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A Reader of Fictions: April 2011

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, April 29, 2011

Frankenstein - Edgar Winter Group

Department 19
Department 19, Book 1

Author: Will Hill
Pages: 537
Publisher: Razorbill

Brief Summary:
Jamie Carpenter, 16, saw his father killed when he was a child, shot down like a dog by the government as a traitor. When his mom is taken by a vampire named Alexandru, and Frankenstein shows up to rescue him from said evil vamp, Jamie realizes there is more to his dad's death than he knew. His dad was part of the paranormal, vampire killing section of the government. Now, Jamie must rescue his mother from Alexandru, find out the truth about his dad, help prevent Dracula being brought back to life, and sort out his feelings for the bloody (since this novel is set in Britain, this is a delightful pun) beautiful vampire girl.

Feel free to compare this to the information given in the book trailer, which I wanted to use instead of a summary, but could not, as it didn't say much at all (and what it did say, it said poorly).

After reading the summary of this story, I was pretty intrigued and thought it could be quite interesting. Sadly, I quickly realized that the book would not be for me. There were a myriad of things that I did not like about this book: the characters (none of whom I gave a flip about), the jumps in time (which made it even harder to care about the characters, because so rarely did a scene continue on in the next chapter), the rather pompous chapter headings, the fact the vampires can fly (just leap up in the air and fly like birds), and the fact that there are two epilogues.

The timing and plotting of the story seem a bit weak. As an example of the former, I should like to discuss vampire killing. Readers of YA fiction are probably expecting Jamie, as the hero of the piece to be a bit of a badass. And he is. After only two days of training (upon the conclusion of which he does the best job of like anyone ever on some simulation test thing). And it's not like he was particularly athletic in school. He seemed really average at the outset and then suddenly he has crazy vampire killin' mojo? I just wasn't buying it; yeah, there's a family history for it, but that really doesn't mean anything.

Not to mention the fact that the whole plot line of it being possible to bring Dracula back to afterlife could have been avoided if everyone were not stupid. Seriously. Spoiler Alert. It occurs to Van Helsing's crew several years later that reanimation from his cremated ashes might be possible, so they go back to Transylvania to make sure he's still there. He is, hurrah! The world is saved. Except that the guys just take the ashes and stick them in a super secure, totally unsinkable room. Which is, of course, breached. Whoever could have seen that clever plot twist coming?!?! What they should have done was dumped the ashes out on a windy day or throne them in the ocean. Good luck finding all of his pieces again.

In the climax of the story, Jamie finally finds Alexandru, having purposefully walked into a very obvious trap, what with Alexandru having left notes for him and all. Alexandru has killed hundreds of people to get Jamie's attention and make sure he comes. After all of that, when Jamie gets there, Jamie's mother yells for him to run to safety and Alexandru tells him "Listen to your mother, boy" (492). These are not the words of the man who's been writing "Tell the boy to come" all over the place in blood.

Another frustrating element was his obsession with Larissa. She tries to kill him at their second meeting. Then, he comes to visit her in her cell and has trouble concentrating on saving his mother, because she looks so lovely with her face all covered in blood. Right... I'm not saying he can't be into a vampire, but, seriously, she's not going to be looking her best just then. Being covered in blood just isn't sexy and, as a True Blood fan, I should know.

For a story with a lot of promise, I thought Department 19 was a major clunker. I was bored pretty much the whole way through (and it's a long way through). Recommended to teen boys with more interest in action scenes and gore than in plot. For me, this is the end, even though a sequel is likely planned.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival

The Web of Titan
Galahad, Book 2

Dom Testa
Pages: 255
Publisher: Tor

Brief Summary:

Triana, Bon, Gap and all the rest are back in the second installment. They are preparing for their slingshot by Saturn. On the way, they have to pick up a pod from a team of scientists on Titan, one of Saturn's moon. As they draw close, one of the girls on the ship, who likes to study Titan, notices a weird beam coming at the ship. And then things start getting weird and kind of scary. Will the gang of teens be able to survive yet another crisis?

I read and reviewed The Comet's Curse, the first book in this series, last week. Check out my review here. For once, I don't actually have all that much to say. This book is much like the first, so, if you loved that one, The Web of Titan will not disappoint. The same relationship drama is here, only with a couple of new players. No real progress is made on that front of course.

As for the plot of this novel, it is less interesting than the last. While the previous novel had the interesting dystopian aspects to keep it going and of getting started, this one is entirely dependent on the tension provided by the beam. That really just didn't cause me to feel anything but boredom. The problem is that it's so obvious Testa does not have any plans to kill anyone off, not to mention the whole ship worth of kids. Knowing that, there is no doubt that they will survive the crisis, making it not feel so much like a crisis.

This series is okay, but nothing special. Next up is book three, The Cassini Code. Hopefully, it will prove me wrong.

"I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way."

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Top Ten Contemporary Authors

There are a number of authors that I like, whose books I'll always pick up when given the choice. Beyond that, there is the elite few, the authors I really respect and always eagerly await their new books. When they have a new book come out, I can almost guarantee I will like it, if not love it. In choosing who deserved the great honor of being a part of this list, I decided that I needed to have read books from more than one series. This rule excluded such folks as J.K. Rowling and Shanna Swendson, both of whom I love. My thought was that the truly trustworthy and amazing authors need to be able to come up with different characters and plots. This post is a shout out to the consistently awesome folk.

Honorable Mention: Meg Cabot

Yet again, I will be a little bit loose with my definition of ten. Normally, I would just mention my eleventh (possibly through fifteenth) choices in a brief, comma-delimited list somewhere in my introductory section. This time, though, I wanted to explain why Meg Cabot hasn't made it onto the list proper. I love a lot of her books a lot. They are light and fluffy, but she does the fun teen book perfectly at times. Other times, though, I've really disliked her books, so she's not as predictable as I wanted folks on this list to be. I enjoyed most of her standalone books and the 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU books, and dearly loved the Mediator series and the Heather Wells series. However, I could not get through Airhead, Queen of Babble or The Princess Diaries. Still, when she's good, she's very good, which is why I still get excited every time she has a new book.

