Calling Amok: Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin’s magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant. Source: GoodReads

I’ve had this one stuffed in the back of my shelves for ages.  I bought it when Walden books (a Borders subsidiary still existed) that should show you how long it was.  But I never read it.  Don’t know why.  Just one of those perpetual backlist books.  But when I decided to participate in Blogger Blackout I decided to focus my attention on backlist titles.  And the fact that this is Halloween week made this title perfect to read. Going in: lots of high hopes.  Witches.  Identity.  Family.  Three things that should’ve made this book awesome.

This book preaching itself to me.

Result: Okay, but flawed. To be fair, it had a lot going for it.  I enjoyed the depiction of magic in this book.  I felt like MacCullough did an excellent job explaining how things worked in her world.  And I liked how magic had a family connection.  And that was another thing I had to give this book credit for: family. It’s rare in a YA book where family plays such a prominent role.  So, anytime there is a book that feature it I give it a big fat plus mark on my score card. However, despite the fact that there is a major dose of family drama and angst in this book, it also suffers from typical YA cliches too. Ugh, the main character.  At first I really liked Tamsin but then she started to get plagued by the things that your stereotypical YA main character gets plagued with: savior concept, insta love,  you don’t know how special and unique you are, while being TSTL.  Also, while I understood why she was upset for not having a gift.  I grew annoyed with her angsting.  I was hoping she’d be awesome on her own without magic.  But of course not…rolls eyes. I will say that while the romance in this book is insta love at best, I was able to tolerate it.  Mainly becuase overall it was more or less a blip in the book.  If you’re going to do insta love this is how you do it.  It’s not that annoying when the romance isn’t portrayed as one true love nonsense and the love interest isn’t a total jerk. Pacing also plagued this book.  While I like the fact that it is mercifully short, the first half of the book dragged.  And then everything after that…. Hello, whiplash. And whiplash is bad enough on it’s own, but when you involve time travel that has so many plot holes that not even the Back to the Future trilogy can make sense of it, you have issues. Even with these faults though, this is a fun book.  I’m sure a lot of people will love it and continue on to read it’s sequel.  Do I have plans on reading it…maybe if it’s at the library, but I don’t have an imminent need to read it right at this moment.  It’s a good book with faults.  It’s not  the most memorable book, but if you’re in a witchy mood you might want to give this a try.

Overall Rating: B- slightly above average.

Raiders of the Lost Bookshelves: The Haunting

Welcome to another addition of Raiders of the Lost Bookshelves where I examine some of the old titles I have either read or collected dust on my shelves.  I do this feature for two reasons.  The first is it helps me rediscover some books that I might’ve loved in the past.  And the second is to give press to old titles that readers might’ve not known about.  Like with the Nostalgia Project, I try to limit the titles to being from 2010 and the past.

I actually have this entire series.  If I remember correctly it was very cute.  Maybe a little bit on the young side now, but a lot of fun. I always feel that Mlynowski is overlooked in the genre.  If you haven’t, you should give her stuff a try.

This one was probably my least favorite of Clement-Moore titles.  And I love Clement-Moore books.  Just because it’s not my favorite, doesn’t mean that it has a lot going for it.  If you like dark gothic mysteries starring ballerina’s discovering a mystery that you’d see only on America Unearthed this might be your book.

Jaffe is another writer who I think deserves more credit than she gets.  While my favorite books by her are her hilarious Bad Kitty books, her thrillers are actually perfect to read around Halloween.  Rosebush is one of her thrillers.  The plot is pretty decent, though if I remember the love interest was a little meh at best.

I’ve had this book on my shelf for ages and never read it.  A lot of people really like this series.  So, who knows I might give it a try one of these days. I’ll actually be featuring a lot of posts I bought during the vampire craze days, so be prepared.

 

Eh.  I remember liking it enough at the time, but now that I think back on it.  Lots and lots of plot  holes.  I think it has a sequel that I didn’t read .  For some reason I remember this book getting lots of hype though (I think GMA gave it a plug).  I’m not sure why though. Other than the catchy title and pretty dress.

Why, MJ, why?  Didn’t the edited by PC Cast tell you to steer clear of it.  I think if I remember I only read the stories by authors I knew at the time, so a lot of this one went unread.

