Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate Reviewed by Dani. (Steph read this book a lot earlier than Dani, so she will not be reviewing it. )
Dani’s rating: 4 stars Total: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
    There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.
    Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
    Even Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.
    Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, FALLEN is a page-turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

Rating: 4 stars

Before reading Fallen, I had heard mixed reviews about this book. Some people loved it, some people thought it dragged on, some people said to bored them to death, some people thought it was too sappy, and so on. I have decided that this book is in between okay and good. It’s good enough that I want to read the entire series, but it’s definitely not my favorite book. In the first book of a paranormal series, the plot is mainly about finding out what creature the male protagonist is. I’ve seen a few exceptions to this rule, but not many. This book takes FOREVER, 390 pages to be exact, to spell out what kind of paranormal creature Daniel is! Oh, there were hints dropped here and there, and most readers will figure out what’s going on by reading the prologue. In the entire 452 pages of this book, only 2-3 weeks of time passed in the story. And, even worse, Luce falls instantly in love with Daniel! Isn’t this “love at first sight” thing somewhat overrated? The minute she first sets her eyes on Daniel, he flips her off. What does that tell you? If a guy flips you off, most girls would ignore him. Instead, Luce still pursues his undying love. My initial reaction as the reader when I read this part was, “This girl has some guts!”
The main thing I didn’t like about this book was how long it took to reveal what Daniel was. Although, this time the female protagonist figured out what the male protagonist is. The male protagonist didn’t have to slowly break the news to the girl and hope she wouldn’t burst into tears. I know that some readers will find this book rather corny because of Daniel and Luce’s “eternal love”. What is that saying? We will be together until death parts us? We’ve all heard that phrase way too many times.
This books shows that Mrs. Kate can be quite innovative!  A creature that Mrs. Kate created are known to Luce as “the shadows”.  I had never heard of anything like these mysterious little beings before reading Fallen.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. You will fall in love with Daniel, a tormented immortal who loses what he loves most every seventeen years. His devotion and protectiveness of Luce is what makes this book worth reading. I thought that the “eternal love since I fell from heaven” idea was sweet, but I know that some people think it’s stupid and sappy. The supporting characters, Arianne, Molly, Cam, and Penn, made this book hilarious. If you’re getting tired of this book after the first few pages, you will want to keep reading because of Arianne’s spunkiness. Who wouldn’t love a girl who says “He’s so focuses on that hamburger, he wouldn’t hear the call of Satan.” Luce is a genuinely nice and caring person who has her own supposed mental unstableness. She sees things that other “normal” people at her school do not. By the end of this book, she realizes the “normal” people at Sword and Cross are not so normal after all. She’s not a weak female protagonist like many others in the YA genre. She can deal with the drama of being sent to a reform boarding school high school after committing a crime she didn’t actually cause. Luce is also a strong swimmer. (Random, but just thought I’d put that out there for all of you athletic book nerds)
To sum it up: If you enjoy semi-sappy paranormal YA books with a hot, charismatic, and emotionally broken male protagonist, then read Fallen. The reason that this book did not receive 5 stars is because of how slow the beginning was. It is completely unreasonable to spend 390 pages to spell out what creature the male protagonist is!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study (Study, #1)Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Reviewed by Steph with Dani’s commentary BEFORE reading Poison Study in blue and AFTER reading Poison study in purple.

Steph’s rating: 4.5 stars 
Dani’s rating: 4 stars 
Overall rating: 4.25 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
     About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
     And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
     As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear…

Review: small spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book
    This is one of those books that is standard, but good nonetheless. You’ve got the slow-building romance, the unlikely heroine who had a bad past, and the twinge of mystery and suspense. The setting is historical, but there is a magical twist to it. 

    Poison Study centers around a girl named Yelena, who has killed the son of Ixian General Brazell. Yelena does have a good reason to kill Reyad (that sick bastard, Brazell’s son), but in Ixia, it is highly illegal to kill anyone even if it was an accident or if you did it out of self defense. The law says that anyone who murders is given the death sentence, and of course Yelena is not spared.

    Just when she is about to be hanged for treason, she is offered a job as the Ixian Commander’s food taster per the law. At first, she thinks it’s a joke, and that the Ixian official, Valek, just want to see her cling to life in her last moments. But she realizes he was actually serious, and Yelena accepts the position. 