10. Shannon Hale

Like Meg Cabot, Shannon Hale writes for both adults and teens, and can vary a bit in quality (as perceived by me. Books I love are the Bayern series (minus Forest Born, which wasn't bad, but was disappointing), Princess Academy (which sounded lame, but totally wasn't) and The Actor and the Housewife (which walked a fine line and did so well). On the other hand, I could not get through Book of a Thousand Days (though I'm going to try again). I got tired of the graphic novel series she writes with her husband (which just didn't work for me). And I really did not like Austenland (which is one of the P&P inspired books where the main character totally gets a Darcy, after having been unhealthily obsessed with that character—this is a terrible message to send to Darcy-obsessed ladies). I retain my hope that all future books will be as awesome as the former group and continue to keep an eye on Shannon's publications.

9. Jennifer Crusie

When I was in my young teen years, I went through a brief stint where I read romance novels smuggled exceedingly sneakily from my mom's collection in the family library. This was, perhaps, not the high point of my reading career. After this brief, somewhat ignominious period, I left romance novels behind and journeyed into less predictable waters. I came back to romance for Jennifer Crusie, and pretty much only Jennifer Crusie (and one other lady who's coming up next). My friend Katelyn introduced me to her through Welcome to Temptation and I have loved her ever since. Her womenfolk are saucy and love animals, the men are sexy and the shenanigans are hilarious. Some of her books are better than others, but almost all have been great reads, although I have to mention that I like her better when she's not writing with Bob Mayer. Keep it awesome, Miss Crusie!

8. Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is one of those authors that has a new book coming out every few months, each one with a hold list miles long at the local library. Some authors do not deserve this fanatical following, but I would argue that Evanovich does. Sure, the books are a bit short and they occasionally lack plot. That does not change the fact that every single one, be it romance or mystery, has made me laugh nigh hysterically. This woman is doing something right. Consistently. She keeps her audience laughing all the way to the bank.

7. Markus Zusak

Time for a change of pace. Zusak writes teen fiction, but not the stereotypical kind. He writes the ones that really make you think about tough issues, like the Holocaust. There is little doubt that The Book Thief is his best book so far and will be incredibly hard to top. If you haven't read it, you really should. It is beautifully written and tackles a much-covered topic in a completely original way. I also read I Am the Messenger, which was a fantastic story about coming of age and how people can make a difference. I have not yet gotten my hands on the Ruben Wolfe series. He apparently has a new book, called The Bridge of Clay, due out later this year; I'm excited. Plus, who knew he was so cute?

6. Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce is the queen of the teen fantasy genre oriented toward girls. I started out of order (a really weird thing if you know me) with the Trickster's books and absolutely loved them. I have since worked through the Song of the Lioness, The Immortals and Protector of the Small. Each series is different, but they have one really awesome thing in common: an incredibly strong heroine. Her girls are kickass and inspiring (and get some awesome sex when they want it). Her middle grade series did not impress me and I gave up after book one when some serious Tamora fans told me that one didn't get much better. As long as it's YA though, I'm there.

5. Terry Pratchett

Here's another author who consistently makes me giggle with glee. Only he makes me feel really smart at the same time. Terry Pratchett is a nerd's dream. His fantasy world, the Discworld, is patently absurd, but in the best way possible. His jokes run the gamut between high level wit and slapstick. Just look at him...he's obviously awesome. He is also one of those people who can turn out a whole lot of books, which means I have some seriously enjoyable catching up to do. Favorite book so far: The Thief of Time.

4. John Green

Unlike many of the other people on this list, I have actually read all of John Green's books published to date (although not his short stories published in omnibuses). All four books were pretty awesome. His only weakness is an obsession with 'mysterious' and self-destructive women, which made Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns a bit less enjoyable for me. I hated the main female character and respected the main male character less for being obsessed with her. My favorite so far is definitely Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which he cowrote with David Levithan. There are not words enough to express the awesomeness. The best things about John Green novels are the humor and the unique idiosyncrasies the characters have (e.g. Miles obsession with people's last words in Looking for Alaska). Fun fact: I got to shake this man's hand at ALA 2010.

3. Barbara Kingsolver

I openly acknowledge that there has not been all that much deep, weighty fare in my favorites list. Perhaps this is because novels of that sort, the kind deemed 'literary fiction' can sometimes not be a serious slog, even if they are good. Barbara Kingsolver writes about something amazingly different, often in a completely different style, in each of her books, but all the ones I have read worked amazingly. None of the ones I read (The Bean Trees, The Poisonwood Bible, Progidal Summer) were on topics that interested me in the least, but I found myself completely sucked into her beautiful prose. A similar author, who I like slightly less so far, is Margaret Atwood (who probably should be on this list, but she's still on the proving ground).

2. Sarah Addison Allen

Another genre I generally cannot stand is southern fiction, which is a category Allen's books definitely fall into. However, that cannot stop their amazingness. On a basic level, Allen's novels are simple, largely predictable chick lit books. To simply categorize them that way, though, would be doing them a disservice. What makes Allen so amazing is her addition of magical realism into every book. To read more about that, check out my review of her latest offering.

1. Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore writes YA fantasy, which is, on a basic level, very similar to Tamora Pierce. She, too, has incredibly powerful heroines with healthy sex drives. Cashore is even better, though. Her world-building is more original and her stories darker. So, if you love Pierce and haven't read Graceling and Fire yet, get on that posthaste! I have one complaint for Miss Cashore: she writes too slowly. Her third book, Bitterblue, has been hinted at for almost a year and a half now, but I still have yet to see the slightest sign of its actual publication. I would like to take this chance to send my desperate plea out into the internet: "Please, give us Bitterblue!"

P.S. I love looking at pictures of authors, because I usually do not really see them, and they rarely look like what I expected.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fade - Staind

Razorland, Book 1

Ann Aguirre
Pages: 262
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Brief Summary:
On her fifteenth birthday, just like all the others in her enclave, Deuce receives her name and her occupation, huntress. She will go out and brave the dangerous tunnels surrounding their underground home to find food in traps and kill the freaks, zombie creatures with sharp nails and teeth. Her new partner, Fade, is antisocial, likely a product of his rough childhood; unlike everyone else, he was not born in the enclave, but found wandering in the tunnels, nearly mad with the need to protect himself. With Fade at her side, Deuce begins to realize that her home may not be what she thinks it is and that maybe the leaders are not all that trustworthy. Needless to say, it's all going to get a lot worse and a lot more painful before it gets better.