Another short story collection.  I think this one was mainly bought because of Meg Cabot and Michelle Jaffe.  Oh, and maybe Stephenie Meyer (if it was released before Breaking Dawn).  Again, I remember basically reading the stories of the authors I knew and liked and sort of skimmed the rest.  I really have grown some anthology manners in recent years.

I forgot about this one, but like I said on my top ten Halloween post thing it is creepy.  There was suppose to be a sequel, but for some reason de la Cruz never published it.  The unhinged ending is sort of perfect for Halloween.  Be prepared to be frustrated though.

I remember thinking this one was cute way back in the day.  Don’t know if I would have the same thoughts today, but I do remember in comparison to the other millions of vampire books that were out back  then it had a lighter tone to it.  And I think that’s something vampire books were in desperate need of.

Man, has Stacey Jay improved since this book.  I honestly sort of forgot about this one till I started looking for a zombie book to put on the list.  The fact I forgot about it should give you some idea of what I thought about it.

Disastrous Spinoffs: Spinoffs that Should Never Come In Being

Occasionally, I like to do a what if feature.  Today, I thought since every YA series has to have a spinoff I’d pitch some spinoff ideas.  Some of these though…well, let’s just hope they don’t happen:

 

The Original Series: Involves annoying pop super vampyre  Zoey Redbird.

Why I thought It Would Have a Spinoff: Because, well, I’m surprised the Casts haven’t announced one yet.

Proposed Spinoff: A New Adult series surrounding Stevie Rae (Zoey’s best friend) who decides to leave Oklahoma and make her luck in Nashville for country stardom.  Of course, living amongst the humans again is going to be dicey.  But plenty other of vampyres have succeeded.  Of course, none of them have been red vampyres like Stevie Rae.  To complicate matters, Stevie Rae finds every hunky boy-including a country superstar werwolf-falling in love with her.  Add a mysterious screaming banshee who runs around naked more than Neferet ever did.  Well, dang.  Stevie Rae has a series that’s fifteen books long.

The Original Series: An annoying girl named Clary narrowly avoids killing herself and everyone else in her life.

Why I Thought It Would Have a Spinoff: Because Cassandra Clare has ten of them already.  Why not add another.

Proposed Spinoff: Five hundred years in the future, the Shadowhunters are nearing near extinction when Magnus Bane tries one last thing…inventing a time machine to bring back the last Herondale.  But since lots of people think they are the lat Herondale, well, he brings back a lot of Herondales.  And thus begin the Herondale games where the one true last Herondale can survive and save the world. And spoiler…that Shadowhunter is…. Draco Malfoy?

The Original Series: A girl whines about being a princess and we all want to punch her for hating being a princess.

Why I Thought it Would Have a Spinoff: Because there is a spinoff being made and honestly instead of a middle grade spinoff I wanted a hot steamy adult spinoff.

Proposed Spinoff: Lilly Moscovitz is NOT a princess.  She’s just the sister inlaw and  best friend to one.  She is also one of the youngest owners of a successful (well, sort of successful) production company in Hollywood.  Of course, all this goes down the crapper when one of her shows fails epically to be the latest Hollywood scandal of the month.  And Lilly now has to put together a must see program a show that will blow everything out of the water and to produce such a show she needs to get a Hollywood A lister involved.  And if there is one thing that Lily isn’t, it’s being mainstream.

The Original Series: A whiney pathetic angel almost causes the world to be destroyed all in the name of wuv.

Why I Thought It Would Have  A Spinoff: To kill all the characters in the original series.

Proposed Spinoff: After being burned by an angel, Molly (Bethie’s former best friend) is hell bent on revenge to destroy Bethany and all of her friends.  Especially Gabriel.  Even if that means aligning with dark forces (cough, getting involved with magic, cough).  Now with a 1D character who has already been risen from the daed multiple times already, Molly will seek her revenge and let Bethany and her friends burn.

The Original Series: A Mary Sue plays Barbie and becomes a princess.

Why I Thought It Would Have a Spinoff: It technically does have a spinoff (coming out next year), but it’s being considered part of the original trilogy.

