Wednesday, April 25, 2012

[Book Review] Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Summary (from Goodreads): For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.
Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can't choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn't trade their unusual relationship for anything.
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she's been telling about her life have turned into lies she's telling herself...

I got the book nearly two months ago. Sadly that’s about how long it took me to finish it. I’d read 50 pages in time and then set it down for a couple of days and do it again. A couple of nights ago, I picked it up again and was able to finish it. With that being said, I obviously felt that the book had a slow beginning. I had read the back of the book when I first got it and kept waiting for that specific event to happen. I was left waiting until pretty much page 150.

First 150 pages: slow beginning, but still ok. What really kept me reading it was the romance between Dante and Maria. However twisted and maybe distant it may seem. Maria loved Dante unconditionally and Dante loved Maria so much that he didn’t want her to know a lot about this other monstrous side of himself. I really liked a lot of the characters too. Most of the characters that were introduced had an important role in Maria’s life whether it be work, family, or Dante’s family. I really loved how each relationship meant something to her no matter how small.

Second half of the book: really interesting. I sat down and read it until I finished. Really loved all the twists the writer put in the books. While I did predict some of the results, there were still a lot that surprised me.  

I will spoil this, the book has a very... what’s a good word for it…. Closing? Satifsying? Proper? Yeah I think I’ll go with closing. The book has a very closing ending. So, I’m very curious as to how this story will continue and where the writer will go with it.

3 out of 5 stars for Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

[Book Review] Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Summary (from Amazon):
Readers will be clamoring to find out who Jacinda chooses in Hidden, the final installment of the steamy Firelight novels. Is it Will, the hunter she's risked everything to save, or Cassian, the prince of her kind with whom she has an undeniable connection? Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in this epic tale that will appeal to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Lauren Kate, Aprilynne Pike, and Colleen Houck. When Jacinda and Will's forbidden romance leads to the capture of Cassian's sister, Jacinda knows she must set things right. With her friends by her side, Jacinda hatches a daring plan to rescue Cassian's sister. But the only way to reach her is for Jacinda to become a prisoner herself…and there's no guarantee she'll make it out alive.

So I’m going to start this review with a little story. Sophie Jordan = nicest author in the world. End of story. Ok. Ok. Not the end of story, but still true. I read Sophie Jordan’s Firelight just weeks after its release. So when the movies get made (and I’m crossing my fingers they will) and the books get even more popular and everyone is obsessing about them, I get to say that I’ve been a fan since almost the beginning. I tried my best to get an ARC of Vanish, but sadly failed. Luckily I was able to snag one of Hidden this past week. And just to add one final thing to this I-guess-you-cannot-call-it-a-story-after-all-but-still-does-not-really-count-as-part-of-the-review story, Sophie Jordan was actually the first book signing I went to so I always get excited when I get to see her again.

Now to the actual review, if you’ve read the two previous books, you know what situation Jacinda and her three (I’m trying to not put spoilers other than what’s on the back covers just in case someone who hasn’t read the book stumbles across this review) accomplices were left in. Hidden picks up pretty much where Vanish left off.

I loved reading about the different Draki that were introduced. So much that I wish Sophie Jordan would do a spinoff of this series where we get to read about another Draki prides with maybe a mix of some other form of mysterious creature. (Please Sophie!) Book two of the Firelight trilogy, Vanish made me fall in love with the Draki life and made me want more.

Each of the three books has a different feel. Firelight was about her and her mother & sister escaping the pride and starting a new life. Vanish was about her family coming back into the pride and feeling like outsiders. Hidden was a perfect mixture of the both. I still cannot believe that so much happened in the book and only really a week or so of time passed.

There was never a second to breathe because there was so much going on. The characters in this book had things happen to them back to back. And if it wasn’t action that was occurring, it was a moment of new discovery for the characters.

How did I like the ending of this beautiful trilogy? It definitely wasn’t the ending I would have expected, but it was very fitting to the world Sophie Jordan created in the series. It ended with a happy ending for everyone, in a way.

So glad I came across this trilogy.

5 out of 5 for Hidden by Sophie Jordan.

Monday, April 16, 2012

[Book Review] Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Summary (from Amazon):
Blessed with a gift...cursed with a secret.
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.
My sister was actually the one to introduce me to this book. She heard of it and was immediately interested in reading it. Then back in February, Jessica Spotswood was a part of the Breathless Reads 2012 tour so she came to Houston. So, I bought the book mostly for my sister because the genre was more her kind. She read it about a week ago or so and fell in love with it. She told me I had to read it next. So, of course I did.

So, you can understand how much I loved this book, you have to understand one thing; I’m the kind of girl that reads 50 pages of a book at a time and then comes back to it the next day and maybe reads 60 or so. Not the case in while reading this book. Last night while watching Breakout Kings (9c) I started reading it again (I was on page 92). I read while watching the show. I read after the show. I read lying in bed. I read with the lights off and a flashlight. I got up in the middle of the night and read some more. (Yeah, it’s that good). So within the last 24 hours, I’ve read 238 pages? That’s a record for me!

