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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Truth

Truth (XVI, #2)
by Julia Karr

In this sequel to “XVI,” Nina Oberon’s life has changed enormously. After her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council-ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all 16-year-old girls have. But Nina won’t be anyone’s stereotype. (goodreads.com)

Truth was one of the books I was most anticipating this year. Sadly, it didn’t hook me the way its predecessor, XVI did last year. In fact, I spent a lot of the book wanting to smack Nina and her weird self-conscious inner dialogue. Nina did not seem like the strong protagonist she was in XVI. I know a lot happened in that book that could alter her some, but I didn’t even feel like I was reading about the same character.

I also felt that Truth seemed to do nothing but preach at me that girls who dress like they want sex, do want sex, but that doesn’t mean they can be raped. OK, I get that this is actually a *thing* in this book, they are called “sex-teens” (rather than sixteen) and they buy into the media crap that girls want to start having sex when the are “of age”, but something about the description and Nina’s thoughts on the matter (not wanting to be a sex-teen and waiting to sleep with someone she loves) felt forced and very After School Special Teen Sex Is Bad, mmkay?-ish. It rubbed me the wrong way (no pun intended in the sexual way ;P)

It was almost as if nothing happened for the entire book, until the last chapter, except a long-winded essay on how Nina felt about sex-teens and how she had to keep her sister safe. Suddenly the last chapter bursts forth full of action and potential answers and then.. THE END. Gah! Boo!

Whereas XVI made me think and feel all creeped out about this Dystopian world that Karr had created, Truth really didn’t seem all that Dystopian to me. It was just a book about a girl who didn’t know if she wanted to sleep with her boyfriend or not and she and her friends had some different sort of lingo than we do today to make it seem like they were in the future.

I had hoped for some answers or more action following XVI and I didn’t feel that Truth delivered that very well. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters this time around, including Nina.

I gave this book 3 starts on Goodreads because it did have some interesting scenes. I liked the idea of the Sisterhood, but I felt they could have been used more and been made to seem a little more active and meaningful. They had so much potential! All they seemed to do though was skype. 😉

I am very interested in reading the next book though because I expect something exciting must happen based on the way this book ended. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!

XVI series

  1. XVI
  2. Truth

Clarity & Perception

Clarity (Clarity, #1)
by Kim Harrington

Don’t close your eyes. Except when the truth is too dark to bear.Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.And a curse.When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother — who has supernatural gifts of his own — becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most? (goodreads.com)

I don’t normally write about multiple books in one post, but since I finished both Clarity and Perception right after each other, I thought I’d double up!

First things first, I am now having some harsh words with myself about not having picked up Clarity last year when it came out. It was one of the books I put on my 2011 Debut YA Author Challenge list, but for some reason, I was too chicken to pick up the hard cover. I was so worried that I would be disappointed and have spent money on the hard cover for nothing. Yet, I knew that I wanted to read this book. I heard so many great things about it! I was a big ol’ chicken pants and for that, I am mad at myself!

However, when I received Perception from Scholastic Canada in the fall, I made myself put Clarity on pre-order for the paperback. I would read this and then the sequel.

I did that this past weekend. In a day I’d gone through both the first and second books and let me tell you, I am HOOKED.

Eat your heart out, Nancy Drew! This book is high on the mystery and thrill and has some paranormal elements written in, but not in your typical Supernatural Creature of the Week way. Sure, Clare and her family have some sort of fancy mental abilities, but there’s also murder! And kidnapping! And intrigue!

I loved so much about Clarity that I was almost kicking myself for waiting so long as I was patting myself on the back for waiting until I had the second book within reach so I could pick it up as soon as I was done with the first.

Clare Fern is strong, witty and smart. She’s been picked on her entire life, but that’s made her a better person I think. She’s able to verbally spar with her taunters. Witty comebacks and whatnot. It’s awesome. She’s got a complicated relationship with her ex, but wins mega points in my books for dumping someone who cheated on you – even if it was an accident.

There’s a love triangle (yawn) that is only in the early stages in Clarity, it’s much more prominent in Perception, so I tried to ignore it the best I could. I did sort of feel like all of the boys Clare spoke with has some sort of undying torch burning for her – including her brother’s best friend, Nate, but whatever. That’s just the way books are written these days and I have to accept that.

