This Belongs in a Giveaway Box: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

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When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

Source: GoodReads

Indiana Jones is probably one of my favorite trilogy of films.  I do not consider that asshat abomination of a fourth movie to be included in the series- in fact, I notice that a lot of networks don’t since they don’t show it when they’re airing an Indiana Jones marathon (which is like every weekend it seems).   That being said, YA authors just don’t….compare yourself to that series.  It’s an invitation for your reader to get drunk out of misery of being duped.

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Don’t blurb your book to be like Indiana Jones.  Because it’s never going to live up to mine and many film nerds expectations.  Unearthed might’ve DNF’d because of this comparison.

Okay, so there were other reasons that this book was DNF’d but comparing it to Indiana Jones was probably one of the biggest faux pas.

Sigh…

Spooner and Kaufman are known for producing sci-fi books together.  I have a lukewarm relationship with sci-fi.  I like it in theory, BUT I find a lot of sci-fi to be homogeneous and really just a stand in for YA dystopia where the alien planet is really a stand in for a dystopia Earth.  This sort of fits this pattern, especially since I getting lots of Captain Planet vibes with the pollution of the Earth bits and the freaking Gaia mentions.

When one thinks Indiana Jones one thinks action.  The action in this book is sort of meh.  I mean, the first chapter is interesting enough but it really feels like someone who is trying to write an action scene for the first time and sort of succeeds but not really.

I mean, all the elements were there, but was I intrigued not really.  The tone of the book just felt really stilted.  The book itself was in two points of view, BUT I didn’t feel either Mia or Jules.

In regards to Mia I thought if she was that destitute how did she have all that money to make her hair look so freaking awesome.

In regards to Jules, if he was really that rich/important why didn’t his parents send body guards?  It’s really not explained.  Also, he’s a scientist.  Because, I guess Indiana Jones is a scientist?

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Thee archeological mystery is weak too.  The reason the first three Indiana Jones movies work they’re identifiable. They all encompass quests involving items that are relevant to three religions.  There is significance in the items they’re looking for with the abomination movie and in this book I could care little to less about because they involve an alien world that I have no commitment to or knowledge or-save for the info dump done by the Russian Tolt in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and by Jules in this book.  I mean, if we’re going to have aliens can we just have the dude from Ancient Aliens make an appearance because he’s entertaining at least.

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And let’s be honest, info dumps are never entertaining.

I watch Ancient Aliens pretty much every Friday to help unwind my seemingly over stimulated brain.  That being said though, when you try to have an archeological mystery built around them in a dystopian world…well, things sort of become half baked.

I kept thinking can we get away form the typical man is evil and destroyed his world with greed and pollution plot line.  I mean, I have Captain Planet for that.  Not Indiana Jones.  If we’re going to do an Indiana Jones-ish storyline.  We need some Nazi punching or something.

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Anyway, from my comments you see that I got bored with this one quickly.  As a result I DNf-d it.  I don’t know if the DNF is more my expectations weren’t met because Indiana mother fucking Jones comparisons or if the book was just meh.  I’ll concede that it was probably a combination of both.

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I Don’t Think They Looked up the Word in the Dictionary: Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller

Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it’s too late.

Part medical thriller, part social justice commentary, Charisma will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Source: GoodReads

One of the most offensive things someone that I’m close to has ever told me is that because I’m an introvert I will never get anywhere in life and I must make myself an extrovert. This person (an extrovert) very obviously put his foot in his mouth and I still haven’t quite forgave him for that particular excrement that came from his mouth but I kept thinking of that horrible remark when I read Charisma.  And all I wanted to do was kick his extrovert ass, so I had to make do with this book instead.

Full disclosure, book was picked out by my sister who picked it out solely because of its cover. We both have a thing for cute animals, so it sat on my shelf for like a year before I read it. I was actually watching Limitless the other night and thought the plot sort of looked similar—a drug or in this case gene therapy that causes a person to become “better” with some unfortunate consequences. Unfortunately, even though this book had an interesting premises its one of those cases where the execution was sort of hideous.

Yeah, I know seems to be a recurring theme this month.   I think even though it seems like I’ve read a prodigious amount of books I’ve DNF’d quite a few of them. This is in part because I’m no longer forcing myself to struggle through something I know isn’t either interesting me or I’m not liking. I think in the case with Charisma was that the book had horrible pacing, and honestly I didn’t think Aisyln’s woes were worthy of taking a miracle pill over.

