Monday, October 31, 2011

Fallen and Please....don't get up

Okay, so that may be a little harsh. Because the district I am working in does not believe in giving visitors a user password for the computers, it appears I have been getting a lot of reading done. This one, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate, quickly because a gym read. The writing was like Halloween chocolate, addicting to the point where you have to have more. But, also like Halloween chocolate, it's completely unnecessary and cavity prone. 
Natalie Hargrove is top of the heap at Palmetto High School. She and boyfriend, Mike, should be a shoo-in for Prince and Princess of the school dance. However, Mike doesn't seem as enthusiastic as Nat, and she's afraid he'll lose to her enemy, Justin. Apparently, Justin and Nat have history that she doesn't want aired, and winning that crown with Mike would put all her worry aside. The two play a senseless prank on Justin, which leads to an accidental death. Black mail, guilt, and Natalie's dark past begin to become more exposed. Can she still be on top when madness is unraveling her good name?
I just didn't like it. It is typical teenage girl over obsessed with prom. Her every move is dictated by becoming princess and making other people see her as head bitch. I got so tired of her constantly ordering her boyfriend around and making him care about this dance that means nothing. Mike is such a push-over. I mean grow a pair, dude. Every little thing she says he starts to object, then because he has no backbone, he gives in. The prank with Justin was one instance. Throughout the book she convinces him to blackmail and lie to everyone because she is so worried about their reputation. Whenever he does make a decision on his own, she gets upset and pouts because it's not her decision. The characters all seem like self centered typical rich kids who are used to getting their way. They are used to having huge parties with tons of alcohol and under age drinking, getting endless amounts of drugs, having sex, and being the popular kids in school. The story line just seemed so shallow that I never really ended up liking it. I felt like I needed to finish it just because.
I think what interested me about the book was the back cover; it said based on themes from Macbeth. I can definitely see Natalie as Lady Macbeth, but it was so loose that I am upset they even made reference to the classic play. I feel if the author had worked the idea of Macbeth into the story more it would have been more entertaining. Sure the characters resembled those from the play, but it was a stretch. It's difficult to get past the shallow plot in order to even consider the Macbeth reference. The one thing I did like about the book was Natalie's past and the history she had with Justin is revealed during the last chapter of the book. It made sense why she hated him so much, but it also showed readers how drawn to him she was. I can't even say I wished the author had revealed this earlier because it wouldn't have made a difference, really. This book has three freakin' covers! Why? All pretty, but I mean come on.
I read Kate's Fallen a few months back too. It was so similar to Halo that I just couldn't find any reason to read more. Don't get me wrong, it was okay, but I feel like the heroine was so wimpy. A fallen angel falls for her, rescues her, and tries to protect her from the evil doers. I feel like we've read it before. I haven't read the other two in the saga because I just don't care enough. The covers are very pretty, yes, but I just didn't care enough about the main character or the story. Even though Halo came out a year after Fallen, I just think I liked the idea of the story better. They're pretty much the same, I guess you just have to take your pick.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told Was A Lie...

Remakes of Shakespearean classics are always a hit with me. This one, Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay, earned 5 stars because I absolutely fell in love.
After being murdered by her husband and soul mate, Romeo, Juliet is now working for the Ambassadors of Light. Her job is to help protect and bring together soul mates. She is transported into other girls' bodies and strives to create lives filled with the promise of love. Romeo works for the Mercenaries, who are the opposite. Romeo's spirit takes over helpless teenagers in attempts that one of these soul mates Juliet protects will kill themselves or their partner. Juliet finds herself in the body of Ariel, a broken young high school girl who needs all the love she can find. Romeo is not far behind, and he tries to convince Juliet that loving him again would set them both free. However, Juliet is in a pickle as Ben, new guy to the high school and the complete white knight of the modern age,  steps in to steal her heart. With time running out, no way of contacting the Ambassadors's, and Ariel's life unwinding in completely unexpected ways, Juliet must choose. Is this forbidden love meant to be, or is Romeo truthful in his vows? 
The writing is what wrapped me up instantly. Jay's writing winds ribbons of description and beautiful dialogue that it is hard to stop reading. I couldn't stay away for long. The great thing was all the possibilities I expected for the plot were wrong and new turns happened constantly. The ending was a surprise, but it was unexpected and refreshing. The characters, the concept, the description; I just fell in love with this book. Plus it really does give readers a whole new perspective on the classic star crossed lovers angle. Romeo's a jerk, but he appears to want things to work out for the two of them. It is unclear if his motives are selfish or if he truly cares for Juliet. On the other hand, Juliet is beginning to have a strong connection to Ben. So what's a girl to do?
Loved this book! It is a must read. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trust No One

