20 posts tagged books
Honestly, I am so over vampires and I know a lot of you are too- so when I was camping out in the YA Fantasy Romance section of Barnes and Noble I was skeptical about a lot of the stuff I was looking at. However, something about this book called to me. Firstly, it’s Holly Black and I’m uncertain I can dislike anything Holly Black writes. Secondly, the premises was intriguing and while we live in a post Twilight world finding a Vampire Book that doesn’t sound like a complete rip off is very hard. However, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown surprised me yet. It was intriguing, clever, and contained a female character I didn’t want to stab in the throat ninety-nine percent of the time.
The story is about Thana. She’s got that typical YA book heroine thing to her. She’s tragic, doe eyed, and tough all at the same time which works for her without coming of as irritating and Mary Sue (most of the time.) Tana wakes up at a party with everyone around her dead/dying, her dopey ex boyfriend Aidan on the edge of turning into a vamp, and another vamp chained down. Thana has to race against the clock to get Aidan to a Coldtown (it’s pretty much a ghetto for vamps and weird humans who’ve gotten stuck there.) She packs up Aidan and Gavriel the sexy, mysterious, and somewhat kind vampire and hits the road with them. On their way there they meet some friends and foes and all in all it’s a fun journey.
The love story is definitely between Gavriel and Thana and contains one of the best vamp kiss scenes I’ve seen in a YA book (tongue biting and blood licking, it’s hot, gave me a bit of an early Sookie Stackhouse vibe.) What makes Gavriel and Thana so refreshing is that they both have secrets that keep their feelings hidden from everyone except themselves. The attraction is there immediately and I was very impressed with how compatible they were as characters without having been shoved down everyones throat.
Despite how great the story was one thing didn’t sit well with me and that was the fact the POV’s changed from time to time but there wasn’t any particular pattern to and when it changed from Thana to another character the first time it felt very jarring and slightly unnecessary. A plot device could have been used such as a text or a phone call. The only switches I did enjoy were the ones to Gavriel’s past with his maker that reminded me of Angel and Spike in a wonderful way.
Despite the point of view switching I did whole heartily find this book entertaining and was actually sad to find out it was a one shot and not part of a series, although I will say the ending was open ended enough that a series wouldn’t feel like something out of left field and I hope this might go on because I’m not quite ready to fully ready to say goodbye to Coldtown just yet.
Over the last year there have been several YA Adaptations brought to life on the big screen and every time I read an article about it I read the same thing over and over again: “WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT TWILIGHT?” “WILL THIS BE THE NEXT TWILIGHT?” I have an idea? SHUT UP AND STOP COMPARING EVERYTHING TO TWILIGHT BECAUSE THAT IS AS UNORIGINAL AS YOU CLAIM THE MOVIES YOU REVIEW ARE.
Here’s the thing, I’m not going to sit here and say Twilight didn’t set a standard for YA adaptations because it did. Just because I am not crazy over the series doesn’t mean I’m not going to give credit where credit is due. The Twilight craze took on the world by storm and it helped create the current set of YA Paranormal Romance books that are being written and adapted.
Essentially it did help introduce the YA genre to a wider, more adult audience. However, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga is not the first Paranormal YA series to make its way to other mediums and it wont be the last. The latest slew of films that are based off of Young Adult books are original in their own way, but the only thing that causes them to fail are the people that constantly try to seek out the new Twilight.
With the merger between Random House and Penguin Group complete, I thought this would make a good opportunity to talk about the lasting impression BEA left us with in 2013. BEA 2013 was buzzing with energy and excitement. On the outside, one would never know that something major was taking place in the backdrop to change the face of publishing forever. At BEA, authors were enjoying rockstar treatment; lines and crowds were everywhere.