The front of the book compared Enclave to The Hunger Games. That sets the standard for quality in a teen dystopia pretty darn high...and Aguirre totally came through! I was completely pulled into this world from the first pages. The writing, the plot and the characters are all fantastic. Book two will so be mine (and I totally want to acquire a copy of this one for my personal collection).

Zombies have been done before, of course, but these feel much more terrifying. They have the speed of any other predator and are learning, like in Aftertime. What they reminded me of more than anything actually were the morlocks from The Time Machine. Super creepy! And they're not the only terror: "I had begun to throb with the desire to understand why things happened, why some people lived under the ground, like our enclave, the Freaks, and the Burrowers, and why some stayed Topside and turned into the greatest monsters of all" (173).

Speaking of figuring out why things happened, that is something I would still like to know. That explanation has yet to appear. Thankfully, this does not come across as a lame attempt to increase my interest, but as a part of Deuce's journey that has not yet come. Deuce feels so real. The comparison to The Hunger Games lies largely in Deuce. We see from her perspective and she, like Katniss, cares first and foremost about survival. She doesn't really want to be involved in politics and relationships definitely confuse her. I am digging her love triangle, but have not firmly declared support for either team (Fade vs. Stalker), as both have promise.

To sum up, I loved this and recommend it to pretty much everyone who likes reading darker stuff, like dystopias. This one rocks, especially because the characters go to a library to research in their post-catastrophe world. Now that's awesome! Ann Aguirre is officially on my watch list.

"I only know that I can change
Everything else just stays the same

So now I step out of the darkness "

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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Queen's Approach - The Decemberists

The Queen's Dollmaker

Author: Christine Trent
Pages: 342
Publisher: Kensington Books

Brief Summary:

Claudette Laurent learned dollmaking from her father, an eminent Parisian dollmaker. A fire ends the life of both of her parents, leaving Claudette alone in the world. She tries to find her fiancée, Jean-Philip, but fails, and winds up on a ship bound for England. She had been told that the women were to be made governesses, but realizes, just in time to extricate herself, that they are to be sold to whorehouses instead. She acquires a position, along with a fellow frenchwoman and her daughter, working for the obnoxious Mrs. Ashby. Her dollmaking saves them from this wretched life of servitude, but it also embroils her in the French Revolution.

Historical fiction is a genre I quite enjoy, but do not read all that often. Partially, I worry about getting real history and imagined history mixed up in my head. Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution are not amongst my historical interests either, so this is not a book I would have picked up under normal circumstances; I read this for a book club.

The Queen's Dollmaker was not a terrible book by any means, but it wasn't great either. The writing was good and the historical events in France seemed to follow the correct timeline. The story definitely was not a pageturner, and I had to resist the urge to skim. The real weakness here lies in the plot and the characters.

Claudette is strong for a woman of that time period; she works in trade unashamedly, will not marry solely for station, will not be a mistress, earns her enough money to support herself and her friends, and is possessed of some sass. Her love interest, William Greycliffe, seems a bit like a generic romance novel hero, only without the great sex. He is there for her, loves her unconditionally from his first look at her (despite the fact that he is a rising aristocrat and she is a servant) and saves her when the chips are down. He lacks substance, but he's okay. Jean-Phillipe lacks any sort of real character; he certainly has qualities, but all of his behavior does not really add up to one whole that I could make out.

My main gripe with the plot is that Claudette, a successful, happily engaged woman, has no need to go to visit Marie Antoinette in the middle of the revolution. Sure, she probably didn't know how bad things were, but she certainly knew they weren't good. She is too smart of a woman to think that's a good idea, especially after she decided she truly belongs in England. One other thing that really bothered me, because it, too, went against Claudette's character was her begging to a villain in an attempt to save herself from incarceration: "Please, I will become your lover if that is what you wish, but do not take me in there, in the name of our parents and all that has passed between us, please do not do this" (258). This just seemed completely unnecessary and unfair to her character.

Overall, a meh book. Not bad, but not really worth the time. I thought Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution did a better job with the French Revolution.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

(You're) Having My Baby - Glee

Bumped, Book 1

Megan McCafferty
Review Copy Acquired From:
Balzer + Bray via NetGalley

Brief Summary:

In a world where people over the age of 18 are almost all struck by HPSV, Human Progressive Sterility Virus, it falls to teens (and sometimes younger) to give birth to the next generation. The current system in Otherside works kind of like our Social Security. The young folks pay for (aka have babies for) the older generation. Later, when they grow up and cannot have children of their own, they pay young folks for a child.

In this world, genetics are everything, if you want to be a professional Pregger like Melody. She is on track to rake in the money on her first, and, possibly only, pregg, assuming the people who have purchased the as yet unborn baby ever choose a mate (RePro- Reproductive Professional) for her. Everything gets thrown into chaos with the arrival of her identical twin sister, Harmony, who, separated at birth, was raised in Goodside, the religious community where most girls are married off at 13 to produce God-fearing children.

One of my faults as a reader is that I do not always do enough research on the books I am about to read. I look at the covers, maybe quickly skim a review or even just glance at some keywords. For Bumped, I saw that Presenting Lenore loved it and that it was a dystopia and knew that I had to read it. I failed to look into the plot at all, so I was incredibly appalled to realize, as perhaps the cover should have indicated to me, that this book would be all about pregnancy.

Everyone always tells me I will grow out of my lack of interest in children, which, though I doubt it, is technically possible. Even if I do, though, I will never look on pregnancy as anything which I would desire to experience, so, understandably, the first sentence completely horrified me: "I'm sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet." Good lord, save me (only not in Harmony's way either). A world where a teen girl would have to choose between not going to college, pregnancy and a religious commune, which means babies anyway, is completely not okay.

The first half or so of the book I mostly hated. Melody and Harmony's narration was filled with their weird programming, all yay babies or Jesus, which is so not my thing. Then, as they learn more about the world, they start growing into real people with thoughts and opinions. Plus, I always liked Zen. There are some hilarious puns, even if they are baby-centered, such as a RePro doing some "pro boner work" (151). The description of the library made me sad, but at least it still existed. The book also had some great quotes; I share below two of my favorites, one from each twin.

