Monday, February 25, 2013

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Format: Hardcover, 452 pages
Pub. Date: February 5th 2013


4.5 stars, rounded up.

In the second installment of the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder is on the run. A friend left her with instructions, and she has no choice but to follow them. The only problem is that she's public enemy number one. Prince Kai, betrayed by her heritage, wants her captured. The Lunar Queen wants her dead, and will tear the Earth apart looking for her. Meanwhile, Scarlet Benoit is trying to find her grandmother, who's gone missing. With the help of a surly, quiet hunk fighter named Wolf, she must get her grandmother back, and find out the truth about her past. When the girls' paths cross, it might already be too late. An alliance hangs in the balance between the Commonwealth and Luna, Cinder's powers are unknown, and not every ally is exactly who they claim.....


4.5 stars, rounded up.

If Little Red Riding Hood, The Hunger Games, and Cinder had a baby, it would be this book, and I loved it.

+As in Cinder, Marissa Meyer vividly describes a very real-feeling future. Though this book is set in the dystopian future, after a fourth world war, each detail of what the world has become is portrayed through her descriptions. I felt like I could walk down some of these streets and get around just fine. I wouldn't want to crawl into this book setting (too much plague and government interference), but I appreciate when authors can create a new world to such an extent.

+Characters, both good and evil, are well developed. There are some characters that I love; Wolf, with his rugged lupine alpha-attitude, Iko and her adorable sass, Kai and his dreamy prince charming-like qualities. Then there are those I'm not too fond of; Thorne, with his air of arrogance and swagger, Levana and her greed. But, unlike some other books I've reviewed in the past, I didn't form negative opinions towards these characters because they were badly written, but because they were written to be bad. There's a huge difference, and the author nails it.

+Fight scenes are something that, as a whole, I don't really enjoy. I often get muddled and confused trying to figure out who is punching who. Though still not my forte, the fights in this book were easy to understand, and extremely intense. Sometimes I didn't even know who to cheer for.

+This book made me feel so many things. I felt betrayed, hopeful, nervous, shocked, angry.... Sometimes all at once. I love when books can get a reaction from me: that's a certain sign of a book I will read again, and will recommend.

+I don't wan't to have any spoilers, but I have to say, I love the pack mentality of a certain group of men. Thanks to my wolf-obsessed girlfriend, I have a bit of a thing for wolves myself. I love this addition to the plot, and I sincerely hope they make an appearance in Cress (in 2014!? Really!?)

+The cover is beautiful. Just look at it!

-My only real flaw with this book is something that appears regularly in fairy tales that just irks me: young characters willing to die in place of seniors. Maybe I'm jaded, or maybe I don't have respect for my elders, but I very much doubt that I would take the place in a torture cell to save my grandmother. Scarlet isn't the only story that has this plot line (Belle, I'm looking at you!), but I often found myself sighing at Scarlet's decisions based on my opinion of this element.

I loved Cinder, but Scarlet definitely doesn't disappoint as a sequel. Filled with equal parts of war, romance, cyborgs, and hiding from authority, Scarlet offers an action packed retelling of Little Red Riding Hood fit for the 21st century. Fans of books such as Beta, The Hunger Games, or Uglies should definitely check out the Lunar Chronicles. If sexy alpha men, kick ass cyborg princesses, and looming war aren't for you, maybe read something else (you crazy person you). I leave you with my favorite quote, said by my new fictional boyfriend, Wolf, "I think I realized that I would rather die because I betrayed them, than live because I betrayed you." (Page 444)

Thank you to, Marissa Meyer and Feiwel and Friends for my snazzy new copy of this book.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 563 pages
Pub. Date: November 20th 2012
Source: Purchased


2 Stars.

Gatlin is a small town that no one's ever heard of. Its inhabitants go to church on Sunday, they support the Confederacy (even though the war is long lost and over), and they stick to their Southern morals and hospitality... Unless someone goes against the grain. Lena Duchannes is everything that the teenage girls of Gatlin aren't- pale, darkly dressed, and well versed in poetry and literature. And to make it worse, she's related to the town shut in. She never stood a chance of fitting in. Ethan feels attached to her for reasons he doesn't quite understand, but when a series of paranormal events afflict the town, Ethan learns that there's way more to Lena than meets the eye. She's in danger, and even though everyone says to stay away, Ethan knows he'll lay it all on the line to help her, and to save her.


I honestly don't understand why there's so much hype surrounding this series. I tried, but it just wasn't for me.