Meanwhile, two of the Big Six publishers were waiting for governments worldwide to clear one of the biggest mergers in publishing history. July 1st marks the official birth of Random House Penguin Group, a company consisting of Pearson’s trade divisions under the Penguin Group umbrella and all of Random House minus their Germany counterpart, Random House Verlagsgruppe. What does this mean? For publishing professionals, it means slightly less choice in your employer. The new powerhouse publishing group employs 10,000 employees worldwide and based upon their choices for the new upper management of both Random House and Penguin Group, I am sure the crew will be eager to slash 25% of their workforce to save money… because you know, #publishing. If publishing trends in the past are anything to make assumptions from, the new group will probably decide to merge like imprints and divisions, further reducing choices for publishing professionals.
Agents, authors, and readers will also be out of luck once a bidding model is decided upon – since Penguin and Random House have different rules on how imprints can bid on proposals, it is important to note that one company allows imprints to big against one another for a manuscript while the other company does not allow that practice of author acquisition. I think this means a lot of great books that would have had a better chance of finding a home will be pushed aside because big publishers don’t like to take chances on unknown writers. On the plus side, this may allow Random House Penguin Group to throw their weight at Amazon in who knows what capacity. This new company will probably reinforce Simon & Schuster’s desire to merge with Hachette Book Group, reducing the publishing pool even more.
While there are many things to worry about with this merger, I think this is a great opportunity for the mid-size publishers to step up and snap up unknown authors that may resort to self-publication to get notice. After all, it was Bloomsbury that discovered Harry Potter, not Scholastic. Mid-size publishers are always more willing to take chances on authors that wouldn’t get the time of day from the Big Six. Hopefully the smaller publishers will use this merger as an opportunity to fill some new voids created by Penguin and Random House turning into one.
I noticed that I was behind on my 2013 book list and was very upset. I decided that it would be a good idea to pick up a book and just read it in a few hours to catch up and be on point with 2013 goal of nearly 100 books. I’m not sure if I’ll make it but I hope I will. Picking up The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick was an easy choice; I’ve heard so many amazing things about the movie that I had to read the book it was based on first. I’ve heard many things about Quick’s book, mostly that the movie was a lot better which is rare to hear this day and age when most folks are constantly bickering of how much the movie sucked compared to the books. So I did something I’ve never done before, I read the book (it took me 2.5 hours, almost 3, it’s not a long book, depending on who you ask of course, but at 244 pgs. it wasn’t too hard to read fast.) and then I decided to see the movie IMMEDIATELY after. Doing this made it so much easier for me to compare and contrast and see if what all of my friends were saying was true; that in fact the film was better than the book. So instead of making a decision right away, I decided to do a compare and contrast list of what was similar, what was changed, and just which is better.
Below the cut is my comparison of The Silver Linings Playbook, a book about a man who is lost and completely dumbfounded after being released from a mental facility for what he thinks is a few months, but it actually a few years. A man who isn’t quite sure about himself and his life, and the other is Silver Linings Playbook, a movie about a man who is lost and completely dumbfounded after being released from a mental facility after a few months. Both are similar enough that you can still enjoy the source material enough if you are a movie fan, and different enough if you are a fan of the book you can ultimately understand that the film should be regarded as a stand- alone. Be warned there are heavy spoilers for the book and the movie so only read it if you’ve seen it, read it, or just don’t care.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Pages/Format: 355 pages on ebook
Rating: 3/5 Hey Nows
Fantasy young adult books aren’t that easy to come by, especially ones that stick to the true form of fantasy with creatures, magic, and all that good stuff. So when I heard about a story of a demon girl that falls in love with an angel boy I had to pick it up, it seemed like it would be great; especially since the reviews were raving, “I couldn’t put it down!” they said, “it’s one of the best books of the year” they raved. I on the other hand could not pick it up and thought it was one of the most over hyped books I have ever read.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is about Karou, a blue haired art student who has a few secrets in her closet. She lives with her family, who are a bunch of underworld creatures who take care of her, all the while keeping something very important from her. Then there is Akiva, an angel, who is an atypical YA guy, he’s hot, he’s smart and totally out to get Karou until something stops him dead in his tracks. Ultimately, the story is about an angel who falls in love with a devil.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe I just don’t get it, but I can’t stick with a book that takes forever to get to the story. Normally if a book likes to exposition for a whole 26 chapters, it should at least make you fall in love with a character, but I wasn’t feeling much attachment to our heroine, Karou. I think I liked Akiva, the little we saw of him more. This is an immediate no, in my book. If the book’s main character is a girl, I better like this girl (looking at you, Bella Swan!) and I just felt nothing for Karou until the middle of the end when she became all badass and then the book starts to wrap up and I’m sitting there spitting out my tea screaming “OH GREAT!”