    Now you might be thinking, why would criminal be allowed to get close to the leader of a nation? That problem is taken care of by Valek. He purposely gives her a poison that will kill her, if she does not drink the antidote daily. The only way to get the antidote, which is made by Valek, is to be at “work” every morning. 

    Being poisoned becomes the least of her worries when General Brazell, Reyad’s father and her pre-murder surrogate father, arrives at the Commander’s castle for a military meeting. Yelena never liked Reyad from the start, and she could never understand why Brazell doted on him like he did. Any father would be angry with his son’s killer though, and Brazell sends several of his minions to capture Yelena. 

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Yelena actually did have a dark past that really makes you feel sorry for her. She’s not like those characters who thinks they have the worst past out of everyone in the world, and induces herself in self-pity. I especially liked her because she never played the damsel-in-distress card. She tries to deal with her own problems and be an independent girl. She got in trouble a lot at the castle, but she managed to worm her way out of every situation. Unfortunately, Yelena has a secret that would get her killed immediately if any word of it got out. This secret has to do with the “magic” that I mentioned earlier. The Commander of Ixia is unforgiving of any kind of magic, and one problem she faces is Brazell knowing about her powers. 

    Oh! and Valek!? He’s Yelena’s mentor in food tasting/poison lessons. By her descriptions, he’s supposed to be really handsome...:D. I thought Valek’s character really added to this story. His relationship with Yelena is not one of those ridiculous love-at-first-sight or we-were-meant-to-be-together kind of relationships. It builds up slowly and then simmers near the end. It’s a very sweet relationship and brings out a side of Valek that only you yourself as the reader, and Yelena, knows. I also like Valek’s outside superior demeanor. He is the Chief of Security, and a skilled assassin >:). 

    Besides the lovable characters, the plot was actually interesting. There is a sub-plot, but Snyder tells it in contrast to the main plot so that neither of them suffer. I really liked the mystery surrounding Yelena’s past and Brazell’s role in it. I’m not going to say anything else about the plot, because any phrase I utter from this point on would give something major away. Lots of things happen at a fast pace in this book, and I honestly had a take a few breaks to gather my thoughts on what just happened in the last few chapters. 

    I would recommend this book to anyone who just needs a good, interesting read. It may keep you up reading during the night, just a warning. There is no specific gender this book is aimed towards (or so I feel), and I think the characters and events in this book will make you love it like I did.

This is one of the few books that Steph has read and I haven’t. Usually we’re like “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!” *shoves book in face* The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the sentence  “it is highly illegal to kill people by accident” was CHICAGO! If you don’t know the storyline of Chicago, it’s about women who murder their lover and get imprisoned for it. Some of them had good reasons to murder them, some of them didn’t. Just like this book! Totally random, but you don’t really get to see my perky and crazy side often, so...
Also my reaction was to the sentence “not a damsel in distress” was YAY! YOU GO GIRL! These days so many YA books have a pretty much useless girl who relies on an extremely hot, capable, and badass guy. (Excepting Meghan from Iron Fey, Rose from Vampire Academy, and Alex from Covenant.)

Another teacher-student relationship! How very vampire academy like! Are these teachers pedos? O.O JK! I definitely want to read this book. So much fantasy suspense, semi-strong heroine...Although I’m not loving the huge age difference between Valek and Yelena. Also, what’s up with Valek feeding Yelena poison? Definitely not what comes to mind when you think of a relationship; the guy poisoning the girl and then giving her the antidote....

So based on this review, I give this book a 4.5! I know that I will love it. Well, I HOPE that I will love it. I took off a 0.5 because of the weird age difference. Let’s just say that the age difference
MIGHT be more or less than 10 years...I must read it to find out!

After Dani has read this book: I wholeheartedly agree with everything Steph said. This book was amazing. Not really a romance, more like a fantasy novel with some romance sprinkled and then mixed in. Valek is one badass spy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, #1)Blue Bloods review by Melissa de la Cruz Reviewed by Dani and Steph.
Dani’s rating: 2 stars Steph’s rating: 3 stars Overall rating: 2.5 Stars 

Goodreads Synopsis:
When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish, John Alden, Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.
The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?
    Dani’s review:

