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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Unearthly

Unearthly (Book 1)
by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? (goodreads.com)

I don’t like books about angels. I find most books about angels seem unoriginal and cliché. I’m just not an angel fan, like I’m not a fan of vampires or were-things.

Yet something about this book caught my attention earlier this year and I added it to my 2011 DAC list. I never picked it up though, because, well, ANGEL. For a book about creatures of faith, I had very little faith in said creatures.

But then, a sneaky sneaky person named Kristi sent me this book for Christmas. You’ll note that my blog has been severely lacking in posts about books lately. I have not been able to read a book without putting it down after a few chapters for a month or so. Here was this angel book, on my DAC list and it was almost the end of 2011. I thought I’d give it a try.

I loved this book.

Seriously.

I started it last night, fell asleep though dreamt about the book and then finished it today. I currently have a plague and I can’t seem to focus on anything, yet this book HOOKED ME.

This book actually made me laugh out loud a couple of times, which was a total surprise to me. Clara is a fun main character and has a sharp wit and occasionally makes fun of herself. The fact that Clara already knew she was an angel-blood made the book a lot better for me. The fact that Clara, her brother Jeffery and her mother could talk about the angel stuff was refreshing. Sure, the mom held back information and even at the end of the book you’re all “JUST TELL US ALREADY, WOMAN! JEEZ!” but you know there’s some set up there for the second book, but I could deal with that.

I like that the obvious boy route wasn’t exactly followed. I was a little shocked by the ending to that story, too. Wasn’t what I was expecting.

Tucker? Well he was a pretty cool guy and didn’t annoy me. I have seen mentions that he changes in the sequel, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Over all, I had my doubts about Unearthly and therefore was pleasantly surprised with each chapter in this book. There were some parts that felt glossed over (friendship with Wendy, the mean girl Kay) but I was too busy liking Clara as a protagonist to care too much about that. Even though I cringed a little at the “I love you” declarations, I didn’t find it fell into the insta-love category, rather it landed somewhere outside that box, but not too far away.

But here’s the thing that really bothers me – publishers, I beg you, PLEASE PLEASE get more creative with series names. Really. I’m just getting cranky about this now. I HATE when a series has the same name as the FIRST BOOK. If you want to call the series Unearthly then call the first book something else. Or find another name for the series. It  bugs me to no end! I can’t be the only one. Tell me I’m not the only one.

On the bright side, I waited so long to read this one that the sequel comes out in a handful of weeks. Woot! I am SO buying Hallowed when it comes out. Hardcover or not. This series is worth it!

Thanks, Kristi, you sneaky Santa, you.

Unearthly series

  1. Unearthly
  2. Hallowed 
  3. Boundless

 

The Faerie Ring

 The Faerie Ring (Faerie Ring, #1)
by Kiki Hamilton

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty… (goodreads.com)

I liked The Faerie Ring a whole bunch, though I didn’t love it to pieces like I hoped I would. This could be because I’m in Cranky Reading Mood lately and I am finding that stories I normally go ga-ga over aren’t quite doing it for me.

Thing is, The Faerie Ring is a great story set in the 19th century and it has a cast of characters that I cared quite a bit about. If I had to pick one thing that didn’t work for me, it was that I didn’t feel like I was in 19th century England. That element of the story was faint. Paul Crilley’s Invisible Order is a smilar setting and yet I felt more transported into the past with his book that I did with the one I’m writing about right now.

Other than that, I enjoyed most everything else with the story. Tiki (which was a little too close to the author’s name for my liking) was a very kind and thoughtful main character. I loved her family of street kids as well. I was concerned for little Clara when she took ill and was kidnapped by the delightfully creepy Larkin. Nothing fills a story with awesome more than a deranged faerie. (Also, I really love the name Larkin!)

I am certainly happy that I bought this book and that it’s just one more 2011 debut book that did not disappoint. I have to admit, I am a person who tends to stick to the same authors over and over again. I don’t like to take chances on new authors because I’m a creature of habit. The YA Debut Author Challenge has helped me branch out and taste what else is available in the literature world. If it weren’t for that I don’t think I’d be wandering the stores picking up new authors off the shelf. I do once in a while, if a cover catches my eye, but for the most part, I stick with my “safe” authors. I am now at the point that I have a whole slew of new “safe” authors because I gave them a chance. Kiki Hamilton has made that list and I look forward to more books in this series as well as anything new she might put out.

I realize this is a rather vague and lame blog post about the book, but I just don’t know what to say about it that won’t reveal things from the story that I want you to enjoy and experience for yourself! It’s a lovely book that will keep you reading from start to finish without wanting to put it down. You will feel a range of emotions during the journey and when you’re done, you’ll wish it was NEXT YEAR ALREADY. Book two, please.