The reason I didn’t completely give this book a total fail was because I actually enjoyed the last 100 pages or so , If the last 100 pages were what the whole book was like I might have actually given this a 5/5 and gushed about it all day and night. I was enthralled by the twist and the story that came with it, but it was mostly Akiva that was sparking my interest and his interaction with Karou. If the story was told a bit more from Akiva’s perspective rather than Karou’s I think I might have liked the book more.
However, by the time I did actually not want to put the book down, it ended and I wasn’t filled with much of a detachment from it. I am hoping that with all of the exposition over and done with in Daughter of Smoke and Bone that its sequel Days of Blood and Starlight will be better.
It’s usually known as that other book that Stephenie Meyer wrote, the one with all the sci fi and silly aliens. But here’s the thing, The Host is far more superior than her first book, Twilight, in both characterization and plot development. Unfortunately for Meyer, being known as the woman who created twihards isn’t always the best thing for serious literary folks out there. But if you’re anything like me and prefer to come up with your own conclusions rather than listening to everyone else’s you might want to give this book a shot, even if you despised Twilight with every fiber of your being. I just don’t think we should judge an author based upon one book or series, especially one that was their first. Because I am a person that finds lists easy, I have made up 3 reasons why reading The Host might not be a bad idea for, well, anyone.
(I know, I know, me talking about not buying anyones propaganda and then writing my own is pretty silly, but there is a point to this I swear. And if you can’t find the point I concede to my own hypocrisy )
Here’s a bit of a summary before I start:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature,THE HOSTis a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human. (description courtesy of BN.COM)
1. Wanda/Melanie > Bella Swan
This is the one and only Twilight comparison I will make and it’s probably because it’s the one that stood out the greatest to me while reading The Host. Bella was meant to be an every woman kind of gal, and eventually she just became so Mary Sue-esque that you just couldn’t help but want to slap the crazy out of her. Everything became about Edward, nothing was about Bella anymore. This is not something I seek for in a strong female character, sure vulnerability is nice to have, and when you’re a teenage girl obsessing over the boy “you lyk totes love” is normal, (or in Bella’s case the man old enough to be her Great Grandfather, but that’s not even an issue.) Where as with Bella she aimed for the “every girl” with Wanda/Melanie she was looking for something else, something on a different extreme. Melanie and Wanda were both weak in their own way and thats what made them stronger characters. Wanda’s fatal flaw was that she was constantly looking out for everyone EXCEPT herself. She would sacrifice all of her lives in order to save the people that she loves and that makes her a role-model, someone to actually look up to, even if she is one of the alien body snatchers. You can’t help but feel for her. And then there is Mel, who is just trying to hold on to who she once was, something a lot of people relate to when they feel alienated, so to speak, and they just don’t feel like themselves. Unlike Bella’s whose weakness’s were constantly used against her, Wanda/Mel make the most of what they have and overcome the taunts and judgmental behaviors of those around them to become a part of the family.
2. It’s about Sisterhood.
A lot of stories about alien-body swapping don’t really have much love the for the alien infiltrating the humans body, but the story is predominately told through Wanda’s perspective, Melanie is the voice inside of Wanda’s head, slowly pulling her into the depths of human emotion. There is one messy love triangle, well it’s more like a square to be honest, in this book. Heck, I admit, I was pulled in by the romantic entanglements just as much as the next person, but what really kept me going was the story of love and friendship between Melanie and Wanda. I don’t want to spoil too much but it’s a hate to love friendship that I fully enjoyed, and wish more books. tv shows and movies would focus on. It’s not fair that bromances get all of the love, but I’m glad for Wanda and Mel, they really showed how intricate the dynamics of female friendship are.