After reading a lot of paranormal and paranormal romance, I felt I should break free from the pack. I happened to be looking at new releases on good reads, which to be honest is the only time I use that site, and I came across Variant by Robinson Wells. The book caught my eye, so I decided to check it out. And yes, it is always nice to have something different than a good vs. evil cutsy love theme.
Benson Fisher has bounced around foster homes and schools his entire seventeen year existence. He finds Maxfield Academy and hopes that this boarding school will be different from the rest. He didn't expect it to be this different. Upon walking in, Benson discovers the school contains no adults and no authoritative powers. The daily schedule for the day all depends on the video monitor, whom the students call Iceman. Benson is told there is a huge stone wall trapping the students, and no one ever leaves. When his questions aren't answered by the bright, peppy tour guide, Becky, Benson seeks the truth from the rest of the student body. He finds that the students have split themselves into three gangs: Society who enforce and follow every rule, Havoc who are extremely violent and like nothing more than testing the rules, and Variant who are in-between. Upon joining his gang, Benson's urge to escape is heightened, but other members assure him that there is no way out, and people who have tried to escape never return. A few weeks in and Benson discovers the secret hidden at the school's core. Perhaps surviving and escaping are both impossible feats.
I loved it! The twist was interesting, and it kept me craving more. I can see teenagers connecting with Benson because although he is the typical troubled tough guy, his will to survive and escape are so overwhelmingly real. The writing captivated me, and I couldn't stop reading. The concept of the three gangs is great because it pins students against each other. Every gang takes care of their own, and each gang is in charge of some civic duty around campus, which gives access to certain doors and locks.The members of all three groups have distinct characteristics to the point where the reader knows which group people are in without mention. Very cool concept and it played very nicely with the "no way out" image of the school.
I know the book just came out, but I have high expectations for the second. For his first book, Wells hit a real hop topic with this one. If you're looking for a book to break away from the usual Twilighty love stories, pick this book up. Definitely worth a look.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Keep it Hush Hush.

I don't know what I expected, but I can honestly say this book wasn't it. In fact, I feel like it under achieved. I definitely read the reviews elsewhere about how whiny the main character was, how ridiculous the plot was, and how unreal the entire thing felt. I ignored them because I fell in love with Hush, Hush. Crescendo was a great follow up, but it wasn't better than the first. I can honestly say Silence went down another star for me.
The main heroine, Nora, has resurfaced after being M.I.A for three months. She was kidnapped after reuniting with Patch, a former fallen angel and her guardian angel. Her biological father, Hank, turns out to be the leader of the powerful Nephilium army ready to overthrow the fallen angels. He kidnapped Nora in order to get Patch to spy on his enemies. Because Patch is so in love with Nora, he makes a deal with Hank and agrees to be his spy as long as Nora is left alone. However, making a deal with the enemy never goes as planned. Fast forward to Nora's reappearance. It appears that she's lost her memory, so Nora is unable to remember anything from the past five months, including Patch. Weird things begin happening and parts of her memory start to come back. She meets Jev, who she swears she's met before. Nora finds herself drawn to him. She also begins to find out answers from the past that were covered up, and some things may have been better buried.
I find Fitzpatrick's writing intoxicating. I needed to read this book quickly whenever I had the opportunity because I couldn't stay away. It's like a bad habit. I fell in love with Patch during the first book. Who doesn't want a tall, dark, and sexy guy in their corner? Especially one who isn't afraid to get a little hot and heavy. I guess that's why I kept reading.
Nora's naivety gets old. But suddenly in book three, she goes from helpless victim to warrior princess. Sorry honey, not buying it. She wants readers to believe she’s a fighter rather than the damsel in distress, so she starts to make decisions involving trying to overthrown an entire team of evil beings on her own. She even attempts to get the “I’m tough, fear me” dialogue in the plot. Yea, ok. It didn’t work for Daphne in Scooby Doo, and it certainly will not work for Nora. Not quite sure what Patch sees in her considering he is the modern day equivalent to Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And as I recall, Angel had a thing for strong, independent females. Nora doesn’t fit that mold.  
I picked up the book from the library and read the cover. The word "saga" caught my eye. How do you start off writing a trilogy, and then decide to make it a saga? You trolled all of us. 
After reading halfway through, I decided I was not happy with knowing there would be a fourth book. It seems Fitzpatrick's story has been going downward. I am very skeptical about this coming book. I wish she had wrapped up the story in a little bow and just been done with it. Now it looks like I will have to finish the saga simply because I need to see how awful it will turn out. It's really too bad because Fitzpatrick really does have a beautiful writing style. And the covers are really pretty! How on earth can a book be horrible with pretty covers?!?! Her main character is becoming more annoying with each page flip, and I think that is her Achilles’ heel.
I complain, but reading her fourth book won't be a complete waste. One word that makes me want to keep going; Patch. I can't help it, he is extremely sexy. It’s my cross to bare. ;p

