Tuesday, August 6, 2013

INK by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)
NOTE: I received the eARC from Netgalley. Thanks!

I read a couple of negative reviews about Ink, and I started off thinking this book would be bad. But it wasn't. None of the things I read in the reviews were true. And in fact I enjoyed it very much. It had a nice story that isn't overbearing with historical facts, too much world building or anything that could ruin the experience of the plot. There was mystery and action that really got to me so much that I stayed past midnight to finish the book.

Some bloggers say there wasn't enough Japanese culture interwoven with the story. In my opinion, there was enough. Just the right amount actually, so you wouldn't be left to grasp at straws, and you wouldn't be overburdened either.

So yeah, it was really amazing. I'm not saying there were no flaws, because there were. But hey, perfect books aren't that easy to come by.

Anyway, what I can say annoyed me a little was the stalker that Katie turned out to be. I guess she was just curious and out to hunt the mystery revolving around Tomohiro, but it still bugged me. I mean, she's a foreigner in a land she doesn't know the language of, the customs of, or anything really. And she just up and goes to follow this guy who seems to be super creepy in the beginning. Of course it's a thrill, and without her Nancy-Drew-type-of-curiosity-for-solving-a-case inclinations we wouldn't ever get to see the real side of Tomohiro and his story, but still. It was unsettling.

Also, Katie brought all those misfortunes over them both, but she only blamed Tomo. He'd been dealing with his burden on his own quite impressively, thank you very much. It was her side of the equation that didn't quite add up.

I definitely will be waiting for the next installment to come out, that's for sure! I can feel that Katie is going to grow as a character, and that gives me the jitters!

My rating is

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit (Elemental, #3)
NOTE: I received this eARC thru Netgalley. Thanks so much!

Goodness, I cried on this one. Real tears and all. It was sooooooooooo good!!! I can't believe what happened, honestly! And this is by far the most emotional of the books in this series. I give it to the fact that Hunter, the lead male here, controls the element of the spirit. With him everything is ever about emotion.

There's so much anger, pain, devotion, hurt, passion and love in this novel, you have to read it for yourself to experience it all. I'm getting goosebumps right now, as I'm thinking about all the action and romance and just... everything really!

I did laugh in some places where the irony and sarcasm were too heavy to ignore. And I cried too but I'm not telling why, when or where. I'm just going to say that you will cry too. I mean, it's impossible not to, given all the drama.

Let me tell you, Hunter is not my favorite character in this series. Bad boy Gabriel is. But Hunter is right behind him up on the scale. It's probably because Hunter is so innocent at heart. He's being lied to by the people he considers friends and is told the truth by those he considers his enemies. I'm glad he figured out who is who in the end, because by one point I was ready to march up to him and slap him in the face. I mean, yeah it's complicated sometimes, but honestly - it isn't all that difficult to see the truth once you decide to look hard for it.

So with the Merricks on one side (who seem to be friendly, but are still his enemies) and the Guides & his father's secrets on the other, it's no wonder Hunter ends up making wrong decisions over and over again.

Even though Chris and Gabriel suffered a lot in books one and two, Hunter tops them both in this one. I'm not sure he'd be quite right in the heart and mind in the next book though and that scares me a little, because he sort of grew on me.

Of course I should say a little something about Kate as well. She was so livid and unpredictable all the time, I could hardly keep up on the same page as her! I didn't know what was truth and what was lie with her anymore than Hunter did. And I'm very sure she was the right girl for him. It wouldn't have worked with Becca. Kate was (or appeared to be) dangerous and definitely not someone to trust. In the beginning I wanted Hunter to avoid her. But the more he fell for her, the more she fell for him and that made her true colors be revealed. In the end, she wasn't all that bad after all.

I don't know which one would be the major character in the next installment of this series but I do wish it would come out sooner rather than later! I simply cannot wait!

My rating is

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Truth About Letting Go by Leigh T. Moore

The Truth About Letting Go

NOTE: I received this book through Netgalley. Thanks!

Well, let me begin by saying that I devoured this book. It flowed so well, I couldn't wait to reach the ending. But I can't say I was satisfied with the contents. In fact, I was a bit disappointed. Here's why.