PET PEEVE ANNOUNCEMENT: Can I just take a moment here and send a little note out to publishers about something that’s become quite the pet peeve of mine? *ahem* I am TIRED of series titles that are the SAME AS THE FIRST BOOK. Ugh. This first book is called The Faerie Ring, right? And the SERIES is titled, The Faerie Ring. This makes me cranky. I’m feeling especially cranky right now because of a whole lot of stupid going on in my personal life, so it’s branching out into other aspects of my life. Can we please try and find some creative way to differentiate between the title of the first book in a series and the name of the series itself? It’s not that hard, people. Come on. I feel like the entire package of books in a series should be called something other than the title of the first book. Am I the only one this bothers? Am I just being too picky? IT JUST REALLY BUGS ME! That is all. Thank you for your time.

The Faerie Ring

  1. The Faerie Ring
  2. The Torn Ring – 2012
  3. The Tara Stone – 2013
  4. The Endgame – 2014

Born at Midnight

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, #1)
by c.c. hunter

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs… (goodreads.com)

If I had to write a blog post about this book in just one word, it would be: Hmmmmm.

Never mind that “Hmmmm” isn’t really a word so much as a sound, it’s really the only thing that pops into my head when I think about what I want to say about this book.

There were so many things wrong with the story, yet at the same time, there were many things I liked.

The good: Fast paced. Witty humour. Kylie is pretty fun as a main character even if I had a few issues with her. A bunch of supernaturals in a camp? Hellz yeah! Even if it is just a plot device to get people together and you don’t really focus much on the camp itself. It’s just fun.

The mediocre: Everything you’d want in a paranormal YA book is there. Everything. It’s like the author read a list of “what makes a book paranormal” and decided to throw everything from that list into the story rather than select one or two elements. I was having enough fun reading the story to be able to overlook this with an eye roll or two. It didn’t bother me much overall, it was just cheesy. I don’t mind cheesy books when they aren’t trying to take themselves too seriously. The sort of general mystery of “what was going on at camp that might get it closed down” was lacklustre. I sort of had the solution guessed from the start, but, eh, it wasn’t a big deal.

The *headdesk*: Kylie is special. She gets sent to a camp for “troubled teens” which turns out to be a camp full of supes. They can all tell each other apart from humans because they can read each other’s brain patterns – an ability which entails much eyebrow twitching apparently. Thing is, good ol’ Kylie’s brain can’t be read! OMG! She spends much of the book hoping she’s just got a brain tumor which is why she sees ONE ghost and people mistake her for a supernatural. Nah, she’s just a human with a brain tumor. That’s better, right? *headdesk* Also, Kylie seems to attract the attention OF EVERY BOY ON THE PLANET. *headdesk* Her ex is desperate to have her back. The scary werewolf boy from her childhood keeps staring at her & following her around. The newly discovered faerie boy is so attracted to her and she likes him, too, because he reminds her of her ex. *headdesk* All three of these boys get some mega kissing action with her over the span of a couple of weeks. Kylie isn’t considered plain or anything, she even says at one point “I don’t think of myself as unattractive”, but really. I HATE stories where the main character gets ALL OF THE BOYS just by showing up in a room. Really. That to me just screams Mary Sue fanfiction. Ugh.

Still on *headdesk*: I was so “arrggghhh!!” when I read that Kylie was some sort of unclassified supernatural. She can’t be read, so they don’t know her powers. So far, she can see ONE ghost, she gets night terrors that are probably other ghosts trying to talk to her and she can feel when faerie boy, Derek, tries to take away her fear by touching her (*snicker* not THAT kind of touching). Apparently the ability to be able to feel mood/emotion altering is “special”. Whatevs. Also the decision towards the end to turn the camp into a full-year boarding school was just… so… just… argh!  It’s a way to set up the rest of the series because you can’t just have kids at camp for 2 months and have EVERYTHING happen to them, right? I don’t mind that so much because I love me some boarding school books, but it just felt so….I can’t even think of the word. Heavy handed? Set up? There’s a word for this! Gah!

There were many moments that I couldn’t ignore the eye rolls. They were the kind of moments that made me sigh out loud “Of COURSE this is happening, because why wouldn’t it. It happens like this in EVERY paranormal book.”

Turns out Kylie’s family history is a mystery. Surprise!

The oh, so, bad: So Kylie’s ex dumped her because she wouldn’t put out. He chose a girl who would. Kylie manages to call this new girl slut, slutty, bang toy, screw toy…a whole bunch of times in the first chapter. The girl is slutty, NOT because she is sleeping with Kylie’s ex, but because she wears short skirts and heels. She clings to ex boyfriend. Yet, somehow, Kylie doesn’t consider her BFF Sara all that slutty, even after she’s decided to sleep with a whole bunch o’ boys and then has a pregnancy scare, gets over and hooks up with an older guy. I guess Sara doesn’t wear short skirts and tank tops. So, Kylie spends all this time trash talking some new girl with her ex and yet can’t even say the word “Hell”? She said “Hades”. HADES ISN’T A PLACE! Not to mention, I think saying things like “screw toy” and “bang toy” are much, much worse than saying “Hell”. Is it just me? I mean, I’m a prude and a half, but come on now. This new girl might be sleeping with her ex, but hey, Kylie! Pot, kettle, black much? I mean, you’re making out, seriously making out with self-proclaimed tingles all over and in places with THREE GUYS IN A WEEK, and yet, that’s ok, because you’re not sleeping with them? Even when you constantly talk about how your BREASTS feel? Ugh.

The language in the book was all over the place. Sometimes it was too much and then it was too preachy (don’t sleep with boys, you’re a ho! Also you can get PREGNANT! Oh NOS! But making out and letting them feel you up, is totes ok, yo!). Kylie could call people bitches but she couldn’t say Hell. I found her to be hypocritical to the nth degree. As long as she was doing something, it was ok. If someone else was acting the same way, they were slutty. Not to mention how she figured everyone at the camp was some sort of goth because they were all in black, had piercings or coloured hair.

The fact that she doesn’t know what, or who she is and that her family history is now all a mystery. I just KNOW we’re being set up for Kylie to find out she’s the MOST POWERFUL -enter supernatural here- EVER! It will likely be up to her to save the world, yadda yadda yadda. Look, I know this is a plot device that most fantasy/paranormal books are based on, but it’s tiresome.

For some reason all the “bad” happening at the camp was directed at Kylie. (On that note, how do you sneak a LION into a cabin in a camp full of supernatural teens and NOT GET NOTICED?)

The book is this weird mix of unoriginal and original which has me torn between liking it and hating it. What I DO like is that the books all seem to be coming out close together. The sequel is already out in stores with the third book just a couple of months away. Had this been out when I was a teen I’d have been devouring them like I did Fear Street and other series. It’s not a smart YA novel. It’s fluff. Very, predictable fluff. But it’s written in such a way that I actually did enjoy most of what I was reading, even with the very glaring issues. I have to admit, sheepishly, that I am very interested in reading Awake at Dawn because I want to know where the author is going with the story. Is it going to be as predictable as I think it is? Will there be slightly more depth? I don’t know.

I can ALMOST overlook the love triangle/rectangle/rhombus that’s happening. Almost. Mostly it makes my stomach flop because it’s so over the top and stupid. WHY DOES EVERY BOY HAVE TO WANT HER? Gah! I hate that storyline! (Bella, I’m looking at you, plain, clumsy girl that has stupid boys drawn to her.)

The book reminded me of my teen years and how I’d have been thrilled to have stories like this in my library. I shall read on for that 13-year old me who would have loved the books. (Not the romance part, though.) 13-year old me would have wished she was a newly discovered witch who got to go to boarding school with other magical creatures. Just that little dream alone is going to keep me along for at least one more book. Depending on how much I roll my eyes during the sequel will decide if I read on further. (That, and these books are being published in paperback, so they are cheap and affordable for guilty pleasure reads!)

Shadow Falls

  1. Born at Midnight
  2. Awake at Dawn
  3. Taken at Dusk – April 2012

PS – I really like the covers for this series, too. That might be swaying me a little. Shut up.

The Near Witch

The Near Witch
by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. (goodreads.com)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved anything to do with witches. If there was a story about witchcraft or witches, she had to read it. This little girl fell madly, head-over-heels in love with L.J. Smith’s Secret Circle trilogy back in the early 1990s. Ever since she discovered that there were books out there about teen witches, she knew, deep down in her soul, that she was destined to become one.

Or, at least live vicariously through all the magical teens found between the pages of books.

Fast forward to the year 2010. This little girl wasn’t quite so little anymore, although her love for teen witches never did fade. (And, that love was purely platonic and NOT creepy at all, despite how that may sound, I might add). In June of 2010, this not-so-little girl found a book on Goodreads called The Near Witch. She added it to her wishlist and her 2011 Debut Author Challenge list. The author of said book even commented on that addition and mentioned it made her happy. In June 2010, the end of the summer of 2011 seemed impossibly far away. Eventually August 2011 arrived and the not-so-little girl did the dance of joy because she would FINALLY get her hands on a copy of her most anticipated new book of the year!