-The first 100 or so pages dragged on forever. I'm not the fastest reader in the world, but it normally doesn't take two weeks to get so little reading accomplished. Every time I used my Goodreads "currently reading" page tracker, I got sad because it would only move about 1% at a time. I understand that it's set in the South, and that can be a bit slow, but there's a difference between slow and completely stopped. Still, I trudged on.

-Have you ever seen the old Batman series with Adam West? Remember how the villain would always explain in absurd detail how he would capture Batman, instead of just showing the sequence? "Well, Batman, when I pull this switch, the log will come rolling down the ramp, setting off sparklers that will ignite the oil path until it gets to the bonfire which will burn the rope that lowers the knife that will bring your doom!" That's how this book felt at times. Instead of letting scenes just play out for themselves, things are explicitly explained, as though reminding the reader of background information they should already have... But I didn't. And I think that's because....

-As long as we're being nostalgic, remember that one kid that when you would play super heroes, his power was infinite powers? I feel that at parts, that was the case for Beautiful Creatures. New kinds of "Casters" were introduced whenever something needed explaining. It seemed like there are only so many to make the plot work, not to make a well-rounded setting/magical world.

-A lot of the characters I found to be unpleasant. There's so much crankiness in this book. I have enough of that in my own life, I don't need to read it. I'm all for dark/gothic/horror/what have you in books, but the only characters I really liked were Marian and Ridley. They at least had personalities that set them apart.

-+This isn't positive or negative, but, if Ethan instantly has to let go of a Caster book, why could he hold it long enough to lift it out of a grave and over his head to Lena? I feel like I missed something there.

+One positive I did have about this book is the Southern setting. The town of Gatlin, while closed-minded, came off as a town of pure Americana. Everyone knows everyone, people drink sweet tea and all go to the games of the high school. It made me miss when I lived in Louisiana.

+I liked the aspect of the curse, of the females having no say whether they were dark or light. It was an interesting dynamic, even if not really original.

+My cover is pretty, though I have the movie tie-in edition. That means Jeremy Irons is on my book, and that makes me happy. It also came with a movie poster, which has Jeremy on it, which also made me happy.

All in all, I feel like this series is a weird reverse Twilight mixed with the House of Night and True Blood. A girl can communicate with her mind with one boy, she's dangerous, she tells him to stay away, he doesn't, love story happens, in the South, with a 50/50 shot of Light or Dark. While original in its own way, it blended too much with other series I've read, and for that reason I don't think I'll remember this book very well.

If you are a fan of Twilight or the House of Night series, then Beautiful Creatures might be right up your alley. If not, I'd suggest staying away.

PS: Though this is a book review, I must also add, I don't recommend seeing the movie either (even if you did read the book, the film is WAY different).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Glitches by Marissa Meyer

Title: Glitches (Lunar Chronicles 0.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: December 5th 2011


4 Stars.

This short novella helps to give a bit of insight into the novel Cinder. It's written in the form of a prequel, giving background information on Cinder's "fresh" start in new Beijing. It tells how Cinder met her new family, and more importantly introduces Garan, Cinder's stepfather. Back stories offer how Iko came to be, how Garan disappeared, and how Cinder's stepmother Adri initially reacted upon Cinder's arrival.

This is a very quick read that helps give Cinder a more human outlook by showing a bit more emotion as relationships, both good and bad, form upon her arrival across the world. I recommend reading this story after Cinder, and not before. Though it did give a nice, brief history, this story is in no way vital or necessary. If you don't get to read it, no harm done. If you come across it, great, set aside ten minutes and give it a read.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sea Cutter by Timothy Davis

Title: Sea Cutter
Author: Timothy Davis
Format: Paperback, 138 pages
Pub. Date: October 23rd 2012
Source: Sher A. Hart blog


4 Stars.

Nathaniel Childe's father was long ago lost to the sea in a shipwreck that he did not swim away from. Or so Nathaniel's been told. But deep in his heart, he's never believed that his father was dead, even when everyone else lost hope. But four years later, in 1771, he gets a mysterious letter from his father. He knows instantly that the "mythical" island of Perlas Grandes cannot be only a myth, and that his father is alive. Nathaniel must go and find him, facing giant whales, smelly murderers, and a ship full of lies along the ways.


I am very pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn't realize that it was a children's/young young adult book when I got it, but even so I couldn't put this book down.

