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Review : Crossed

Crossed by Ally Condie
Pages : 367
Genre : YA, Dystopia, Science-Fiction
Series : Matched, Book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Cassia will do anything to reunite with Ky, the love too soon taken from her life by the Society. Following his trace into the canyons, Cassia meets new allies and new enemies as she focuses on her simple plan : once she finds Ky, they’ll join the Rising and fights against the Society. But before she reaches the rebellion, Cassia will learn that even the ones the closest to her may have some surprises of their own…

My Thoughts :

I’ve mentioned already on this blog how for a while, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Crossed, even though I said I would in my review of its predecessor Matched. I will spare you the long story of how I changed my mind 20 times and ended up reading it anyway – and with a teeny tiny bit of excitement, to be honest.

So, was Crossed fun to read?

Somewhat. I did get through it, and I read most of it in a day. It was an easy read, the pages turning quickly as time flew by. Condie’s writing was generally pleasant, although some of her prose sends my eyes on a rolling carnival. But that’s okay, because these excessively flourished sentences are sprinkled along the chapters rather than being the core of her writing. I can live with that, and I know other readers will absolutely love it.

Where her writing fails, though, is in having a dual narrative. I couldn’t tell Ky from Cassia. It wasn’t too bad when they were each on their own with different people, but once they reunited, I couldn’t differentiate the two. If I picked up the book in the middle of a chapter, I had to turn a few pages back to see who was talking.

Plus, I wasn’t a fan of Ky to begin with. He is tortured, and dramatic, and not my kind of guy. I prefer Xander much more, but he was almost absent from this book. (I heard he was the one narrating with Cassia in the next book though, so I’m looking forward to that.) On the other hand, I like the new additions to the cast, mainly Indie. She was an intriguing character, one of the things that kept me reading.

I will say that this book really felt like the “middle book”, the journey between the Big Event that started it all and the Big Event that will conclude it. For a while, I felt like all they were doing was walk, walk, walk and not much else. I feel that Reached will probably be more exciting and more of a page turner, and I’m fairly certain, now that I am two books into the series, that I will be reading it. I think.

Maybe?

Probably.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Matched
  2. Crossed
  3. Reached (coming November 2012)
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Review : Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Pages : 406
Genre : YA, Fiction, Humor
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

From GoodreadsThe fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

My Thoughts :

Before I comment, I feel I should really insist that you do not take my word on this one. If you have any interest in this book, try it – or read more reviews before taking your decision. The truth is, not everyone loves satire, and even when you do (I usually do), it’s no guarantee that you will love this particular one.

Looking at my reading notes on Beauty Queens, I can see there were two things that didn’t work for me. One : the numerous messages delivered with little subtlety made the book feel more like a lesson than like a fiction. I think the author successfully included a lesson on almost any issue you could think of, which is not bad in itself, but it did take away from my enjoyment.  Two : the satire was just too over-the-top for me. I know what satire is, but at some point I felt like it took away from the story being told.

I really had to push myself to get through it, and that’s not something I want to do when reading anymore. Luckily, I did have some fun with the book. I liked some of the characters and scenes, some of the jokes gave me a giggle or a smile.

I really don’t believe it’s a case of bad writing, or bad plot, or bad characters, and that is why I can’t advise anyone to stay away from this book. In this case, I really, truly felt that Beauty Queens and I just weren’t made for each other. I’m sure I would have loved this book at fifteen; not because I was fifteen but because of who I was at that time of my life. I loved anything that had satire, irony, sarcasm, anything that was over-the-top but also had something to say. And Beauty Queens was certainly all of these things! 🙂

The R.I.P. challenge and 3 Reviews : The Thirteenth Tale, Virals and Prophecy of the Sisters

Hello hello, all!

First of all, I missed you. It’s crazy how blogging has become such a part of my life that, when  I don’t do it for a while, I feel like there’s a little something missing in my life!

So October came and went (that was a while ago, I know!), and despite a huge blogging slump that has made this space a lot quieter, I did complete my R.I.P. challenge before October ended! I read 4 books, as I had planned, 2 of which had been on my initial list. Not bad!

