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A Reader of Fictions: March 2012

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Try Again - Keane

Before I Fall

Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 470
Publisher: Harper

Description from Goodreads:
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

First Sentence: "They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me."

Obviously, I've heard a lot about this, long before I opened it. The concept sounded fascinating and I enjoyed Delirium, so I was definitely super excited to read this one. Anyway, the opening section totally caught my attention with the cleverness of the writing and the strength of the voice. Even though I could immediately tell that I would kind of hate the main character, I was hooked.

Seriously, I spent the first half of the book wanting to do nothing so much as punch Sam and her friends in their made-up faces. Ugh. It was awful. Basically, most of this book reminded me just how much I hated high school. I'm so glad I'm through with that part of my life, and I would not go through it again, even if I could take all the knowledge I have now with me. People are so cruel and all of the emphasis put on popularity, on being this cookie cutter person who dates the right people and goes to the right parties; it's all bullshit.

What's important to know, though, is that even during the many, many pages where I wanted to punch pretty much everyone in the face, I still really enjoyed reading Before I Fall. The writing is completely captivating. Lauren Oliver very much captures Sam's voice, and manages to let Sam's character grow at a very natural pace.

Obviously, this plot is like Groundhog Day mashed up with Mean Girls. Much like the former film manages not to be boring, even though he's living the same day over and over again, Oliver's book never dragged. Even thought the events that transpired as Sam lived the same date over and over again remained pretty consistent, the smallest changes made huge differences or no difference at all. I really loved the emphasis placed on how much and how little can change in just a single day. Really makes a girl think about carpe-ing that diem.

My very favorite part of the novel, other than the really awesome concept and the writing, is Kent. He is just the cutest, so nerdy and himself. Were he not so brave, he could pretend and be as popular as anyone, but instead he embraces his weirdness, and I just love that about him. I wish I'd had a guy like him in high school, but I also know that I would have been too afraid of venturing out of the mainstream that I totally wasn't in anyway to go for it. That's the message I want to leave this post with: life's too short to pass up an amazing, cute, nerdy guy...now I just have to find one (that's not fictional).

As for the ending, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it just now. Honestly, I'm not sure what happened entirely, but I definitely want to bawl my eyes out (figuratively, because literally would be really gross).

Favorite Quote: "Chance. Stupid, dumb, blind chance. Just a part of the strange mechanism of the world, with its fits and coughs and starts and random collisions."

Rating: 4.5/5

"Baby I'll try again, try again
Baby I die every night, every time

What I was isn't what I am
I'd change back but I don't know if I can"

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Baby, Obey Me - Dean Martin

Hot Gimmick

Author: Miki Aihara
Volumes: 12
Publisher: VIZ Media

Description from Goodreads:
Sixteen year old Hatsumi Narita can't believe that life can get any worse--her family's landlady is a gossiping nightmare, and the landlady's son is a bully. To top it off, an act of kindness backfires and makes Hatsumi the bully's slave!

Hot Gimmick is a series I have read before, and, though I didn't like it, I really wanted to review it, thus the rereading. Anyway, pretty much the whole thing pisses me off, because the series is pretty much entirely about Hatsumi being taken advantage of by every single guy in her life. Hatsumi herself seems to have no ability to see through dishonesty, willpower to resist romantic attacks or strength. This series is where feminism goes to die.

Guy #1: Ryouki. At the outset, we are introduced to Hatsumi, who is the slave to the stern, bullying, sexually harassing, glasses-wearing guy who lives in her building. Why? Because he caught her buying a pregnancy test for her younger sister. If he tells his mother, who controls the housing complex, her family would get kicked out. So, of course, this gives him the right to try to force her to have sex with him. I think we're supposed to like him, because it's obvious that he's really into her and is only treating her like shit because he doesn't know how to handle his emotions. Yeah, not feeling that AT ALL.

Guy #2: Azusa. He's Hatsumi's childhood friend, who would try to protect her from Ryouki's bullying. His family just moved back to town and he's supporting her again. They quickly start dating, because he's so sweet and hot (model), and she's had enough of putting up with Ryouki (only she still lets him do whatever he wants). Except, le shock!, Azusa is actually just dating her to piss off someone to get vengeance for something. Awesome.

