Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.


Hardcover, 330 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)


Born Wicked is the story the three Cahill sisters, each born with magic.  They are witches in an alternative historical world of New England where the witch hunts are still ongoing.  Much like real history, simply being different or outspoken as a woman can mark you for death -- however, unlike real history, men are immune to being witches in Born Wicked.  For any lady book worm, this world should be terrifying.

I found the world of Born Wicked incredibly brilliant as it is essentially historical fiction meets dystopian.  It is an oppressive world where the Brothers, made of especially pious male members of the society, hold absolute power.  Women have zero rights, cannot attend school, and have the options of either marrying or joining the sisterhood after reaching adulthood.  You can feel the frightening oppressiveness of the religious government and the desire to break free.

Worst of all, most books are banned. D:

Where the book really differs from reality is that witchcraft is not simply paranoia in the villagers minds; it is a real thing.  Some women are born with the extra gift of magic, the Cahill sisters being three of these individuals.  A lot of the book revolves around how the sisters relationships are affected by their affinity for having magic, not really the magic itself.  

The main focus is how relationships and trust can be altered with such a secret as being a witch in the world of Born Wicked is.  Familial relationships along with romantic ones.  I felt that the emotions and reactions between the sisters were masterfully done.  The book pulled my heart in all directions at times, made my stomach flip, and all those other awesome feels you can get while reading. 

I just felt like everything was so well done and perfect.  I also love books that make me think all the while scaring the pants off me.  Born Wicked is a new addition to my Favs of ALL TIME list, which isn’t an easy list to get on.  “Momo’s Favs” is fairly easy to get on, “FAVS OF ALL TIME” is not… felt that needed clarification.  There’s a lot of books I like, there’s a lot of books I think are well written, but there aren’t a lot of books that make me swoon.  Born Wicked made me swoon for multiple reasons: it has a lot of really great lines, the world Jessica Spotswood created gave my brain a case of the happies, and I got the feels for Cate and Finn.  I am so sad I have to wait till June to pick up the sequel, Star Cursed.

Final Thought: 964 out of 964 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Notes From My Desk: It's not Me, It's You

Sometimes when I finish reading a book I didn't like, I wonder if there's something wrong with me -- as if it's not the book's fault I didn't enjoy it, it's my own.  Like maybe I'm not smart enough to get the joke or the genius of the author.  I like most of the books I read to at least some degree, so it's unlikely I'll read something I dislike immediately after finishing another book I dislike. 

So, when I start to read an "after" book that, statistically speaking, I should like, I'm relieved.  Always.  The writing is better, the story is more original, and everything just seems fresher.  Whether this is actually the case, I don't really know, but I probably rate these "after-reads" way better than others I start reading after "good" or even "just-okay" books.

Granted, we probably judge and rate everything based on what we've previously read.  For example, if someone's never read Twilight and then reads a Twilight knock-off, they'll probably mistake it as original and maybe give it a good rating.  But if you're Stephanie Meyers's biggest fan, then having read Twilight before would alter your rating on the knock-off.  And if you just read a time-travel book, you might be a bit more critical of the next time-travel book you read, depending on what you thought of it.  Point being, our ratings are altered by what we have read in some way. 

We're going to ignore all of what I just wrote in the above paragraph and focus on the extreme.  I'm going to call this "After-book-Awesome" Syndrome.  If there's another name for it, don't tell me.  Just let me delude myself with thinking I'm original (because I am, right?).

This leads me to my point: I am a victim of "After-book-Awesome" Syndrome.  I just finished "not-good-book-that-shall-not-be-named," started another immediately after and was overwhelmed with the feeling of "This is the best book ever."  I know my feelings of love for the latter book are completely inflated, which is the main symptom of "After-book-Awesome" Syndrome.  I'm going to be okay, but research has been inconclusive as to whether it's contagious or not.  But it does lead me to want to say, it's not me, "not-good-book-that-shall-not-be-named," it's you.