Harmony: "I also know that you can find a verse to support just about any argument, and another verse to shut it down. If it's all the word of God, how can we simply ignore the parts that don't fit our beliefs?" (182)

Melody: "All of our ancestors, and all of our descendants, are coming together to celebrate this kiss, to clap and fist-pump and foot-stomp and shout out loud to the universe YES! YES! A million billion years of YESSSS!" (236)

After an unfortunate start, this turned out to be a really interesting read. I am actually glad this time that I did not look further into the plot, or I would have missed this surprisingly good read.

"The need inside you I see it showin'
Oh, t
he seed inside you
Baby, d
o you feel it growin'
Are you happy in knowin' that you're having my baby? "

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Blood Ritual - Klaus Badelt


Author: Carrie Vaughn
Pages: 287
Publisher: HarperTeen

Brief Summary:
Jill loves fencing, but she is having trouble dealing with the pressure. She's good, but is she good enough? Her trainer wants her to try for the Olympics, but her confidence is pretty much shot after she lost a bout by just a fraction of a second. That tiny increment of time is seriously bringing her down, even though she's on a vacation to the Bahamas with her family. All she wants to do is mope alone in her room and walk sullenly on the beach, where she finds the tip to a rapier on the beach, but her parents make her go on a boat ride with them. When she falls off the boat in some unexpectedly bad weather, the piece of rapier transports her through time to the days when pirated ruled the seas...

I discovered Carrie Vaughn in Brave New Worlds, which I read and reviewed a couple months ago. Her story was one of my favorites, so I put her on my list of authors to watch for. Imagine my surprise and delight to see that she had two books coming out, both with beautiful covers: one adult, one teen.

The cover of Steel describes the novel as "a swashbuckling tale of magic, romance, and pirates." I was so there. The swashbuckling and pirates parts are most definitely true. Jill can be quite a strong lady, when she's not panicking herself into a frenzy. She definitely grows from a bit of an obnoxious whiner at the outset to a strong heroine, able to stand up to even the scariest of pirates.

The magic and the romance were a bit less present in the story. Certainly, magic is pervasive, but only in the rapier which brought Jill through time. Magic served that one purpose and no other. And it really didn't work for me. I think I would have preferred the more standard story where she disguises herself as a boy to run off and gets caught up with pirates. The journey through time just felt too contrived. There is romance of a sort, but it's not particularly romantic, nor is it long-lived or monumental. I did not ship her with anyone and think the romance, such as it was, did little to help the story.

Though I didn't love this one, it was a fairly interesting read. My favorite part was actually reading the acknowledgements, where the author acknowledges which parts of history she altered (knowingly). That is a section of historical fiction novels I have come to appreciate in recent years, nerd that I am. I still have high hopes for her adult fiction book, which I will be reading soon.

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Of Moons, Birds & Monsters - MGMT


Natsumi Itsuki
Volumes: 3 (really long ones)
Publisher: Tokyopop

This science fiction manga never really entertained me. And yet, I kept hoping it would do something interesting. Nope. Why oh why did I waste my precious reading time on this series? Bleh! Warning: this will be a spoilertastic review.

The series opens with two brothers: Thor and the other one whose name I cannot recall. Their parents are murdered, and they are sent to the secret prison planet, Kimaera, as punishment for whatever happened to their parents. The brothers are barely equipped to survive on this planet, which turns so slowly that it has hundreds of days of night followed by hundreds of days of sunlight. It also has carnivorous plants and some seriously violent folks.

They manage to survive by befriending another white boy, Zagi, in the forests where the children live, abandoned by parents to get by if they're strong or die if they're not. Zagi eventually leaves them and the two boys must fend for themselves. Thor and his brother are separated, because Thor fights some folks to protect the weak one. While running away, the weak one dies falling into a chasm. For the whole of the first volume (which is really long), I had to read about children.

Thor rises to the top of their political system and ends up having to confront Zagi, who has some crazy plans to abolish the Ring and Beast King system on the planet. He gets Thor named Beast King, so the people from the other planets come to get him, as is the deal. He is told that he is special, born of the DNA of all of the previous Beast Kings, and not actually his mother's son at all. He is meant to revitalize mankind, which lives a limited lifespan and can no longer reproduce (except for those on Kimaera). He refuses and leaves all of the folks in the rest of the system to die, when he realizes that they have lied about Earth still existing for all of these years (apparently it was destroyed at some point).

The series ends with him going back to Kimaera, his skin having changed color for some reason (which is explained, but is still stupid). The love of his life (aka the prettiest girl he'd ever seen) was killed partway through the story and the girl who was obsessed with him (and wanted to have his baby, though he thought of her only as a friend and sister) also died, protecting the creepy Zagi. At the end of the series, they find a child who has survived all of the crazy stuff that went down (as part of the people in the other planet's plot to make Kimaera their salvation) and he names her after the girl who loved him. This felt like him grooming himself a little bride. Maybe it wasn't supposed to, but I am super creeped out and angered that I wasted my time.

Although this definitely is a dystopia, I hated it and do not recommend it to manga or dystopia fans.

"Why'd you cut holes in the face of the moon base?
Don't you know about the temperature change
In the cold black shadow?
Are you mad at your walls
Or hoping that an unknown force can repair things for you?
Pardon all the time that you've thrown into your pale grey garden?
If your ship will never come you gotta move along"

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Those to Come - The Shins

The Gathering
Darkness Rising, Book 1

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pages: 359
Publisher: Harper
Review Copy Acquired From: A friend gave this to me and I do not know where he got it.

Brief Summary:
A year ago, Maya's best friend, Serena, died, drowning in a lake she had been swimming in for most of her life. Maya has trouble accepting that Serena simply drowned, what with her being the best swimmer on the school team. Still, Maya cannot do anything to prove that and is trying to get on with her life. She still has her other best friend, and Serena's boyfriend, Daniel by her side. He can be a bit overprotective, like when the new school hottie and bad boy is hitting on Maya, but his heart is clearly in the right place. Will she give in and date the persistent bad boy, Rafe? Will she turn to the best friend? Does her paw print birthmark mean anything or is it just a neat mark?