Guy #3: Shinogu. Presenting the only nice guy in the series. Surprise! He's her brother. Okay, so they're not actually siblings by blood, but they have been raised that way. He knows they're not related and has been in love with her forever, but she doesn't know, so sees him just as her brother. Clearly, he would be her best choice despite the super awkwardness that would be involved, however, he also has no shot because he's been raised as her brother. Isn't it lovely that dating her brother is what you have to root for, because everyone else is just trying to rape her or seduce her to their own ends?

When it comes down to it, though, this series is very readable, in the same way that a lot of very frustrating books are (think Twilight or maybe this Fifty Shades of Grey I've heard about). Clearly, women are useless, stupid clumsy creatures to be fought over and/or won by studly males. Ugh! As much as I hated that, the story moves along at a swift pace and I do like the art. Thus the 2.5, which I kind of hate myself for.

If you like strong heroines and respectful menfolk, do not read this. However, if you want to read something to prepare you for a feminist rant, this will definitely get you fighting mad.

Rating: 2.5/5

"When I say give me love well don't be meager
Gee can't you see that I'm over eager
Oh baby oh baby obey me

And when my lonely arms need a build up
Well get in my arms and keep them filled up
Oh baby oh baby obey me

Facts are facts and I'm mad about your caress
So relax there's only one word for yes
My love just lives for you why be lonely
I want you for my one and only
Oh baby oh baby obey me do"

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Feature and Follow Friday (1)

I've been pretty hesitant to join this meme, because I really don't like being forced to follow certain people, but I do like the idea of it. So I suspect I'll be participating only on some Fridays, when the blog being featured is one that I think I might like, based on their reviews, look, etc. Anyway, you can visit either of the host sites for more details. Here's a link to Alison Can Read. Now to this week's question:

Q: Do you read one book at a time or do you switch back and forth between two or more?

A: When I was younger, I used to sit down and just read books from cover to cover. That was, for the most part, a really good way to read and I miss it. However, college broke me. In college, I had to read a lot of really boring books for class (some of them I actually did read; some I pretended to read). Anyway, I came up with a great system, whereby I would trade myself a chapter of a fun book for a chapter of a boring book.

Now, though, I seem to be unable to go back to just reading one book at a time. I'm always reading at least two, because if I just have the one book and it turns out to be slow-going, I need something to keep me from slacking on my reading until it's done.

At one point, I was regularly reading 8 books at a time (two from NetGalley pre-pub, one from NG that had an overdue review, one from my personal collection, one from the library, one from the publisher for review...) I can't remember all of my categories right now, but suffice it to say that it was absurd and very slow. Now I generally have a main book and a secondary book, with the secondary covering my non-ARC/review copies.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shop Around - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

The Selection
The Selection, Book 1

Author: Kiera Cass
Pages: 327
ARC Acquired from: HarperCollins via EpicReads

Description from Goodreads:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

First Sentence: "When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic."

The Selection was one of the books I wanted more than any others, because it's a dystopia and it has a completely gorgeous cover. Even though I actually don't like the fluffy dress (never been a ruffle fan), it still makes me stare, especially with the ice. Even now, I just got distracted staring at the cover. I think it's something about the colors and the textures to the dress.

Anyway, the description kind of made me laugh a little bit; I mean, it really does sound like a dystopian version of The Bachelor/Cinderella. As far as dystopias go, this definitely is pretty light fare. The society depicted here is a caste system as in olden days, with one's role in society determined by their occupation. Accordingly, women do not have much say in their lives and are required to remain virgins until marriage. Basically, this is a futuristic version of an ancient civilization, which is interesting, but, so far at least, the society really doesn't seem all that bad, although the attacks on the capital are worrisome.

The heroine, America Singer, is as one snarky reviewer pointed out a singer. Surprise. That reviewer deemed this a failure of originality by Cass, but clearly does not understand that historically many people, if they had a last name, had one that referred to their profession (i.e. the reason Smith is so common as a last name is because of blacksmiths, silversmiths, etc.). Research: it is a good thing.

