Friday, August 22, 2014

Review - Wake

Amanda Hocking
4/5 Stars

This is the first of Hocking's work I've read and I have to say, I'm quite impressed. Her writing style is fresh and contemporary. Whether it's referencing things like e-readers and modern bands or writing about the modern geek – she definitely tries to connect with her readers.

Wake is written from two main points of view – Harper, the older, more mature and “mom-like” sister and Gemma, the younger, swimming obsessed, “pretty one”. I found myself wanting to get to the parts from the point of view of Gemma to read about the more supernatural aspects and hurrying through the Harper parts.

When I read a YA paranormal book – I read it for the paranormal aspect. The paranormal part of this book didn't start until about halfway in, but I quickly forgave that based on just how many books there are in the series. It definitely felt like I was reading a TV show, which I enjoyed – but I can see some readers not associating as well with that.

I enjoyed Hocking's take on the Greek myth of sirens – she didn't jump on the fairy tale mermaid boat and made her creatures much more interesting. The way she wound the story, I was left wanting to find out more and more about this secret underbelly of what promises to be a myth-infused world.

I will definitely be looking out for the other books in this series, as well as Hocking's other works. I would certainly recommend this book to any other fans of the urban fantasy or paranormal young adult genre. I will warn you that it is more of a “girly” book – and guys may not find it as enticing as we do.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review - Warchild: Pawn

War Child: Pawn
Ernie Lindsey
3/5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I was given a free copy of this book from the author, which I very much appreciate.

Warchild: Pawn is the first installment of what Lindsey promises to be (at least) a trilogy. It's the story of a 14 year old girl in the Appalachian mountains of what was once the United States. The world ended and people formed two distinct groups – the People's Republic of Virginia and the Democratic Alliance. Our protagonist is with the former.

The book is strikingly fast paced – there isn't a paragraph where something exciting isn't happening. From page one, we're birthed into a world of battle and death. Lindsey doesn't hold back when it comes to putting his readers right in the thick of it.

The characters are interesting and progress quickly throughout the book. The story itself, however, is a little less interesting. The entire book is essentially walking (I know, I know, Lord of the Rings was the same way) to their goal. Not to say that it isn't a faced paced, interesting walk – but it's walking, none the less.

I had difficulty feeling that urge to read more and more – it wasn't one of those books I couldn't put down.

It's a quick read, but for an indie-published book, I would still recommend it to anyone who's a fan of the dystopian young adult genre.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review - The Thirteen

The Thirteen
Susie Maloney
Adult Urban Fantasy
1/5 Stars

This book was so confusing to read that I only made it through the prologue and a couple chapters before blinking my eyes rapidly and tossing it to the side to start a different one.

The premise is a good one – witches in a small community doing witchy things. The follow-through leaves a lot to be desired, however – especially in the department of editing.

A confusing sentence from the prologue:

Not even when the flames swept up from the floor and began their climb over her
surrender your

The book is lacking in periods and grammatical punctuation in general. It's also overflowing in brackets with ridiculously useless information, stopping the flow of the story.

The editing was sub-par and many sentences had repeating words with no proper sentence structure. There were also a multitude of incomplete, short sentences. How anyone could make it through the entire book is beyond me. I cannot fathom how it ever got published in the first place, let alone got such a rave review from The Globe and Mail.

Moloney also takes the time out at the end of her book to thank her editor:

Most of all I want to thank the surely supernatural Anne Collins, who edits with elegance and respect, and whose patience and dedication really wrote this book.
I think a certain editor needs to find a new job.

The book could have had the most amazing plot ever written – but you would never know for the ridiculous way it's put together.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review - Slayed

Amanda Marrone
2.5/5 Stars

This book was far, far too short. If it had been a longer, 350 to 400 page novel, I think the author could have filled out the characters a lot more in depth, as well as the world she's created for them. Due to the length of the book, I felt the story wasn't as believable as it could have been – it felt like Marrone wanted a “quick to publish” sort of book. A good idea, with no follow through.

Our protagonist, Daphne, 17, is left to go and kill vampires on her own, while her parents are in another part of whatever town they're in doing a “job”, backing each other up. The believability that parents would let their seventeen year old daughter, whom they don't trust to do anything else on her own, would allow her to be in near-death scenarios on a daily basis, with no help whatsoever.

The editing (a favourite topic of mine) was also sub-par and I noticed several blaring mistakes as I polished off the book.

The cover art - while beautiful, is most assuredly not of a 17 year old girl.

Despite the description on the back of the book describing the love interest as “crush worthy”, Marrones original description of Tyler tells us he's a greasy-haired goth wannabe – leaving me with more of a cringe than a crush.

The ending was rushed and made little-to-no sense. Also (minor spoiler) the “romance” at the end felt very much forced.

If you're a fan of the vampire YA genre, I do recommend a read. It's short and chalk full of those undead creatures we love so much. Just don't go in expecting the moon, because it will fall short.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RANT: The Selling of ARC's

ARC - Advanced Reading Copy. A copy of a book given to reviewers before the official publication, for the purposes of review.

It has always been my view that ARC's are given (for free) for the purpose of review. The books often come signed from the author himself and I am very proud to have my meager four-book collection of them.