I am not a big fan of vampire books, but I read this book because of Steph’s constant nagging.  I did not like this book at all, although the Mayflower idea is cool. If you know your history, you will remember that  the Roanoke colony disappeared long ago, leaving only a cryptic message behind: Croatan This series is based off of how the author’s imagination decoded that mysterious word. This book reminded me of A-List and The Clique books. It’s about wealthy New Yorkers who just happen to be vampires, or blue bloods. They think they’re so special because not only are they rich and fashionable, they are vampires. Big deal.
    In my opinion, there wasn’t much of a plot in this book. The writing wasn’t very good either. It’s all easy language that would probably be classified as a fourth grade reading level, although the content may be more middle school based. English teachers would call it “bad writing”. All that happens in this book is Schuyler discovering that she is a vampire and who her mother really is. Like every Ya paranormal book series, the otherworldly antagonists do show up throughout the series, but there’s not much actual fighting. It’s mainly a certain antagonist, who appears to be a friend, attacking Schuyler.
    If you like books about “drama” that isn’t actually as big as high school girls think it is, read this.   

    Steph’s review:
I agree that this first book wasn’t very good, and this comes from the vampire book lover. I’ve read the whole series up until where it left off in book 6, so I can say that the series gets better. The first book is kind of like the “introductory book”; an intro that is way too long and drawn out. It is almost like a prologue for the rest of the series. The plot about the mystery of the classmates death is pretty pointless, and doesn’t add to the plot that the series is really based on. I feel like Melissa de la Cruz just used it to make her introduction seem more interesting (which it didn’t).There wasn’t much suspense like there would be in a real mystery, and everything is blatantly laid out in front of you. I do give points to Mrs. de la Cruz for at least trying to stick with the plot, even though it really didn’t work. I can understand why a lot of people would stop reading beyond Book 1, it’s pretty cheesy and not one of those capturing first books that draw you in and make you love the series.
    In this book, Schuyler Van Alen is the “not-it-girl”, or even as far as the “out-girl”,  who happens to fall for the very much “it-boy”, Jack Force (who yes, is also a vampire). The “love” between Jack and Schuyler is pretty skeptical here and it’s almost like one of those ridiculous love at first sight things, although Schuyler has been staring at Jack for years, while Jack just suddenly notices her when she begins her transition and “falls-in-love”. You never know with these popular boys. They could seriously love you or they could just be playing you.
    Oh yes, and of course like almost any YA book today, there’s a love triangle happening. The other boy is Oliver Hazard Perry, Schuyler’s longtime best, pretty much only friend, and “Conduit”--basically a bodyguard. His name was pretty cunning on Mrs. de la Cruz’s part; it also comes from someone important in American history, though he actually lived a lot later than the Mayflower/Roanoke period. Yes, I am so PRO OLIVER. He is so loyal and sweet towards Schuyler, and he has been secretly in love with her for a while, which is totally understandable. They’re close and have known eachother for like, forever.  A love story with Oliver and Schuyler makes much more sense to me than the story given to us with Jack and Schuyler. I hate that Schuyler can’t see Oliver’s feelings towards her, and doesn’t even try to see it. All she sees is the seemingly perfect Jack who may or may not be in love with her.
     Alright, enough bashing. Points I did like about this book:
1. Oliver Oliver Oliver always--he’s probably what made me read the 2nd book and eventually made me love the series.
2. The ending wasn’t too bad I suppose. I also felt like the writing was bearable, but no more than that.
3. The basis of this novel--I thought the whole Mayflower and Roanoke concept was pretty awesome on Melissa’s part.
Those three points give this book 3 stars :) I also suggest that if you didn’t ABSOLUTELY hate this book, try book 2 ,and maybe you’ll actually end up liking the series like me :D.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3)The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan 
Reviewed by Steph with Dani’s commentary in blue.
Steph’s rating: 5 stars Dani’s rating: 5 stars Overall rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.
And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare. . . .
In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?
The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophesy remains a mystery. . . . With old friends and new friends joining forces, a marvelous ship, fearsome foes, and an exotic setting, The Mark of Athena promises to be another unforgettable adventure by master storyteller Rick Riordan.