Anywho, the writing definitely is pretty simplistic. Although I prefer complex sentences, I'm okay with Cass' writing. She can get away with it because the story is told from America's perspective. America, as a five (her caste), did not have a great education, so she might not think or speak in a particularly complex manner. Of course, I look forward to seeing Cass really show off her writing skills in later books.

Both Aspen and Maxon have their good points, and their moments that make me feel concerned. As yet, I am not declaring any sort of Team allegiance to either. So far, I suspect that Maxon would be better for America, but I'm not entirely sure that I like him better in general. Aspen definitely strikes me as more swoon-worthy, but Maxon's much nicer. Plus, he can afford to give her the tastiest food.

More than anything, The Selection actually reminds me of Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, which I would definitely recommend to anyone. The Selection is a fun, absorbing read. Will you like it? Well, it's going to be made into a CW television show, and I think it will be a good one (which I know I'll be watching), so if that doesn't appeal to you, The Selection might not either. I, personally, will be looking forward to book two.

Favorite Quote: "'What do you think my chances might be of finding a soul mate in the group of you? I'll be lucky if I can just find someone who'll be able to stand me for the rest of our lives. What if I've already sent her home because I was relying on some sort of spark I didn't feel? What if she's waiting to leave me at the first sign of adversity? What if I don't find anyone at all? What do I do then, America?'"

Rating: 3/5

Note on Today's Song Selection: I just could not resist this, even if it's the country, not his mother, who is urging Maxon to court ladies this way. haha.

"When I became of age my mother called me to her side
She said 'son you're growing up now, pretty soon
You'll take a bride'...
And then she said...
'Just because you've become a young man now
There's still some things that you don't understand now
Before you ask some girl for her hand now
Keep your freedom for as long as you can now'
My mama told me...'you better shop around'"

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Riot Girl - Good Charlotte

Invisible Sun

Author: David Macinnis Gill
Pages: 352
ARC Acquired from: HarperCollins via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Obsessed with MUSE, the clandestine project that created the AI in his brain, mercenary chief Durango draws the ire of the government when he steals part of the secret project data and hightails it with his lieutenant, Vienne, to an ancient monastery. There, he meets the monks who raised Vienne from an orphan and also encounters soldiers working for his old nemesis, the crime lord Mr. Lyme. Lyme controls the territory surrounding the monastery, as well as the datacenters housing the rest of MUSE.

Undeterred, Durango and Vienne pull off an ill-advised raid on Lyme’s complex. During the ensuing battle, however, Vienne is captured, and Durango is beaten and left for dead. Now, wounded and shaken, Durango must overcome bounty hunters, treacherous terrain, a full scale civil war, and a warrior monk with an eye for vengeance (not to mention his own guilt, self-doubt, and broken arm) to find Vienne and free her from Archibald, a brain-washing pyromaniac with a Napoleon complex who wants to rule Mars--and kill Durango in the process.

First Sentence: "Vienne points the gun, squeezes the trigger, and fires a live round square into my chest."

I read the first book Black Hole Sun after I got an ARC at ALA 2010. I liked it, but wasn't especially into it. Actually, I gave away my copy of that one. My memories of that one are very limited, as in I basically only remembered Mimi and that there was a ton of action. So, basically, I am starting over with a clean slate.

My first impressions of this were highly positive, except for the CW-style cover. Skeptical as I was going in, I'm really glad I gave this series another try. What I really like about Invisible Sun is how it defies gender norms. Durango may be a regulator, basically a mercenary badass, but he knows that his partner Vienne has so much more skills than he does. And he's totally cool with his female partner and girlfriend being more powerful than he is. Gotta love a guy that appreciates a strong woman.

Another thing I really enjoyed was that people swore largely in foreign languages. Why do I like this? Because of Firefly. That's really all I have to say on that, except that if you haven't seen that show, you should go watch it immediately.