Proposed Spinoff:  Rather, than having a spinequal  surrounding America’s daughter reenacting The Bachelorette, this spinoff focuses on America’s big secret that her child is really Ass-pen’s.  And Ass-pen’s other legitimate daughter who is determined to destroy the lies Ass-pen and America have created.

 

Book Blogging: Apparently, It Has Become a Dystopia

When I announced that I was doing a Blogger Blackout earlier this week, I said that I would be having some awareness posts (this is one of them).  I thought today I’d talk about how hostile reader and author relations have become and how perplexing it is-to me as a reader and what can we (as a reader/blogger) do about it.

Some background: I started my first blog in Spring 2011.  I didn’t post often really until the beginning of 2012 since A) I was in law school, B) I was studying abroad in law school, and C) I ended up getting severally ill that fall with whopping cough and a host of other nasty infections that kept me in the doctor’s office a good third of the year (to the point I got very used to getting my blood tested).  However, when I started feeling halfway human again I started blogging again and it was just as I was immersing myself in the blogging community that relations turned nasty.

I don’t know what was the turning point.  Before I even blogged I saw negative and snarky reviews.  It was nothing new.  But there wasn’t near the amount of author drama as there is now.  No Twitter tantrums.  No cries of “bullying”.  No hate site ran by someone who clearly has lost touch with reality.  And there wasn’ t an author intent on stalking someone just because they didn’t like their book and were vocal about it.

So, what changed?

My first thought was more interaction between reader and writer.  GoodReads had really taken off on this point, and most every author had a Twitter account.  But there was Twitter and GoodReads before 2012.  Same with self publishing which is what a lot of people blame the problem on.  Which I think is silly since a lot of these meltdowns (cough, Kathleen Hale, cough) were committed by traditionally published authors.

Culture could also play a role.  There were various events in our society (i.e. media awareness campaigns) that discussed bullying in maybe too broad of terms.  And I guess to the ill informed would make a bad review look like bullying, but such an accusation to one who was actually bullied is just aggravating.

Just to reiterate:

  • It’s a book review.
  • Your book is not alive.
  • Unlike a corporation it’s legally not viewed as a person.
  • And the fact you’re comparing bad character development/poor plotting/etc. to bullying is just flummoxing….

So what is it?

My conclusions: there’s not one factor that points towards the poor relations.  Sure, certain events like a certain site that is essentially a propaganda piece that bad reviews=bullying probably furthered the behavior, but it certainly didn’t start the downward spiral of what has become an almost hostile community. Not only between authors and reviewers, but between reviewers as well.

And I’m tired of it.  I really am. See this post if you want to read my entire rant about trolls in general in the community.

To backtrack, no one should have to hold their breath every time they write a review for a book that gets less than four stars just because it might hurt the author’s feelings. God knows, there have been times I’ve posted less than flattering reviews and I’m like is this the one that’s going to cause some loon to seek out my personal information?

I have actually had my fair share of trolls and dealt with a couple of author trolls in the past.  While most of the trolls have been rabid  unpublished fan poodles for certain books, the author ones are the ones that have me raising my eyebrows.  Grant it, the two authors I’m thinking about on top of my head I did not even read their book (one hasn’t even published his yet).  Rather, they were ragging on  reviews I wrote for two rather popular authors.

I tried rationalizing with them.  I tried the whole you’re an author you should know better mantra, but it didn’t work.

And that’s something that often happens in these situations logic ceases to exist.

Kathleen Hale’s case is a prime example of that.  Throughout her article, she keeps trying to justify her actions.  Regardless of whether Blythe was a troll or not, she shouldn’t have went to the woman’s house.  She shouldn’t have called her.  She should’ve left well enough alone.

But she didn’t.

And many others don’t either.

However, it’s not wrong in their heads becuase it’s justified since said reviewer hurt their paper baby and therefore them as well.

So, how do you deal with someone like this?

You don’t. Not really.

If you ever find yourself dealing with an author meltdown, it’s probably the best to do the following:

1) Take Screenshots:In case the author does decide to demonize you in the future, you can always have proof to back your side of the story up.  While the most fanatic of fan poodles probably won’t believe you, it will provide proof to those who actually have common sense.