Last year, I read and really enjoyed Armstrong's teen series that begins with The Summoning. Later, I tried her Women of the Otherworld series and was not impressed, but I am planning to at least start book two before giving up on her adult fiction entirely. This new series is set in the same world as the previous, but does not have too much crossover, at least not that I've noticed (and my memory's not great, so I might have missed something). Davidoff is the only character name I recognized from before.

The plot holds few surprises, and those, generally, were not the big ones. Her relationship choices were inevitable, and future relationship drama is emerging along clearly defined lines. The emergence of the fantasy elements of the story was wholly expected as well. If you like to be completely caught off guard by your book, then Armstrong might not be for you. Remember that Armstrong has a strong basis in paranormal romance, so there are certain elements that are just going to happen a particular way.

That does not change the fact that her YA novels are compulsively readable. They go down quick and easy, and leave you wanting more. Her romances, if the previous series is something I can go by, are very cute, take a long time to come to fruition and may involve some missteps along the way (like dating the wrong guy and then realizing your feelings lie elsewhere). Although it would be repetitive, I hope for the latter yet again, as Rafe's little bad guy routine did nothing to make me like him. Bad boys are good only in certain circumstances, as better detailed in my previous post. I am fully rooting for Daniel. Normally, I would not ship her with the best friend, but I really liked him for some reason and think he has some awesomeness hiding beneath the surface.

If you're looking for something fun to read this spring/summer, you can't go wrong with The Gathering. For another review, check out Nori's Closet.

"Quaking leaves and broken light
Shifting skin
The coming night"

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Top Ten Bad Boys

This list was inspired by a blog post by Mette Ivie Harrison, an author I really enjoy. She has been doing a series of posts on destructive love myths, one of which was on the desire for bad boys and the hopeless aim of redeeming them. I agreed with what she had to say on this matter and decided that this week I would honor the bad boys that hold appeal, despite them not being my type ordinarily. Mostly, I think the whole bad boy swagger, cockiness bit is a bunch of BS and would tell them to take a flying leap, but sometimes...

10. Connor and Murphy MacManus from The Boondock Saints

They're crazy religious, with an emphasis on the crazy, and they're murderers. They hang out with two bit gangsters and live in squalor. The actors aren't even particularly attractive (not that they're ugly, but they're certainly not droolworthy, as they're a bit old). Even worse, they smoke! And yet, I still adore them. Why? This one's easy to explain in two reasons: 1) the accents and 2) they speak so many languages fluently (melts into a puddle on the floor during that scene every time).

9. Spike from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

Now, when I say that I really like Spike, I am referring only to the Spike before the scene in the bathroom with Buffy. That whole incident is pretty unforgivable, even if she does forgive him, and, almost worse than that, is his incredible cheesiness afterwards. This vampire is, generally, not a good guy; he loves to fight, enjoys many ladies, is still a little bit obsessed with his insane ex, and occasionally eats people. He's not even super attractive really; he's a bit older than I like them and I don't personally have a Billy Idol. And yet, it's a rare Buffy fan who does not really love Spike, and I am no exception. Reasons for awesomeness: accent, sense of humor, and the fact that he is so capable of love, even if his heart doesn't beat anymore.

8. Pete Dunham from Green Street Hooligans
This guy is super violent and obsessed with sports. Seriously, he's in one of those crazy soccer gangs in London (that's what the movie's about). There is nothing I like about any of that. And yet, Charlie Hunnam is just too attractive for me to not still be really interested in him. So I'm not deep, so what?

7. Michael Guerin from Roswell
There is just something about Michael. He was my favorite right from the beginning. Sure, Jason Behr is more objectively attractive, but Michael, broody and grumpy, is by far more attractive. I never gave a damn about Liz and Max, but shipped Michael and Maria so hard. Broody, easily angered men are not ideal for a long term relationship, but they sure do hold a certain appeal.

6. Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars

I spent most of the first season of Veronica Mars loathing Logan Echolls. He's an overprivileged jerkwad with no consideration for others. Then, all of a sudden, I am absolutely loving him. He grows as a character a lot, and gets a bit more considerate. At heart though, he still is clearly a bad boy, ready to fight and to insult those around him. Somehow though, it totally works. Probably for the same reason Spike does. I think I might be developing a theory.

5. Wolverine from X-Men

This refers only to the Wolverine from the films, not from any of the comics. In the comics, Logan (is this a bad boy name?) is always gigantically muscular (like in those muscle man magazines) and hairy everywhere. No thanks. Hugh Jackman, though? Oh, hell yeah. No more needs to be said on the matter.

4. Charles Brandon from The Tudors

The early episodes of The Tudors come with a good amount of eye candy, whether you like men or women, but there was no question when it came to who I liked the best. Oh, Henry Cavill. He is made of so much pretty, which he is so kind as to share around. You get to see him partially dressed plenty and, oh my, is that okay with me. Not the ideal guy to take home to mom, but there are so many other things you can do...

3. Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop
Another Spike. Apparently, this is another name that only bad boys carry around. Like the other Spike, he kicks some serious ass. He's also sarcastic, tall, thin and loves ladies. The only bad thing about Spike is that he is totally hung up on his ex, who really does not seem all that awesome. Despite being a bad boy and animated, I have a bit of a crush on Spike. My best guess is that it's the sense of humor that gets me.

2. Eric Northman from True Blood/The Sookie Stackhouse Series
To be truthful, I didn't really notice Eric at first. He was just the scary jerk who ran Fangtasia and wanted to steal Sookie away because she has a cool power. I was not very interested. Then he got a haircut and I went "Damn!!!" That was some seriously fine man hiding under that unattractive straight long hair, which would have been ideal if he decided to form a Viking metal band. Ever since then, I have been shipping Sookie and Eric really hard. He's hotter than Bill, stronger than Bill and he's way more charismatic. I would so go to there, even if it might result in my death (whether it was one from which I rose again or not).

1. Jess Mariano from The Gilmore Girls

I never cared for Dean. He's cute, sure, but he lacks spirit. Frankly, he's boring, and not that bright. Jess, though, I loved pretty much immediately, despite his permanent sneer, bad behavior and whininess. Rory went for another bad boy, Logan, toward the end of the show and I hate him, my general reaction to bad boys. My love for Jess isn't hard to explain: he loves books. Hot guy reading classics? Swoon.