The one recommendation I would make to improve this book is to better distinguish between Durango's conversations with Mimi and those with people. As is, it is very difficult to tell when he stops talking with Mimi and begins conversing with someone else. Also, I'm not really sure if he's talking out loud to Mimi or just thinking to her. I just think it would have been a lot more comprehensible if the exchanges with Mimi were in italics.

Invisible Sun is an action-packed read. I recommend it to anyone who is sick of the typical gender dynamics and gender roles in YA lit. This was refreshing and I look forward to the next installment!

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'A poet would use this place as a metaphor for the failed Mars Utopia.'"

"My girl's a hot girl
A hood rat who needs an attitude adjustment"

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Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd

My Beating Teenage Heart

Author: C. K. Kelly Martin
Pages: 288
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Description from Goodreads:
Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.

Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life—a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy—and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.

First Sentence: "The first moment is utter darkness."

One of my favorite bloggers, even though she doesn't blog much anymore, is Presenting Lenore. She's helping to host a twitter book club, the aim of which is to read books that are amazing but do not have nearly enough buzz. This is the first selection. Well, it definitely isn't well known enough, since I totally thought Yesterday was going to be Martin's debut. Apparently, she's written four books before that one.

The opening of My Beating Teenage Heart is quit alarming. You're thrown into some weird dream-state type thing with the heroine whose name you don't yet know. It's odd and mystical and it's hard to tell whether anything is real or a dream or what. Actually, the book continues to be this way. Ashlyn learns a bit about herself, but what she figures out results in more questions than answers. Breckon (we also get some chapters from his perspective) is mired in depression.

For me, this is one of those books where how much I likes it depended entirely on the explanation of what's going on. The writing is decent, but didn't especially resonate with me. The characters are both so whacked out on grief or confusion that I had trouble connecting to them. The plot is so strange, requiring some serious suspension of disbelief, but, if she pulled it off with the ending, it could definitely make the book epic.

Without a doubt, I can honestly say that My Beating Teenage Heart is unlike any YA book I've read before. It picks up steam very slowly, but, by the end, I was definitely engaged. For the first hundred or so pages, the melodrama of the narration irritated me, especially given the fogginess of Ashlyn's memory. Plus, she made so many assumptions that seemed strange to me.

Anyway, having now finished the book, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On some levels, it was definitely really cool and thought provoking, and I'm certainly glad to have read it, but there were also aspects with which I did not reconcile. My main issue with the book I can't express to clearly without risking spoilers, but, basically, I do not get why Ashlyn's memory would ever work that way. However, on the plus side again, Martin can write the heck out of a steamy scene.

Looking at those labels at the bottom of the post, you might notice that they're not super happy times themes. Nor is the book at all light and fluffy. At all. Recommended to fans of Ilsa J. Bick and Laurie Halse Anderson. Although I didn't love this, I am now definitely looking forward to reading Yesterday more than I was before.

Favorite Quote: "I'm talking to myself in two different personas now. I'm reaching for a full-throttle meltdown and why not? Why stop halfway? Why not just go for it, jump on and ride the wave?"

Rating: 3.5/5

"How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here. "

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

I've mentioned my love for both Jane Austen and dystopias many times before. As a result, it should come as little surprise that I would be exceedingly eager to get my hands on a book that combines the two aspects. Plus, I have no doubt that Diana Peterfreund can do this exceedingly well, indeed. Why does this not come out until June?!?!?!?!

Description from Goodreads:
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.


200 Follower Giveaway - Realistic Fiction

You may be wondering about these pictures I put at the top of my follower giveaway posts. They're of my cat Percy (short for Perseus). Occasionally, I write of the adventures of his life in posts all about him (The Perseus Chronicles), but not often enough. Thus his demand that I share his cuteness this way.

Wow, my 100 followers giveaway is not yet over, but it's already time for the 200 follower appreciation giveaway. The theme for this go round is realistic fiction. If they're old enough to be considered classics, they'll be in another giveaway someday. They're all awesome. If I've reviewed the book on the blog, you'll be able to link to the review by clicking on the cover. If not, it will take you to Goodreads where you can make your own assessments.

The books are organized...sort of. Anyway, you can choose any one of the ones pictured below, or, if you so choose, another book by one of these authors. That should be plenty of options.