I reviewed The Lace Reader previously, and it was definitely my favorite of the four. Now is the time to review the three other books I read for the occasion, and I thought it would be fun to review them all together. While I did really enjoy one of them, and thought the other two were okay, I found that I took very few notes and had little to say about them – hence the shorter reviews. Hopefully I’ll be back on top of this blogging thing before the end of the year!

* * *

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Pages : 406
Genre : Mystery, Gothic
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

What it’s about : When Margaret gets hired to write the biography of one of Britain’s most popular novelists, she does it mostly out of curiosity. Vida Winter has had a prolific writing life, but the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale is one she has never shared before. Margaret soons find herself captivated by Vida’s tales, as well as facing the missing parts of her own story.

My Thoughts : The Thirteenth Tale was much more intriguing, and much more intricate that I expected it to be – but in a good way! The story within a story is a fascinating one, it’s also one that leaves you wondering; is this true, or not? How reliable is this woman’s narrative, really?

The pace was really slow at times but I didn’t mind, at all. It gave the book time to develop gently, and there were a lot of details to these little pieces of the story, so I was never bored. I enjoyed Setterfield’s writing, and while I never completely connected to Margaret, I loved her as a character. It was definitely a great read for October, and for the R.I.P. challenge.

* * *

Virals by Kathy Reichs
Pages : 452
Genre : YA, Paranormal
Series : Virals, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Tory and her friends are the first surprised when, after rescuing a dog from a laboratory, they witness their bodies reacting differently to the world around them. Now not only do they have to deal with their new abilities, they also got involved in an unresolved murder case.

My Thoughts : In theory, this one had everything to grab my interest : secret laboratory experiments, an almost secluded island, a cold case, etc. But I just couldn’t get into it.

Now, I know that Reichs is quite the popular author, her Bones novels being in every bookstore and the TV series being quite popular, too. But I didn’t like the writing, at all. I didn’t get Tory and worse, I didn’t really want to get to know her more than I already did. So I pushed through the novel and to be honest, I did skim a little. I don’t know whether this is a good sample of Reichs’ writing but based on Virals, it really isn’t for me.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Fallen
  2. Seizure

* * *

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Pages : 340
Genre : YA
Series : Prophecy of the Sisters, Book 1
My Rating :

From Goodreads : Twin sister Lia and Alice Milthorpe are yoked together in an ancient prophecy that makes them enemies and could destroy them both. If Lia can break this familial curse, she can not only save her relationship with her beloved boyfriend; she can finally resolve the mystery behind her parents’ death.

My Thoughts : Heh. I guess that’s what happens when you get lured by the pretty covers : you take a chance and, sometimes, you get disappointed. While Prophecy of the Sisters wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, either. For me it fell in the forgettable category. I’m not going to follow up on this one, sadly, even though the next covers are equally pretty.

One of the thing that really kept me from enjoying this one was the writing. What I felt was that the author, having set the story at the end of the 19th century, was trying to write in a way that would imitate writers of this time, or what one would think sounds like a 19th century character’s voice. Sadly, the narration was way too modern, and I didn’t buy it at all. It’s a quick read though, so for those who enjoy the genre, I say give it a try!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Prophecy of the Sisters
  2. Guardian of the Gate
  3. Circle of Fire

3 Reviews : Deadly Little Secret, Fallen and Horns of Ruin

Today’s mini-reviews have all in common that despite reading reviews that clearly indicated that these books weren’t for me, I went ahead and gave them a try anyway, because Ooooh! The Pretty Covers!

I know, I know. I’m such a shallow reader!

* * *

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Pages : 252
Genre : YA, Paranormal
Series : Touch, Book 1
My Rating : 

What it’s about : Even though she doesn’t believe the horrible rumors circulating about new boy Ben, Camelia can’t help but wonder if the recent strange events of her life are linked to his presence. Ben is obviously hiding something… but what?