Now to actually talk about the book. There’s three things that a book needs to have for me to consider it a good novel – good characters, good plot, and lastly (and on my account most importantly) a good romance. Jessica Spotswood does a really good job at making the three combine perfectly.

Cate grows in the book (I won’t spoil how… go read it yourself!). I loved getting inside her mind (that’s what I call it). One moment she’s feeling one thing. One moment, she’s feeling the completely opposite. That’s so true to how teenagers are.

The first 40 pages or so of the book does have a slow beginning, but a very necessary stall. Instead of spreading backstory throughout the entire book like I’ve seen a ton of authors drag out, Jessica Spotswood gives all the necessary information as soon as possible. That’s not to say that there aren’t some discovered secrets from the past because believe me there are! If you’re a reader that loves twisted twist, then you’re going to love this book plot!

And lastly my favorite part, the romance! Spotswood will make you flip from Team Paul to Team Finn chapter after chapter. My sister would ask me “which guy do you like better” and I would seriously respond “I don’t know!” Both main guys have their way of being sweet. Both main guys treat Cate with respect. Both main guys have the potential to be great husband for her.
Gasp! Was that a spoiler? Maybe! But if you go out and buy it then read it yourself, you’ll understand!

5 out of 5 for Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

[Book Review] Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn (ARC Version)

Summary(from Amazon): Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-ofage story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham’s junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties—friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is—are shaken or cast off altogether. Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy’s guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent—the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove. Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.


A couple of weeks ago, Katy Budget Books asked if there were readers willing to read ARCs and review for them. I jumped at the chance to get some new books. This book just so happened to be one of the books that I picked up the day I went.

Although the book has a very strange and confusing start, it immediately picked up and grabbed my attention. While I’ve read that other readers do not like how the point of views changed, I actually found it very refreshing since I’m doing something similar in my own writing. What I liked about her writing was that she kept it in first person (minus Mister Death’s point of view, but I found that the way she wrote his point of view was very fitting).  The reader was literally in the mind of all the important people in the novel and unlike most writing, you (the reader) get to know what every one of them thinks about certain events. There’s no imagining or filling in what you think they are thinking about.

While I am a Christian girl and most definitely do believe in God, I found Nora’s doubts very realistic. Everyone questions the way they were raised up. Everyone questions what their parents are telling them. Everyone questions how even their friends think. Right after finishing this book, I was kind of upset, I’m not gonna lie. I wanted it to have a different ending. I wanted Nora to realize that God isn’t the bad guy, humans are. But the more I think about it, the more I like what Hahn’s did. One positive thing that I took from the book was that she shows that God gives us free will. He doesn’t force us to believe in him. He doesn’t force us to go to church. He wants us to believe in him. He wants to have a close relationship with us. It’s religion that forces these zillion of rules on us. Even if that wasn’t the writer’s intention to make her readers think in that sort of way, but I tend to have my own mind.

4 out of 5 for Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

[Book Review] Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

Summary (from Amazon):
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick's anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn't realize how far from perfect Nick's life has become is Nick himself.

I really love Alex Flinn’s fairytale stories and since I was going to a signing of hers a couple of months ago, I went out and bought most of her books. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve finished Breathing Underwater, but the main ideas are still in my head.

I should start off with saying that this book took me nearly a month to read. Not because it wasn’t good, but because this wasn’t a type of book I was used to reading. Although I’ve read several of her books and because of her I am now used to reading from as a boy’s point of view, I never found myself comfortable with the whole abuse thing. Abuse isn’t really something that I had to go through so maybe that’s the reason. I’m sure a girl with an abusive boyfriend or a boy with an angry, bitter father has a completely different view. With the abuse being taken out of the equation, there leaves the characters and storyline.    

Normally when reading a book, there’s typically one or two characters that I love no matter what. This book is different, but in a good way because it made me like every single character (minus Nick’s dad) at one point.

When it came to Nick, I felt sorry for him because of what his father put him through. Yet I wanted to knock some sense into him with his rudeness towards Caitlin. As for Caitlin, I felt bad for her because she clearly didn’t realize something was wrong with her relationship until it was too late. But she was also not opened to listening to Nick. I really liked Tom in the flashbacks/journal entries, but he was too a jerk when it came to his relationship with Nick.

As for the storyline, I would have liked to see some more stuff happen in the present time. These seemed to be a lot of stuff going on in the journal entries so I guess that makes up for it. Also, I would have liked to see a better conclude the Nick/Caitlin relationship, but I guess that’s what the book sequel (which is after Breathing Underwater and told in Caitlin’s point of view) Diva is for. Hoping to read that book and get a review up soon.

3 out of 5 for Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

[TV Tuesday] One Tree Hill Series Finale Review

I wish I can say that I’ve been a One Tree Hill fan since the beginning, but that would be a lie. I caught up this past summer, which just my luck happened to be right before the seasons were put up on Netflix. So, I found links for the first eight seasons online and watched them all on my laptop. Pure hell, if you ask me. Having to locate links and watch on a tiny (compared to a tv) screen, but it was worth it. I had always wanted to watch One Tree Hill and I’m glad I finally did.