Dani’s comments in blue
Steph’s Review:
JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE TO RANT AND GASP A LITTLE AFTER THAT DANG CLIFFHANGER ENDING RICK RIORDAN. WE HAD TO WAIT A YEAR FOR THIS BOOK AND YOU DROPPED US ON OUR BUTTS AT THE VERY END. I never knew how much the term “cliffhanger” could apply to this book *nudge*. The wait for the next book is going to be a long one...*sighs*.
In this book, the representatives from Camp Half-Blood have arrived at Camp Jupiter. There is lots of tension between the two camps, but Riordan tones it down a lot by giving us the cutest Annabeth and Percy reunion scene *squeals!*. Oh in your FACE Reyna! The said “seven demigods” in the prophecy are confirmed in this book, and they take off on their flying trireme/airplane to complete the quest of saving the world and their friends yet again, despite the skepticism of the Roman camp.
A lot of the questions about the Great Prophecy are answered in this book. You learn what has to happen for Olympus to be saved, and it created a nice outline for the events that will happen in the rest of the series. Don’t think that just because we can expect what’s going to happen later means that this book isn’t packed with the action that  Percy Jackson fans love. There are plenty of fight scenes, lots of sarcastic humor, and plenty of...quite swoony scenes that I thought were a bit uncharacteristic for Riordan’s writing, but were good anyways. Don’t fret, they are between “that” couple from the previous series <3. A certain pale boy with a black sword comes around, and there are these twin dwarf-giants (yes I know, an oxymoron, but you will understand once you read the book) that dress up in tutu’s. Well, actually only one is obsessed with ballet and tutus. Oh, did I mention they are male-giants?
I’ll go ahead and do a character run-down:
Percy: I think I love him even more now. He was so sweet towards Annabeth even though he was under so much pressure from his personal problems and the quest. Going strong as always! *smooch* *wink*
Annabeth: Her reunion with Percy was soooo cute! Just think of typical Annabeth and how she treats her Seaweed Brain, and you know what is going to happen. Even though she has Percy back in this book, Annabeth is more alone than ever because of this mystery “Mark of Athena”...but you go girl! You will think of chinese handcuffs differently after you read this book.
Frank/Hazel: Their relationship was pretty “meh” to me. I still like both of them...but I felt they weren’t essential to this book.
Leo: You rock! I love you! Please don’t feel alone, your ship is awesome, and you are hilarious and ingenious! And no, you are not an idiot. Leo’s relation to Hazel/Sammy is revealed in this book...and it is kind of a wide-eye moment.
Jason: He felt like the Roman version of Percy here. His worries really correspond to those of Percy’s, and I think that he and Percy will really be good friends in the future. I never knew he was younger than Percy though.
Piper: She was kind of annoying. The only thing she really thought about for the majority of books was her bf/gf relationship with Jason. She didn’t become useful until one life saving moment of the book in my opinion.
Gaea: BI*CH. Please excuse my profanity.
    This book was just as amazing as all of the ones before it. Actually, I think it is the best installment of “The Heroes of Olympus” series so far. Despite it’s few minor faults, it deserves every one of those shiny 5 stars. Recommended for: everyone. Whether you like mythology or not. I can’t wait to see what Riordan has planned in the last two books!

Wow Steph's style of reviewing is so...intense. It reflects her mood swing feelings about this book. One moment she's swooning over a Percabeth moment and a second later she's calling people names. She thought that Piper thought about Jason too much, but isn’t that what girls do?? Obsess about the guy they like? Well, duh, of course we do!
I disagree with Steph on a few things.  Before reading The Mark of Athena, I had heard a people saying that Rick Riordan put more romantic scenes in it. I didn't think there was a significant increase, but I do think that his writing tone has changed a little. The characters are older and more mature since The Lightning Thief so the writing,  and the thoughts of the characters has also become more mature. I enjoyed the different POV's instead of seeing the world in just Percy's eyes. It was nice to read from Annabeth's POV  and find out what she thought of PERCY! I did not think that Piper "obsessed about her relationship" and she was not annoying at all! The annoying one is mother nature, aka Dirt-Face as someone likes to call her. I always thought that it was ironic and surprising that Rick Riordan chose Gaea as the villain. She is the earth, the thing that we live on. So the thing that sustains life wants to kill us? Well, actually, humans have been so mean and disrespectful to the earth (i.e. pollution, global warming), maybe she just wants to eradicate us.
Piper was useful in her own way throughout the book and especially in one life-saving scene, although Piper had doubted herself and wondered if she was really a contributing member of her quest. Steph argues that Piper was only useful in ONE life saving scene, but I think that there were a few more...Although Piper did worry about her relationship with Jason when she was comparing it to Percy and Annabeth’s relationship. She said something like,” Percy and Annabeth were just so natural together! Why do Jason and I not have that?”
Ahh... Leo...By far the funniest and most innovative character! I loved reading from his POV. Reading about all of Leo's hilarious reactions to different things? Um YES! I agreed with everything else Steph said about the characters. And I'm beginning to wonder I'd Jason is cuter than Percy...but Nico di Angelo himself said "Percy is the most powerful demigod I've ever met". Power or looks? Steph says both.
Rick Riordan left Mark of Athena on a MAJOR cliffhanger involving your/our favorite couple. It has to be the worst cliffhanger I have ever read... So be warned! I am just going to say that 2 essential characters end up in their worst nightmare. Hey, but at least they're not alone!    Thank you Rick Riordan for creating so many amazing characters and these amazing books! I literally grew up reading your books! If I hadn't picked up and read The Lightning Thief, my childhood would have a hole in it. Percy Jackson has taught me life lessons, like how to deal with selfish jerks like Gabe Ugliano. I learned Greek mythology (and now Roman mythology) with Percy when Annabeth taught him. All in all, Rick Riordan should be a god in Olympus!
Huh maybe I should delete that last sentence...What if Zeus is disguised as a book addict and reads this? Will he zap me with his master bolt for this blasphemy? Bleh. I’ll take my chances.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Lost Prince is RELEASED!