So who have I forgotten? Anyone else want to share their favorite bad boys in pop culture?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Way Things Are - Fiona Apple

Aftertime, Book 1

Author: Sophie Littlefield
Pages: 375
ARC Acquired From: Luna via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Science brings about yet another dystopia. A new plant, blueleaf, at first causes ecstatic highs and then causes you to turn into a zombie, known in this world as a Beater. Cass, a recovering alcoholic, woke up with telltale signs of zombiefication, only she could think. And she was healing. Now she has to find her daughter yet again (Ruthie was taken away from her by Cass' mother because Cass was not trustworthy), hoping that Ruthie's still alive. Her hard, Beater-filled road will also include a traveling companion: a sexy man called Smoke. If you've got to travel through zombie-infested parts, that's the way to do it.

Sometimes I kind of think I should have made my blog dystopia-themed, since so much of what I read these days falls into that category. This one is a pretty interesting world, although vaguely reminiscent of some others I have encountered. The story was relatively slow moving at several points, despite the thrilling content. It wasn't a bad read, but did not leave me wanting more.

The biggest problem I had with this book was Cass. I just could not relate to her. She is a recovering alcoholic, a bit of a nymphomaniac and a mother. The way she thinks often makes me want to knock some sense into her. She is incredibly mistrusting, and yet entirely willing to take advantage of those who are helping her. Her actions in the last chapter struck me as inconsistent; she suddenly stops worrying about all of that and embraces a new path. Too sudden!

On the other (well-gnawed) hand, the zombies in Aftertime are definitely amongst the scariest I have read about. For one thing, they are super extra creepy. They do the usual zombie things, like continuing to follow a food source, even when they have missing limbs. What really freaked me out though was the progression of the disease that made humans into Beaters. First the Beaters eat whatever of their own flesh they can reach (their arms) and then they discover fresh human flesh. When they catch a person, they like to eat the flesh off of their backs while they are still alive. Yikes! Plus, these zombies are learning how to strategize. Now, that's just not fair.

Aftertime is sort of like a combination of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. If you liked the aforementioned books or some terrifying zombie action, this book's for you!

"I wouldn't know what to do with another chance
If you gave it to me
I couldn't take the embrace of a real romance
It'd race right through me

I'm much better off the way things are
Much much better off, better by far, by far

I wouldn't know what to say to a gentle voice
It'd roll right past me"

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Real World - The All-American Rejects

The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 358
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Brief Summary:
Rhine Ellery and her twin brother Rowan have been alone since their parents died. They work together to earn enough money to survive and to defend their house from orphans and Gatherers (men who collect young women to sell). Advances in science made it possible to make perfect babies, which was great. Until the generation after that engineered one all started dying. Boys live to 25 and girls only to 20. This is how things are in the United States, the only country left; all that remains besides the U.S. are sporadic islands.

When 16 year old Rhine is taken by a Gatherer and sold to be the wife of a House Governer. She is one of three new wives brought in to comfort him as his first wife succumbs to the virus that kills off all girls of a certain age. Rhine wants nothing more than to escape this place and find her twin brother again, but that certainly will not be easy.

Wither was really good but also incredibly frustrating. I literally yelled at the book on several occasions. My irritation at the book and Rhine's decisions are an indication of quality in this case. Were the book more comfortable, it would not be doing the subject matter justice. There are serious themes being dealt with here: sexuality, gender, ethics and stockholm syndrome top the bill.

The world building was pretty amazing. While DeStefano has no real scientific reason for why the succeeding generation were all dying off a virus at those particular ages, I did not have too much trouble believing such a thing possible. It seems likely that messing with life through genetic engineering could have such horrible and unforeseen consequences. Perhaps most unlikely from my point of view was the precision of the deaths, with all women and men dying at the same ages. And why do men live five years longer?

Even more than this setting, I loved what she built out from this premise. The world she depicts is horrifying because of how possible it seems given a few crucial things gone wrong. I have no difficulty envisioning a society with such a limited life span turning women into reproduction machines. A small step from that is a return to bigamy, so that wealthy men can have a better chance of fathering progeny, and a powerful sex trade. As a woman, this is horrifying, and that is part of what made the book resonate so strongly with me.

This is the first in a trilogy, which I will definitely be super eager to read the next books of. The ending of Wither could easily have been an ending to Rhine's story, if an unclear one (not uncommon in dystopias), but I'm glad that it's not. The ending of this book struck me as a bit too positive and light given the tone of the rest of the novel, but with more books to come it is but a brief respite for our heroine. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

Also, I have to say that this is one of the prettiest books I have seen in a while. The formatting is gorgeous, not to mention the cover. Go out and find a copy to read!

"I woke up on this side. I thought it was a dream
At first we learned to walk then learned to scream"

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Valkyrie Missile - Angels & Airwaves

The Comet's Curse
Galahad, Book 1

Author: Dom Testa
Pages: 236
Publisher: Tor

Brief Summary:
When a comet starts heading towards the earth, everyone freaks out, afraid that it will strike the planet. When they determine that it will not, everyone settles back to enjoy watching Comet Bhaktul pass. But soon after the comet goes by, everyone over the age of 16 starts getting sick and dying. The symptoms vary and scientists are making no headway in combating the illness. How will mankind survive the disaster? Ship 251 kids from 13-16 into space alone, that's how! Drama and danger is definitely going to be part of this mission to save the human race.

The story is told from the point of view of the super advanced computer, nicknamed Roc. This storytelling device really didn't work for me. For one thing, he (I know he's an it, but whatevs) wasn't present for everything he describes, which can be explained by people having told him later but would have worked better in a normal omniscient narrator scenario (especially since Roc makes sure to point out that he can't be everywhere and see everything). The other problem with Roc is that, much as all the characters love him and as much as he adores himself, I find him exceedingly irritating. His insertions into the narration, denoted by italics, always made me want to punch his computery face, especially the one in the last chapter.

Roc aside, the book was fairly predictable and standard. There's a love triangle, which, frankly, is the most absorbing part of the plot. The mystery of who is causing trouble on the ship is so obvious for most of the book that it provides little excitement. And, the final showdown cannot be that worrisome if you know there are two subsequent books. The writing is okay, but not inspirational

The most interesting aspect of the novel is the set up of the dystopia. There aren't too many environmental ones, which I am somewhat glad of after having read Life as We Knew It (shudder!). You have probably figured out how much I love dystopias by now, especially if they cover some new territory.