2) Think Before you Engage: More than likely the response you get back is not going to be an apology. If you just don’t want to deal with it hit the block button.  If you do decide to engage try to be rational and think what you’re going to say.  Remember, your words are probably going to be twisted against you.  Again, once you say something take screenshots.

3) If It’s on GoodReads use the quote feature: That way if they do delete,well, not everything will be gone.

4) Make Sure Anything Concerning Your Personal Information Is Kept Personal: The last thing you want is another Kathleen Hale, so keep anything that’s personal and you don’t want being found personal.

I get that while these tips can help,  but in some cases they’re not going to be enough.  Author and reader relations are at an all time low, but at the same time there are some really great authors out there.

The new reality that book bloggers live in is scary.  While there are steps that we can take to limit some of the impact that occurs, it’s not going  to limit it all together.  And in some cases, it probably won’t do us much good.  So, why continue blogging then?

Because it shows them that they didn’t win.  Well, that’s my mantra anyway.  My voice is not going to be kept quiet, just because some author doesn’t like the fact I hated his or her  paper baby. That and I like reviewing (sans drama it actually relaxes me).

Yeah but what about authors like Kathleen Hale….

And that is the elephant in the room.

Yeah, something about that needs to be done.  But what can you do?  Authors like Hale have networks that bloggers do not have.  To be honest, I thought about writing a complaint letter to Harper Collins, The Guardian, and her packager (using my PO Box address of course).  I’ve have had some success in the past when writing letters to corporate and at the very least there would be official documentation of my grievance (I’ll send it via certified snail mail, it makes more of an impression than email and they can’t use the it got lost in the mail excuse).  However, I don’t think it’s going to be one letter that changes things.  I think the blogging community is going to have to come together.  And not just with the Hale situation.

There needs to be some sort of accountability for what’s been going on.  Other professionals-doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.-have to follow an ethics code.  Lots of companies have customer service policies in place.  And something akin to this needs to happen in the publishing world.  I don’t know if  the individual publishing company should enact their own codes, or if the various author/publishing groups need to enact one themselves, or even the selling outlets-such as Amazon-should have some sort of ethics policy for their sellers.  But something needs to happen.  Events like the  Hale situation are unacceptable.  While certain authors whine about how mean and evil bullying reviewers are, maybe they are the ones who should look in the mirror.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Spooktacular

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday.  And this time it’s time to get seasonal with Halloween reads. I don’t really read a lot of horror, so a lot of the books that are on this list have a fluffy edge to them.  Of course, not all of them are fluffy.

 

10)

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, I do think it has a spooky feel to it that gives is a Halloween vibe.  The setting has a eerie  feel to it and while this isn’t the scariest book I’ve ever read, I think it does atmosphere pretty well.

9)

Definitely not scary.  But it has witches in it.  And it’s fluffy.  So that gives it enough of an excuse to be on this list.

8)

Though I’ve given up on this one ever getting a sequel, I remember feeling unhinged after reading it.  And I think that’s the perfect feeling to have for Halloween.

7)

Gargoyles and demons.  If you like demon hunting books, but not too much gore this one might be the perfect read for you. The sequel was just released too.

6)

Banshees.  Enough said.

5)

This one is the closest I found to a good zombie book, the main character can raise the dead,  And the book really is creepy with bonus factor for scary secret organizations.

4)

I had to put one vampire novel on this list.  And I chose this series, mainly because despite some annoyances in the later book, I really enjoyed it.  And it’s spinoff is absolutely fantastic.

3)

Clement-Moore knows how to write some creepy scenes.  And I love how this book features witches.

2)

I haven’t read Anna Dressed in Blood, so it might be a more appropriate choice than this series.  But I had to mention Blake on this list, because her use of grotesque imagery is off the charts.

1)

Probably my favorite YA series involving ghosts.  And despite the fact that there is fluff, there is gore.  I really love this series and wished it get more attention than it does.

Blogger Blackout: October 26-November 1

Guys, I’m signing off of doing recently published books for the next week due to the Kathleen Hale situation.

Quite honestly, I have to take a stand because I think what Ms. Hale did was reprehensible and I was hoping that someone-The Guardian, Ms. Hale’s publicist, the packaging company she works for, Harper Collins, or even her cat- would condemn her actions.  However, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a response anytime soon.