Unlike a lot of shows, OTH was given a full season to prepare for the end. I honestly, think that’s the best way to go. It’s certaintly beats cancelation after the last episode has been shot. They were able to give each character the proper ending, which Mark Schwahn did a great job completing.

Two of the series biggest characters, Lucas and Peyton were given their ending two seasons ago and while many fans complained that they didn’t return for the series finale, I am not one of those fans. They were given their happy ending and they kept that happy ending.

As for Haley and Nathan, one of my favorite couple of the show. I didn’t feel like the episode was really an advance in their relationship, but rather an advance in their son, Jamie’s life. All of Haley’s dreams came true as she said. This episode was about passing the torch down to Jamie and having him strive for his own dreams.

What a perfect ending for Brooke and Julian. I always felt like Brooke was always getting the bad end of the deal. But these past two seasons have really showed a Brooke that’s happier. Not only does she have a really great marriage with Julian, but she finally has children like she’s wanted for years. Add the relationship she’s wanted with her parents since the beginning of the series and she finally has her complete family.

Clay and Quinn are characters that were added after Peyton and Lucas’s departure. While some fans couldn’t put aside that difference, I fell in love with the relationship they had. They helped each other out through their problems. Adding in Logan and a marriage at the end of it was more of an ending that I could have imagined.

As for other characters such as Dan, Chase, Chris, Mouth, Millie, and Skills, I wasn’t really a fan of how their characters’ last season was going. However, the last couple of episodes have really tied in together where I found myself really liking their end. Dan’s death was, for lack of better words, beautiful. Mouth and Millie end up pregnant. Skills ended up with Bevin. Even Chase and Chris sort of got what they wanted.

As for the way the series finale was actually set up. It was perfect! Bethany Joy sung for the last time on the show. Of course, they had to bring in Gavin Degraw to sing the theme song one last time. They had to do that time jump because if it’s one thing One Tree Hill is good at, it’s time jumps. Everything about this final episode fit in to what OTH has been all these years.  The heart of the show started with friendship and basketball and the show ended with basketball and friendship. I can only hope that fans since the beginning loved it as much as I did.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

[Book Review] Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Summary (from Amazon):
I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

Alex Flinn has really made me love fairytale stories! I love how she adds her own twist to them. Having just met her about two months ago, I heard her talk about her reasoning for wanting to re-write fairytales and that made me fall even more with her books. Cloaked isn’t just one retelling of one fairytale, but instead it is seven small stories colliding into one.

I really liked the way Alex Flinn portrayed her characters in this novel. She wrote each character in their own unique way. Each character had their mission. Each character had what they were striving for.

Johnny, a poor shoemaker who wants to be so much more but is too afraid at first.  His journey throughout the entire book was really exciting.

Victoriana, a princess use to getting everything she wants. She’s the girl you love to hate because you wish you were her.  
Meg, Johnny’s best friend who makes the book teen times better. Seriously, she was my favorite character.
Alex Flinn is such a good story teller. She knows how to grab one vine and make it into an entire tree.  I’m pretty sure that every single fairytale book that she writes is going to be a hit.

5 out of 5 for Cloaked by Alex Flinn.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

[Book Review] Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Summary (from Amazon):
The third and final installment of the international bestselling Nightshade trilogy!
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is. In this remarkable final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, international bestselling author Andrea Cremer crafts a dynamic novel with twists and turns that will keep you breathless until its final pages.
Wow. Wow. Wow. I’m going to start off this review with saying, wow. Oh wait, I already said that.

First off, I just want to congratulate Andrea Cremer for wrapping up her series. (Even though it isn’t the end of what we’ll see from this world she created since she’s writing a prequel series.) Great job keeping us on the edge of our seats for a whole three books! Secondly, I want to applaud Andrea Cremer for staying true to that vision of the ending (which I will not spoil since she’s asked everyone to please not spoil anyone else) and not caving in to what the fans wanted. I’m sure it’s a tough spot to be in (and I actually had a small discussion with my sister about this), but I’m glad she didn’t fall into the pressure of pleasing everyone else.

With that being said, just because she didn’t give her readers the ending they were hoping for or expecting, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know how to end a series. If you ask me, that makes her an even better author. Any writer can give their readers what they want. Girl meets boy. Boy and girl fall in love. Happily ever after. It takes a real writer with guts to twist things around and add some more to the happily ever after.

I’ll admit while reading Bloodrose, there were several moments in which I just couldn’t believe she was doing certain things to her characters. (I’m still not giving spoilers. You’re safe if you haven’t read.) I would look over at my sister (who had read the book before me because she called dibs) and found myself asking “Are you freaking kidding me?” But now that I’ve had time to think about it, she really did manage to surprise me. After all, isn’t that what writers want to be able to do? What writer wants to write a predictable and unsurprising novel? Luckily for Mrs. Cremer she doesn’t have that to worry about that problem. Honestly, I don’t think anyone could have guessed the ending she created

4 out of 5 stars for Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer.