The Quotes Show Its Stupid: Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

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Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

Source: GoodReads

I know I’ve ranted about YA fantasy being eerily the same.  Well, YA paranormal also falls under the same rut.  The only thing is, I was hoping since this genre has sort of disappeared in the past five or so years, that when there was a YA paranormal released-like Toward A Secret Sky– it would be something different.

giphy5

 

Only thing is, this book is probably as cliche as the books that were being released in the heyday of this genre.

Usually I’m not one for using quotes in my review, but I think this is one DNF where quotes sill exemplify why I didn’t finish this book.

Exhibit One:

My mother was totally beautiful-a former Miss Springfield-and I  looked nothing like her.  While she had olive skin and shiny black hair.  I got my Scottish father’s pale white coloring, light green eyes, and cray, thick, curly blonde hair.  The kind of hair that once made a hairdresser cry because the haircut came with a free blow-dry, and she counted on the whole process taking three hours.  Of course, it wasn’t California blonde or even all-the-same-color blonde.  It was someone once told me, “dishwater blonde.”  Just what my self-esteem needed: hair that reminded people of dirty water. (9-10)

Of course, this is our description of our MC who is described as being “Plain” because she has dirty blonde hair that’s curly.  I should mention later on when she starts attending school in Scotland, everyone is envious over said hair.  Furthermore, being a dirty blonde myself, I always find it insulting when people talk this way.

Exhibit Two:

I was kissing the hottest guy ever.  He was so hot, even his hair was red.  We were logging in the long grass, kissing deeply, like it was our new way of breathing.

It was hot outside, and the kissing was making me even hotter.  Everywhere he touched me, my skin burned.  I never kissed anyone before, and certainly like this.

(13)

giphy6

Do I even need to say anything about this?

Exhibit Three:

Even the “normal” food in Scotland wasn’t normal.  French fries, which were called “chips”, looked like the fries back home, but instead of being crispy and yummy, they were soggy and not.  Chips were called “crisps”, which was a true description, but they didn’t have any fun flavors like ranch or hickory barbecue.  In fact, they didn’t have barbecue anything at all.  They’d never heard of brownies or cornbread (“Why would you put corn in bread?” my grandmother asked).

(14)

Disinterested teen,  who insults the area the area that she’s in.  I’ve been to Ireland-I know different country than Scotland, BUT we the area I was staying at had a Tesco (the same store this ingrate went to) and the store was fairly large, though not Super Walmart size, and they pretty much had anything you wanted.  Also, having had chips/fries in both the US and Ireland, I can tell you there really is not that much different.   So, I’m guessing that Scotland’s version isn’t that different either.

Anyway, a pet peeve of mine in any YA book is when the character will trash the area they just moved to.  Especially if its a foreign country.  America’s reputation has pretty much been shot by Donald Trump, we don’t  need little fictional ingrates like Maren to ruin it further.

Exhibit 4:

Hew as the most breathtaking guy I had ever seen and-thank you, God!-seemed to be about my age.  His wavy chestnut-colored hair fell over his forehoead, but not enough to hide his dark blue eyes.  He was tall and broad shouldered, but had a thin waist.  he carried his bulging frame like he  was wearing football shoulder  pads, but I could see from where his white tunic shirt hung open at his chest that he was all bare skin and muscle.

(30)

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Do I need to say more?

Exhibit 5:

I could tell by Jo’s flat tone that Elsie was not her favorite person.  I’d have to remember to cheer her up later by letting her know “Elsie” was mainly a name for cows in America.

(44)

Wrong.  Elsie is the name of a very cute diminutive Corgi  (AKA Wonder Corgi) who is upset that she is being compared to a cow.  She says she is going keep barking  into  Maclean’s ear until this is rectified.

elsie

Wonder Corgi not Wonder Woman, but close enough.

These quotes are pretty much why I quit the book.  I could find more, but honestly I don’t want to.  Like I said, usually I avoid doing quote reviews, but I think in this book’s case the quotes exemplify why I didn’t want to continue.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Avoid.

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Best Thing About the Book is the Fucking Cover: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.

Source: GoodReads

Kiera Cass really has a great cover designer and can come up with interesting concepts, I think those are the only two reasons I keep giving her chance after chance when she keeps giving me crap book after crap book.

The Siren was as shitty as the rest of her books were, so don’t get your hopes up.