The Lost Prince, Julie Kagawa's newest book, was released YESTERDAY, OCTOBER 23RD! Steph and I are HUGE fans of Julie Kagawa and her Iron Fey series. The Lost Prince is the first book in a spinoff series of the Iron Fey named The Call of the Forgotten.

For those of you who are familiar with The Iron Fey book series(reviews coming soon!) and its plot, this series is all about Meghan's brother, Ethan Chase. Steph and I read reviews from bloggers who read the Lost Prince ARC (advanced reader copy) and they said that Julie Kagawa has done it again: She has created another marvelous novel. Although, some said that they were mortified that they were crushing on Ethan because he's MEGHAN'S LITTLE BROTHER. 12 years has passed since the end of the last Iron Fey book, The Iron Knight.
Also, Meghan and Ash's son Keirran will be a main character.

Review for The Lost Prince coming soon! Can't wait to be blown away by Julie Kagawa's masterful storytelling!

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction by Carrie Ryan (EDT) Review

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction by Carrie Ryan (EDT):
    “Homecoming” by Richelle Mead Reviewed by Steph with Dani’s commentary in blue.
Steph’s rating: 3 stars Dani’s rating: 3 stars Overall rating: 3 stars
 Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction
Goodreads Synopsis:
     Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Michael Grant, Meg Cabot, Laini Taylor, and nine more of the hottest YA authors to hit the shelves explore the concepts of prophecy and prediction in this story collection edited by NYT bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan.
     Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? To challenge predictions? To question fate? It's human nature to wonder about life's twists and turns. But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it?
    From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life's unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted by 14 of young adult fiction's brightest stars.