Ryan spent a good seventy or so pages discussing Aisyln’s life before she took Charisma and honestly while it was bad it wasn’t that ad. In books like this, you need to make the character reach a pivotal low point so the drug reaches more miraculous results. It didn’t. Her life was bad, but I’d say I seen worse cases of social anxiety in YA.

Also, a side note, maybe I didn’t understand why the social anxiety medicine she was on would give her palpitations. I have a high pulse rate/high blood pressure and take a beta-blocker every day, it’s the same sort of drug that’s used for people who suffer anxiety since it lowers the heart rate—a symptom of anxiety disorder. I don’t understand why taking a stimulant would be given to someone suffering from anxiety?

That being said I’m not a doctor and I guess we needed a cure for Aislyn being shy…

Okay.

Other than that, what really bothered me was how much shyness and introvertedness were looked down upon in this book. I’m sure later on, there’s a come to Jesus moment where Aislyn learns that being shy isn’t the end of the world but with how everyone is treating her like its some sort of defect and how she lost a science fair over it when she clearly had the better project…I don’t know it just bothered me.

I really wish the scientist lady who invented the drug or someone would be you can be successful in life without being loud. Because there are a lot of loud people out there that make asses of themselves like the current GOP presidential candidate who can’t seem to shut his big fat orange trap.   You know, that would’ve been a nice little life lesson rather than if you can’t flap your trap you must be defective.

But obviously what do I know…

Nothing since I’m an introvert.

So yeah, this didn’t work for me. Maybe later on that little life lesson I wanted to see would make an appearance. But as it stands, it didn’t and I didn’t have an emotional attachment to any of the characters to really bother sticking around.

Overall Rating: DNF

Wannabe Cinder with Bonus Overboard: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Source: GoodReads

I didn’t really care much for Melissa Landers’s debut novel there just something stilted about the way the book was written and the male lead seemed more than a little off, BUT I did like the premises.  Much like I liked the premises of Starflight which seemed like it was Overboard with shades of Cinder.

The thing is, even though the book started off with a bang, it quickly grated on my nerves moving from one plot point to the next without really having time for necessary exposition or character development.  This in turn, hindered the quality of the book and as a result while I was thinking in the first 100 pages it was going to end up with at least four stars (or like a high B rating) it ended up with a C+ or two star rating.

As I said, fantastic beginning.  I found Solara to be engaging and Doran had that mysterious crabby element going for him, but it quickly faltered.  Minor characters were introduced that I had a hard time connecting to or remembering, and given that there is going to be at least one companion sequel to this one I think I ought to remember them.  But I don’t.

The plot again was  a bit hodge podge.  It quickly dropped the Overboard angle that it had in the beginning which was a shame but at the same time I was sort of glad it did.  There’s just something innately creepy about that plot-I mean tricking someone with amnesia is not cool, even if said individual is a dick.  But if you’re going to go with it, go with it.  Instead, this book ends up jumping all over a places.  So, Solara and Doran join a crew, The Banshee, that I think is supposed to be something akin to the crew in The Lunar Chronicles.  And they deal with space pirates and a McGuffin like quest and other crap.

By the way, you probably saw the Lunar Chronicles and got excited.  Don’t.  The crew lacked the  charm and charisma as Cinder and her friends, and I really couldn’t tell much about who was who.  God knows if I read that companion sequel I’m going to have to track down this one to figure out what’s going on.

Despite it’s problems though, I didn’t exactly hate this one.  It had its moments, it’s just not what I expected which was the same feeling I had with Alienated.  Although, I will say that it did work a little better to me than alienated since there wasn’t the whole awkward protagonist who isn’t supposed to feel emotions but then does an insta love turn around thing.

Overall Rating: C+.  Great beginning, but then the book started going down hill.

I Lack Focus: This Shattered World by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

Source: GoodReads

These Broken Stars was probably one of the most hyped up books in 2013.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  I sort of had the same feeling This Shattered World, but I think the first book was slightly better (it’s been awhile).

That being said, there are lots of good things to say about This Shattered World.  I’ll start with what worked the most for me: Jubilee.

She is just awesome.  This is how main characters should be written.  She’s tough, funny, and doesn’t fall into the typical stereotypes you see with YA heroines.   She was what made this book.

As for Flynn…meh.  I like him enough, but it’s really hard to get past the whole kidnapping thing.

