Snapshot Review: Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer

Arcadia Awakens by Kai MeyerArcadia Awakens, with its unusual plot and rich setting, promised to be a bit more creative than a lot of the paranormal YA circulating at the moment. In the end, however, it didn’t quite work for me.

I found the writing quite clunky. Whether it’s Meyer’s style of writing or a consequence of the translation I don’t know, (Arcadia Awakens was originally written in German), but sentences didn’t flow as well as they could have and the dialogue felt stilted and awkward. I also didn’t feel the characters reacted convincingly to the often bizarre things that were going on around them. And while I love Greek mythology, the whole snake/cat romance just didn’t work for me here. A shame, as I could have really gotten into a Romeo and Juliet type romance with a mafia setting and some shapeshifters thrown in.

*Many thanks to Templar for providing a copy for review*

Book Review: Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs

Fins are Forever by Tera Lynn ChildsI didn’t love the first book in this series, Forgive My Fins, but since I was kindly sent Fins are Forever for review and I remembered quite liking Quince, I thought, what the heck?

On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.

Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form, when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?

The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not a mermaid kind of girl (unless its Splash. I loved that movie, which is probably proof that I would have quite liked this book when I was a kid, despite how I feel about it now). These days however, I find Tera Lynn Child’s narrative too young and simplistic for my reading tastes, a re-occurring issue for me with her books.

Continue reading

January and February 2013 Wrap-Up

Wow. It’s been a long, long time since I did a Best of the Bunch post. It’s actually kind of scary how quickly the time has gone by. Anyway. I’ve always enjoyed doing this post (difficult as it can be to select just two noteworthy books), so I wanted to highlight the two top books of 2013 so far. I decided not to include re-reads, as otherwise Melina Marchetta would easily win February!

space

Best of the Bunch in January 2013

 

 

Ordinary Magic by Caitlin Rubino-Bradway

I may read a lot of YA, but there’s just something about a MG novel done right that makes me fall in love with reading all over again. Ordinary Magic first came to my attention following a glowing review over at The Book Smugglers. Abby is the kind of heroine I love to read about, brave, compassionate, loyal and completely ordinary in a world where magic is normal. If you’re looking for a a bit of escapism full of magic and adventure, for a book that is charming and warmhearted with endearing characters, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

Continue reading

Book Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

I think this will be a short review. The truth is, I cannot think of much to say about What’s Left Of Me. It was the perfect reading choice, as at the time I didn’t want to pick up anything too taxing or read something that I would get too engrossed in. That being said, all these things also made it a rather forgettable read.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

I loved the premise. A parallel world to ours (I’m assuming), where everyone is born with two souls inhabiting one body. Over time, one of these souls becomes the dominant, while the other just fades away. But for Addie and Eva, this hasn’t happened and now they have to pretend that Eva died long ago in a world that despises and fears people like them.

I guess I felt that nothing really seemed to set Addie and Eva apart. They needed more distinct personalities and for me, none of the relationships seemed to have any real depth or emotion behind them.

Ultimately, nothing really grabbed me. Not the characters, or the situation they found themselves in. I didn’t get any sense of danger or urgency at key moments in the book that should have been filled with tension. Zhang had some interesting events going on, but I didn’t feel like anything was really pushed, like it could have been. For example, Addie and Eva are both female souls within a female body. Does it always happen like that? What happens if one of the inhabiting souls identifies differently? Has that ever happened? What about if the two souls are attracted to different genders? Perhaps these kind of questions might be touched upon in later books. Zhang does question how someone like Addie and Eva might have a relationship one day, but it only very briefly comes into conversation right at the end of the book.

What’s Left of Me is like a light, vanilla dystopian, which is fine, but it could have been far more interesting. Despite my yearning for an easy read, sometimes things need to be gritty and messy and complicated. As it stands, I’m not overly fussed about picking up the rest of the Hybrid Chronicles, I feel satisfied having read this one.

Book Review: Charmfall by Chloe Neill

CharmfallA while back I was sent Firespell and Charmfall for review, books one and three of a series. I wasn’t overly impressed by Firespell and unfortunately, the same points I flagged in that review are still present in Charmfall.

High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death…

Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you’re a junior. So when the girls of St. Sophia’s start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep—even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.

But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn’t forget what she’s sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone. And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines…

Continue reading

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

The cover is probably my favourite thing about this book.

Not that this a bad book – I think it deserves all the rave reviews. Its definitely one of the better cancer books I’ve read about a child dying (though why I keep picking these up I don’t know), as it avoids the horrible, saccharine, cliches you normally come across in these types of books *coughJohnGreencough*. It also has some very funny moments.

The truth is, I found being in Greg’s head a weird mixture of amusing, annoying, dull and tedious… which I think was kind of the point.

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

Continue reading

Book Review: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall by Abby GrahameI love period drama. I love the setting, the romance, the society, the scandals, the gossip, the class system, the history, the dresses…

Wentworth Hall promised to be the perfect escape for fans of Downton Abbey. What I got was a poorly written, badly edited, quickly thrown together book that was full of plot holes, historical inaccuracies and lacking in any originality or depth.

Maggie Darlington has returned home to Wentworth Hall after a year in Paris. No longer the friendly, outgoing, passionate girl she used to be, Maggie has become cold and reserved. Lila, resentful of forever being overshadowed by her older sister, is nonetheless hurt by Maggie’s distance. But Maggie has her own reasons for holding everyone she cares for at a distance and she’s not the only one at Wentworth Hall with a secret…

Wentworth Hall is a short novel. Far too short to cram in the amount of drama and subplots that Grahame attempts to cover here. The narrative jumps back and forth between roughly ten(?) different characters, each of whom have their own ’scandalous secret’. Lack of time, and I suspect, inclination, on the authors part to properly develop any of these characters means Wentworth Hall is full of bland, cliché-ridden caricatures and dull, predictable plot lines from the start. Continue reading

Book Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Struck by Jennifer BosworthMia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Post Apocalyptic YA certainly seems to be becoming more and more popular and Struck definitely sounded a little bit different, with a synopsis that promised a lightning-addicted protagonist and two religious cults fighting for power, following an earthquake that devastates L.A.

Continue reading

Cover Corner: Neil Swaab

Today I’m really pleased to welcome Neil Swaab to Cover Corner. The cover for I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan made my list of Top Ten Covers in 2011. It’s incredibly striking and it’s not hard to see why so many YA readers have been chatting about it. Neil is also the illustrator behind the cover of Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and kindly agreed to answer some questions about them and the industry itself.

Did you get to read either book before working on the cover illustration?

I read I’ll Be There, but wasn’t able to read Sweetly, unfortunately, because of time constraints. 

How much input did the publishers/design team have? Were you given a basic guideline to work to, or free reign?

A ton. Covers are scrutinized tremendously and these two were no exception. For both covers, I was given a pretty clear concept and direction by the design team of what they were looking to achieve. Based on what they wanted, I was able to build upon that and expand on their idea, bringing some of my own sensibilities and solutions to the cover.

Continue reading

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Publisher: Puffin

First Published: 5th May 2009

Format: Paperback

Pages: 276

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Recommended Reading Age: 14+

Rating: 4.5/10

Amazon/Goodreads

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a YA series that by all accounts, seems to be well-loved and incredibly popular.

It’s your typical teenage love-triangle set against a pretty backdrop of sea, sun and sand, and not a whole lot else. With these types of books, when we all know what’s going to happen, it’s the characters and dialogue that really make the story.

It’s a pity then, that I so intensely disliked Isabel.

Continue reading