+The ocean is so very vividly described in this book, that I have to admit, I kind of got the urge to go sailing (of course, without criminals trying to kill me would be preferred). For a time I lived in Massachusetts, and this story telling brought me back there. It felt like the author truly does love the sea, and it reflected in the writing.

+No love but family. That made me exceedingly happy. There was no damsel in distress, no mermaid-type maiden who suddenly captures the young boy's attention. This book is romance free, and after the long string of books I've read lately, it was a very nice reprieve.

+This book, in my opinion, sounds more like an oral story then one on paper. It sounds like a story my father or grandfather would have told me before bed to pacify my whining need for a bedtime story. I think it's for that reason that this book felt so cozy to me. Maybe I'm just weird that way.

-The only real fault I have with this story is that it was a bit choppy at parts, and sometimes the time lapsing was weird, jumping quite a bit ahead at times. It didn't take away from the reading much, but it happened enough for me to pay it attention.

All in all, I feel like this is a clean, wholesome book geared for the younger end of the "young adult" spectrum. Though lads and ladies alike can appreciate this story, I would recommend it more for the boys. I also recommend that if you are a parent or an older brother or babysitter or what have you, read this aloud to your child. This is an adventure that the whole family can share.

If you listen to music while you read, I recommend listening to Voltaire's album entitled "To the Bottom of the Sea". A few of the songs from that album (such as This Ship's Going Down and This Sea) instantly came to my mind while reading.

Thank you to the Sher A. Hart blog for my copy of this book!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

North Pole High: Beginnings by Candace Jane Kringle

Title: North Pole High: Beginnings
Author: Candace Jane Kringle
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: December 16th 2012
Source: Smashwords


4.5 stars, rounded up.

In the novel North Pole High, readers are introduced to several vibrant, wonderful characters that live on the North Pole alongside the title heroine (and teen daughter of Santa) Candycane Claus. In North Pole High: Beginnings, the author tells the backstories of moody rebel love interest Rudy Tutti, the magically talented personal chef to St. Nick, Chefy, and the adoring love story of how Santa found his missus.


4.5 stars, rounded up.

This novella is the perfect companion to North Pole High. It contains just as much humor, sass, and holiday fun-timery, just in a compact fun little ebook.

+It's no secret, as my followers know, that Candace Jane Kringle's humor is right up my alley. It's juvenile with more subtle humor for adults. It's vividly described to the point where I would LOVE to visit this rendition of everyone's favorite toy factory. I thought that maybe my love of the novel had to do with my pre-Christmas spirit. But I read this novella in February, and it made me smile just as much.

+Believe it or not, this book answered a lot of questions that were in the back of my mind while reading the original novel. Why was Rudy in trouble so much, and for that matter, what was the real reason for him traveling to the North Pole? Why the hell was Chefy seven feet tall if he's a penguin? (Keep in mind that I didn't question why there was a penguin chef. It's like asking why Spongebob takes showers underwater... Sometimes it's better to just let things go and give into whimsy) And most important of all, how on earth did Santa and Mrs. Claus meet, and did it explain his harsh protection of his teen daughter? Read this book, and more will be revealed.

+At the end of this series of short stories, there's a few tasty little bonus Christmas treats for the reader. The first is a top five playlist of the best Christmas songs for the season according to one Candycane Claus. There's also a Jeopardy-style Santa trivia which was easy to flip through on my Kindle. And last but certainly not last, the first two chapters of the aforementioned novel, North Pole High are included if you have not already read it.

I think that this short ebook is a great read-along to have after reading North Pole High. However, I definitely would recommend reading the novel first. If not, you may be a bit confused or even off-put. If you HAVE read the book, please read this. It'll make the ho-ho-holiday spirit at NPH (North Pole High that is, not Neil Patrick Harris), all the more merry and bright.

There are a few quotes that I absolutely loved in this story that give a good glimpse at the humor within:

-Somehow my tracks kept showing up on his, as if my footprints had been left on his soles merely by past association.

-He'd kept saying "North", and I'd assumed I'd wake up one day in Forks, with vampires for neighbors.

-My dad's optimism flowed like fairy piss.

Thanks so much to Candace Jane Kringle for offering this for free on Smashwords during the holidays.

You can also find my review of North Pole High on this blog, here. *Side note that in no way changes my review: I just realized that my review of North Pole High is quoted in the "Buzz" section of this ebook. I am kind of fangirling about this.*

Friday, February 8, 2013

Christmas with the Professor by Sue Lyndon

Title: Christmas with the Professor
Author: by Sue Lyndon
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: November 2012
Source: Amazon


2.5 Stars, rounded up.

Angela sees a Dom inside of her professor, Dr. Taylor. There's something about the glint in his eye and the masculine confidence that he oozes with every action that stirs the once-submissive student in all of the right ways. Can she coax this alpha male out of him just in time to make it the perfect Christmastime treat for her?