Rules: Same as usual. The giveaway is international so long as The Book Depository ships to you.
  1. Fill out the rafflecopter (note: logging in will automatically use the email you used to sign in, so you don't need to post it in the comments, unless you want or know of an issue with the other).
  2. You do have to follow my blog, because this is for the followers.
  3. Check out my other open giveaways. Okay, this isn't so much a rule as a suggestion...what do you have to lose? More importantly, what could you win? Well, one of ten amazing YA debuts, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (gotta move fast on this one!) or Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden.
Read more »


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2 Bodies 1 Heart - Noah and the Whale

Spellbound, Book 2

Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Pages: 371
ARC Acquired from: HarlequinTeen via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Finding your eternal soulmate - easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil - not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although...it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close....

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in über-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.

First Sentence: "You probably don't remember me, but I remember you."

When I saw this in NetGalley (along with Goddess Interrupted), I may have squeed. It's possible. Anyway, I read the first book, Spellbound, late last year. I totally didn't expect to like it; I mean, the soul mate plot line is so overdone. However, Cara Lynn Shultz proved to me that it can still be done well!

Reading Spellcaster after Goddess Interrupted definitely created an interesting juxtaposition. In the latter, Kate constantly whines about not being told anything and has to be protected; I don't think she'll be that way in book three, but in this one, oy. Anyway, Emma definitely does not do that. I mean, she cries sometimes and does like that Brendan's protective, but she also fights and hard for herself, her friends and her love. She doesn't just complain; she gets things done.

Even the soul mate thing could be really disgusting, like it is in a lot of YA books, Shultz deals with it gracefully. I actually like Emma and Brendan, and their relationship. In spite of the soul mate thing, they do have issues. Plus, I like that they're not rushing into everything. Even thought they've been through so much at the beginning of this book, they still haven't had sex, because Emma's not ready yet. I love that Shultz is showing that every relationship is different and that, no matter how in love two people are, that doesn't mean they're ready for that step. It's such a good, non-preachy message.

Much as I do like the characters, what really makes Shultz's books shine, though, is her fresh, funny voice. I laughed so many times during this book. Pretty much every quote I marked as I read through was one that made me giggle or snicker, as did the one I finally selected as my favorite. (Gotta love a heroine who knows her grammar!) The characters banter like real friends do, and I love it so much. Plus, Shultz's humor keeps the whole soul mate thing from being too serious, because even Emma and Brendan know it's kind of ridiculous, just like life.

Spellbound is an incredibly clever, humorous series. If you're looking for some fun YA books, look no further.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "It's hard to take someone seriously when they leave you a note saying, 'Your ugly.' My ugly what? The idiot didn't even know the difference between your and you're."

"We're two
Atoms in a molecule
Inseparably combined
Oh like a piece of rope
Made out of two pieces of vine

Oh I feel the bond
Oh between your heart and mine
And it's the bond that won't break
With the displacement of time

Cos we're just
Two Bodies with just one Heart
We're just
One body that one day fell apart"

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Cold Cold Heart - Norah Jones

Goddess Interrupted
The Goddess Test, Book 2

Author: Aimée Carter
Pages: 296
ARC Acquired from: HarlequinTeen via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it. Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

First Sentence: "Calliope trudged through the sunny field as she ignored the babble of the redhead trailing behind her."

First of all, I should let you all know that I skipped The Goddess Hunt, one of those short stories that has proliferated since the advent of e-readers. From reading reviews on other blogs (like this one), I gather that it's from Henry's perspective, which would be cool, since he definitely lacked evident personality a bit in the first book, although I did enjoy The Goddess Test. However, $1.29 seems a bit steep for a story that I don't need to understand the plot of the other books.

Kate continues to search for more information about Henry, now her husband and soon-to-be co-ruler. He continues to play Mr. Mysterious and to not trust her with any information about himself or the life of an immortal. Her response is to act like a child. Despite her power, she doesn't seem to be able to do anything but throw tantrums; she could make people tell her what's going on, but she simply pouts and whines, rather than putting her feet down.