My issue is when people go on to sell these copies to used bookstores or on Ebay. They were given to you for free and should not be sold for profit. While I do understand the collectibility of such books, I do not believe it is ethical to sell them. On some occasions, I have received the book from the author themselves, at their own expense (my latest ARC had a postage stamp of ten dollars). If not at the authors expense, then at the publishers expense.

If you were given this book to review - you should review it. You are then free to add it to your own collection or pass it on to another reader - not to sell.

Today I found this ARC book for sale at a local bookstore:

It was listed for sale first at $30.00, and then crossed out at $50.00

I didn't check to see if it was signed - I may go back to see if it is, though. I understand Terry Brooks is a highly acclaimed bestselling fantasy author - an author whom many people, including my husband, collect the works of.

The person who sold this to the bookstore was clearly out to make a quick buck - and thus the bookstore after him. My husband just informed me that there is an ARC copy for sale on Ebay of the same book for $130.00, so perhaps the person who buys this book from the bookstore will also make a quick buck off of this book that was given away for free in hopes of garnering a review for the author.

I make the pledge, thusly, that I will never sell an ARC that is given to me. I appreciate the effort the author or publisher has put into finding reviewers and sending them out, at their own cost. I can only hope most reviewers agree with me and will do the same.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review - Wither

Lauren DeStefano
2/5 Stars

The ideas this book are based on are what drove me to both start and finish it. I have a soft spot for dystopian books – books that are based in a distant or not-to-distant future of what humanity could become if things go awry. In Wither, the future we're presented with is a medical one – where females die at the age of 20 and males at the age of 25 due to over genetic engineering.

Wither, in actuality, was a whole lot more dull than it promised to be. Aside from the dull-ness, there were major problems in the plot that bothered and nagged at me the entire time I was reading.

For example; the plot of the first book (it's a trilogy) is entirely based on our protagonist being “snatched” by a group of people who sell women into bride-hood. Essentially, women are forced, against their will to become the polygamist wives of rich men who provide them with everything they could want in way of fancy clothes and all the food they can eat, in a world where orphans die of hunger.

My main issue is this: If the world is so horrible, with young orphans starving and sleeping on the streets – why in the world do women have to be snatched off of the street to become the brides of wealthy men? It's even mentioned (small spoiler) at one point in the book that the man thinks his brides were trained in some sort of bride-house to become the best wives they can be to a future husband. Nope – women are grabbed from their lives and forced into it. Why? I honestly don't understand the purpose of it, given the world we're introduced to. Why are there not places that train brides to become wives who birth future generations?

My second issue is the protagonist, Rhine. She has absolutely zero personality. The book is pushed onwards simply by her desire to escape after being captured and forced into marriage with a wealthy young man. Escape, escape, escape. What does she love? Tell me more in depth about her! She was a blank slate that needed to be filled in. The book relies only on the dystopian aspects and not the character aspect of our protagonist. It's strange, though, because her two sister wives have very en-point personalities. One is angry and angsty, the other is a spoiled brat. Rhine, however, wants to escape to get back to her brother.

My third issue, and perhaps a much more minor one, is the cover art. The reason Rhine was snatched is because of her eyes – she has heterochromia, meaning one eye is a different colour than the other. The cover, however, shows what I can only imagine is our protagonist, with her eyes closed. Closed. Yes – the whole reason, seemingly, that this adventure takes place, is not shown on the cover. Her eyes could have been distant, but open; or focused specifically on them – but, no, they're closed.


I won't be reading the other two books in this series (unless I find them ridiculously cheap) as the thoughts in the bag of my mind, nagging at me, just never stopped. If you're a fan of the Dystopian genre, I would still skip this one.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review - Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners
Libba Bray
1/5 Stars

I tried. I really did. I gave it a valiant effort. I made it almost halfway through. If I had finished all of it, it might have garnered a 2 at most – but because I couldn't finish it, it's got to be a one out of five.

This book was so boring it repeatedly had me falling asleep while reading. I honestly just didn't care for Ms. Bray's writing style. It felt like she was trying to write for TV or movie – telling us what was happening with wind – birds flying away – anything, it seems – to make it longer. I'm not even sure how much of what I read was necessary or relevant to the story.

She frequently switched perspectives – often in the middle of a chapter for only a paragraph. It made the book feel disjointed and more like she planned for it to be a TV mini-series, written more from camera angles than from a novelists perspective. As a film school graduate – I've written enough scripts and Diviners felt like it should begin with “INT – MANOR – EVENING”

While Ms. Bray clearly did an exorberant amount of research on the 1920's and life in New York at that time, it felt like she wanted to include all of it. All of that research, every other sentence – something else I didn't understand and either had to look up or pushed on without really knowing what she meant.

The phrases were one thing – “The Elephants Ears”, etc. that was all a point. However, her need to include absolutely everything she's ever learned about the 20's got old – very quickly. Really, it's all in the 20's – see? The 20's. Oh look, we're in the 20's! Did you forget for a sentence that this takes place in the 20's? Cause' it does.

I was at first confused by the sudden change in perspectives, focusing on Memphis. Who'sa whatsit now? I thought Evie was the heroin of this tale? Nope. Just one of the main characters, it turns out. Confusing at first – then it just became annoying to read part of one story and then suddenly switch to another.

I think I'm in the lesser percentile on the review of this book, as most people seem to pos-i-tutely love it. I just didn't. I need to read a different book now, and stop dreading the reading of this one.