I recommend this to fans of Life as We Knew It and Gone (which I actually have yet to read, but I'm fairly confident that they're readalikes), young teens looking for an easy science fiction read or dystopia enthusiasts.

"This is so strange,
I want to wish for something new,
This is the scariest thing I've ever done in my life,
Who do we think we are?"

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Books Made Into Movies: Death Note

I want to preface this review by saying that you need to take my opinion here with a few more grains of salt than usual. I learned pretty quickly that I did not much care for the film and may, perhaps, have ceased to pay very much attention. For this reason, I shall endeavor to keep the review short and comment only on aspects of which I am sure.

Did you know that Shinigami only eat apples?

Although I have not actually read all of the Death Note manga, I have read a fair chunk of it and have also seen the anime. Yet again, this may be cheating, but it's my blog so I'm going to call that enough. What I enjoyed about the manga and the anime (at least for the first half of the series) were the incredible mind games played by L and Light. They are so incredibly intelligent that I really loved watching them try to outdo one another.

I will take this potato chip. And eat it!

One of the best things about Death Note is watching Light's devolution from an incredibly intelligent high school student with a bright future to an absolutely insane, power-hungry, out of control guy. When Light first gets the Death Note (a thing which is not really explained in this live action adaptation), he intends to use it for good. He kills folk in an attempt to get people to stop committing crimes, because they know Kira is watching.

This adaptation does not show the coolly calculating part of his personality, skipping to the insane side that just wants to take over the world. A series that should have you rooting (at least at the outset) for the murderer at least a little bit, much like with Boondock Saints, instead has you thinking about how much you hate his face and how lame and childish he is.

Attractiveness and effects fail.

On top of that, the actor playing Light lacked charisma, which is pretty darn essential if you're going to trick people into trusting you. The effects used to produce Ryuk were not especially good either, as shown above. Needless to say, I will not be continuing on to the next two films in the series.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top Ten Examples of How Much of a Book Nerd I Am

This week's list will celebrate my own nerdiness! Yay for nerds. Most of them will be book-related, because, well, that's how I roll. I do warn that the list is not actually in any particular order, despite the illusion of order provided by the numbers. I am somewhat tempted to do what one of my college professors did and use nonsense combinations of ordering symbols (e.g. 12, xxx, ii, 3), but it bothers the OCD parts of me a bit too much.

10. I just mentioned being a bit OCD. These odd compulsions impact me most often with regards to reading. Some of the rules are that I have to finish a book if I get 50 or so pages into it (with an exception, sadly, for books that have to be returned to the library. I also have to select books to read or movies to watch from giant lists through particular selection schemes I have devised to keep myself from having to make a large-scale decision. Seriously, these schemes are totally nutso, but I need them. I also am compelled to watch or read series in order, even if the order is not important. Exceptions can be made for hanging out with friends or if a later book in the series is the only one accessible to me, but, if I have control, there is no way I will ever encounter a series out of order.

Shockingly, it appears that there are no photos of me reading,
so here I am crosswording, another nerdy, word-focused pastime.
9. This may come as a surprise, but I have not carried my library card on my person for probably about 10 years now. That's because I don't need it. I've had my library card number memorized since the earliest days of the library system's OPAC. Seriously. I remember when it used to look like a command line interface. This not using a card feat would not be possible without self-checkout machines. (Bonus book nerd fact: I have actually reached the library's cap of items to be checked out a given time; for those curious, that limit is 75 items.)

8. Every Monday, one of the things I regularly check is the new book listing at my local library. They post the newly purchased books every week on Monday. Well, I should say almost every Monday, because sometimes they don't get it up on time. This drives me crazy, causing me to continually check back until the new books appear, so that I can be at the top of the hold list. One time the books didn't post for a week. That sucked.

7. I used to just sit down and read books from cover to cover, sometimes in one sitting. Part of me really misses that, but I don't know if I have the attention span for it anymore. My reading method changed when I was in college, because I developed a barter system where I would earn the right to read some of my book for pleasure by reading some of my school texts. End result of this plan was that I got used to reading books in chunks, because I am consistently working through from 3-8 books at any given time. The current number is seven. Without school. Oy.

6. When I think about the fact that I could, realistically, die at any time (e.g. car crash, plane crash, etc.), the thing I worry about the most is not having gotten to read all the amazing books out there. Yes, this is ridiculous and there are other parts of life that are, arguably, more important and not to be missed. But still, books win.

I am a librarian by training, so most of my friends are librarians too.
We're awesome folks. If you don't believe me, see proof later on in this post.

5. Speaking of how I like books more than most anything else, I often have to force myself to go hang out with friends. There have also been times in the past where I have made excuses to people, but, really, I just wanted to stay in and read. Books are also the reason I am so bad at keeping in touch with distant friends. I could call you and talk on the phone for hours, or I could finish my book, and, honestly, the book(s) will usually win. I know it's a problem, but I seem unable, or unwilling, to fix it. If I have to be addicted to something, though, it's good that it's not harmful to my health (except if you consider the lack of exercise due to me being on the couch reading all the time).

4. You're probably tired about reading about my love affair with novels right about now. So let's take a break and talk about how much I love graphic novels. It's totally different, right? I discovered graphic novels during an Intensive Inquiry (trip for about 12 students funded by the school to study something fun) in college. We read Watchmen, a Punisher comic and an Astro City comic. I loved them all, and also read some other ones that other folks brought on the trip (most notably Scooter Girl). I haven't gotten into them as much as I might like, because point #10's need to read things in order makes most of the DC/Marvel things pretty much impossible.

3. Much as I enjoy .graphic novels, Japanese manga has my deepest love and affection. I discovered manga when I worked at a library that was building a collection of it. I know what you're probably thinking, assuming you know anything about manga at all. The characters are often ridiculous looking, the plots are melodramatic, the women are often weak and the stories vary very little. All generally true. But I love it. Of course, there are a lot of series that I hated (or even whole genres, such as the ones that are essentially just fan service for the male audience). I love the art in most of them, even with the giant eyes for ladies/really cute boys/gay folk and the narrow eyes for dudes/manly ladies. Like with novels, quality can fall anywhere on the spectrum. But it's totally worth it for the very best series.