Yeah, sorry to be the Debbie Downer here.  Though, I really don’t know if it’s being a Debbie Downer since I’m only speaking the truth.

The book sucked ass.

Some background information, the book was originally self published before Cass decided to torture the rest of us with The Selection-whatever it is now, originally trilogy now never ending books series.  When she conned sold so many people the Selection books Harper decided to pick it up a plaster a new cover on the heap of crap  revise the book so that it could be published traditionally.

The result.

It’s still shitty.

Honestly, the book reads very much like a Twilight fan fic would’ve read about eight or nine years ago.  Hell, some of the tropes are common.  From insta love, to beautiful paranormal creatures, to stupid boys who just need to be punched this book has it all.

I DNF’d it in 154 pages.

The main character, Kahlen bemoans about killing people decide making the concentrated choice to become a siren eighty years ago.

Look, I had no sympathy for bitch.  She knew what she was getting herself into and how can I feel sorry for someone who constantly puts people in peril and kills them.

Oh, yes, because she saw the error of her ways and fell in wuv…

Yeah, I know my eyes almost got stuck from all the eye rolling too.  I think what really got to me about this book, was that it could’ve been really cool if Cass went more into what the sirens could do rather than the fact that being a siren allows them to have lots and lots of pretty salt water dresses (don’t ask me how that works, but I’m guessing Cass was sort of inspired by Ariel’s Triton created dress at the end of The Little Mermaid).

As for the romance, that has made my eyes stuck in the back of my head.  It’s laughable and too instant lovey for me to care about.  Plus, the hero has one of those stupid unique name cliches-fact, he says the stupid name is unique.  I kept calling him Anklet in my head, though his real name is Akinli or something of the other.

The pacing is also off in this book and I really didn’t understand any of the world building save for the hundred years and the salt grass crap bits.

Overall, the book really didn’t work for me.  Perhaps, if you haven’t been overexposed to the world that was paranormal YA back in the late 2000’s this one might be okay for you, but for me blragh.

Overall Rating: DNF

Not a Diamond in the Rough: Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix

On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide.

Source: GoodReads

I just didn’t like this one.

The style just didn’t work for me.  And it’s not because I’m not a fan of Historical Romances, I am (I read a shit ton of them this year).  I just think this book tried to imitate what it thought a historical romance was (or what it used to be) and didn’t take aspects we see in more modern novels in this genre.

And I’m talking about the sex.

Jeez, I get that it is a YA novel.  But the lack of characterization is pretty apparent in the novel which is a shame because it was a pretty neat set up and Nix has a lot of successful books out there so I thought this would be a slam dunk.

Instead, I gave up for it when I got to the 200 mark.

Yes, I know, yet another DNF.  I seem to be doing that a lot this week.  But I can’t help when I get bored, and bad characterization is very easy for me to get bored especially when the bad characterization effects what could’ve been a romance filled with troopy goodness with bonus magic.

I really like the idea.  I think that’s what kept the book from getting a lower rating from me, I appreciated the spirit of the book but it just didn’t work.  And I’m not sure if it’s because the novel execution is just faulty.  It really tries to stylize itself as a historical romance and while the basic research was done, I did have some issues with how the mannerisms were handled.

Because really, a well to do lady of the period is not going to encourage her niece to pretend to be a boy-even though this trope is used in a whole lot of HR’s out there.  Not the old lady encouraging the girl to throw some dirt on her face, chop off her hair, and hide her tits, or in this case wink up a magcial mustache bit.

And that’s the thing, the whole magic aspect of this book was very poorly done.

I just really didn’t like it.

Which is sad.

Sigh.

Like I said, I ended up not finishing it because the way the book was written didn’t work for me.  I don’t think it was that bad of a book though.  There were some decent ideas there, but I really thought a well versed author such as Nix could’ve came up with something better.

Overall Rating: I DNF’d it.  I think it’s more of it’s a me not you book reason I DNF’d, but the characterization is fairly lousy.  If you like potential for an interesting story though, you might want to give this one a try.

One Trick Pony: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Source: GoodReads

I always feel like I have to take a bath after I read a Cassandra Clare book.  This part of my review will be eliminated from the GoodReads version of it due to its policies.  But as a person I find Cassandra Clare to be rather foul.   I’ve read multiple reports of past behavior particularly concerning her behavior in fandom, and it has me wanting to take a sip of something really strong after every revelation I read.  Then there’s the fact that TMI series has been exploited to the point you want to call protective services (if book series had protective services) to keep it from being pimped out anymore.