The Truth About Letting Go deals with a girl, Ashley, who's father died of cancer. He'd been this consumed by healthy choices man, but the horrible disease still got to him. Which is why Ashley decided that God was mean, or just didn't exist - you know, because He let this amazing man die. I'd say 'man up and grow some balls' but you know, that's just fiction.

Anyway, so instead of going through the process of mourning her dad, what Ashley did was get angry and reckless.

You see, that's something I can't ever understand. I mean, she'd believed in God all her life (or at least that's what she said, and also she prayed and fasted hoping her dad would get better) and then one hardship comes her way and poof! All her faith is gone. Granted, it isn't easy to lose a parent, or a loved one in general, but a believer should know better. No matter that she's just a teenager - King David wasn't much older when he defeated Goliath, was he?

Throughout this novel all Ashley did was try to be someone she was not. And the only progress was that she figured she (partially) isn't that person and went back to normal. However, she didn't let God back in. That's sad, honestly. So truth be told, I don't know how to feel about her. One minute it felt like there was hope for her, then the next one she screws everything up. She was running hot and cold all the time and that just didn't make me love her.

Then there's Jordan. He had always had a crush on Ashley, but he was a good guy, who had intentions to be a pastor one day. So when Ashley sort of rushed him with open arms, there were two possibilities for him. I'm so proud of the way he handled it. And not only that scene but all of it. He didn't judge and was super supportive all the way through. What I don't understand is why he has feelings for Ashley. I mean, he fell in love with her because of what exactly? She just played him most of the time.

Enter bad boy Colt. Or wait. No. He isn't really a bad boy, though that's what we're told throughout the book. He's more like a joker, a prankster. Nothing more. Besides, his pranks were borderline stupid. I mean, what kind of a teenage bad boy would think that stuffing toilet paper in the school bathrooms would be fun? Anyway. This screams anything but bad boy to me. It screams weird, to be honest.

So in conclusion, I can't say this was a bad book, but it wasn't in no way perfect either. I did enjoy it though.

 My rating is

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

The Summer I Became a Nerd
NOTE: I was provided my copy of this book by Entangled Teen. Thanks!

The Summer I Became a Nerd is a book that focuses on the problem of peer pressure and fitting in opposed to being laughed at for who you are and what you like. It's also about growing up with the wrong kind of understanding of reality and fixing it so it could become right. It's about embracing the different and slapping the same ol' same ol' in the face. It was by no means brilliant, but it's simplicity made it nice and interesting.

There was nothing complicated in the plot, just the usual drama. Nothing more different than girl meets boy, they fall for each other, but their love feels impossible. That's quite alright though because the way the problem is resolved here is actually pretty nice. So, even though it was similar to many other novels out there, it also had a seed of its own.

What I really liked about this book was Madelyne's hobby. She was a comic book lover. To be honest, I know next to nothing about comics, but just like it usually happens, I learned a lot from this novel. Like the fact that there are different 'studios', like DC and Marvel. I honestly had no idea. Oh, and also there was all the info about the Life Role Playing game... that was awesome! I'd only heard of it before, but now I've got some inside info!

Something else that made me like the book was the morale of it - do not tell lies or you will find yourself in a situation you can't lie yourself from. Wise, don't you think?

Other topics touched by the author were real friendship and how it looks like; selfishness and how it can ruin just about anything; family.

Because of the mess Maddie made out of her summer vacation, I felt really bad for Logan, who had no actual idea of whatever was going on. He was being mislead by so many people without even realizing it, I just wanted to pat him on the back. I guess guys can be innocent and naive too. And well... some girls just sniff weakness in the air and hunt them poor boys down.

In conclusion, this is a light summer read that has enough drama (but not too much) to keep you busy.

My rating is

Friday, July 26, 2013

Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts

The Year of the Great Seventh
NOTE: I received this ARC from the author. Thank you!
For more of my reviews visit YA Story Teller

You know how there are books which, when you finish reading them, you like everything about them and you end up going over them again and again? And then there are those other books which, after reading them, you feel like you just wasted a good amount of time on them.

It's sad to say that in my opinion "The Year of the Great Seventh" belongs in the second category. I really wish it doesn't because the author is super nice, but ... it is what it is and I can't do anything about it.