But as far as kidnappers go, Flynn isn’t horrible.  In fact if he wasn’t a kidnapper, I really would’ve appreciated the fact that he was a beta male in a genre full of alpha douches.

But the kidnapping trope…it’s hard to get past.

The world building is extremely intricate.  It’s very easy to get lost in this book.  In the title of my blog post I state that I lacked focus during this book. It’s totally true.  There would be times I’d just get so absorbed in the writing, I’d completely forget what was happening.  It’s one of those effects that sort of has mixed results.

For a book that had so much going on its world, there is a surprising amount of action in it as well.  It reminded me why I like space operas.  Honestly, YA has some really good sci-fi inspired series right now…but I’m digressing it.  As a space opera, this one and its predecessor are pretty darn amazing.  I really could see a CW show using this concept.

As previously stated, sometimes the world just got a little hairy and I did lose focus.  I also, didn’t like the cut scenes.  I started skimming them towards the middle of the book and should have kept paying attention to them because the were important (hint,hint).

It was also a little jarring how the first book’s plot came rearing its head in this installment.  I get that it’s a companion book to These Broken Stars, but key to the word companion.  I was also assuming it could be read as a standalone-and it could to a degree.

The cameos of characters from the prior book were fun, but I really didn’t like how it had a quasi sequel in the you have to read the previous book feel to it. Even though I did, read the previous book.

In all This Shattered World is a great edition to YA sci fi.  Sure, it has it’s faults.  But like its predecessor, it’s fun.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

If Independence Day Had a Baby With Roswell:Opposition by Jennifer L Armentrout

 

 

 

 

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

Source: GoodReads

Let’s talk about finales.  How would you like your series resolved:

A) A big epic battle where the hero or heroine has to make the ultimate choice to win the day.

B) An epic battle resolved by the main character create a unique and cunning plan.

C) A lame epic battle where nothing happens where all you have to do is walk out and say I’m Bella Swan a vampire and you win.

D) Have other people do the dirty work while you make out and win the day.  With a few causalities to insignificant ESPN watching characters.

If you answered D well you guessed the ending of the Lux series.

Yeah.

To be honest, I didn’t really have a lot of hopes for this one.  But considering that this one was the last book in the series and I made it through four books, I sort of felt trapped to finish this one.  The good news: it had it’s moments.  But God….it was still bloody annoying.

Let’s talk about the good.  The romance is not as noxious as it was in Origin.  Yeah, there were still a lot of moments where I was like stop making out, stop having sex, the world is ending and you need to act like Will Smith and try to do something.  But there weren’t as much sweet baby Jesus-es exchanged this time and for that I can be thankful.

There were occasionally some nice moments between the two that reminded me why I sort of liked them in the earlier book.  Oh, don’t get me wrong I was still annoyed, but less so than the last book.

I also liked the fact that this particular book was action packed.  Again, while I didn’t like some of the plot choices, I am appreciative that the story kept me entertained and had a moment or two where I laughed.

Now for the bad.

Oh, man, guys.  Where do I start?

This book was suppose to be about an alien invasion.  But while we were told this complete with the same opening music from Independence Day  (“It’s the End of the World as We Know it (and I feel fine)), are brave characters are still able to make a road trip clear across country with minimum damage and not have to face off with advance alien technology.

Armentrout, dear lord, watch an episode of Ancient Aliens, will you?  Giorgio Tsoukalos will tell you over and over again how much more high tech the stupid aliens are than us.

But I guess we need plot holes.

Just like we need a plot hole why the freaking US government never thought about using nucs on the aliens.  Again, watch Independence Day- it might of failed there but it would’ve probably been a better option than your lame weapons.

I digress.

I think the point I’m trying to make from all this digressing is the invasion plot could’ve been handled better.  Some build up in the previous books instead of having a new big bad thrown at us in the end.

Did I really care about these villains?

No.

Even if they did kill a relatively minor character.  I still couldn’t give a shit.

The whole Luxen hive mentality also didn’t make sense.  The was no foreshadowing in previous books, so the whole thing made little to no sense.

And it was the power of love that broke the mental connection?

Really?

Oh, please.

You know, if I reread this series again I might make it a drinking game.

You know that could be fun.  I can already think about things to drink from:

  • Every time Damon calls Katy kitten.
  • Every time he makes an ass of himself.
  • Every time Katy mentions her book blog, so she can appear “normal”.
  • Every time they make out at an inappropriate time.
  • Every time sweet baby Jesus or aliens or some variant is used.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Oh, and did I mention I found typos in my finished copy.