Still though, despite ethical dilemmas I ended up reading her books.  And when Lady Midnight came out I was sort of in the mood for a throw back to early 2000’s plagiarized fan fiction.  Plus, I really was interested to see if Clare could actually make me eat my words that the series hadn’t been milked completely dry.

Note, I did not eat my words.

Rather, I got drunk with how predictable Cassie Clare is and always will be.

Before I discuss the rampant use of cliches, I want to discuss Clare’s writing.  I really wonder if the editor’s read some of the crap she wrote.  Seriously, some of the prose is just awful.  There are metaphors that just don’t make sense.  Descriptions that are unnecessary and just plain stupid.  The change in viewpoints can get confusing as well because there’s no breaks clearly indicating that the perspective is changing.

I usually overlook the technical aspects, but this is this woman’s tenth publication and by this point I would hope that there would have been some growth in prose.  But yeah, it’s not going to happen.

I am not going to rant on the technical aspects though, because their pretty common in all Cassie Claire books.  Rather, I’m going to discuss the formula for a typical Cassandra Clare book.  After reading ten of them and part of the infamous fan fic (because I live such an excited life, I tell you)  Cassie Clare almost always follows the same formula and uses the same tropes.

1) Love Triangles:

 Oh yeah, there is a love triangle in this one.  Or should I say love pentagons or octagons or whatever happens when several triangles overlap.  I sort of got a headache over the potential relationships in this book.   And honestly, while the ship that will probably be the main ship was a lot more tolerable than Clace, the relationships here were even shallower than those in TMI.

 

2) Abusive Relationships:

 There is at least one maybe two potentially abusive relationships here.   One characters relationship I really didn’t live because it basically seemed like this character had stockholm syndrome with the other character and it didn’t seem totally consensual.  I didn’t like how Clare tried to romanticize it.  It was just bad and a cheap way to insert diversity into the book.  I really hope that that one character dies a firey death beause I don’t want his victim to get back with him.   Said victim is better off in the potentially annoying love triangle that they’re being set up to be with.  Also, the jury is out on another abusive relationship which seemes to more emotionally abusive than the previous discussed relationship, but I’ll have to read more information before I make a final verdict.

3) Bad Ass=Dumb Ass Main Character: 

Seriously.  Emma might’ve been able to use a sword better than Clary, but she still had to be rescued just as much as her and Tessa.  It just gets exhausting how impulsively stupid the shadow hunters are.  I’m like really.  Common sense, it’s a thing.  Get it Clare, please.

 

4) Jace (aka fannon Draco) Ass Kissing: Yeah, still happens here.  Even though Jace isn’t physically in the book until the end of this masterpiece..  The adoration is that eye roll worthy.  I’m like get a room already.  Because you totally know Clare wants to be with Jace despite being a fictional character.

5) You Must Read All My Books to Get My Inside Jokes: Yeah.

6) Counteradictory Information: The whole forbidden love angle.  Um, yeah, that doesn’t really explain the whole Alec attraciton to Jace if parabatai were forbidden from being in a relationship in an earlier book.  I’m sure Clare has explained this on her Tumblr or Twitter account.  But I really could care less.

7) Clare Pretending She’s JK Rowling: So now there’s a Shadow Hunter Academy.  I guess I would’ve known this if  I read all the little short stories that Clare outsourced to her friends, but I didn’t.  Instead, I was  just snorting about how much Clare WANTS to be Rowling.  There was even  the return of the flying motor bike in this installment.  All  kidding though, I get so tired of it.  TMI might have scored a bad movie and a quasi bad TV series, but it is no Harry Potter it is like a poor Harry Potter knock off  had a relationship with Edward Cullen and had a baby that was about as ugly as Michelle Tanner.   That’s not a good thing, people.  The characters are even HP knock offs.  Though, these newer characters were a little bit harder to place to their HP counterparts, so I suppose that is progress (somewhat).

9) Herondales: Because there always must be one long lost Herondale in these stupid books.  I hate that fucking family.  We know their name is really Malfoy and they just went to Idris when they were put in the Wizarding World Witness Protection (aka let Cassandra Clare disguise them with golden eyes  and darker blonde hair).  This further supports the reason that Jo really should’ve just done us a favor and killed them off instead of letting them go into Clare protection.

