A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. (goodreads.com)
Well, hey. It’s a pretty amazing thing that I actually read all 579 pages of this book because there were many, many moment when I questioned whether or not to go forward. Many.
I did not like this book. I thought I might like it, but it was a slow, painful discovery of dislike as I turned the pages.
What didn’t I like? Well, the first problem was how bloody slow the story was to start. This book seemed unnecessarily long. There was so much contained within the first 450 pages that just did not need to be in the book. That whole chapter just on GOING TO YOGA? I don’t care if it was freaking supernatural yoga, it was a chapter on GOING TO YOGA. The chapter included being picked up at the apartment, taking things out of the trunk, walking up to the class and then a description of the class.
The worst part is that I didn’t really see the whole “Hey, this book is actually Twilight on steroids” coming until it was too late and I was stuck. I had invested 400 pages and hours of my life to the story, just hoping that it would pick up and the sort of mystery of what was going on would get a little bit more exciting. I couldn’t stop with less than 200 pages left to go. I couldn’t.
Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad. I could just skip pages upon pages of description of how things smelled (especially wine). Seriously. I could literally flip a couple of pages and get back to actual plot happenings and not miss anything critical. Maybe I won’t know what vampires like to smell and taste and what they can eat (hint: they are on the paleo diet. All raw meat and veggies and nuts. Of course they are. I was surprised they weren’t vegan.)
I could ignore (and roll my eyes, and make fun of) the awkward, creepy relationship that Diana has with Mr. Dreamy. Vampire. (Diana: Let’s sleep together! You’re so hot and I am so attracted to you! Matthew: No! We have so much time ahead of us! You warmbloods always rush into things! Let us just canoodle and touch each other inappropriately because that is SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL than making love! Diana: Um, ok. But, I don’t really have as much time on earth as you do. I’m not 1000 plus years old, and I’m a witch. Matthew: Nonsense! Now get on with the oral pleasure!)
What I couldn’t ignore? That all of a sudden Diana was ALL of the MOST POWERFUL and AMAZETASTIC EVERYTHING PARANORMAL EVER! OMG! This all just happened in the last bit of the book and Diana kept discovering she was ALL POWERFUL and she has ALL OF THE MAGIC and yet she was still all, “But I don’t use the magic! I’m not magical! I don’t want to me magical! Wait, Mr. Dreamy Vampire, don’t leave me, I’ll cry all of the tears and then almost drown in some form of ALL POWERFUL water magic that no one else can do! And wait! Can’t we have sex yet? No? Oh, gosh, ok.”
And then..then… THEN! she found out SHE COULD TRAVEL THROUGH TIME!
Of course she can.
The time travel thing was almost my breaking point. It was so close but I was about 100 pages away from the end and I can’t just stop a book when I’m so close to finishing it. I couldn’t. So the last 150 pages or so, I read parts out loud to my husband who helped me get through it.
“Oh, now she can control fire.”
“Of course she can, dear.”
“Oh, wait, now all of the outcast other paranormals are coming to stay with her because she can save them.”
“Of course she can, dear.”
“Oh, and Squee’s* vampire mother and vampire house keeper…”
“Yep. I guess she had nothing else better to do with her eternity. Well, the vampire mother hates ALL witches because they killed her husband but she ADORES Diana. Adores her and tells her son to treat her right. Everyone seems to love Diana! She’s so AWESOME and she DOESN’T EVEN KNOW IT!”
“Of course she is, dear. I’m still confused about the vampire housekeeper…”
“Oh my god. Now she can WALK THROUGH TIME!”
“You need to stop reading this. Now.”
And the ending.. I just couldn’t. I knew it was coming as soon as the whole time walker thing was mentioned. I could feel it in my bones. I was pretty sure that I had no interest in the sequel to this book and by that last chapter I was more than 100% certain. Alas, this was not the book for me and I can’t believe I read all of it. I should have stopped early on but I really thought it would get better once all of the random descriptions went away and the PLOT actually started. I should have paid better attention to the Twilight warning signs and just backed away from this book.
But I didn’t.
The one good thing about the book? I LOVED Diana’s family home. The HOUSE. I loved the house. What does it say about a book when your favourite character is a HOUSE? For real. It had this awesome personality and magical quality to it that reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen book. In fact, I want SAA to write a book about a house with a personality. One that creates rooms when people are coming over and hides things that don’t need to be on people’s’ minds until they need it and it appears. I loved the entire idea of this house and I loved the house itself as a character.