Through out most of the story Wanda begins to refer to her new friends as “family” and she talks about them as if that is where she belonged. Despite the conflict in the beginning, no matter what happened they were always there for each other. Sometimes familial ties can get lost in books about apocalyptic societies but Meyer makes sure to include it and make it a theme that is woven through out the whole story. For someone like Wanda, imagining humans who she finds to be violent creatures to be her family is unique and for the humans to love and respect Wanda, despite the current status of the world it’s absolutely brave to touch base on. Although the family ties are constantly tested there is always a logical basis behind all of the fights and reunions involved between Wanda and her new found family. Again, family is something that is written about so rarely anymore, it’s touched upon, or it contains the basic mother, father components but The Host prides itself in the family dynamics of survivors, the last hope of civilization.
Personally I feel like critics of Meyer’s writing might even enjoy this book as it show cases her style as an actual writer. I also feel like somewhere down the line she became bored of her Twilight characters and that is where a lot fo criticism stems from. The Host is probably her finest outing as a writer and story teller. It doesn’t just follow every single troupe of the scifi novel and say “okay I’m good!” it stands out on it’s own. It defines humanity and our current condition. There are times where you’ll even find yourself shaking your head at every criticism Wanda has about humans and how violent and ill mannered we all can be. The Host isn’t some book about an alien invasion, it’s a book about life, love and family, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Format: ebook 198 pgs
Rating: 5/5 Hey Nows
When I was first recommended anything by John Green I sort of shrugged it off. There’s a lot of authors that are hyped about and never fully meet the accolades for which they are spoken of so highly, when people talk others are convinced before they even try something; therefore I wasn’t sure if Mr. Green and I would be a good mix because of his cult status in the bibliophile and general nerd community (He’s popular ‘cause of his nerdfighter videos over on You Tube.) Needless to say I was wrong and I’m glad that I was wrong because his writing lives up to all of the kind words I’ve heard/read about him over the years.
I don’t weep for fictional characters, I might get a little misty eyed every once in a while (I’m not a robot! Emotions are hard!) but I never start bawling like a baby, but I did, I bawled so hard. I’ll talk about that in a second, first the summary!
The beginning of TFiOS sounds hopeful. Hazel Grace Lancaster, our narrater and soon to be best friend has cancer, she has been fighting it since she was a kid. When we meet Hazel she’s in a support group for children with cancer, some of the kids are NEC (No Evidence of Cancer) and others are on their way up to the big guy in the sky. She gets a lot of flack from her mother because she’d rather spend her days at home watching America’s Next Top Model than go out and have friends. See, Hazel knows she is buying time with a miracle drug that stalls the cancer, she is still terminal and doesn’t have much time although she doesn’t know how long it is. At Support Group Hazel meets an amputee and cancer survivor named Augustus Waters. Augustus is smart, witty and carefree. (The carefree part being something someone like Hazel, who is a bit more grounded in reality doesn’t understand in the beginning.) The two form an instant connection. Through Augustus, Hazel learns how to live and realizes that she isn’t battling Cancer she is battling herself, because as Augustus puts it, Cancer is something that is a part of you.
When Augustus and Hazel start there friendship you almost feel bad for Hazel because she worries about Augustus having to live without her when she’s gone. The story builds up our hopes in the beginning because you can’t help but smile that someone like Hazel, who carries around an oxygen tank and is constantly fearful that the current day might be her last is finally living her life. But then tragedy happens, something you may have seen coming because lets face it, it’s a trope, but you don’t want it to happen and when it does everything inside of you begins to crumble. The walls you might have built suddenly shatter, and you might find yourself like me, a bumbling mess lying in the pool of her own tears and sadness.
Through the emotions there is a light, TFiOS teaches us that diseases can rip us away from our lives, take away those that we love in an instant, but we can’t be mad at disease, because as it says in the book “cancer is just trying to live.” We have to make it apart of us, because it is apart of us and thats the only way we can live with it without entirely hating ourselves.