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer

The only thought one can possibly have when looking at the title of this book! Music, books, and I should form our own little club and just elope together. We'd make a very good threesome ;).
Onto the pressing issue: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride was a truly fun read. You know you are in for ride when the author titles their book after a Elton John song.
Sam is content with his life. Sure he doesn't have the best job, he doesn't have a girlfriend, and he dropped out of college, but he's got his mediocre life. He's satisfied with his minimum wage fry cook job, and he has friends who make it all worth while. But after a prank catches the eye of Douglas Montgomery things start to turn for the worst. Turns out, Douglas is a cash collecting necromancer who notices Sam's ability. Sam discovers he is a necromancer too, and Douglas asks him to join him in doing evil. Even though he is reluctant, Sam knows how violent Douglas is and the high ranking necromancer doesn't seem to care who he hurts to get what he wants. Sam is soon thrown into, literally, a decision that could take his life and those who he cares about. He meets an interesting cast of characters, who all have something different and paranormal about them. This includes Brid, a hybrid werewolf/hound, whom Sam notices immediately because of her lack of clothing and good looks. Sam also discovers a power inside himself that no one could have imaged.
There are many things I absolutely loved about this book. One thing that's great is there are many points of view. Sam's story is told from first person, but the rest is in third person. I find it really interesting when stories change perspective because sometimes I just don't want to hear a whiny teenage brat for 350 pages. However, Sam is anything but the typical "oh no I just was told I have magical powers, now I hate everything" character.
Second thing great about this book:  The main character is actually really funny. He is the wise-cracking skater boy who could care less. I was laughing out loud during many parts of this book. Yes, this did result in a few "weirdo" stares from co-workers in the lunch room. The banter between Sam and Brid is really fun to read, plus Sam's best friend, Ramon, is quick witted and just as wise-cracking as Sam. Altogether, the characters fit very well together. McBride managed to create a humorous paranormal novel rather than a paranormal romance, which was nice to read.
The third thing I really liked was the chapters were all titles of songs. It made sense that the title of the book was an Elton John song because the entire book played with the idea of song titles that directed the chapter's activity. And you know, it worked very well. I admit I had to look up a few just to make sure I was right on my theory, but it is a very clever way of writing. And it was neat because, like I said, the title highlighted what the chapter would be about. I was looking forward to reaching the end of every chapter because I wasn't sure what would come next.
Overall it was a great read. It was refreshing because the book did not center around a paranormal romance, or a fairy tale ending. The ending leaves readers stranded with a few unanswered questions, but it worked. McBride says she will be writing a sequel. It would be kinda neat to see the story continued, but I can honestly say that if she doesn't I wouldn't be disappointed. Unless another character takes the lead I cannot see a sequel going too well. This is only because it seems Sam's journey is over. Sure he still has some loose ends to tie up, but I can't see that taking another 350 pages and being entertaining the entire time. Maybe I'll just look like a giant cynic when her book comes out and is amazing. I can hope for that.