I read 579 pages and I only loved a house that showed up in the last 100. Golly.
And I will disclose that I received this book as a gift from a publisher for filling out a survey. I got to choose a book and I chose this one because I thought I would like it and it sounded so interesting. I really wish I had liked more than the house. Bummer.
*Squee is what my husband and I call the main character in Twilight because that’s the sound females seem to make when they see or talk about him. WaggleSquee is what we call the werewolf because he has a waggly tail like our Jinx Puppy.
The Shadow Society
by Marie Rutkoski
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.
Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.
As if she were his enemy.
When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . . (goodreads.com)
It is no secret that I loved each and every one of Marie Rutkoski’s Middle Grade series, the Kronos Chronicles, so of course I was delighted to find out she was writing a paranormal YA novel. When I read the summary, it sounded like something I would enjoy though I was sceptical of the love interest angle, because I am so, so, so very tired of YA books being all about insta-love and romance and not as much about the mystery or suspense.
I am sad to say that this book took me a very long time to get into. I started and stopped it numerous times because I just wasn’t connecting with Darcy or any of the other characters. One sleepless night at the end of June I finally decided to plow through the story and was surprised to find that more than half-way through I was starting to find it much more interesting.
I think this book has a slow start – too slow for my liking. I really don’t like to abandon books unless they are absolutely horrid and written poorly. The Shadow Society wasn’t anything like that, it just started too slow for me to really sink my teeth into.
Although the story was more interesting as soon as Darcy finds herself in an alternate universe, I still wasn’t wowed. I finished the book without much fanfare. I’m pretty sad that it didn’t hook me like I had hoped it would. I just had so much trouble connecting with the characters and for me, that is something that breaks my heart. I want to love the people I am reading about. I want to be on their side and root for them and cheer when they accomplish things, but I couldn’t.
For me, The Shadow Society was just.. okay. I don’t know if it was because of my mindset these days or what, because it was written very well, I just felt no connection. No spark. It really hurts me when I want to love a book so much and I can’t make it work out no matter how hard I try. Some books, like people, are just meant to be acquaintances and not best friends or soul mates. This is one of those books, as much as I wanted our relationship to be more. Alas.
Because I am so behind in writing up posts for the entire month of June, I am breaking down and writing another Mini Review post to get caught up. I have not read much this month, and I am hoping to at least break LAST June’s pathetic 5 book record. I am up to 4 this month. It’s not looking good to get much more read since I just can’t get into anything I start reading! But enough about my reading misery – on to the mini reviews!
The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)
by Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead! (goodreads.com)
Last year I was wowed by The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and eagerly awaited the sequel. Unfortunately the sequel came out while I was in the middle of NOT reading and doing a lot more studying and work stuff so it took me a while to pick this book up. I was not disappointed when I finally did buy and read it. This book was part of my awesome book groove that started in May, except I just didn’t have time to finish it before the end of the month. I could not put the book down and I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath almost all the way through it. The fact that Mara was being stalked by a dead person was so creepy and made me suspicious of everyone in the story – except for Noah. I still hold fast to my swooning reaction to Noah from the first book. I am not one to get gooey over fictional characters but every once in a while there’s a male protagonist who floats my boat, or is my cup of tea or some other odd clich?d thing. Noah is one of them. Sigh. (Although I will admit to feeling a little creepy crushing on a teen character. Please do not send me to jail. I help myself feel better about this realizing that if this were a TV show, he’d probably be played by some guy in his mid-to-late 20s and then it’s not so bad. *cough*) I didn’t realize this was a trilogy (no idea why) so I was completely stunned by the ending. Bottom line? I WOULD LIKE BOOK THREE NOW, PLEASE!
Everneath (Everneath, #1)
by Brodi Ashton
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen. As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen. (goodreads.com)
Everneath is a sort of modern-day retelling of Persephone and Hades and I am not entirely sure what I thought of it. I read it pretty quickly and I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t WOWed by it either. I think I liked it enough to want to read the next books though. It took me a while to warm up to the characters and I really didn’t like Cole. The relationships in this story were walking the edge of the All Consuming Teen Infatuation line that insta-love falls into. Of course Nikki and Jack have a relationship before you meet her and it’s nothing at all like insta-love but I am just not fan of stories where the characters’ every waking and breathing moments are consumed with each other. On one hand, I get that Nikki’s anchor is Jake and this is what helps her live, but I’m just a cranky old lady and I don’t LIKE romance novels. 😉 It became way more interesting once we learned about the Daughters of Persephone and that’s when I decided I wanted to read the other books in the series. Eventually.