I really wanted to list ten cliches for this review because it would’ve been nice to do a top ten list, but a lot of the other cliches sort of overlap.   At this point in the review, I am going to be fair and list the sort of new elements that The Dark Artifacts series provides:

1) Setting: It’s in Los Angeles so that has to count for something I guess.

2) A Blonde Main Character: This makes identifying Emma as either Hermione or Ginny much more difficult.  The trick is she’s really a female Malfoy.  You realize this when there’s the comparisons to Jace.

3)A New Warlock: Don’t worry, Magnus just had to go on vacation for most of the book, I’m sure he will still have the go to warlock position in future installments.

Okay, I’m done bitching (for now).  Honestly, I will probably finish this series.  As I said, these books are sort of a weird trip down nostalgia and honestly I sort of want to see when it’s finally going to all crash and burn.  Much how I watched Fuller House for the same reason (hence, the Full and Fuller House gifs in this review).   BUT, but I don’t know if I’ll be reviewing them after this one.  I don’t like giving Clare’s books press  and honestly I’m afraid my reviews for this shit are getting a little repetitive.

Overall Rating: A C.  The writing is bad, but the story is oddly engaging.

In Which Suze Has Me Googling Slip Dresses: Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

What – or who – is buried in Susannah’s backyard?

When the nineteenth-century ghost of Maria de Silva wakes her up in the middle of the night, Suze knows this is no ordinary visitation – and not just from the knife at her throat, either. In life, Maria was the fiancée of Jesse – the same Jesse who was murdered a hundred and fifty years before. The same Jesse Suze is in love with.

Maria threatens Suze: The backyard construction must cease. Suze has a pretty good idea what – or rather, who – Maria doesn’t want found. But in solving Jesse’s murder, will Suze end up losing him forever?

Source: GoodReads

 

Can you believe it’s the fourth month of this Mediator reread series?  Neither can I.  In Mediator news, there has been an excerpt and cover leaked, people.  Seems like Paul is up to his old tricks again, not that surprised (and yes, I already preordered this book).

What I Remember:

I remember really being surprised by this one and kind of shocked about how evil Paul was in this one.  Because remember, I read Haunted first.  If you just read Haunted, Paul just seems like a sightly sleazy boy who makes some dubious choices.  But in Darkest Evil you know that he would have no problem fighting Voldemort and probably winning (he’d probably exorcise all seven pieces of Voldy’s soul and laugh about it).

Reread

If Suze Simon isn’t a BAMF character before, she is now.

Honestly, in a lot of ways, Darkest Hour is my favorite book in the series.  The last one might hit some emotional strings for me, but this book does too and has Suze fight probably the most scariest baddies in the series.

We also get more backstory on Jesse which is a good thing, because really up until this point the character Jesse needed some (okay, a lot fleshing out).

I think this book is what seals the deal for the Juze ship.  My OTP.  Okay, to be honest I do like Paul/Suze in fanfiction better.  Only because I think in fannon it allows more story, but in cannon I ❤ Suze and Jesse forever.  You can really feel how much these two characters have grown to love each other in this book-though Suze is too stupid to realize Jesse has feelings for her.

I also like how the two of them interact around Maria and Diego.  I thought having Suze having to deal with Jesse’s past was a pretty smart idea on Cabot’s part.  The dude has baggage due to the way he died, and I’m glad she didn’t ignore that.

Maria and Diego make more formable foils than Heather or the RLS Angels, that’ s for sure.   It doesn’t take Suze almost 200 pages to be in peril only till like chapter 2 or 3.  And she’s actually scared.  And Jesse doesn’t really come to her rescue in this book.  She does a bit of saving herself.  Really as far as action goes, I’d say this is probably the most action filled Mediator book.

As I said in the first part of this review, this is the first book that Paul comes into play.  After reading the series as a whole, it is the same Paul but you do see a different side of him here.  I think I read somewhere that Meg always was a little shocked with Paul’s popularity because he is a sleaze.  To be honest, he is sleazy in this book but the Paul character evolves as the series comes to play.  I really wonder if I would be so team Cannon Juze had the series been allowed to extend to the seven or eight book she initially wanted to do.

Overall Darkest Hour was probably one of the best if not the best books in the Mediator series.