Her relationship with Henry is so awkward. I mean, they didn't know each other that well, but she's convinced she loves him. This does actually make some amount of sense, both because he's handsome, powerful and mysterious, and because if she didn't choose to stay with him he would have faded, which is pretty much the god equivalent of dying. Kate, being way too nice for her own good (ex. forgives her mom for lying to her all her life, forgives Ava for lying to her and being a jerk in the human world) would never let him fade, so the best solution is to convince herself that she loves him, even though he comes with crazy baggage.

I am not a patient person. At all. And even I think that Kate is absurdly impatient. She comes back and expects Henry to be magically different in like 2 days, all the while complaining about how long she's waited for him to love her like she loves him. Slow down, girl. You barely even know him; you don't know what love is. He and his ex were together for a thousand years. Sheesh!

Worse, she may be immortal, but I think she's weaker than she was in The Goddess Test. Aside from mooning over Henry, she wants to save everyone from Cronos, but, mostly, she really doesn't accomplish anything; at best, she delayed things for a while. At worst, she does something dumb, having been told otherwise (like how people never stay in the car in crime shows) and makes the situation even more difficult.

All of that said, I did really enjoy reading Goddess Interrupted, although maybe not as much as the first book. While I did want to shake some sense into Kate, a lot of sense, the story remains interesting and the writing enjoyable. Still, I hope that in the next book, Kate actually learns how to use her powers and focuses on improving herself and less on Henry, like everyone's been telling her.

That ending, though...yikes. Definitely a surprise, but also not one of my favorite plot lines. Oh well, I'll be reading the next book, that's for sure.

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'Being with Henry doesn't mean you have to give up who you are. Henry doesn't define you, nor does the Underworld or immortality. You define you, and the more you act like yourself, the more Henry will love you.'"

"I've tried so hard my dear to show
That you're my every dream
Yet you're afraid each thing I do
Is just some evil scheme

A memory from your lonesome past
Keeps us so far apart
Why can't I free your doubtful mind
And melt your cold cold heart

Another love before my time
Made your heart sad an' blue
And so my heart is paying now
For things I didn't do

In anger unkind words are said
That make the teardrops start
Why can't I free your doubtful mind
And melt your cold cold heart

There was a time when I believed
That you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled
To a memory

The more I learn to care for you
The more we drift apart
Why can't I free your doubtful mind
And melt your cold cold heart "

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Passage of the Marshes - Howard Shore

The Coming of the Dragon, Book 2

Author: Rebecca Barnhouse
Pages: 323
ARC Acquired from: Random House via Random Buzzers (and NetGalley)

Description from Goodreads:
This is historical fantasy at its best. Sixteen-year-old Hild has always been a favorite of her uncle, king of the Shylfings. So when she protects her cousin the crown prince from a murderous traitor, she expects the king to be grateful. Instead, she is unjustly accused of treachery herself.

As punishment, her uncle sends Hild far away to the heir of the enemy king, Beowulf, to try to weave peace between the two kingdoms. She must leave her home and everyone she loves. On the long and perilous journey, Hild soon discovers that fatigue and rough terrain are the least of her worries. Something is following her and her small band of guards—some kind of foul creature that tales say lurks in the fens. Will Hild have to face the monster? Or does it offer her the perfect chance to escape the destiny she never chose?

Rebecca Barnhouse's companion to The Coming of the Dragon is sure to appeal to younger fans of Tamora Pierce, Esther Friesner, and Shannon Hale.

First Sentence: "Smoke."


I just read and reviewed The Coming of the Dragon. Mostly, I thought it was meh, not bad but not especially good either. At the end of my review, I mentioned that I still had hopes for Peaceweaver, because I liked Hild, the girl introduced and barely given any page time at the end of The Coming of the Dragon. Well, I do love it when I'm right.

Peaceweaver focuses on Hild, starting roughly at the same point as the first book. Hild, though, makes a much more interesting main character than Rune. Hild is full of ideas and big aspirations, and she will not let the judgment of others stop her from doing what she believes to be the right thing for herself and her community.