Freaking typos.

To be fair, if I would’ve been younger and not reading YA books every other day I might’ve liked this one better.  It’s a fun read.  If you can look past the faults, be extremely shallow, and like cheesy romance this is the book for you.  For me, I’m just glad this series is over.  I really enjoyed the first few books, but the series has just seemed to go down hill.  Or maybe my reading tastes have changed.  The funny thing is, I have enjoyed the past few books by Armentrout.  But this one.  No thanks.

Overall Rating: C+

Overal Series Rating: C+ started strong and then just sort of failed.

Austin Powers Had It First: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

 

Tell me if this story seems familiar: People go into space and get super powers.

If you answered The Fantastic Four you’re a winner.  Want to continue playing well I have another one for you.

Name a character that has dense molecular structure, can’t control your own strength.

If you answered The Hulk, The Thing, or Superman give yourself another pat on the back.

One more question.  I promise this will be the last (for now).  Super powers connected to the heart.

Iron Man.  Yeah, I know.

So, this book seems like it’s basically a combination of a lot of Marvel superpowers with some DC references thrown in.

And okay, I get it no superhero is going to be original.  Marvel and DC ripoff each other all the time.  But that whole origin story, a group of people, it was very obvious it was The Fantastic Four.

And I’m not even a huge fan of that movie or comic.

This is my first experience reading a novel by Shannon Hale.  My sister enjoyed Austenland  and I decided that I’d give this one a try, even though I have severe reservations after reading the reviews.

I was like well it can’t be bad.  And I like superheroes.

And I found myself hating myself.

Which is why I rally think I need to have some else picking out my books for me for awhile, because I’ve had really bad luck lately.

Anyway, back to this book.  I just don’t know what to say.  It started out good enough.  I liked the premises of Space Camp.  It was actually something I sort of could relate to since way back in the fifth grade (I know, total time warp) I went to Space Camp.  It’s sad to say that my eleven year-old self and classmates had a lot more maturity than Maisie and her classmates.

This novel is labeled YA, but I think it’s one of those novels when one tries to be nice to its faults labels it middle grade.  When it really means, the book sucks.

Seriously, the stupidity that these kids, adults,  and their parental units have me slapping my head on my desk.

Let’s play a round of Is This a Liability.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a lawyer, a law student, or even an avid Judge Judy fan to get this game.  I’m sure you’ll do better than the idiotic characters in this book:

1) Is it a liability to let five minors go up into outer space without parental permission, physical fitness exam, and/or proper training?

2) Is it a liability to let said minors touch extraterrestrial biological material in outer space?

3) Is it a liability not to inform their parents, the CDC, or any other form of authorities that a mutation occurred in space?

4) Is it a liability to let an out of control minor who has Hulk like powers go out and kill two people?

5) Is it a liability to threaten said parents of said minors?

At this point you just have to put on your stupid hat to even remotely enjoy this novel.  Though since the characters in this novel seem to be perpetually wearing their stupid hats, it’s not that big of a stretch (for them).

As for the characters, I wish I could’ve loved them.  I actually had hopes for the main character who wasn’t WASP and had a disability.  I was like cool, a diverse heroine this could be interesting.  But except for throwing a few Spanish phrases and lamely getting made fun of for being a one arm girl-seriously, have these kids not seen The Fugitive- she’s basically like any other YA protagonist that I’ve had the misfortune of reading about-dumb love triangle included.

In this love triangle we’re introduced to what I’m assuming (since I DNF’d this stupid hot mess at the halfway mark) is a very obvious ending.

Love Interest #1: The barely existent best friend who’s suddenly hot and given the good guy personality.  Of course, good guys are boring when there’s a hot asshole around which leads us to love interest number two. And all I can say is…

Love Interest #2: Yeah, I don’t like him.  After an insta love date that would make even the fluff lovers of fluff lovers hate each self, we go back to abusive dick behavior.  And then back to being oh so lovable and fluffy.

Seriously, authors this is not what girls or women want.

I get the best friend is boring.  But nice guys can have a personality.  Or the asshole can actually evolve instead of going back in forth from his asshole-ness the entire novel.

If the stupidity didn’t get me then the love triangle most definitely did.

I love superheroes, but I just can’t stand this book.  It reminded me of that bad The Next Avengers: Heros of Tomorrow movie I tried to watch on Netflix the other week but turned off because I was eye rolling so much so I just ended up watching some classic Justice League instead to soothe my brain.