It’s a difficult book to get through if you’ve lost someone, or know someone you love with cancer. (I have and I do.) I found it to be therapeutic because everyone needs a good cry every once in a while and why not weep for those that you have become so close to in such a short period of time, people who don’t really exist but feel like they’ve been your best friends since infancy. That’s what happened to me with Hazel and Augustus, they became part of me and I them, thats the sign of a good book. Hours later I was in bed on Christmas Eve thinking about the book and the message it carried and I almost started to cry again.
I could feel like a loser for revealing that I had a good cry over fictional characters, but I cried because I fell in love with Hazel and Augustus and that’s all that matters in a good book, the love for the people you read about. A lot of times authors hate the characters they write and you could see it through their writing, but not John Green, he loved those two kids, the girl with the pixie cut and the boy with the crooked smile and he made them shine and they shined so bright we saw and loved them too.
"You gave me forever with numbered days."
"That’s the thing about pain." Augustus said and glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."
"You look like a millennial Natalie Portman. Like V for Vendetta Natalie Portman.”
"Really?" he asked. "Pixie-haired gorgeous girl dislikes authority and can’t help but fall for a boy she knows is trouble. It’s your autobiography as far as I can tell."
"I am going to read this terrible book with the boring title that does not contain storm troopers."
Title: The Diviners (Book 1 of The Diviners Series)
Author: Libba Bray
Format: ebook 466 pgs
Rating: 5/5 Hey Nows
Having been a fan of Libba Bray for a few years now, (her Gemma Doyle series still has me an emotional mess in need of a sequel series) The Diviners was an easy pick for me. Recommended to me by a friend of mine, reading The Diviners was an easy decision and one that I am thrilled to have made.
The Diviners is a story set in 1920’S New York, it follows a group of young people, each different, each with our own story and niche. First we meet Evangeline “Evie” O’Neill a perky, flapper girl from Ohio who has been exiled to live with her crazy, scholar, uncle Will in New York after a slight mishap in her small, close nit town. Evie’s lucky that she left Ohio because her personality is far too big to be squandered by small town life. All seems grand when she gets to New York except Evie has a big secret that can help save the world, but she’s not the only one.
After a set of serial murders begins to plague the city Uncle Will is asked to help the police solve the murders which are now showing to be a little bit more complicated than first realized. The murders are tied to the occult and luckily Uncle Will runs the local Supernatural Museum and is an expert in all things bizarre. Evie has her eyes set to help him by using her special ability. See, Evie can hold any object that belongs to a person and tell them about personal things. She usually uses it as a parlor trick, but when she gets to deep into the persons psych it’s not all fun and games.
We find out fairly early on that Evie is a Diviner. Diviners are people with skill sets that can help prevent certain things from eventually happening. People like Evie who can hold an object and tell you your story, people who can tell the future, run so hot they go into a rage and can kill, healers, dream walkers, etc… The Diviners were given these gifts so they can prevent the doom in the world except most of them can’t band together because they keep their secrets close to their hearts.
The Diviners is a book that is so well written, and has so many great characters that well rounded and fleshed out that you can’t put the book down. It’s very difficult to find a book where you don’t dislike a character, or find a side in a love triangle and this one has that. I hated no on in the book, although I did find one character to be expendable but I’m certain her purpose might be found in the second book of the series. There’s also romance, because lets face it what would a YA book be without that? And I have to say I am torn and still torn on who I would pick for the girl in question, but I love both boys equally.
One of the things I adored about the book was how well researched it was. There was a lot of historical facts weaved into the story and explained for those that might not know, or remember. Certain laws and factoids. She also dives into the social scene of the 20’s, how flappers were regarded and treated, the prohibition, and my personal favorite, interracial relationships. I enjoy a book I can learn from as well as be entertained by, I even had to google somethings to see what it was like in that era and as someone who loves to learn new things that was a heck lot of fun.