I thought about what I was going to do for awhile.  I thought about maybe not read anymore Harper Collins books for the time being, but I can’t do that because there are a lot of authors who I really like and who have stood up against Hale that are published by Harper.  Though if you’re boycotting Harper, more power to you.    I also thought about writing a letter to The Guardian and Harper (and I’m still seriously considering it), but even if I do that will only be seen by them.  So when I heard that a group of people are doing a blogger blackout I decided to join.

However, just because I won’t be publishing new reviews for the next week (October 26-November 1) does not mean the blog will be dead.  I will posting reviews for older titles, feature posts, and awareness posts.

What Kathleen Hale did was not right.  No matter how you spin it.  I’ve seen people say that both sides are wrong.  I’m sorry, but we are only hearing Hale’s side of the story and I don’t view her as a viable source.  Plus, after rereading the story I could find a lot of things about it that raised eyebrows. For example, I have a hard time believing that Blythe would  tell Hale that the photo she uses belongs to someone else.  It just doesn’t make sense since she’s giving Hale more ammo to go on. Then again, a lot of things about the article  and the fact that The Guardian published it doesn’t make sense.

While Ms. Hale might have the backings of a very powerful network behind her, and while I doubt Harper Collins is really going to care whether or not I participate in Blogger Blackout or not, I have to do it for ethical purposes.  What has happened in the book blogging world in the past week is startling and uncalled for.  Even if the blackout accomplishes nothing with the Harper Collins situation, I think it’s important to take a stand.  I might not be a Harvard graduate who’s engaged to someone with very powerful connections in the industry, but I do have a voice.  And I intend on using it.

Meira, You are Not a Solider (Okay, Maybe You Are): Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Source: GoodReads

I was planning on having a major hate review for this book that is until I got through the first third and it just sort of became better and then I couldn’t really put it down.

So what does this given this book.

A mixed review?

Well, a review that is going to be for the most part mostly positive, but at the same time it does have some major, major issues.

I think I’ll discuss the first fourth.  What bothered me about it.  Well, Meira seemed awfully whiny and had the whole Quest for Camelot  I want to be a knight mantra going on.  And there were some extreme well isn’t that convenient moments in the first part of the novel.

Those sort of things are bothersome and are almost get an instant fail rating from me, but somehow Raasch saved the book and for that I have to give her praise.  Because it was a pretty bleak beginning. Seriously.  Lots and lots of shocked praise.

So, how did miracles upon miracles occur?

Well, there was some major character development and the main character had to sort of face that she wasn’t as big of a bad ass as she thought she was.  Of course, we find out she has some secrets that sort of had me rolling my eyes, but  the way all of it is revealed is pretty great.

There’s just something about this prose that makes this book readable and makes me ignore all the tropes.  This is a very readable book especially for a fantasy.

That probably helped its case.

What else helped its case was that the tropes that usually get to me were minimized to a certain degree.

Take the love triangle (if you can even call it that).  The romance in this book was minimized to such a level, I didn’t even care that both characters had names weirder than America Singer.  Plus, more focus was put on family relationships which I have to say is refreshing for a YA book.

The relationship between Meira and her surrogate father, Sir, is actually quite interesting to read about.   I have to give Raasch points for trying to develop a relationship other than the romantic one.  And I like what she did with these two and how it was overarching throughout the entire book.

Honestly, at the end of the book I was a little surprise with the twist Raasch made.  Yes, I get it YA is driven by sequels-much like the Hollywood-but this book would’ve been fine as a standalone.  I thought it covered a lot and we saw a good portion of the fantasy world Raasch had set up.  But I guess I can be willing to give the sequel a try.  Maybe it will sort of flesh out the world some more.

The world building that is done isn’t awful, but it’s not great.  I just felt like I really never got an explanation for this world.

Like while I got somewhat of an idea how this world and their kingdoms were derived, I still had a lot of questions.  Like why seasons?  And rhythms?  There was never any explanation behind that.  Also, why was Winter hated so much amongst the other kingdoms?  And why didn’t the queen tell a certain character the truth about the McGuffin so that the McGuffin quest could’ve been…

Won’t go further.

Spoilers, you know.