I think I’m going to have to do the same thing here. Though the antithesis to this book is that horrible The Fantastic Four  movie where Captain America is acting like a jackass and that guy from Charmed  is Dr. Doom and that’s just so wrong. So, maybe The Avengers will make for a next substitution?

Overall Rating: DNF.  Another emphasis on the F.  Dear lord, hopefully my next pick will be somewhat redeeming. Oh, wait, I’m going to be reading City of Heavenly Fire so forget that.

 

Great Scott, Just Get a Tardis Already: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Great Scott, this book blowed.

Time travel should automatically be a win for me.  I mean, it has worked several times before.  With movies such as Back to the Future and shows live the ever awesome Doctor Who but when the lady who wrote a chick lit novel about a pair of Goodwill jeans writes about time travel.  Well, someone needs to go back in time and have a chat with her and stop this nonsense.

Unfortunately, I am not a time lord or a companion of one so I don’t get to do that.  And as for Doc Brown, well, he doesn’t interfere with the timeline (much) and if he read this book he’d just see what a big mistake this is.

The book sort of gives you weird mix messages of whether or not you are supposed to mess with the timeline.  One minute you are the next….well, you’re not.

And after hearing about Doc Brown and Hermione Granger go on about how the past should not be changed, I don’t want to hear a wannabe cult leader for a wannabe Lifetime movie do the same thing.  But that’s what happens in this book.

Basically, our main character, Prenna, has always been the fringe on her cult’s time traveler group’s rules and things get out of hand when…you guessed it because of a boy.  And a wise old man who looks like Ben Kenobi of all people and sends them on a quest.

Yes, yes, I know it sounds like a walking cliche.  I know it sounds painful and it is.  The sad thing is, I don’t think it could’ve been as cliche as it was.

Despite being a packages author with rather interesting  history that raises eyebrows about how she gets her ideas, I enjoy Brashares books.  I think her writing style for the most part, overall, is fairly strong.  True, I haven’t been a fan of the last pant book (seriously, what were you thinking doing that) and I didn’t like its spinoff with those dweeb willow sisters, but I’ll admit Brashares technically can string two sentences together and has shown at times to create decent plots.

However, after reading Here and Now, I am really starting to question those thoughts.  This book really reads like it was written by a freshman writer with a bad editor.

Plot wise, well…Plot holes a dozen fill this book.  I’ll give you the most obvious one: the community which Preena lives in lacks basic resources to solve the issues facing them so much that medicine in the past is more advance than the type of medical care she has in her society, but they have time travel?

When you come up with an explanation for that one, I’d like to hear it.  Of course, the end the big reveal sort of explains it. Sort of being emphasized on because the time travel still really shouldn’t be possible if…let’s just say there should be some butterfly effect.

And before you say that maybe there’s not a butterfly effect in Brashares ‘s world and maybe it takes more of a Who type theory to time travel…well, no read the book.  There is a freaking butterfly effect that really makes no sense if put in context with this example.

I could sit dissect the horrible plot holes all day, but we have characters to talk about now.  Most notably Prenna.

Where do I start with this one?

I think the best way to describe Prenna is dumb and weak.  This of course is cured because of a boy.  It’s always a boy.  But until lover boy came, she just lived in a world where she knows, she actually knows, that is corrupt.  And she does nothing, but sits on her ass.  Of course, Brashares tries to make it look like Mr. Robert and Ms. Cynthia are dangerous people, but in the end one big blackmail threat and they’re taken cared of for the most part.

With the way these people were being described earlier in the book, you’d think that there would be more fallout.  And the whole you can’t get medical treatment thing.  Oh, God, that really pissed me off. It reminded me of all those abusive weirdos I had to read about in Crim Law who got charged with manslaughter for letting their kids die from the flu or something mundane that a shot of penicillin and common sense should’ve taken care of.

And the other baddie, well, Biff from Back to the Future made a better villain.

Then there is the world building itself.  In addition to ridiculous plot holes, the time traveling technology is never explained.  How these morons got chosen to go back to the past is never explained.  And well, the fact they’re doing fucking nothing makes no sense and acting like  a bad Lifetime movie’s crazy cult just annoyed me.  That added with terrible pacing that involved a tutorial on how to play Hearts that was completely wrong (you can’t play hearts with just two players and for that matter running doesn’t mean you automatically win the game just the hand) I’m just annoyed.