Rating: A+

Sleepy and Gina for the Win: Reunion by Meg Cabot

Accidents happen. With ghostly consequences, if you’re Susannah Simon.

The RLS Angels are out for blood, and only Suze can stop them – since she’s the only one who can see them. The four ghostly teenagers died in a terrible car accident, for which they blame Suze’s classmate Michael… and they’ll stop at nothing until he’s joined them in the realm of the dead.

As Suze desperately fends off each attempt on Michael’s life, she finds she can relate to the Angels’ fury. Because their deaths turn out not to have been accidental at all. And their killer is only too willing to strike again.

Source: GoodReads

What I Remember:

When I first read this I was sort of in a rush, but there were a few things that stuck out.  One being the relationship between Suze’s NYC bestie, Gina, and her stepbrother, Sleepy.  I shipped them oddly enough and they were a background relationship.  Also, I loved the action scenes in this book.  Although, this isn’t the zenith of action for this series (that alone goes to book four), this one does have a few good ghost busting moments.  And I was entranced enough to get through it without  my eyes wondering to the last book.

Reread:

Reunion holds up pretty well, but it is a filler book.  It really isn’t until the fourth book in this series that things start moving for the overall series arc.

Although, there is more Suze and Jesse development.  So, yay on that front.

To be honest, books 1-3 follow a similar format.  Suze attracts the eye of a guy who is somehow being haunted or  knows someone who’s being haunted.

In this book it’s Michael Meducci who I always view as Michael Moscovtiz evil twin who is less sexy  but probably just as nerdy that ends up killing Josh Ritcher.

Okay, that didn’t happen in The Princess Diaries.  Though, it could’ve if Meg Cabot wanted to sort of make in like The Heathers.

Weird digression aside, it’s interesting in this book that the hot guy Suze has to watch over isn’t really that hot-unless he’s not wearing any clothes.  And is borderline creepy.

Another bonus to this book, was the introduction of Gina.  Who is one of my favorite side characters.  And I really did like the side ship with her and Sleepy.  She’s the reason I tolerate that stepbrother.  I like Doc too.  Never really grew to like Dopey though, but I think that’s the typical feeling.

Anyway, Gina has some great lines in this installment.  Some of my favorite, involved her reacting to Kelly Prescott’s proposed tank policy against China.  Why I find it hilarious, upon reread is the ridiculous election that’s going on in the US right now.  Seriously, I felt that every ludicrous thing Kelly Prescott said was akin to something The Donald would say.

As far as filler books go, I found this one a little bit more tolerable than Ninth Key not that Ninth Key is bad, it’s just definite filler.

Overall Rating: A B+.

The Great Mediator Reread: Where I Want Suze’s Wardrobe

Ghosts ruin everything. Especially your love life.

Everything is going great for Suze. Her new life in California is a whirlwind of parties and excellent hair days. Tad Beaumont, the hottest boy in town, has even asked Suze out on her very first date. Suze is so excited that she’s willing to ignore her misgivings about Tad… particularly the fact that he’s not Jesse, whose ghostly status – not to mention apparent disinterest in her – make him unattainable.

What Suze can’t ignore, however, is the ghost of a murdered woman whose death seems directly connected to dark secrets hidden in none other than Tad Beaumont’s past.

Source: GoodReads

Original Reading Experience: 

I read this in a binge read when I finally got my hands on the rest of the series-I had read books five and then later four first BEFORE finally reading books one, two, and three.

Honestly, I just wanted to get on with this one and get to the last book because I had to know how my ship was going to work out.  Because it just had to because surely Meg wouldn’t be that cruel…

Anyway, what I remembered the most about Ninth Key was Suze’s fashion choices-Armani sweater seat, Batgirl boots, and Betsey Johnson miniskirt.  That outfit was imprinted on my brain.

And I kept thinking about it since.  Or at least that’s the outfit I always associated Suze with besides the plethora of slip dresses that she wore in the fourth book.

Funny, how this series became a lot of my fashion inspiration at the time.  No Cosmo for me, but Mediator.

Reread:

Ninth Key to me was always the forgotten book in the series.  A lot of people say that about Reunion, but I actually like Reunion more or remember liking Reunion more-I think it Sleepy and Gina that made that one better than it really is.

I so ship them.  Despite the fact that Gina deserves someone a lot more responsible than Sleepy.