So, my disliking of this novel began at the very first page and continued to the last one. I wasn't grabbed, you know? I even took notes in the margins of whatever was wrong, which has never happened before. *sigh*

There are several problems with the novel and here's the list I can remember:

1. Unnecessarily long descriptions, which are repeated two to three times in the span of a chapter. I thought this may be a one time thing, but no. It happens throughout the entire book. There are places where we're provided with information that doesn't concern us at all, and is repeated several times (re-worded, of course).

2. There's lack of time tracking. One moment we're in the now, the next (quite unpreparedly) we're 3 weeks in the future. Then we're given the short version of those 3 weeks (as if they weren't important) but it's clear that indeed they were important because it's in that time span that we could've gotten to know the characters and see how the relationships between them grow.

3. The entire novel is mostly (~80%) tell and only the rest is show. I am truly tired of repeating this, but here goes again: I actually want to see what happens to the characters instead of being told that such and such thing occurred. This is no freaking summary! When a girl gets together with a guy, I want to see it happen, not learn that oh, they've been together for the past month now. Seriously, what the h! This is the novel itself, so write it how it's supposed to be written!Nothing personal, Teresa.

4. The characters (and unfortunately I do mean ALL of them) lack depth, individuality, backbone, logical reasoning etc. The lead female, Sophie, doesn't ever react realistically in any situation. Nate, the bad boy, is more absorbed in himself than to pay attention to anyone else. Sophie's friends only think about partying and don't even know what's happening with her. In fact, that whole friendship thing feels a bit forced between them.

So, a little background here. Sophie has had a crush on Nate forever. Then he notices her and pushes her away. Then all of a sudden we're told they're together even though just a paragraph ago they were actively ignoring each other. And what do you know, an ancient Egyptian prophesy gets triggered by the sheer presence of Sophie near Nate. And to think that they'd been going to the same school for at least a couple of years... surely they had been in the same room at some point?

5. The supposed mystery/secret/whatever isn't very interesting at all. It wasn't explained understandably so I had no idea what was happening and why. I just felt kind of lost because everything seemed to be forced unnaturally together. There was no chemistry, if you like. No flow.

6. The writing style reminded me too much of National Geographic articles, where there's no emotion whatsoever. I think this is the main reason why I didn't feel any attachment toward a single character.

And here's where I am going to stop, even though there's a lot more to say. I just don't want to waste any more time on it. I'm really, truly sorry.

My rating is

1 star

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"River's Recruit" by Charlotte Abel

River's Recruit (Sanctuary, #1)

NOTE: I received the eARC from the author, for which I'm beyond grateful.

Wow! Just, wow! I didn't expect this book to be such a black, but it left me speechless and wanting more! I'm greedy like that. Every chapter was full with tension and drama. Every page screamed that there was more, so much more in the next one. and I had to keep on going until I found myself at the end, eyes full with tears, heart racing in my chest.

Because River's Recruit wasn't just the next book. Oh, no. It was an adventure that left me breathless, it was like a fairy tale with elements of reality. It had me gasping in expectation at every corner.

Yeah, it was that good and I know I can't wait for the next installment to come out. So Charlotte, you better hurry it up!

So, here we're introduced into the lives of two very different people. Jonathan, who is an ex-marine (due to the fact that he's left with only one hand after his unit's car got blown up in Afghanistan); and River, who doesn't even live in our reality of this world. and then they meet in the midst of a snow storm that sort of placed them together for longer than initially intended.

When their worlds collide, neither one of them is left a choice but to embrace the card they'd been dealt. And what a card it is!

Outside of all the action, adventure, drama, etc., what's really interesting is River's world. Her community of people (kind of cult like) live isolated and outside of any technology and the like. Much like the Amish, now that I think about it. However, they have laws that are so severe, most of the punishments seem to lean toward death. That's how the Community control the people mostly - through fear of death. Understandable, isn't it? Family ties and family trees are respected more than anything. And of course, obedience is mandatory for everyone.

I really liked how the characters' names were almost all Biblical. Like Reuben and Issachar and others I can't think of right now. Out of all of them I really ended up caring for Reuben. He was just so amazing! He despised the severity of the laws but was well aware there was no way around them. If there was, he was definitely taking it. And he wanted the absolute best for River. He treated her like a daughter, even though if she'd been 'bought' by anyone else, she'd have been a concubine. Worthless and used up.