I did like this book though.  Warts and all.  And I think a lot of people will like it.  The thing is, the more that I think about it, the more annoyed I get.  If I just read the book straight through though I’m completely fine with it.

Yeah, it’s that sort of book.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

Well, the Gods Won’t Smote This: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She’s ready to wage a war of her own, and she’s never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she’ll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace.

Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can’t have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite.

The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra’s hate will get them ALL killed.

The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can’t, fates far worse than death await.

Source: GoodReads

Last year I sort of ended up being a black sheep in liking this book’s predecessor.  So, I was sort of excited about the second one because I was going to see if that like was going to be a fluke, or if it was really as exciting as I thought.

The result.

Meh.

I sort of see where everyone else was coming now.  But I still liked parts of this series.

I think I’ll talk about what my favorite thing about Blake’s writing is: her use of language.

Man, I wish I had her skills for writing when it comes to imagery.  When I read these books, I have no problem visualizing these scenes.  And some of the descriptions are pretty brutal.

I also like the idea that this series centers around-the gods are dying.  It’s twisted enough to work for Greek Mythology.  But that aside…this book has problems.

Let’s talk about what bothered me the most about this book: Cassandra.

Jesus. Or should I say some Greek god, since this book is about Greek Gods

I get you’re grieving girl but that doesn’t mean act like a fuck ass whiney brat for most of the book.

If her parts weren’t substantial to the story I would skip them.  I really would.  I know I was suppose to feel immense sympathy for her, but by the end I just wanted someone to beat the shit out of her.

All she kept doing was talking about how she hated Athena.  And hatred and bullhead-ness was what caused this series to get a third book.  She just annoyed me.  And while I get why she’s hung up on Aidan, people who forgot the previous book will be like why.  Yeah, he’s dead, but we don’t see one thing about their relationship in this book that sort of let’s you sympathize with her.

As for the other points of view…

Well, the other main point of view is Athena.  And for the most part i still like her, but what I didn’t like was whatever it was between her and Odysseus.

I was kind of on the fringe about this ship in the last book.  I’ve seen one version of The Odyssey where I could sort of buy them as a couple (sort of being the objective word), and in the last book I was like okay this might be good.  But, but, I think this ship sort of sunk for me.  Mainly because having the goddess, Athena, go gaga over a boy is just out of character.

Okay, there were occasional moments where I might’ve been shipping them.

But for the most part I was like…Athena…she’s a virginal goddess she doesn’t give a shit about dating. Why is she getting all moony eyed over a boy?

Luckily, the romance was pretty much kept to a minimum.  The pacing in this one was off the chart and dealt with its fair share of plot holes as a result.  It wasn’t that this book excited me, but there were times I wanted to have it slow down or at least deal with some the limits that having a contemporary setting has to throw its way.

It is a fun book though-if you can look past reality.

I think with Mortal Gods, I just expected more and got the cliche sophomore slump of a book.  I will be concluding this series though.  I am invested-annoying characters aside-in what happens and I think that with some work maybe Blake could recapture excitement with me.  Especially if she does Cassandra in.

Overall Rating: C+ one awful lead and a weird ship.  But hope comes with grisly imagery.

 

Some Evil Queen:Stitching Snow by RC Lewis

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Source: GoodReads

Verdict: It’s okay. Not great, but okay.

I’m actually relieved about that since this one hasn’t gotten the best reviews.  And usually when something hasn’t gotten mixed reviews I fall into the me no likey category.  But in the case  I’m just sort of meh on the whole thing.

Stitching Snow is not a bad book.  It’s really not.  Grant it, it’s not a good part either.  But I will say it fulfilled a need.

A need for space fairytale retellings.  But this ain’t no Lunar Chronicles.

And when it tried to be it didn’t work…but when it tried to be it’s own thing I actually smiled in parts.

The best thing about this book is probably it’s main character.  I liked Essie.  Her voice wasn’t whiney for the most part and she made a pretty good poor man’s version of Cinder.  Okay, she is clearly a different character from Cinder.  And for the record, I am not spending on planning the whole review comparing the two books-I just have to talk about the very big elephant in the room before I can move on.  It’s just that there are some very big similarities between the two characters.  Both being long lost princesses who have an evil stepmother after them.  Both having super mind powers and an interest in mechanics.  But they are different.  One has a superior love interest to the other and one is a cyborg while the other isn’t.