Okay, all kidding aside, Ninth Key isn’t bad, it’s just not that remarkable.

Well, the climax scenes were well done and hilarious, but besides them this book was  a particular slow book.  I have to give it Meg though for slowly developing the relationship between Suze and Jesse.  I really do love a good slow burn romance, and this is what this one is.  It’s such a arare thing in YA, so excuse me while I sort of relish in it.

However, I don’t think there was really any growth between them in this installment other than Suze acknowledges that Jesse is hot, and Jesse interrupts a very awkward date with Tad.

But we all knew it was never going to last with Tad.  I’m sure he found himself a nice boyfriend when he moved to San Francisco, just saying.  Honestly, Bryce and Suze were more believable and that’s pushing it.

It’s odd how it takes Paul Slater, who is basically a sociopath, to actually be the one love interest that potentially can match Jesse and that’s mostly in fannon.  Because Paul in cannon is sort of jerk, but he’s not in this book so we can’t talk about him.

Boo.

Most of the development to the overall series was done of the ancillary relationships-family and friends-which was nice.  As I said before, it’s a filler book, but it does a good job showing how blended families relate to each other so that was good.

And I liked how we got to see a bit more of Adam and CeeCee in this installment, though I did feel like they were used a bit by Suze.

Bad Suze.

Overall though, Ninth Key is a good quick read.  It’s never going to have the same impact on me like other installments, but it doesn’t damper the series.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

 

Still Don’t Get the Cover: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

 

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she’s too busy trying to actually survive. Her town’s population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she’ll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie’s sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can’t survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her. 

Source: GoodReads

This book reminds me that I really need to finish the Soul Screamers series because Rachel Vincent is pretty much amazing.

Though oddly, I forget about her stuff.

I think that sort of adds to the charm though, because it gives her stuff a dark horse feel.

This book has all the elements of being a dark horse.  It’s A) a paranormal and b) a dystopia.  Both of these genres have been overplayed in YA, yet Vincent makes this book feel fresh and original.

I think that’s because in part she avoids some of the faux pas that are so painfully familiar in these genre.

I have to totally tell you though, I sort of groaned when I read the whole emphasis on the green eyes thing in the blurb.  Because one thing that drives me crazy in YA is focusing on how painfully wonderful someone with blue and green eyes are (for some reason they always ignore brown-the closest I’ve seen is tawny).  However, the eye color thing sort of made sense once Vincent reveals the twist with the love interest.

And I actually liked this love interest.  That’s weird for me to say, especially in YA paranormal or even dystopia lit. But I actually liked Finn (despite horrible name). While he did sort of come off strong, it sort of made sense given the character.  It’s really hard not going into why this works without going into spoilers, but it worked.

I also liked Nina as the protagonist.  She’s not perfect, and everyone points out that she’s dumb.  But I don’t think she’s actually that dumb.  She’s a survivor and you can really tell that she took the role of big sister seriously. And tried to the best of her knowledge to make sure Mellie had the best possible life.

The action in this book is just awesome.  I loved how the paranormal effects the dystopian environment.  Sure, I’ve read books before that contain elements of different genres, but often they feel clunky.  This one didn’t feel clunky.  I was actually intrigued with what was going on too, which will have me reading the next one.

The thing is though, there are some flaws to this book.  Like I said the relationship really didn’t work for me until the twist.  Then I was able to over look some things, but I wonder if I should’ve felt that way or not.

Overall Rating: An A- I will be reading the next one.  And I really want to finish the Soul Screamers series now.  So, I think this says something about this one.

 

And the Eastern World Gets Shafted Again: The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott

 

Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family’s katana — a priceless ancestral sword — from her parents’ attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio — and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

Source: GoodReads

YA and Asian mythology do not mix.  I’ve never seen it done correctly.  All of the books I’ve read, have all been over hyped and then essentially Twilight  in Asia.

And The Twilight Saga is over ten years now.  That’s how stale these tropes are.

So, why use those with an Asian inspired paranormal, I ask?

Like The Name of the Blade.  It could’ve been interesting.  I could’ve finished it very easily if it didn’t rely so heavily on these tropes.

The interesting this though, is that I’ve had discussions with other people about tropes.  They’re almost a part of YA, you’re going to have them regardless of how original the book claims.  And I’ll admit it, I like some tropes.  But what I don’t like is short cut tropes-aka instant love.