I know slapped the book with a 5/5 rating because I did love it entirely. I wanted to slip it down to a 4 at one point because there was something I wasn’t sure I loved; it began to drag. Make no mistake this book is fairly long. My ebook was over 450 pages, but the book in its regular form is well over 500 pages and I don’t mind that at all if I wasn’t screaming for a good 100 pages for something to finally happen. I understand this is the first in what is supposed to be 4 books so Bray was trying to introduce us to characters and the overall plot of the storyline which is fine by me. The reason I went back up to a 5 is because of how well written and wonderful this book is and how superb and promising this series seems to be. Even with the slight lul I breezed through this book in two days, never wanting to put down for free that I would miss something, as if I were going to the bathroom during a movie.
Rumor has it the next book wont be out for a while but I can’t wait. For more on my thoughts, I will be doing a discussion vlog later in the week.
This is a new segment of The Blog I would like to introduce called Hey Now Book Disucssion. It’s a vlog with major spoilers about the book. I discuss plot and characters and ask for some opinions! Feel free to comment below on your thoughts and theories.
This week I discuss Poison Princess by Kresley Cole, the first book in The Arcana Chronicles series. For a non spoilery review of the book check out my regular Hey Now Books review here.
*Please note I meant disorder when I said disease at one point. My sincere apologies, but I was talking so fast I really didn’t realize it.
Title: Poison Princess (Book 1 of The Arcana Chronicles)
Author: Kresley Cole
Format: ebook 344 pgs.
Rating: 4/5 Hey Nows
Poison Princess was the first book on my November Reading list, and I’m glad that it was. Firstly, the book is the first foray into YA Fiction for Cole whose other books are mostly in the adult fiction, paranormal romance genre. You can see this writing style in Poison Princess, there are semi-chaste moments in Princess that are hotter than some romance novels that have full on sex scenes.
Princess centers around Evangeline “Evie” Green a wholesome, popular girl from a small town who has a big secret; she can hear voices and has foretelling visions of the apocalypse. Everyone, including her mother think she’s crazy, and Evie gets sent away to a mental institution so she can get better, but even with her medication the visions don’t stop. When Evie gets home all she wants is normalcy, but with the visions and whispers haunting her and the new bad boy in school that just doesn’t seem possible. After her visions, seemingly begin to come true and the event simply known as “The Flash” happens Evie, with the help of bad boy Jackson are on the road looking for her estranged grandmother who foretold the events that would come to pass. Evie soon realizes she is part of The Arcana, doomed to kill her own kind, with help from other Arcana that she meets along the way she must save the world or be consumed by it.
Poison Princess is the type of book that has it all. It’s got mystery, a good heroine, a great anti-hero and a romance to root for. It took me a little bit of time to fully get into this book, when I first started it I surely was intrigued by it, but that is due to Cole’s fantastic prose style writing, and the commanding, yet nieve female voice she gives Evie. The first chapter might be a bit confusing as well until you realize what’s actually happening, but all and all it was a fun ride from beginning to end.
Evie is a strong female character, although there are times you are annoyed by her naiveté and just want her to kick some serious ass you can’t help but still love her. By the time Evie finally gets her claws out it’s a little late in the book but you still are rooting for her. Evie is the Empress, one of the strongest cards in The Arcana she controls life, she can feel the trees, plants and vines all around her so when The Flash rids of that it also weakens Evie. It takes some time for her to actually start being badass again but she does it wonderfully and will for sure make her final show down with Death a whole lot of fun.
Jackson is absolutely brilliantly written. I have both wanted to slap him and hug him all at the same time. Jackson is a man out of the Bayou, but a tough cookie. There is a mystery to him that I find to be very charming and fresh. He drives Evie crazy with his Cajun wit and his do or die attitude and in exchange I feel the same about him. There is a scene with him and Evie and that is so hot, I swear I was reading an adult novel.
The first installment in The Arcana chronicles definitely leaves us wanting more. It resolves as much as it leaves open and the cliff hanger is not as much of a cliff hanger as it is a leg for the next installment of the series which should be out sometime next year. Overall Poison Princess is a fun ride, and great look into the world of the Tarot. It’s a stand out in the floded post-apocalyptic YA genre and definitely a good read.