2. My appreciation for manga (and much later manhwa, which is Korean) led me to a search for additional delightful pop culture. Thus, I discovered anime, kdrama and, to a lesser extent, Japanese dramas. Sure, the plots can be absurd and melodramatic, but, for the most part, they are not that much more ridiculous than something like Grey's Anatomy or Desperate Housewives. (Of course, there was that kdrama I watched where a soccer player got injured falling into a river after rescuing a girl from a car that was hanging half off a bridge. They fish him out of the water and take him to a hospital, where he regains consciousness after having been without heartbeat or oxygen for like a half hour. But, of course, he lost his memory. Then, he wanders onto a van for a shady mental institution. Then, the mental institution falls apart. Literally. And then the plot returns to being about soccer. Yeah.)

1. Here is what I do every time I finish a book:
  • Step 1: Write a review on this here blog.
  • Step 2: Paste the review into my Word Doc, in which I apply my rating to the book out of 10 (as I feel five does not allow for enough variation of opinion).
  • Step 3: Paste the review into Shelfari, Goodreads, and sometimes Amazon
  • Step 4: If applicable, put the review into NetGalley, so that the publisher can tell that I'm awesome and read the book to which they gave me access.
  • Step 5: Add the link to the review to my Shelfari book challenge group.
  • Step 6. Record that I read the book in my Excel document, in which I store stats on pretty much everything I ever do.
  • Step 7: Add the book that I will be reading next to my Shelfari and Goodreads Now Reading shelves.
  • Step 8: Resume reading.

The 2010 champion Book Cart Drill Team, of which I was a member.
Our routine was The Graveyard Book themed. We are on the YouTubes!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ache for You - Ben Lee

The Peach Keeper

Author: Sarah Addison Allen
Pages: 273
Publisher: Bantam

Brief Summary:
Willa Jackson moved back home to Walls of Water when her father died and left her the house. A prankster in school for reasons she never really understood, she felt guilty for having failed her educator father. Paxton Osgood, on the other hand, seems to have everything totally under control, just like she did in high school. She heads up the Women's Society Club, which performs charitable work while also giving the classy local ladies a chance to show off. Then again, Paxton still lives at home and has fallen in love with her best friend, who, she's pretty sure, is gay. Both Willa and Paxton are in for some surprises when the restoration of the old Jackson family home by the Osgood family unearths some family skeletons (literally).

The Peach Keeper is Allen's fourth novel, but only my second of hers. I read her first book, Garden Spells, last year and positively adored it. This one definitely did not disappoint and has convinced me that all of Allen's books will need to make their way into my personal collection at some point. Even though I do not normally care for southern fiction (ironic that, being a southern girl myself, Allen does it perfectly. The fact that the stories are set in the south both do and do not define the stories (which I realize is super unclear, but I know what I mean). The characters do not drawl everything, but there is a southern-ness that I can't really explain.

What makes Allen's work shine amongst other chick lit books out there is the magical realism. There is always an element of magic, not the Harry Potter kind, but magic all the same. It's a magic that, as the term suggests, is accepted as natural, and really does seem to be. The magic has a subtlety and possibility to it that makes me really want to believe that the real world is Allen's world.

Plus, there's the romance. I do not read too much chick lit anymore. At some point, it just stopped actually striking me as particularly romantic or believable. Allen's romances are quite simple. They don't try to surprise you too much; you know who's going to end up with whom, which frankly you pretty much always do. Again, the delightfulness of the romance stems from the sheer cuteness and the chillness of it. There is no bodice ripping or exuberant sex scenes, and yet you can feel your heart do little happy skips. Or maybe that's just me.

Although I think I preferred Garden Spells a bit overall, I still loved reading The Peach Keeper. I highly recommend Sarah Addison Allen to fans of chick lit and to people who really want to believe that love and magic really exist.

"There's no rhyme and there's no reason
You're the secret in the back of my skull
There's no logic, so please believe me
Our love's confusing, but it never gets dull"

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

House of the Rising Sun - Muse

Darkness Becomes Her
God & Monsters, Book 1

Author: Kelly Keaton
Pages: 273
Publisher: Simon Pulse (read through Pulse It)

Brief Summary:
Ari has a curse, one that might not seem so bad at first glance. Her hair is long and an incredibly pale blonde color; it can't be cut. Her eyes are aquamarine. Her looks attract a lot of unfortunate attention. Thankfully, her latest foster parents are bounty hunters and have taught her how to defend herself. Ari decides to go looking for information about her mother and her past. When she discovers that her mother committed suicide in a mental hospital shortly after giving birth, Ari is shocked. She is even more distressed to learn that every woman in her family had a baby and then died, often through suicide, by the age of 21. Turns out her curse is more powerful and awful than she new. To find out the truth about herself, Ari will have to journey into New 2 (New Orleans) and confront all sorts of crazy creatures.

Darkness Becomes Her was a pretty good read. The story was pretty fast-paced and held my attention. Ari is a powerful heroine, which is always a good sign. Seriously, she kicks way more butt than anyone else in the story, especially when it comes to close-range fighting. Ari is a pretty sympathetic character for the most part, although there was one chapter where she went to a vampire party that made me a bit irritated with her.

The story building was a little weaker. Taken in sections it's pretty cool, but, all in one book, it didn't really work for me. First of all, there is New 2. There was a series of devastating hurricanes that effed up New Orleans. Afterwards, the government abandoned the city as too costly to restore, so a group of nine wealthy families (The Novem) purchased the city. They fixed up some of the city and made it a safe haven for special folks, because the Novem consist of three witch families, three vampire families and three shifter families. Paranormal: check.

Then, as you read on about the curse and everything, you learn that there is another facet to the plot. Greek gods and other figures from mythology are totally running around and doing awful things. Definitely important to remember that Athena is not just the Goddess of Wisdom, but also the Goddess of War (which I always thought was a bit of a stupid combination, although wisdom is good for strategy). Mythology: check.

So basically, this story has every possible magical/paranormal/powerful being possible. While all cool, the combination really just didn't work for me. I think the story would have been a lot stronger with either just the first section or just the second. Overall, a fun, if a bit silly, teen read. A second book is in the works, judging from the ending of this one, and I do intend to give it a shot.

"There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
Well it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know, I'm one"

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