What really, totally rocked for me was the writing and pacing of the story. It’s been ages since I read a good mystery that kept me changing my mind time and time again over who the Big Bad was going to be.  Just when I was sure it was going to be Person A, I’d be suspicious of Person B and then on to Person D and so on.  When I exclaimed “Ah HA! I KNEW IT!” at the end, well, I didn’t really. Not until just before all was revealed. Since I had almost everyone we’d met on my list of suspects, I was pretty sure I’d be yelling “Ah HA!” no matter who it had been. heh

I’d picked up Perception even before I’d updated Goodreads that I’d finished Clarity. You have to understand that I am completely OCD about updating my blog and GR when I am finished a book. I do it in real time. I don’t wait. But this time? I waited. Why? Because I had to read THIS:

Perception (Clarity, #2)
by Kim Harrington

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. (goodreads.com)

Yes, I was totally suspicious of everyone in this book, too! In fact, I was actually surprised by the ending because I was sure it was going to be one of two other characters and I was WRONG. I was so hoping that I’d be right with one of them, though, because I think that would have been really original and I would have applauded Kim Harrington’s daring! Alas, my suspicion was fruitless though I was completely skeeved out by the actual culprit. I even shuddered at one point. Rare for me while reading.

I’m impressed by how Clare manages to handle the bullying and taunting that she goes through in both books. She’s a pretty strong character and though it obviously bothers her, Clare seems to have a dignity that many of us lack in her response. I hate that she’s picked on and used, but each and every time I think “Wow, I’m impressed” when she turns away rather than hides or lashes out.

The one downfall to this story was the very obvious love-triangle aspect. I tried my best to ignore it but I was becoming rather frustrated each time it popped up. I’d have enjoyed much more focus on Perry and his problems than which boy Clare thought she had feelings for. Oh, well.

Both Clarity and Perception were such exciting reads that I am a little bummed out that I don’t have any more books in this series to read right now. They were exactly what I needed this weekend to get me out of my funk and help me unwind.

I love(d) Nancy Drew books growing up and though I find them a little hokey now that I re-read them, these books by Kim Harrington are filling that void. I LOVED these books and truly appreciated the delightful mysteries that they solved. In fact, for the beginning of Perception, I even felt like the narration sounded similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It made me laugh and the characters voice was just right.

I cannot wait for more books in this series! Completely unrelated, I love that the author’s last name is the same as my best friend’s last name. heh. I support all things Harrington!

Clarity series

  1. Clarity
  2. Perception

 

Hallowed

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)
by Cynthia Hand

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning. (goodreads.com)

Since I was pleasantly surprised by Unearthly last month, I knew I had to pick up the sequel as soon as it came out – so I ordered it with Christmas money. 🙂

Now, Hallowed wasn’t the fast-paced, super funny romp that its predecessor was but I still enjoyed it very much. I laughed out loud at times and I sucked in breaths of “no way!” at others. I didn’t like the addition of a love triangle in this book even if it did make fun of itself along the way. I am just so over love triangles. I have never liked them. I don’t care if you’re mocking a love triangle as you triangle yourself, it’s still a triangle and I will roll my eyes and say “whatever”.

That being said, I do adore Clara and many of the characters in the novel. I especially adore Clara when she’s not mooning over the boys in her life and is merely focusing on the rest of the story – like the impending loss of a person she loves. (which I will not reveal lest I spoil things).

I’m not entirely certain where the next book will take us. Perhaps to college? If Clara leaves town in the next book, I am curious how her brother’s story line will progress. I am sure there will be progression, heck, I NEED progression because it’s been set up and I need it knocked down.

I was most interested in learning more about Clara’s mother’s purpose and her past. The addition of other angels (which, was a little over the top, to be honest) was certainly interesting. I also loved learning more about Black Wings and the relationship Clara’s mother had with one (I don’t mean relationship as in kissy-kissy, but you know, relationship as in “hey, I know you”).

There are many elements to this series that I enjoy, many I find a tad cliche and eye-roll worthy, but I enjoy the story telling and writing enough that I can over look those moments. I know I like a book when stuff like the love triangle and the Big Reveal being “Oh, of course you’re INSERT OBVIOUS REVEAL HERE” don’t bother me much and I am eager to pick up the next book because I just like visiting the world and characters.

I don’t even normally like angel-related stories, but this one (and Courtney Alison Moulton’s Angelfire series) really entertains me. I’d give it a try if I were you. 😉

Unearthly series

  1. Unearthly
  2. Hallowed 
  3. Boundless

Fever

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2)
by Lauren DeStefano

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary. (goodreads.com)

Release date: February 21, 2012

I couldn’t wait any longer to read this book. I know it comes out a month from now, but I have had it in my house – taunting me! – since November. Last year I received Wither for review and it made me so happy. The book was even better than I had hoped and it stayed at the top of the Best Books of 2011 I had read.

Right from the first page of Fever I was in a constant state of anxiety and rage. Rhine and Gabriel’s escape at the end of the first book leads them right into even worse conditions. The entire time they were in Carnival with Madame my skin was crawling, my stomach knotting and my heart was racing. I swear this book was a cardio workout the entire time.

I hate feeling trapped when I read books. Hate it. I was trapped the entire first half of this novel and I just wanted to escape. I say this in the most positive and complimentary way as odd as it seems. I felt like I was experiencing Rhine’s fear and frustration first hand. Even once they escaped from Madame and ended up with the Fortune Teller, I still couldn’t breath properly.

In fact, my breathing was irregular and catching for the entire story. The action doesn’t even slow down at the end! I have no idea what’s in store for the final book, but by golly, I can’t wait to find out!

My one issue with the story is Gabriel. It’s more my own personal feelings towards him than anything in the book. If I had to chose between Linden (in the first book) and Gabriel, I’d choose Linden. I know that’s weird, but he was just so complex and naive and I could get why Rhine’s opinion of him would change. Gabriel, to me, has always been sort of secondary. I found him very secondary in this particular installment in the trilogy because he spends much of it out of sight out of mind and though Rhine does think of him often, I felt like he should have had a larger roll in their adventure since they’d escaped together. I don’t find him particularly likable and he’s never created any emotions within me, unlike Linden and his creepy-ass father Housemaster Vaughn. *shudder*

I can’t say I was all that disappointed by the lack of Gabriel in Fever even though he probably should have been around more if you think about it.

Heck, I felt more for Jacob, the guard in the Carnival than I did for Gabriel. That’s saying something.

Ultimately, I feel like Lauren DeStefano is a gift to readers that we should not ignore. It’s rare when an author can write just so poetically and wonderfully and create such emotion with their words. Sarah Addison Allen, Michelle Zink, Erin Bow, Kate Forsyth, these are authors who get the same reactions from me as Lauren DeStefano does. These are authors I know can paint a masterpiece on paper with their words. I feel, taste and touch every single emotion they describe. I love books that are like a thrill ride – even if it’s not a scary kind – and they don’t leave me motion sick in the end, either.

Have you not read this Dystopian YA yet? What are you waiting for! Go NOW and pick up the first two books and prepare to burn calories as you read because your heart will be a-pumpin’!

Chemical Garden Trilogy

  1. Wither
  2. Fever
  3. Sever

2012 Sophomore Reading Challenge

Shanyn @ Chick Loves Lit had a great idea to start a Sophomore Reading Challenge – as a sort of companion (spin off?) to the Debut Author Challenge that Kristi hosts. I thought this was brilliant and a pretty easy challenge for me to join because if I liked your first book I am going to get your second one!

There is a helpful Goodreads list for second books by YA/MG authors that are due to publish in 2012, which I used as my guide to select which books I want to read next year. Most are already on my radar because they are sequels to books I have already read, though some are just a second book by a former debut author. I’m very excited for all of the books I chose to come out! Now I have a handy guide to keep track of them all!

The goal is to read 10 sophomore YA/MG titles between January 1 and December 31, 2012. This is the list I have put together so far!

(in order of montb of publication – those without a month are at the end)

  1. Truth (XVI, #2) – Julia Karr (Jan 19) – review
  2. The Wood Queen (Iron Witch, #2) – Karen Mahoney (Feb 8 )
  3. Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire, #2)  – Courtney Allison Moulton (Feb 14)
  4. Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2) – Lauren DeStefano (Feb 21) – review
  5. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) – Veronica Roth (May 28)
  6. Dreamless (Starcrossed, #2) – Josephine Angelini (May 29)
  7. Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2) – Rae Carson (Oct 18)
  8. Demon Eyes (Witch Eyes, #2) – Scott Tracy
  9. Untitled (Mara Dyer, #2) – Michelle Hodkin
  10. The Torn Wing (Faerie Ring, #2) – Kiki Hamilton
  11. Perception (Clarity, #2) – Kim Harringtonreview
  12. Hallowed (Unearthly, #2) – Cynthia Handreview

All links go to Goodreads. Reviews will be linked as they go up!

There are of course many other sequels on this list that I would like to read, though I have not yet read the first books. If I end up reading first books I will add sophomore novels as the year progresses. 🙂

So much great reading to look forward to in 2012!! Can’t wait!