So, River. She was this wild spirited, but obedient to Ruben, young girl. She had a backbone and mad bow skills. Also, she always seemed to be able to see through people.

Jonathan warmed my heart too. H was such a sweetheart, knowing nothing about the Community but being determined to protect River with his life if he must. Brave, reckless at times, but always putting others before his own needs.

I don't think I need to go on. Really. You should've gotten the picture by now. This book is... an adventure you must not miss!

My rating is

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Dear Cassie
NOTE: I received this eARC through Netgalley. Thanks.

The truths that this book addresses are brutal and realistic, and I can't brush the feeling that they were screaming in my face. Weird, I know.

Too many are the girls who fall for the guy who gives them the stars, the who 'understands', only to end up hating themselves after an unexpected 'thing' happens. I don't know why that is, honestly. I mean, teens are quite educated about sex and the consequences (and complications) it may lead to. So why not be smarter about it?

I can't pretend that I know. I don't. Cassie didn't seem to know either. But she did know that the world is ready to screw you over the moment you give it the upper hand. Which is why she had a major attitude. it's why she didn't trust anyone. And it's why (after what happened) she was sent to the camp for straightening out girl delinquents.

If only it were that simple. If only fate didn't meet her up with a girl who had no desire to speak, yet said volumes with gestures. If only there wasn't a camp leader determined to help while provoking Cassie to remember, to think and to analyze.

If only there wasn't a cute boy involved. Ben, who seemed to want to get close to her. Ben, who she went to great lengths to avoid and run away from.

Of course, Ben has his own story, but it's nothing like Cassie's. And while I was able to make a fairly good guess on Cassie's situation, Ben's was a complete mystery. He was really nice, well mannered and carried himself with a certain level of dignity. Not what you'd expect to see from a boy delinquent, is it? He seemed to know what he was doing, no matter what the obstacle was. Even with Cassie... he just seemed to know. I was attracted by his sensitivity toward her, by the challenge in his every word. And by the way he always seemed to be prepared to fire back at her.

With a dark mood and raising a thousand questions, Dear Cassie is definitely a book that every teenage girl should read. Perhaps then there will be less girls left with broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams.

My rating

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Screwed by Laurie Plissner

NOTE: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think this is the first book I've ever read that lacks a stable POV. As in, the narrator gets in the head of everybody, even miniature characters who only have a line or two to share. I know, I know, this looks like a huge mess, but despite everything it actually works quite well. Perhaps because every single character is given time to express their inner thoughts and observations, and we're actually allowed to witness how the cogs in their minds work. To tell you the truth, it was weird at first, but once I got used to it, I saw the advantage - you get to know what everyone's really thinking, and that's just brilliant!

So, onto the story and characters we shall move. "Screwed" told the story of a very smart girl, Grace, who turned into goo in the hands of the school playboy Nick, and next thing she knew - she was pregnant. Then instead of going for abortion, she decided on adoption. Her super Christian parents turned hypocrites on her and kicked her out.

That's a very very condensed short version of it. But. It's not really the storyline that matters much. I mean, it's basic, it's been written before. It's nothing new. What's new and realistic and fresh are Grace's thoughts. Her experiences. The life lessons that she learns along the way. Here are some of them:

- One can be a genius in school and still be pretty stupid in real life.
- Condoms aren't 100% pregnancy-proof.
- Friends can try to help, but they can never take the place of a parent. Ever.
- A girl should never ever, ever put herself at the mercy of some guy who doesn't give a crap about her.
- A girl should always always, always think about the consequences of having sex.

And one more, and I always end up thinking about this when I read about teens having sex. Have you read "Anna and the French Kiss"? If you haven't, go read it NOW. If you have, you must remember this one passage where Anna explains why she hasn't broken the seal yet. It goes something like this: I will wait until I know that the man I am with is the man I want to be the father of my children. You know, in case something goes wrong. It's not the exact words, but it's the exact meaning. So. Think about that.

I know many girls won't take this book seriously and would discard it as irrelevant. It won't happen to them, right? But it does happen, unfortunately. And I think you should just sit down and for a day give a crap about Grace and her huge problem, so that it would never turn into your problem.