Love,






PS: I rate this note with a ba-jillion toadstools

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown


Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath, #1)
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

Hardcover, 303 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
(info grabbed from GoodReads)


Page 109 was where I decided I liked Lies Beneath.  Before that I was a bit on the fence, and thought it could still go either way.  But no, page 109 sealed its fate for me.  Because page 109 is where our hero, murderous mermaid Calder White, has a change of heart because of Victorian poetry.  Well, maybe not quite a full change of heart at that point, but he starts to identify with the feelings of the poets.  Either way, I found that quite amusing (even though I’m not sure it was supposed to be). 

Which brings me to my main point: Lies Beneath was amusing.  There really is not another way for me to put it; it was enjoyable.  The writing is great, I got superb feels from the romance, and I liked the slight twists on mermaid mythos that the author added.  I definitely think it stands out from other mermaid books simply with its quality of story and interest of its character.  It is definitely worth a read for any mermaid fans and a great book to get wrapped up in while dreaming of summer while the temperature drops below zero.

I definitely enjoyed seeing the creepy stalker male perspective. It was insightful. 

No really, it was. 

I felt that the author did a good job of showing how Calder felt torn between falling for the girl and his mission to kill her father.  There are a ton of YA paranormal where the male love interest is following around the main girl and being rather creepy, but it was different to hear his side.  Verdict on that: not so creepy.  There’s something about admitting and noting the absurdity of practically stalking someone that makes it less creepy (at least for me, but maybe that says something about me?).

To be honest, I probably am a little biased as I am a fan of the Great Lakes (note: Mome Raths can be from Michigan).  I felt that the author captured the majesty of Lake Superior as she was writing about it, and I would sometimes pause from reading, stare into the air and let my thoughts drift to the great freezing lake.  Which, by the way, if you’ve never been to Lake Superior, let me tell you: IT IS COLD.  Year round.  Middle of summer, still not swimmable for most people.

Final Thought: 9 out of 10 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Save a Word Saturday (#8)


Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday, a new blog hop hosted by The Feather and the Rose.
The aim is to spread love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least visited vaults of the Word Bank.
The rules run thusly:
1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog. 
2.  Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice).
3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.
4. Add a link to your blog in the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!
5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.

This week's theme is:
Fish

And the word I have chosen is:

despiteous
adj. - spiteful, malevolent.

And my ever so wordy sentences are:

Everyone knew the man was mad.  Day after day, he sat at the edge of the pond in an everlasting stare down with the fish.  But to my own astonishment, when I trotted over to peer into the water, the fish were glaring right back.  It was hard to say who wore the despiteous face, the man or the fish.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday (#12)


Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

Feature & Follow is hosted by Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read.  Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Question of the Week: What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

A: That would have to be Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood and I read it just last weekend.  I've been lucky so far this month with liking/loving most of the books I've read, but Born Wicked stands out.  I made it about halfway through the book and couldn't put it down after that. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn


Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist. 

Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to. 


At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia's mind? 


If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happiness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive. 


Hardcover, 331 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Hyperion 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)


If this review was simply for the first 4/5 of Beta, it would be glowing.  I felt that it was an interesting idea and was executed well.  The voice of Elysia was perfect in that it began with the simple naivety and curiosity that you would expect of a newly emerged clone.  As she learned about the world around her, her voice expanded and incorporated more emotion while still feeling authentically young.  Because the voices are that of a teenager, the insta-love factor was forgivable in my opinion.  She is depraved of real love by her owners and is a teenager; I felt that was a recipe for a girl to fall in insta-hormone-induced-love.

The other characters were all interesting and added to the story.  It was really thought out how the family that bought her would treat her, and added to the creepy factor that any good dystopian has.  The way the mother shows Elysia off as a prized pig to her friends while speaking badly about her own children truly was a bit sickening.  A lot of those moments in the book reminded me of Wither by Lauren DeStefano, and I was going to recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that book.

Until the ending.  _

I don’t have the faintest clue what the sequel could possibly be about because Beta ended going in fifty different directions.  I felt like the ending was just slapped together in a pinch and simply threw every bad thing that could possibly happen all together.  Its one thing to have bad things happen to a character, but with Beta, the ending was just a sucker-punch of awful.  The pacing was way off in the ending, as everything seemed rushed.  One second she’s here, and then she’s there, and then an “OMG” moment, then another “OMG” moment -- it added up to me going “WTF.”  It was especially tiring because the rest of the book was nothing like that.

