trying to get back home) He ended up with a good foster family, and the only reason I can think of is to have a twist. Everyone thinks it's Elijah, but bam! It's not! Elijah makes more sense, though. He ended up with the worst foster family of the three, was really focused on getting home, and was really angry.
The end of the world is Ben and Janelle's worlds colliding and obliterating each other. The main reason this book got such a low rating was that how they stopped it from happening was never clearly explained. At the end of a chapter it was all "OMG we have twenty hours until the world ends!", and at the beginning of the next they just said, "Everything is fine." How, exactly, did that happen? It just went from blowing up this Earth before it collided with the other Earth to no interuniverse travel for six months so this Earth can get adjusted to it's new position. How is it possible to just move a universe in a few seconds? One of the things I love about science fiction literature is getting to read the explanations and I found this book severely lacking in that department.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Rating: 1 star
Summary: On her 17th birthday, everything will change for Violet Eden. The boy she loves will betray her. Her enemy will save her. She will have to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice.
A centuries old war between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity chooses a new fighter. It's a battle Violet doesn't want, but she lives her life by two rules: don't run and don't quit. If angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden.
LINCOLN: He's been Violet's one anchor, her running partner and kickboxing trainer. Only he never told her he's Grigori--part human, part angel--and that he was training her for an ancient battle between Angels and Exiles.
PHOENIX: No one knows where his loyalties lie, yet he's the only one there to pick up the pieces and protect her after Lincoln's lies. In a world of dark and light, he is all shades of gray.
Two sides: Angel or Exile.
Two guys: Lincoln or Phoenix.
The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity...
Review: Many YA books being published nowadays seem to all be about the same thing: secret world (or people with special powers in our world), female main character who doesn't know anything, and two hot guys she has to choose between. Some authors can take this and turn it on its head, but that's not the case here.
(The 3 important ones)
Violet: She's annoying and whiny. She continually makes stupid decisions. She finds out she's Grigori, and completely overreacts to the fact that Lincoln lied to her. Exiled angels want to kill Violet, and she's pretty much a giant neon sign alerting them to fact that she's easy prey, yet she refuses to have Lincoln train her. That's incredibly idiotic because that makes her utterly vulnerable, but of course she has a hot guy to protect her. Not the hot guy who Violet is in love with and is trustworthy, but the hot guy who she just met and is, oh wait, HER ENEMY WHO WANTS TO KILL HER. No big.
Phoenix: This guy is creepy. This is a guy that you should run away screaming bloody murder from if you ever see him. He stalks Violet, showing up at her apartment and using his powers to change her emotions. It takes two days for Violet to think that him showing up in her apartment while she's sleeping is romantic.
Lincoln: He doesn't do anything. The main point of Lincoln is so there can be a love triangle.
Things That Annoyed Me
Violet's dad is never around. When he is, he's completely fine with Violet being alone in the apartment with a guy she just met and he has never met. He doesn't seem to care about anything except his work.
After knowing him for only two weeks, Violet sleeps with Phoenix on a mountain in this fancy bed Phoenix just magically made appear. It was so convenient that he brought two beds but just didn't set the other one up. Violet was almost raped by a teacher a few years ago and she makes this big thing about how there is no God and how that guy messed with her head, though after learning that Phoenix got her to sleep with him by messing with her emotions she's just, "Whatevs."
In the summary it says "The boy she loves will betray her." I'm pretty sure that boy is Lincoln, and he never actually betrayed her. Did he wait until she was seventeen and began changing before telling her that she was Grigori? Yes, but it makes sense to tell her when she knows that you're telling the truth, and won't run off thinking you're crazy and end up being killed by an Exile.