She lives in a society where, while women do perform traditional roles, they also have a bit of ability to make a difference because of the weak-minded King. The woman who performs the role of mead-bearer has a chance to help influence the King to make good decisions. The Queen, now abed with an illness used to keep the King from being to warlike, but after she left, the next mead-bearer, Hild's mother, did not think it her place to interfere in men's matters. In this vacuum, the King has turned to a male adviser, whose testosterone-soaked advice has lead to an increase in hatred for their rivals and more deaths of their warriors. Hild, as the new mead bearer, plans to stop these stupid men from ruining her home.

Of course, men don't much like powerful women, or at least they didn't in those times, so, by being too obvious about her plans, she gets branded as a possessed witch. At least they don't kill her, but they do send her off to the Geats as a Peaceweaver. She, of course, has no say in the matter.

Even if you didn't like The Coming of the Dragon, I would definitely recommend giving Peaceweaver a try. It is excellent high fantasy that ought to appeal to fans of authors like Julia Golding. The time span covered is precisely the same as that of the companion novel, so you can either read one or both without any confusion. I definitely recommend this one. :)

Favorite Quote: "'If a woman tells a man the god favor him, everybody says she's far-minded.' The broom halted mid-sweep and the slave turned to Hild. 'But let a woman do what the gods tell her, without asking a man's permission first? Then she's possessed.' Unwen punctuated her words with her broom, jabbing it into the corner."


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In My Mailbox (10)

Well, here we are again with another fine batch of books. So amused that Joss Whedon's got graphic novels for pretty much everything he's ever done.

sounds really cool, but the cover is absolutely awful. Am I the only one who thinks so? I don't even like looking at it.

One of these things is not like the others...but The Absolutist sounds so good, and I've been meaning to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Super excites about The Immortal Rules, even thought Kagawa has let me down before. Crossing my fingers

Kiss the Morning Star = Apocalypsies. Haven't read the summary, tbh, but I think it's about a road trip. Color me excited.

From NetGalley:

Dollhouse: Epitaphs, Volume 1 - Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen / Flutter - Gina Linko / The Absolutist - John Boyne

The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa / Kiss the Morning Star - Elissa Janine Hoole

Thanks to Dark Horse Comics, Random House Children's Books, Other Press, HarlequinTeen and Marshall Cavendish for giving me access to these awesome books!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Escape from Camp 14 Giveaway

Thanks to the fabulous, friendly folks at Penguin, I have one copy of Escape from Camp 14 for one of my readers. Check out my review here. I don't want to repeat what's already been said, but, to sum up, this is an astounding book.

Also before you leave, you should really consider checking out my other giveaways of which there are four.
  1. Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli
  2. Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop
  3. Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway Hop
  4. 100 Followers Giveaway

The rules are simple. Fill out the Rafflecopter, following the directions therein. This one's US only, sorry! For international folks, go enter the 100 Followers Giveaway, which is international. :)

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Childhood (1) - Yann Tiersen

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Journey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

Author: Blaine Harden
Pages: 191
Review Copy Acquired from: Viking

Description from Goodreads:
North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.

Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed journalist Blaine Harden tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Through Harden's harrowing narrative of Shin's life and remarkable escape, he offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world's darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.

First Sentence: "His first memory is an execution."

I wrote my Independent Study senior year of college about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's writings. One of the things I read was his Gulag Archipelago. For some reason, which I really don't want to consider too much (this may have something to do with my love for dystopias too), I have always been fascinated with books about the concentration camps and the gulag system. When I read in the blurbs sent to me by Penguin that the North Korean camps make those pale in comparison, I knew that I had to read this book.

The scale of the camps is simply staggering. Shin attended a rudimentary school with approximately 1,000 other children. This is mindboggling, considering that only the children of camp marriages were allowed any form of education within the camp. Marriages were used as a reward for the hardest workers, so just imagine how many people might be in this one camp, of which there were many more. And of all of those people, Shin is still the only person known to have escaped and survived.

Perhaps even more startling are all of the other facts about North Korea. It seems as though, horrendous as life can be in the camps, it's not actually that much better on the outside. In some instances, there may be more reliable food in the camps.