But, really, I did like Beta.  At least everything before page 286 (out of 331).  Before that point, I would have given it 4 out of 5 toadstools, and after I would give it 1 out of 5.  As of now, I’m kind of torn as to whether I want to continue this series.  I also feel I can’t really recommend it because the ending threw me through such a loop.

Final Thought: 3 out of 5 rounded generously up toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson


Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.


Hardcover, 292 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by HarperTeen 
 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

Tiger Lily was enchanting, brilliant, and all those wonderful things you want in a story, but it was slooooow.  It is not a fast paced adventure, it is not a heart flipping romance.  Tiger Lily's tale is, in many ways, heart wrenching and realistic.  The world does not always deal out a charmed life or a happy ending, and Tiger Lily is no exception in the world of Neverland.  These are all things not so often seen in YA -- usually good conquers evil and true love wins above all odds in this genre.  I don't remember what expectations I had for the book, but Tiger Lily surpassed and differed from it at the same time; Tiger Lily is not your typical YA retelling. 

I was very surprised to find that Tiger Lily was actually told from the eyes of the most famous pixie of all time: Tinkerbell.  In this version (and most versions) Tinkerbell cannot talk, but she has a lot of voice for a mute faerie.  I thought an interesting choice of narrator and was pretty geeked over it.  For me, however, the reflective voice of Tinkerbell was more somber than I was expecting, and, at times, was off-putting.  It also would occasionally become confusing as it was easy to forget who was narrating.  But overall, I think Tinkerbell telling the story is part of what made Tiger Lily so special.  Through Tinkerbell’s eyes we could see different sides and objective views of the main characters.

It was wickedly more sophisticated than I was expecting.  There is no absurd happy ending or insta-love.  Actually, there isn’t a whole lot of happy period - there was an overwhelming amount of sadness lingering throughout the air of Neverland.  It was depressing and without hope since most of us know who Peter Pan eventually ends up with, which is stated on the cover: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . . 

In addition to Jodi Lynn Anderson’s sad Neverland, her version of Peter was simply of a young and magnetic boy.  No flying.  Just leader of the Lost Boys.  This lack of magic added to the somber realism of the author’s version of Neverland.  However, the book is worth reading for this very different world of Neverland. 

I found that because of the book's more relaxed story telling it was harder to get into.  Some books you almost literally feel yourself fall into effortlessly, with others it may be a dive.  With Tiger Lily, at times I felt I was struggling to break the surface and descend into the story.  I think this is one of those books that if and when you decide to read it, make sure you have nothing to do for the day and won't be interrupted.  Just curl up in a chair with a blanket, maybe its raining/snowing outside, and turn off your phone.  Probably would make for an extremely peaceful afternoon.

Final Thought: 4 out of 5 un-flying toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Save a Word Saturday (#7)


Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday, a new blog hop hosted by The Feather and the Rose.
The aim is to spread love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least visited vaults of the Word Bank.

The rules run thusly:
1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog. 
2.  Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice).
3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.
4. Add a link to your blog in the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!
5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.

This week's theme is:
Butterflies

And the word I have chosen is:

lambent

adj. - shining gently or playing about surface; flickering; gently radiant. lambency, n.
And my ever so wordy sentences are:

Curling and flipping, the butterfly danced on the wind.  As it gracefully dove through the air with the sun shining down in the garden, the butterfly was lambent -- shining ever so gently. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Notes From My Desk: Desperately Seeking Roses


I’m starting to notice a trend that I absolutely love any book with a rose on the cover.  I first noticed it when I gathered a few of my most loved books together in a pile and saw the number of roses.  It was startling.  Therefore, people should put more roses on book covers; I’ll love the crap out of it.  Guaranteed.  Is this just a joke?  Let’s see:



Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky?  Not so much.   

Why?  There’s a sunflower where a rose could be.  If it was a rose in a bottle, maybe I would have had different feelings.  Who knows how my brain works -- certainly I don’t.  But I'm finding myself hoping for more roses than sunflowers in 2013.







P.S.: I don't have some crazy hate for sunflowers.  Just throwing that out there.