My Thoughts : So this was neither good nor bad, and it fell in a kind of very grey area that made it absolutely forgettable to me. I read it a month ago and could barely tell you what it was about. The paranormal aspect is kind of interesting – psychometry, an ability to read one’s future through touch – but the characters themselves were a little bland. Also the ending was to me  completely obvious. I’m giving this 2,5 stars because I can’t remember enough to give it less or more. Meh.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Deadly Little Secret
  2. Deadly Little Lies
  3. Deadly Little Games
  4. Deadly Little Voices (coming December 2011)

* * *

Fallen by Lauren Kate
Pages : 452
Genre : YA, Paranormal
Series : Fallen, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : After she gets involved in a tragic accident costing the life of another teen, Luce gets sent to the mysterious Swords & Cross boarding school. There she meets Daniel, a mysterious guy she can’t seem to stay away from. What secrets does he hide? What about the mysterious bond they both feel between them?

My Thoughts : Oh my! I’ll forever love the cover but it took me everything I had to finish this one. The beginning was kind of interesting, I was intrigued by Luce’s story until Daniel became her sole focus. I wouldn’t have finished it if I hadn’t already gotten so far in.

Like Deadly Little Secret, this book definitely comes running on the steps of Twilight‘s success. The formula is a bit of the same, with a role reversal of Luce being the new kid and the stalker. It just didn’t work for me, but I have no doubts fans of the genre will enjoy this one.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Fallen
  2. Torment
  3. Passion
  4. Rapture (coming June 2012)

* * *

The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers
Pages : 340
Genre : Steampunk, Fantasy
Stand Alone
My Rating :

From Goodreads : Eva Forge is the last paladin of a dead God. Eva was the last child dedicated to the Cult of Morgan, forsaken by her parents and forgotten by her family. Now she watches as her new family, her Cult, crumbles all around her.

My Thoughts : I don’t know what to say here. I had such high hopes for this one, but it turned out to be a total disappointment. First, there was so much action I felt I never had a break to just enjoy and get familiar with this intricate new world. Plus, I just couldn’t stand Eva. It got better towards the ending, but not enough.

On the plus side, the world has many interesting aspects and gadgets. It just wasn’t enough to make me like it.

3 Reviews : Hex Hall, Firelight and The Candidates

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking to an extent about some of the books I’ve read, so I choose to go with the short reviews instead. I’ve done this in the past mainly with books I hadn’t enjoyed, but this time it’s not the case. Instead, here are three books I did enjoy reading but that didn’t leave a strong impression on me.

These share some similarities, as all three are the first of their series, and all have a paranormal aspect. They also all provided a healthy dose of entertainment – just what my brain needs when it’s time to turn off after a long day! And if only for that reason, they at least deserved a short mention here, because even though they might slip off my mind after some time, I’ll probably read their sequels anyway!

* * *

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Pages : 323
Genre : YA, Paranormal, Magic
Series : Hex Hall, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Ever since she’s discovered she’s a witch, Sophie has been prone to “incidents”. When one particular incident on prom night gets her in trouble, she is sent to Hex Hall, a school where witches like her but also shapeshifters and faeries get to learn to live with their abilities. When students start being attacked, Sophie has to pick her allies and decide who she can or can’t trust.

My Thoughts : This was quite fun, actually, and it makes me sad that I don’t have much to comment about it, because in the “quick paranormal read that entertains greatly” category, Hex Hall is one I am really glad to have read. Sophie was a likable character and I loved her sense of humor. It wasn’t the sarcastic-teen kind of humor we often see in YA fiction, it was simply fun.

Sophie has a love interest, of course, but while the author described their instant connection, I was never convinced by it. So, for me the romance really was second place to all the rest. On the other hand, I loved Sophie’s vampire roommate. Their friendship, I was convinced of. It was complex and realistic in the way they interacted with each other.

All in all, a cute read and I can’t wait to read the next book. 🙂

Series Reading Order :

  1. Hex Hall
  2. Demonglass
  3. Spell Bound (coming March 2012)

* * *

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Pages : 323
Genre : YA, Paranormal
Series : Firelight, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Jacinda is a draki, a descendant of dragons with the secret power to take human form. When a dangerous turn of events forces Jacinda to flee from her home with her mom and her sister, she doesn’t feel prepared to face the mortal world. Once there though, only one thing makes her feel more alive : Will, the beautiful guy who’s a danger to her own family.