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
by Gail Carriger
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. (goodreads.com)
I am a huge fan of the Parasol Protectorate series, so of course I was excited about this debut YA series set in the same world. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book at all. It was difficult for me to get through but I did because I was hoping at some point it would start to appeal to me. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. One of the things I loved about the adult series were the little bits of ridiculousness scattered throughout the normal (or what went for normal in that world). The main problem I had with this YA series was that EVERYTHING was ridiculous. Almost as if it was in there because that’s what people loved about the original series. You take the one thing that people loved and just over-saturate the next thing with it, making it not enjoyable and not funny at all. Comedy movies do the same thing all the time and I think that’s where they go wrong. You need the balance of normal and silly to make the silly work properly. Every single character name in this book was strange and silly. I just gave up on trying to pronounce the names because it was getting on my nerves. Everything had a silly name for it and with the exception of Bumbersnoot the mechanimal (I liked THAT!) I felt it was just way too over the top. It was almost like every little aspect of this book had to be some sort of gag. It made me cranky more than amused me and I didn’t laugh out loud once, I just sighed in exasperation many times. I really, truly wanted to love this book but I didn’t and I don’t think I will be continuing with the series at all. This makes me very sad. 🙁
Prophecy Girl (Angel Academy, #1)
by Cecily White
Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.
I was born to slay Crossworld demons.
Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom.
Then he shows up.
Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?
Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.
Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle. (goodreads.com)
Prophecy Girl was the first book I read as soon as I was done with my course this semester. I was both excited and wary about starting the book, though. On one hand, it sounded like a fun novel that I would enjoy reading. On the other, I am always worried about accepting review copies of books from new authors, BUT the awesometastic Pam of Bookalicious fame was praising this book’s worth as it was the first book she sold as an agent. I know Pam well enough to know that she doesn’t profess love of books lightly. And she certainly would not have shopped this book around without being crazy about it 100-billionty percent. I trust Pam and her bookish opinions – even if I might not always agree with them. So of course I jumped at the chance to read a copy of this novel in ebook format.
Almost as instantly as I fell in love with Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unpoken, I felt the same connection within the first few pages of Prophecy Girl. Here was yet another female protagonist that I knew I was going to love. Also, humour, sarcasm and wit galore in this novel. Yippee!
It was such a refreshing feeling to be reading something that I had time to actually read AND it was enjoyable. I finished this book in a day (even though it took me 2 weeks to figure out why it wasn’t showing up on my Kobo. Turns out I had to rename the file. Jeez.) I felt so accomplished, since I haven’t been reading anything fun for weeks.
Prophecy Girl is action-packed and fun. The story itself was interesting to me and cleverly written. I enjoyed the characters, the pacing and the narration. This was just the kind of book that is completely my cup of tea. There were so many things about it that just made me happy.
The one thing I didn’t like – and before you make your own judgement and write off the book, please hear me out! – was the sort of, but not really, but kinda yes, insta-love between Ami and Jack. Now, it wasn’t exactly done in the way this is normally seen in YA novels, and the connection between the two characters is explained in a very clear and un-insta-lovey manner, but to me it set off too many insta-love flags and I had a little bit of trouble getting past it. I’m sort of torn about how I feel about it because on one hand – UGH! I hate insta-love! On the other, it’s done written like every other instant attraction I have read in books and I might not have thought twice about it HAD I not read so many stupid YA insta-love stories in the last few years. And although the connection is referenced throughout the story, it doesn’t hit you over the head repeatedly like other books do. I *personally* would have been happier if that part of the story wasn’t there, but it didn’t distract me too much from the rest of the book. Ami doesn’t spend ALL of her time swooning and pining over Jack, but in the few moments she does, I found myself cringing. And I was cringing because I personally dislike this sort of thing in the books I read.
BUT this book isn’t all about romance and soul-mates and lovey-dovey crap. This book is way more action-oriented and a lot more fun. The romance hoo-hah is just a side-line really, but it was enough to pop out at me. I guess I’m just too old and cynical to believe in instant connections with someone you just meet and then follow them around like a crazy person despite the age difference. Call me a sour puss, but that’s me. =P
Bottom line, despite the above issue, is that I enjoyed this book very much and want to read More! Now! and yet the author is apparently only just writing the second book. What the heck!? That is just not fair because I’m impatient and a sour puss and I know that the insta-love business will be out of the way in the second book and I just want more action and adventure and fun and demon hunting and magic and… just hurry the heck up, already, author. Ok? Thanks.