Anyway, I want to say that Grace, with her decision and behavior, won me over completely. She stood her ground and was so astonishingly brave the whole time. Yes, she was bothered by the stares and whispers at school. But she never give up on what was right. She thought things through and made up her mind based on rational analysis, not based upon people's opinions. For that, I'd like to high-five her.

My rating?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Collector by Victoria Scott

The Collector (Dante Walker, #1)

NOTE: I received the eARC from Netgalley.

Can I say that I really enjoy reading about hot snarky reapers? I really do. Starting with Tod and then Finn and now Dante, I just can't get enough! Their stories are, of course, way different, but the guys are all strikingly swoon worthy, and it makes you want more and more, and ... more.

So, here we meet Dante. He's a collector, a.k.a., a reaper for the bad guy. He calls him Bossman, which is funny, really. God here is referred to as Big Guy. And that was just hilarious! I cracked up laughing the first time I read it. Anyway. Dante's voice is bright and strangely compelling. As the narrator, it's easy to get a hang of his thoughts and emotions and the way they change as the events unfold. He's spent the last two years working for downstairs(as he calls it) and he hasn't regretted a single second of it. In fact, he largely enjoys it.

Until, of course, he meets Charlie Cooper.

Now Charlie is his special assignment. As in, bring her in and he gets a promotion - a really big one too - out of the dark confines of hell. But Charlie is no ordinary girl. In fact, she's so far from ordinary, that she manages to warm up the heart of a ruthless reaper such as Dante.

Then there's that mysterious person, who appears out of nowhere to stalk Dante and (perhaps) cancel out his seals... Could this person be Charlie or someone else entirely?

As the story unravels and guilt seeps into Dante's mind and heart, he realizes one thing. A world without Charlie would be as nice to live in as hell is. So, he just has to figure out what (if anything) to do about it.

All that is good and swell, but I just kept on feeling that something was missing in the story. Like why was Dante presumably Bossman's closest collector? And was he really? Also, how could Dante trust Bossman when he knows full well what and who he is... And Charlie... what she did was sort of selfish and she never gave off vibes of selfishness. It just wasn't like her to do such a thing. But then again, she was doing it for Dante, so yeah. The reason why Charlie was thought to be so important felt foolish. It was way too insignificant in my opinion, to actually matter in the great scene of things.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Collector very much, and I think you will too. So stop reading reviews and just go buy the book. It's worth it.

My rating is

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)

Oh my goodness! This was one cruel cliffhanger!!! It got me so reeled up, I even dreamed of Allie and Zeke!

Anyway, as my readers know by now, I don't love vampire fiction. In fact, I so much dislike it that it borders on hate. But

Julie Kagawa has once again managed to blow my wits to bits. I L-O-V-E-D The Immortal Rules so darn much, I just couldn't help but red The Eternity Cure too. But I can't say that I loved it. Oh, no. That would be highly underestimated. It was amazing! So beautifully written, so mysteriously woven with twists and turns that you could hardly see coming! I was pumping with adrenaline the majority of the time, not knowing what to expect lurking behind the corner!

Dark, consuming and overpowering, is what I'd like to call it. It makes you forget the reality around you. And it makes you want to scream(not beg) for more.

I was in love with Alison and Zeke from book one on. Here, I was left wondering if they'd ever make it to 'togetherland'. It's pure torture to tell you the truth. Julie is getting pretty good at torturing her readers it seems. It's unfair and freaking amazing at the same time!

Anyway, let's talk characters:

Alison: I was so happy she didn't turn into a bloodthirsty vamp, even though actually, she was one. She carried the hunger inside, but she also learned to subdue it, to control it. I was proud of her. And her loyalties lied in the right places - with the right kind of humans, with her sire, and with the love of her life (or death).

Enter Jackal and all dark, overbearing etc. situations are turned into impossible sarcastic jokes and comments that had me laughing out loud. With Jackal it was always a love-hate relationship. I'd hate it if he has to die in the end.

Then there was Keenan (though I'm not sure if I spelled it right). He was just so noble all the time, that he earned a whole lot of points for it.

And then there was dreamy, brave Zeke... but how, when or why he appeared, I will not disclose. Gotta keep the suspense going, right? Go read it for yourself.

And it gets