Essie also is weaker than Cinder and that’s totally not a bad thing-I won’t talk about Cinder for the rest of the review, I promise.  And sometimes I’m okay with this and sometimes, well, I’d just wish she stop acting tough and own her weakness or at least show some consistency there.

Bad ass or school marm? Well, I guess being confused with your identity is a Snow trait.

But overall, she’s not a bad character.

Her love interest I didn’t like.  I’m sorry, I don’t like the I’m going to kidnap you and we’re going to fall in love trope. It never works for me.  Especially when said character continues to act like he has something stuffed up his ass till he gets hit be the insta love wand midway through the novel.  His shift in persona just seems too sudden for me to truly buy it.

Besides, the two main leads the one character I had issues with was the Evil Queen.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled with Regina from Once Upon a Time, but I view this character as being multi faceted and in control.  The queen, in this version, had a supporting role at best.  And defeating her was ridiculously easy.  I did like all the nods to the original tale though so plus for that.

And the plotting and pacing for this book was pretty good for the most part.  The book was fairly well paced and I felt like Lewis had the right amount of page count.  Though admittedly, getting involved in the book’s world took awhile.  The world building is a bit hazy and it takes awhile to sort of get the feel of things.  Though once I did, I really enjoyed bits of it.  The drones were cute.   Though it was still hazy.

Stitching Snow isn’t going to be a book that I’ll probably remember in future months, but I don’t feel like I completely wasted my time with it.  I enjoyed it.  It had faults, but I didn’t want to gouge my eyes out.  It was enjoyable but it didn’t wow me.

Overall Rating: C+

Johnlock with an Aussie Twist: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

 

When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

Source: GoodReads

This book was the saving grace and what otherwise was known as a horrible weekend filled with outlandish drama and a CLE class so dreadfully boring I thought the course should’ve been paying me to take it.

The good news is, I came in with high expectations for this one.  Because of some rather flattering reviews (thanks, Gillian, for the rec) and it succeeded.

Yay!

I think the best way to describe Every Breath‘s wonderfulness is to describe why most YA mysteries detective novels don’t work and then go from there.

In most YA detective books we have a main character who’s “sassy” and tries to break the detective rules. They’re also usually into journalism and there’s usually a bonehead Ned Nickerson-ish love interest who they have to save.

That’s not the case here.

Not that Watts isn’t sassy.  But she doesn’t actively try to be snarky and the anti-Nancy Drew.  Heck, she’s not even the one running the mystery-Mycroft is-but you know what she totally kicks butt.

And I like that she’s atypical.  I like that she’s uncertain things and that even though she’s trying to solve some big case, that’s not the sole focus of the novel.

Side plots, such as family issues and romance play a role here.  Honestly, when I saw that this was going to be essentially a Sherlock/Watson ship I was kind of unsure.

Because even though I love the idea, I have am a little uncertain about one of my favorite friendships evolving into a romance, but Marney did it effortlessly here.

And I really liked her Sherlock…well, James Mycroft there (kind of like how she did a nod to both Sherlock’s brother and nemesis with that name). While there were similarities of the beloved character- and various versions of him at that-Marney added her own nuances to the character that made the relationship with Watts palpable.

The mystery plot itself had its moments.  While the culprit (for me) was easy enough to figure out, the actual crime solving was interesting.  And the climax…wow.  Just wow.  I do think the zoo setting could’ve been used a little more to Marney’s advantage, but what we did see…it really, really, worked.

There were a few minor issues with this book that I did notice.  Besides, the easy to identify culprit, there were also some trigger inducing moments for animal lovers.  It wasn’t anything that major, but it was enough where I was tempted at a moment or two to move it down to four stars.

That being said, I think mystery lovers and Sherlock lovers will really like this one.  It also made me realize I have not paid enough attention to Aussie YA lit.  This is something I will be remedying in the near future.

Overall Rating: A-.  Oh, it was close to an A.  So close I rounded it up to a full five on GoodReads but there were a few blips here and there.  Overall though, an excellent book and I will so be buying and reading that sequel when it comes out.