Oh! And in case you were wondering, the Angel part of the Angel Academy series isn’t a big focus. Nothing like any of the angel-themed books I have read in the past where the Angelness is stressed throughout. I thought of Ami and her friends more as slayer-types à la Buffy than angels. I keep forgetting that Angel is in the title of the series, so I should probably let those of you who might not go for Angel-themed books that it’s not really an angel-themed book!
And super thanks big time to Pam for the hook up with this novel. I think you chose wonderfully for the first book you ever sold as an agent, m’dear. Feel free to send me copies of all the other books you have sold now, too. 😉
- Prophecy Girl
- THERE IS NO INFORMATION YET! TRAGIC!
Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him? (goodreads.com)
Hi! Remember me?
My schooling is over for this academic year and I can finally do other things with my life, like hobbies! So, this post, that I originally drafted
3 almost 4 (!!) weeks ago, can finally be written. Yes, it’s a book I read in March. I hadn’t read another book since I finished this one until just two days ago. Then I read TWO books from start to finish and I am currently reading a third book! It’s like a miracle I tell you.
I really, truly wish I had time to have written this post back when I finished the book because the book was just excellent and I had so many things to say about it! Now, three weeks later, I am trying to recall all of the awesome stuff I wanted to tell you but my brain is not cooperating.
I will tell you that Unspoken was one of the best books I had read so far this year. I was hooked instantly and so obsessed with reading more to figure out what was going on that I neglected school work for two days. I felt so guilty for this, but OMG I loved this book.
And yes, there were a few predictable plot points, but you know what? I was enjoying the writing and voice of this story so much I didn’t care.
I seriously enjoyed Kami as the main character. She made me laugh and although rather manic and weird, there was just something about her that endeared her to me. I was often annoyed by the friction between her and Jared because it seemed incongruous to their relationship at times, though like the predictable parts, I could overlook it and just concentrate on the rest of the story (because it’s not ALL about Kami and Jared swooning over the other).
I think it was the pacing of the story that kept me hooked so intensely. I have seen others comment that they didn’t like the pacing, but I did. I loved so much about this book, it seemed original to me almost at the same time as it seemed formulaic. It was this weird mix and it just clicked with me. I laughed out loud a lot. I told my husband that this was such a strange book, that I felt compelled to read it and couldn’t put it down. I just wanted to KNOW what was going on at the beginning, even though I was sure I knew where it would lead. Well, it didn’t lead exactly where I thought it would and that made it an even more fun ride.
I love Sarah Rees Brennan’s writing style and – especially – her sense of humour in her books. My first introduction to her novels was the second book in the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy and to this day that book is my favourite of all three in the series. Sarah writes plucky female characters and I just enjoy reading stuff she writes. I do prefer her female characters over male ones though, but that’s just my own feelings while reading. Her books are just filled with delicious sarcasm and wit. I love them!
As much as I did love this book, I think I’d have been ok with it being a stand-alone over a series. Of course, it’s not and I have mixed feelings on this because on one hand – Yay! More Kami & Jared and SRB writing! And what will happen next!? On the other hand, I’m all, What if the next book sucks and I don’t love it as much!? Why do I have to try and remember yet ANOTHER series order and pub date for next books? I am too old for this sort of thing!
See, totally legit mixed emotions.
This book just made me feel very, very happy. It made me want to read again, but I had to hold off while my final assignment was looming over my head. I plan on making up for lost time in the next 4 months and trying to read as many books as possible before I start back to school in September. And, Internet, I am only taking one course a semester and it’s still so time consuming when you work full-time! (At least the courses I am taking are!) I need to win the lotto, or come into money, or something, so I can take time off work and just focus on school. Perfect world. Alas, that’s not the case since we have come into some Totally Opposite of Winning the Lotto times here in my house. Sigh. I’m even not buying books to make sure we can, you know, pay bills. So tragic! Books NEED to be bought! (Pay no mind to the 90+ unread books scattered around my house, ok? Nothing at all to see here. Move along, move along.) Here’s hoping that things are sorted out by September, when the second book is due out! 😉
The Lynburn Legacy
- Untold – September 2013