And the whole in love with an object/animal that the narrator personifies as human and then low and behold becomes human.

I always hate those sort of stories.

I think it’s why I never finished The Shiver trilogy.  When Mio started obsessing over the sword, I sort of knew I was a goner.

I should’ve known from the premiss though, it reeked cliche.  But the thing is, I’d have been okay with a little cliche.  Some cliche would’ve been nice and good.

And there I go back to the elephant in the room.

The cliches.

I feel like a lot of YA genres have been so influenced by cliches, that it just makes reading less than enjoyable it seems like a chore.

And that’s what The Name of the Blade felt like to me.  A chore.

I wasn’t reading it to get compelling characters, or an amazing plot.  Because hello, I’ve already read it already.  It was more or less a rehashing of the same story.

Can I just say something?

I’m tired of that feeling.  Tired of feeling like I read it before and what’s the point of reading it again.  It makes me feel like I’m in a hamster will.  A hamster will of never ending YA paranormals where the exact thing happens over and over again.

To reiterate: Twilight is about a decade old now.

Why are we still following this formula?

I have no idea, but what I do know is that books like The Name of Blade that have an interesting premises and use a mythology that most Westerners aren’t familiar with seem to have been hit the worst by this.

I theorize its because the editors want the audience to have a foot hold in something, The Twilight Saga.  But it really seems quite silly.  With proper world building it’s very easy to get use other types of mythology.  After all, lots of fantasy rely on made up mythologies so I really don’t see using Asian mythology is going to throw off a reader enough where you have to have a Twilight plot.

But that’s what it seems.

Sigh…in the end I ended up DNF-ing this one.  It wasn’t horribly written.  There were some occasional moments where I smiled, but there was nothing truly original about it and I was bored.

So there you go.

Overall Rating: DNF.  Not a total failure though, just  a big fat bore.

There Goes My Theory: Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout

Things are about to get Wicked in New Orleans.

Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

Source: GoodReads

I had a theory that Armentrout’s New Adult books didn’t do it for me because they really didn’t have a plot.  For the most part, I adore her Young Adult paranormal books.  The Dark Elements series is currently one of my top guilty pleasure series.  And I really enjoyed the early Lux books.  So, when she announce she was doing a New Adult paranormal novel, I was more than a little curious.

But when I finished…

Yeah, not that impressed.

I want to say that this book wasn’t completely useless.  It did have a few things going for it.  Like Tink, I enjoyed him even if he was a bit of a trope.  I also enjoyed how the New Orleans setting was woven into the book.  It felt realistic enough, and having been to some of the restaurants that were mentioned in the book I’m going to give it a thumbs up on that.

There were also some decent lines thrown here and there.  Then again, Jennifer always has a talent with banter.  I think it’s probably her strongest suite.  However, sometimes the banter can get a little too much as it did here.

It’s the same with the pop culture references.  I loved them, especially the Harry Potter and Supernatural stuff but it borderline-ed on too much.

Then again, I’m giving that a lot of leeway since this was self pub.

And I have to say for a self pub book, this one was very professional.  And shows how self pub should be written.  Even with all the flaws this book had, it still was something you could very easily see on the shelf at your local bookstore.

So, I give a huge plus for that.

That being said, I did not like Wicked.  Maybe it was because it involved fae.  I am just not a fan of them.  I can read a book about them, but it has to be done in such a way where the world is slowly built and the mythology makes sense.  Here it was more or less a secondary plot.

The main focus was on the romance.

Which I expected, but I really thought the faes causing a potential apocalypse plot would’ve been first and foremost.  But nope.  Most of the novel was focused on Ivy and Ren and getting over Ivy’s big secret-the death of her boyfriend which she sort of caused.

Honestly, I could care less about either Ivy or Ren.  It wasn’t that they were horrible people.  Just dull.  It probably didn’t help that I kept associating Ivy with Poison Ivy-because she looked just like her.  As for the relationship….it really was a bunch of insta love on one part.  And sort of Ivy’s part too.

I get that they’re probably going to deal with issues later on based on that cliffie.

But yeah, I don’t care.

And I think that was the worst thing about Wicked.  I just didn’t care…and to be honest I don’t care enough to finish this series no matter what cliffhanger Armentrout throws at me.

Overall Rating: A solid C.  It’s decently written, the storyline and characters are good enough, but there’s no pop to it.