Harden did a great job with this. He includes a lot of details about North Korea in general, whatever he's managed to learn, that add context to Shin's story. Personally, I knew practically nothing about North Korea beforehand; apparently, there's only so much to know, because the North Koreans really don't want anyone else to know anything. Plus, he emphasizes the limits of our knowledge of North Korea and of Shin. There is often no way to corroborate Shin's tale, because he is the only one known to have escaped from a no-release camp.

[Random comment, but I really will never understand why photo inserts in history books/biographys are always put in the middle of a chapter. Hundreds of pages, between any of which the photos could go, but they always put them in the middle of a chapter (actually, usually a sentence), necessitating a back and forth shuffle through the pages. Why not just put them after a chapter and let me flip through the book the way I usually do?]

Although Escape from Camp 14 is a brief book, it packs a punch. For those with an interest in history or contemporary politics, this is a must-read.

Favorite Quote: "'I am evolving from being an animal,' he said. 'But it is going very, very slowly. Sometime I try to cry and laugh like other people, just to see if it feels like anything. Yet tears don't come. Laughter doesn't come.'"

Rating: 4.5/5

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm a Long Way from Home - Shooter Jennings

After the Snow

Author: S. D. Crockett
Pages: 290
ARC Acquired from: Feiwel & Friends via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

First Sentence: "I'm gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house."

After the Snow reads like Huck Finn meets dystopia. Unfortunately, I really don't like Huckleberry Finn. Why? Because, even at the very best of times, books written in dialect are a struggle for me. For one thing, dialect tends to equal poor grammar, which always makes me shudder. I did a lot of shuddering in this book. It also slows down my reading, both because I don't like it, and because I'm reading it all out loud to myself in my head (if that makes sense).

The main character, Willo, constantly talks to a dead dog that he has made into clothing. He even thinks it answers him, which is freaking creepy! Not only that, there's a 'mad dog' personality and a 'good dog' personality. Really. Willo, in his head, keeps holding conversations with a dead dog with multiple personalities. What the effin' what?

So yeah, I didn't really like the characters or the writing, but what about the dystopian elements, the world-building? Not so much there either. I don't feel like I really got a handle on what was going on here. I mean, I see that the weather went crazy, and there is a brief comment on how that happens. However, I want to know more about how the society functions and why so many people don't have papers and why everyone's so interested in the mountain men. And what's up with the crazy pseudo-religion, rebellion group? None of this was at all clear, and not in a cool leaving you guessing kind of way.

I really wish book descriptions for books in dialect were written in dialect. If that summary had been written the way the book was, I would not have read this. Well, maybe I would have, but only because it's a dystopia. Still, the description doesn't really give an accurate picture of what you're going to get. This definitely was not for me.

Favorite Quote: "That's the kind of thing people always thinking. They always got to see some sort of scary thing in everything."

Rating: 1.5/5

"I'm a long way from home and so all alone
Homesick like I never thought I'd be
I'm a long way from home, everything is wrong
Someone please watch over me."

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100 Follower Giveaway - Apocalypsies Love!

Yay! I have a hundred followers now! Thank you all. You're all amazing, and I hope you enjoy my reviews, silly lists and comment often! I'm going to celebrate that with a giveaway, of course. I love the Apocalypsies and want to share that love with my followers. I'll probably do this with future follower giveaways too, assuming I get more multiples of hundred, so we'll just have to see!

Because this giveaway is in honor of my followers, it will be required for you to follow my blog to enter to win, however new followers are definitely welcome. The winner gets their choice of one of the Apocalypsies titles I've read so far. Click on the photo to go check out my review. They're all fun reads!

I'll be ordering and shipping the book from either Amazon or The Book Depository (assuming they ship to your country), depending on where the winner lives and which is cheaper.

While you're here, please check out my other open giveaways: : Glow, the Spring Cleaning giveaway hop, and Wicked Lovely!

1) Follow A Reader of Fictions. Please read and comment on posts; I love hearing getting feedback!
2) Fill out the Rafflecopter form. Additional entries available by following the instructions therein.

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