My Thoughts : Dragons! I love stories with dragons and the like, so between that and a fantastic cover, I was looking forward to this one. While it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped it to be, it certainly was an entertaining story with lots to twists and turns. The fact that Jacinda knows what she is from the start, rather than discovering her new abilities, also makes it different from many YA novels.

However, I felt there was a lot of repetitions in the narration, especially toward the middle. I felt Jacinda kept repeating the same complaints, again and again. Also, I didn’t feel the story went as smoothly as it could have gone. Despite that, I was left curious enough to put the next one (with an equally beautiful cover!) on my wishlist.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Firelight
  2. Vanish

* * *

The Candidates by Inara Scott
Pages : 293
Genre : YA, Fiction
Series : Delacroix Academy, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about : Weird things always happen around Dancia, especially when something threatens the people around her. But when, despite being average in everything, she gets offered a prestigious scholarship at the mysterious Delacroix Academy, Dancia knows this is her chance to change the course of her life.

My Thoughts : I wish the story stood out as much as the cover does, but sadly, I found it extremely predictable. The idea was fun : boarding schools and the like always make perfect settings for weird and mysterious stories, but I didn’t feel the author explored this one in a sufficient way. There was also too little surprise left for the reader, considering the “truth” is revealed really far in the book.

However, I found Dancia likable and the group of student intriguing enough to keep me reading. I’ll probably read book two, but I’m considering borrowing it rather than buying it.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Candidates
  2. The Marked

Review : Personal Demons

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Pages : 365
Genre : YA, Paranormal Romance
Series : Personal Demons, book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Frannie has been raised to be a good catholic girl, yet events of her past make her want not to believe in the existence of God.

When two new guys join her school, Frannie is surprised to have them immediately drawn to her – and to be drawn to them both, too. On one side there is sexy, dark, dangerous Luke; on the other, sexy, beautiful, charming Gabe.

And both have plans for her, plans that will force Frannie to face her path and question her beliefs once more.

My Thoughts :

Okay, so this book was clearly not for me. And I always feel bad giving a somewhat bad review when my disappointment so obviously comes from the fact that the book and I, we are clearly mismatched. I don’t think we could even be friends. Neighbors, maybe. Casual acquaintances. But nothing more.

I have no doubts there are plenty of readers out there who will love this book : it’s hot, sexy, steamy, with a lot of “ooohs” and “aaaahs”, and a love triangle that could rival the best out there. It’s romance in its hottest incarnation.

The plot, in itself, is interesting. Having Heaven and Hell battling for the soul of one girl, for a reason that is still unknown in the beginning, was an idea that had a lot of potential. I imagined an epic story between the forces of good and evil, with Frannie at its center, probably fighting for her own free will. I would have loved that.

But, because I am not a romance reader, this is basically what happened :

As I often mentioned in the past, I am not a romance reader. I love when romantic interactions are a part of the novel : romance, love, relationships, they are all part of life. But when the romance is at the core of the book, it doesn’t work for me. So even though I had a lot of fun at the start of the book, I was quickly annoyed by Frannie’s yo-yo dance between the two guys, and the obviously steamy scenes that followed.

If I think of my personal rating of the book, it would probably be lower; but I had to recognize, the book also had some strong points, hence the “in-the-middle” rating :

  • The premise is interesting and keeps developing through the story, sometimes in predictable ways, sometimes in surprising ways.
  • The author’s writing is engaging and quickly pulls you in.
  • There are a lot of fun scenes, especially in the first half before the real drama begins, that gave me a smile and a giggle.
  • The author did a great use of the mythological aspects of the religion, sticking to its core while adapting it for her story in an original way. Not all books are successful in this aspect (yes, I’m looking at you The Goddess Test) but Personal Demons is a success on that front.
So while I managed to finish this one, I have no idea whether I’ll read book 2 or not. It’s really not at the top of my list. But if you love paranormal romances, hot mysterious guys with a dark side, twists on angels and demons and sexy steamy scenes, you’ll probably find Personal Demons to be a great fit for you 🙂

Series Reading Order :

  1. Personal Demons
  2. Original Sin (coming July 5th 2011)