2.5 stars, rated up.

Overall, this was a mediocre short story with both positives and negatives.

-We never got to learn about Angela. She gave small glimpses into her "horrible" past, but it wasn't enough to make her seem like a relatable or even well written character. It actually reminded me, oddly enough, of The Avengers. When Black Widow and Hawkeye mention Budapest, you think to yourself Damn, what the hell happened in Budapest? In this novella it was Damn, what the hell happened to her in France? Only, we'll never know.

-Then too, she seems a bit too damaged to be properly submissive. It came off almost abusive (and not the fun kind) and at some points her fear and discomfort made me feel that way as well.

+This story was overall well written. The author used a wide variety of vocabulary that gave the scene a bit of spice, and a touch of vulgarity without being needlessly crude or crass.

-That being said, about halfway through I started to feel like this was a Fifty Shades of Grey fan fiction. There's nothing wrong with that, but it did stir up old irritations that I felt in that novel. Such as, the use of the word there. No. Just no. Please. Writers, I beg you. No more there.

+The scene was sexy, and so was the professor. I don't blame her for talking herself into staying with him.

My final opinion on this novella is that it sounds like a proposal for a novel. And to be honest, I'd be very interested in reading that. I'd like to see both characters more developed, perhaps a bit more of the relationship between them and less of a rushed finish. But as a stand-alone story it fell a bit flat for me.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Barbie Girl by Heidi Acosta

Title: Barbie Girl (Baby Doll #1)
Author: Heidi Acosta
Format: ebook
Pub. Date: November 1st 2012
Source: Word Spelunking blog


2 Stars.

Barbie is trash. Her mom works at a strip club, and the whole school thinks that she's a whore. She lets them think it's true, because all she really cares about is getting her little brother away from her mom and out of town. It's for him that she suffers through school and her small Alabama town. Dylan is a nerd who wants nothing more than to be with Katie. So, he makes a deal with the blonde devil herself. She'll help him snag the girl, if he helps tutor her. Only, things don't necessarily go as planned....


This review is going to be short and sweet, because I don't have much to say.

I only made it about halfway through this book. There were some glaring issues that I had with it that limited my enjoyment of the novel, and made me unwilling to put the time forward to read it start to finish.

-The biggest of these issues for me was the grammar. There was an extreme under-use of commas, making the text read like run on sentences. Either that, or the sentences were choppy and too short. I even noticed one instance where an entire word was missing, "No wonder he is love with her." It's not an isolated mistake, but one of many.

-On a similar note, I found the dialog between these high school aged characters to be too proper. There were almost no contractions. I understand that it makes your writing seem better, and that it lengthens the pages. But I don't know many high schoolers who say "I do not know what you mean" or "I am not quite sure." Sure, it's proper English, but it made the youth sound older and robotic. I'm sure this is my own personal preference, however.

-+The next issue is neither positive nor negative, and is about the chapters. They alternate between the two main characters' perspectives, Dylan and Barbie. Only, there's no indication that there's a switch in POV. All of a sudden, I was really confused as to why Dylan was thinking about being a stripper at his mom's work. It took me a few paragraphs to realize that, oh, it's a Barbie chapter now. I got used to it, but at first it was quite muddling.

-I didn't like Dylan at all. Actually, he's kind of a really big douche bag. I wouldn't have wanted to help him do anything, if I were Barbie.

+With all that aside, I DID like the character Barbie. She's sassy and a bit of a rebel who's protecting a gooey emotional center deep down in her slutty looking heart. I read a blog post by the author that said she pictured Taylor Momsen as Barbie, and I was pleasantly surprised by this. That's who I pictured in this role too.

+The cover is cute. I would have picked this up in a heartbeat off of the shelf. I like the font and the image is eye catching.

All in all, this is a complicated book to rate. I think that this story could be really good, assuming that all the technical errors are cleaned up. If an editor or big publisher gets a hold of this and tidies it up, I will gladly give this book another try, and even revise my rating if I feel that it's improved (which I firmly believe would be the case). But for right now, I'm only rating based on what I was given, and sadly it wasn't enough.

Thank you to Word Spelunking blog for my copy of this book.