Sadly, such was not the case, for no stores in and around her town carried the book. The Book Depository even told her it was unavailable. Yet, so many others out there in the scary world were reading and owning this very book! It didn’t seem fair! Oh, the humanity!

Defeated, the not-so-little girl gave up her search for her very own copy of The Near Witch and contented herself by reading books she already had at home that needed reading. Then one blustery, October day, the not-so-little girl happened to be looking up another book on the local bookstore’s site and happened to see that they had ONE COPY of The Near Witch in stock as well! Oh, the joy! This girl made her husband drive her to the store that evening so she could buy both books (and walked away with 4 books and a magazine, but that’s a story for another day!)

The timing couldn’t have been better, as the not-so-little girl had just finished her latest read right before the trip. Once home, the spine of The Near Witch book was cracked open oh, so gently and the new book smell was sniffed with pleasure (The Near Witch has one of the best bookish smells ever! It smells like real, true book!). As the little girl turned not-so-little girl settled in to read the story that had been haunting her for over a year, she sighed contentedly. Not only was the story brilliant, but it surpassed every single high expectation she held for the book. The writing was beautiful, the setting of the village of Near was vibrant and graphic and almost real, like you could reach out and touch it. Lexi was a strong, confident female lead and oddly… not the witch the reader though she would be!

Such a folk-fairy-fantasy tale of witchcraft,l magic and love was brilliantly woven and delighted the little girl’s imagination.

One day, when she finally decides to grow up, this little girl will become the best teen witch ever. Or even a beautiful sorceress (which is ultimately, where she’d like to end up.)

The end.

 

Buy your own copy! AmazonUS | AmazonCA

Dark Inside

Dark Inside
by Jeyn Roberts

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason’s mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police–who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety. (goodreads.com)

Release date: November 1, 2011

This is not overly complex Dystopian. It’s a fairly light and quick read that has elements of horror and mystery that don’t quite resolve in the end.

After I finished reading Dark Inside I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I felt like it had built up all of this momentum and then just fizzled out because, “Hey! There’s a sequel!”. If I didn’t know from the summary above that “An ancient evil has been unleashed” I wouldn’t know that had happened at all.

See, there are a few major earthquakes that happen in various parts of the world, but we’re only focused on Canada and the US in this story. At the same time people are suddenly becoming mindless killing machines. But why?

WHY??

Nothing is explained in the book. Nothing. I guess it’s supposed to be explained in the future books, but you have to give us something in this one in order to care. I was devouring this book because I was so captivated by the mystery of it all. Why are people mindless zombie-like killers? Why are only a handful of teens still in control of their life? WHY? WHY? And yet, as you go on there isn’t an answer. All you get are a few cryptic comments from others that you meet through out each journey that don’t do anything to help you figure out what the hell is going on.

The four main characters were slightly difficult for me to keep track of. At least the two girls had different enough names (Aires & Clementine) that I could tell their chapters apart, but the boys (Mason & Michael) were way too similar to remember who was who. None of them had overly original voices in their chapters and I couldn’t remember which plot line belonged to Mason or Michael numerous times. It was frustrating. Then the added extra characters throughout the journey of each of the main ones. Too many people! And so many of these people were not unique enough to stand out, so I didn’t really care about any of them.

I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to know why there were earthquakes and why the world was full of crazies who kill for fun. I understand you don’t want to reveal everything in the first book in a series, but you have to give us something, right?

I was totally caught up with wanting to find the answers and was disappointed when I got to the end and nothing was resolved. All that happened was that all four protagonists ended up in the same place (as I had guessed from the start) and they needed to get to the bottom of this. Guess what? SO DO I!

I think the story was great, but it needed to go somewhere and it didn’t. I feel like it was stretched just to make more books. The ending was slightly rushed and confusing and it reminded me of  my epic English creative writing pieces in high school. I’d get so caught up in the story, I’d realize I was way over the number of pages I needed to hand in and I’d just sort of toss everything in at the end and end it in a page. Heh. My teacher always told me I needed to work on my pacing, that the stories were fantastic but the endings were too abrupt. He was an awesome teacher and I miss him.

I was enjoying what I was reading for most of the book, until it became obvious that this was going nowhere. I could have over looked the lack of unique characters if only we’d gotten more information about why this was all happening.

I didn’t hate the book though, it was just sort of… flat. It could have been so much more. The writing isn’t bad at all and the potential is there. It’s just not very a very dystopian Dystopia. (If that makes any sense.)

Will I read the sequel? Probably, yes. Mostly I just want to know WHAT IS GOING ON!

Buy your own copy! AmazonUS | AmazonCA