Overall rating: Three out of ten (D).

Disclaimer: An ARC was provided via Netgalley this did not change or influence this review in any way. 

DID for Aliens: The Host

Yes, I know it’s technically not YA.  When it was published it was considered adult, but probably now it might be considered New Adult.  Well, maybe.  I could probably spend a whole blog entry on talking about what to classify this book as, but since many Twilight Saga fans read this book and saw this movie I think it’s fair to review it.

To be fair, I actually enjoyed the book version of this film more than I did the Twilight Saga.  It wasn’t the greatest book ever, but unlike Twilight, I thought there were lots of issues that if Meyer wanted to spend her time on could’ve made for a compelling story.  And I thought about that during the film version as well, especially during the ending.  Only,  these issues are swept aside for the romance.

And as you probably already know already, I am a fan of romance, so I really shouldn’t have a problem, right?

Well, I wouldn’t if the movie wasn’t trying to present itself as being something more.

Or at least it was stylized as such.  To be honest though, the movie didn’t really focus anymore on the issues than the book did.  And the romance….well, it wasn’t even that much a part of the movie even though the guys they casted were nice to look at. The romance and chemistry itself bland as hell.

Even this fantasy sequence was much more romantic than anything in The Host. And it’s a fantasy sequence.  Though it does have Benedict Cumberbatch in it, so that explains a lot.

Instead, this movie was a hodgepodge of poor decisions.  That when it’s all put together it’s just a fucking mess.

I dare say, in some ways it might be worse than City of Bones.  Though to be honest, a lot of the problems that The Host has are similar to those in City of Bones.  In City of Bones, I believe that a lot of its problems were purposely caused in this film not so much…which is what gives it a slightly better rating from me.  Slightly being the objective word, because even though I felt sympathy for the people behind this movie, I still can’t help say that this movie sucks.

The movie was soooo boring.  Once again, not so much the film makers fault since they were using the book.  And since this is a Stephenie Meyer book, it’s really hard for them to veer off that much without the fan girl’s going ape shit crazy.  That being said, something had to be done with the source material.  Either develop the romance further or explore the issues that the book has that Meyer farted over. Did they do this though…nope.

Must have been watching this movie.

Even the exciting parts of the book were just sort of, well, rushed in the film version.

I always knew that The Host wasn’t a perfect book.  I knew that there were plot holes.  Lots and lots of plot holes.  But in a book you can sort of glance over them. Not so much in a movie.  Especially if said viewer is an Ancient Aliens aficionado and wonders why  such an advance civilization uses human technology to seek out a fellow alien.

Seriously, where was the cool alien technology?  The only thing that signaled these guys were aliens is they all had John Stamos eyes, wore white, and drove fancy sports cars.  And that is something you don’t want to wear or look like when you go undercover.

Not that John Stamos colored eyes are a bad thing, they’re just not inconspicuous.

See conspicuous

I suppose the white outfits and fancy cars were also used to give this setting a futuristic vibe.  Again, this has me laughing.  Maybe it’s because I’ve done some research on the history of fashion, but plain colored clothing was generally worn by the lower class.  I find it difficult to believe that the higher class in the future would be wearing clothes that once were worn only by peasants and for that matter, that  such an advance society would still be driving cars powered by fossil fuels.  But hey…

It makes Nicholas Cage’s girlfriend from National Treasure look bad ass.

Seriously, I think that’s what they thought on a lot of these choices.

As for Diana Krueger’s performance of The Seeker.  No.  Just no.

Horrible choice in casting and while I like Diana Krueger and think she can act, this is not the part for her.  She can’t do menacing.  Or at least bureaucratic menacing.  It probably didn’t help her so called bad assery being limited to her sitting in a helicopter trying to find Wanderer in the desert.

Hasn’t anyone heard of GPS trackers?

Paging Michael Westen for backup here.

Another offensive eyesore that this book had was Melanie’s accent.  I’m from Texas and have been to Louisiana several times, my sister works there.  People from both states do not talk like that.  The only person I have heard who remotely speaks that way is Macy from Teen Mom and that’s a stretch since her Tennessee (not Texas, not Louisiana) accent is not as thick as Melanie’s.  Honestly, Melanie’s accent bordered on offensive the way Dick Van Dyke’s accent was offensive to many in Mary Poppins.

And I’m pretty sure the only reason she even had the damn thing was to differentiate between the two characters.  I mean, I’ve seen DID stories on soap operas before that’s what they do too. However, using a different accent is really a cheap trick other tricks could’ve been used-slight change in word choices, mannerisms, how Wanderer dresses could’ve been used to show the difference.  Also, I have to mention this, once Melanie gets ahold of her body again her accent apparently goes away.

Oh, and if the accent isn’t offensive enough to fellow Southerners we get to see Melanie’s uncle who looks like he came out of a Western.

Okay, film producers, being a life long resident of Texas I can tell you that people usually don’t dress like John Wayne unless: A) They’re a John Wayne impersonator, B) The rodeo is going on and it’s Go Texan day, or C) they work at a dude ranch.  Uncle Jeb didn’t do any of those things.  Instead, he manage to create things that I’m not even going to touch on because it would give me a headache trying to talk about how many laws of physics are being broke.  It’s at times like these that I seriously think I need to invest in a Sheldon Cooper coblogger.

Anyway, my overall thoughts on this fuck up is sadness.  I think they really tried, but in the end it failed from basic mistakes.  Perhaps they thought they were safe because they had The Twilight Saga’s coattails to ride on, but in the end it just didn’t work. Overall rating D- (hey it doesn’t get the full blown F because there was some effort).

Scarlet: Marissa Meyer

General Summary: Cinder is on the run and determined to find out her past and how the heck she’s a moon princess.  While Scarlet is trying to find her grandma with the help of the big bad and hot wolf.  Wait, the wolf’s hot and not in the way Grace Brisbane thinks wolves are hot sort of way hot?

Review:

I loved Cinder so much I decided to bypass my usual wait a month for reading/reviewing a sequel of a book that I like rule and bought Scarlet off of Amazon after I got through like a hundred pages of Cinder and was swooning.  And while I liked Scarlet (a lot), I’m not totally fan girling anymore so hopefully this review is a little bit more objective-though I really did like this book.

So, the good.  I always start with the good first.  But usually it’s to soften the blow of the bad parts of the book.  The good thing is, there’s not a lot of bad in this book.  Most of my problems with Scarlet were more personal than actual problems.

So what was so great about this novel.  It wasn’t a place filler.  Important pieces of the puzzle were filled, but at the same time there’s definitely room for the sequel and Meyer does leave us with quite the cliffie-agan.

Also, the new characters worked too.  To be honest, I’m always sort of skeptical when new characters are introduced in a sequel-blame Young Justice for that since new characters (well, lack of sales of their cruddy toys) was the death to an otherwise awesome show.  But Wolf and Scarlet actually serve a purpose to the story.  And Thorne was a hilarious addition as well.  Cinder’s role is still strong and the only person I felt that got sort of gipped was Kai.

Kai’s part of the book is sort of essential and he’s going through so much emotional turmoil at this point in the series, that it would’ve been interesting seeing his perspective more.  Especially considering what he did at the end of this installment.

However, I did really really like Scarlet.  She sort of reminds me of redhead version of Marion Ravenwood-save for the fact she runs off with a guy who has fangs instead of wears a fedora.  But you got the same sense of adventure with Scarlet and Wolf’s story.  And I really liked the way the storylines interconnected.  Sort of brilliant.

 

Also, I have to give it to Meyer I really liked the way she reinvented the whole princess concept.  It’s like she took the idea of Disney princesses and made them bad ass (and yeah, I know Little Red Riding Hood/Scarlet isn’t a princes-but I’m pulling a Mulan here and making her an honorary one).  Maybe if Meyer would’ve been behind all those shitty direct to DVD Disney release–which I’m still having nightmares for (thanks Mom for having me go through all our old VHS’s)–they would’ve been awesome instead of sucky.  Hey, maybe she did help with Cinderella Three that one didn’t suck and Cindy was sort of bad ass in that-though not as bad ass as this Cinderella.

Best Feature: Little Red Riding Hood.  To be honest this was one fairytale that always annoyed me.  I mean, how stupid does Red have to be, but Meyer reinvented in a way that made me love it.  And again, I love the fact that it’s not a literal retelling.  We get just enough of the fairytale without it being a boring rehash of what we’ve seen over and over again.

Worst Feature: Fragmented.  There were like five points of view.  It worked for the most part, but I felt we got shafted with some parts of the story-notably Kai’s.  I get it was necessary, but I really liked the way Cinder was structured much better.  What scares me is that the next two installments are going to be introducing new characters to the mix as well, and I’m wondering how she’s going to juggle all these POVs around.  I do have faith in Meyer though, her crazy world building works.  But this is just going to be a wait and see thing for me.

Appropriateness: There’s some violence in this one.  Other than that though, it’s fairly clean.  Oh, there’s some gruesome imagery here and there.

Blockbuster Worthy: Uh, yeah.  I think this series would be a kick ass movie series.  I already casted some principle roles.  Let’s add a few more:

Scarlet: Emma Stone.  If anyone can carry a pistol in a hoodie it’s Emma.

Wolf: Nathan Parsons.  I think it’s his accent  and he sort of has a wolfish grin.  Plus, have you seen him on Bunheads?

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten hoods.  I liked this one a bit.  Quite a lot actually, but I think Cinder was just a tad bit stronger.  It’s not bad.  It’s actually pretty great.  But..just read it.  You should really read it.  I’m just being nit picky and well…read the book.

Cinder: Marissa Meyer

Sometimes a book can surprise you in a good way…this is one of those books.

General Summary: You all know the fairytale Cinderella.  But imagine it with robots and moon people and you get Cinder.  And yeah, it really does involve moon people.

Review:

OMG.

Finally.  Fucking finally.

This book.

It’s amazing.

I have no words.

Okay, maybe I do.  But how do I….

This is what I expect from a book.  A book that will make me want to continue reading at night, despite the fact that I should go to bed.  A book that just made me smile and cry and….

Okay, I think I’m done fangirling enough to actually review.

Wow.  Just wow.  With the fairytale retelling I usually expect a cute story that isn’t anything really new.  Like Beastly.  It’s a cute enough book, but it’s nothing new.  And Cinderella…well, up until this point my favorite Cinderella telling was Ella Enchanted and even though it added some new things to the Cinderella story it wasn’t revolutionary though.

This though….

If you look at the summary alone it’s a little mind boggling.  Cyborgs, moon people, princes, Cinderella, androids, political tensions.  That’s a lot to take in.  And you wouldn’t think it works, but it does quite brilliantly.  And while Meyer changes things from the original fairytale,  there’s no little old lady going bibbity bobbity boo, it works.  Better than if she would’ve followed the fairytale directly.

Also, apparently, this is sort of a homage to Sailor Moon a series I never got to watch mainly because my parents were very anti cable.  If this is how Sailor Moon is I have got to check it out though.  Because this book is freaking awesome.

Back to fangirling, I really loved how well formed these characters were.  All of them were well formed.  Even the male lead had a personality and wasn’t an asshole (I know, a rarity in YA).  And Cinder was just awesome.  I loved how she was a mechanic and a cyborg, and the cyborg thing was actually what I was worried about most (I blame it on reading too many Superman vs Metallo comics in my youth).

Best Feature: Kick ass princesses.  Cinder’s not your Disney Cinderella.  She’s resourceful and kicks ass.  She doesn’t even want to go to the ball and she really doesn’t let her stepmother push her around (much).  In other words, she’s a really well rounded character.  And I think with the little cameo made from another character who I think is supposed to featured in a latter book this is going to be an ongoing trend (keep fingers crossed).

Worst Feature: Um, none.  Okay, well, maybe I got annoyed with Cinder’s reluctance to tell Kai she was a cyborg and that she wasn’t good enough for him.  But it worked.

Appropriateness: Theres’ some violence and some pretty heart wrenching scenes.  But it’s fairly clean other than that.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh yeah.  You know, it’s time there’s a fairytale retelling that kicks ass.  Sure, there’s Once Upon a Time which I hear is great-need to rent that one-but this would be a kick ass movie.  And film makers it would be taking a popular trend, dystopia, and giving it a fresh edge without making it look gimmicky.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Cinder: Emma Watson.  Though she’s have to lose the accent, then again maybe the accent would be perfectly acceptable in New Beijing.

Kai: Harry Shum JR.  I honestly really wish there was a go to guy of Asian descent to use.  But Harry is hot and he’s nice too (or at least he is on Glee), so I think he could easily pull off Kai.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this a ten.  Yes, it’s getting a ten.  The first ten I’m giving all year.  It’s that good.  If you haven’t read this book pick it up now.  You will thank yourself.  It has a bit of something for everyone and if you love fairytales or wish those Disney princess would buck up and take action, well, this is your kind of book.