*PLEASE NOTE: This rating is ONLY for “Homecoming” by Richelle Mead

    Before reading, I was SO excited for this anthology. Actually, I was just really excited for the short story “Homecoming” by Richelle Mead. As soon as I found out about it, I literally started stalking Goodreads, Richelle Mead’s blog/website, and Carrie Ryan’s blog every single day so I could get as much information about it possible. I requested my library to buy it like 10 times (and they verified it!) and I got the first spot for the hold. AFTER reading it...
    I can say I was a little disappointed.
    Homecoming is about Rose and Dimitri, the couple from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. They are going back to Russia to see Dimitri’s family, something that both of them sorely need. Dimitri had finally been restored into a dhampir, after being forcibly changed into strigoi. His family needs to see him for themselves, and Rose needs to go back to Russia and face her trauma from the trip she made before.
    I ADORE the Vampire Academy series, and I ADORE EVEN MORE Rose and Dimitri. They are such an ideal couple :). This scene of Rose and Dimitri in Russia was something I’d always wanted to read, and I was exuberant when Mrs. Mead decided to give it to us.
    But this story was not at all what I expected, or wanted, it to be. If you have read the Vampire Academy series, you know that Rose went to Dimitri’s hometown in Russia at one point, and left on very bad terms with one of his sister’s, Viktoria. Most people, including me, wanted to see Rose and Dimitri’s interaction with his family. I really wanted to know how Viktoria and Rose would resolve their conflict, especially since they were practically family now. I also just wanted some good old Rose and Dimitri cuteness.
    Instead, Mead gave us a tiny 5-6 paged sliver of “family time”, maybe another 3 pages worth of Rose/Dimitri time, and the rest of the 45 or so pages were about them hunting a strigoi coined “The Blood King”. Usually, I love moments when these two are being badass, but this hunt was quite anticlimactic. It was overall just way too rushed; Richelle Mead tried to cram a book’s worth of information into a small short story. It would have been better if she’d written a slightly longer novella about this trip instead of an anthology story.
    The plot of the strigoi hunt was pretty useless as far as the original series’s storyline went. Even if you didn’t read this, you wouldn’t have lost or gained any insight to the series, or its spin-off series, “Bloodlines”. It was just a true extra, and it added nothing.
    I’m still giving this story 3 stars, because of my love for the couple and original series. I’d say I’m being pretty lenient, and that if I was being tough, it’d have gotten less than 3 stars. There were some small, sweet moments that did feed my Vampire Academy series withdrawal a little. Also, Rose’s narration of the story may have given it extra points. I never realized how much I missed her. 

Sexy quote:     “I haven’t even really tried,” he said, in a rare moment of arrogance. “When I want to, I can be very persuasive”
        “Yeah? Prove it.”
    from “Homecoming” by Richelle Mead
    pg 326, Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction

I would recommend “Homecoming” to serious, mega Vampire Academy fans only, or to the people that would automatically give 5 stars to anything Richelle Mead wrote. A warning to anyone who reads it: it does NOT quench your need for some standard VA love and adventure. It may just add fuel to the fire.

Dani’s commentary: I was also disappointed by this anthology. The battle against the Blood King was SO boring and SO short! If you’ve read the other VA books, you know that the battles are usually suspenseful and relatively long! I also wanted more family time and wanted to know how Viktoria and Rose would resolve their conflict. It was just okay...and I agree, only for mega VA fans!
Although, there was a part of the book that I LOVED. Viktoria, Dimitri’s sister, was like “Hey Rose when are you and Dimka getting married?” And Rose is like “UH-UH SISTA. I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED UNTIL THERE IS A 2 IN FRONT OF MY AGE.” Dimitri just winks and gives her his mysterious smile...saying “We’ll see about that. I bet I could convince you.”
These are not the exact quotes, but you get the point.
So if you’re anxious for more Vampire Academy, I suggest reading Richelle Mead’s spinoff series Bloodlines! Bloodlines is main about the Alchemist Sydney, but it involves one of your favorite characters...Adrian! Aka the winner of the 2012 YA sisterhood’s annual crush tourney! Dimitri even makes an appearance in the second, The Golden Lily.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1) Get ready for a ton of book reviews! Steph and I have several reviews that we will be posting!

Divergent by Veronica Roth Reviewed by Dani and Steph.


Dani’s rating: 5 stars Steph’s rating: 5 stars Overall rating: 5 stars 



Goodreads Synopsis:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series--dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Dani's review:
If you judge a book by its cover, you might notice the cover’s resemblance to The Hunger Games symbol of a mockingjay enclosed in a circle. You might also wonder what the word “divergent” means.The dictionary definition of divergent is “tending to be different or developing in different directions”. The key word is different. Dystopia young adult fiction is becoming more and more popular since Suzanne Collins’s introduction of The Hunger Games. I have read young adult dystopias such as The Hunger Games (of course), Matched by Ally Condie, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver, but this book provides some serious competition for the king (or queen?) of dystopias, The Hunger Games.
Tris is such a strong female protagonist, something that has become rare in the realm of YA fiction. The book begins with Tris preparing to take her aptitude test. The aptitude test supposedly will decide which faction she will fall into. Later in the story, Tris learns that the aptitude test is not a good judge of who you really are. The factions have become more corrupt over the years, as Tris learns when she encounters Eric, one of her instructors in the initiation process. Eric is one of the major antagonists in Divergent and wants the factions to be run a different way. He has a different view of what each faction should be doing.
Of course, there is a romance. Tris’s other initiation instructor, a mysterious and somewhat aloof boy nicknamed Four, begins to work his way into her heart from the very beginning.
“I roll off, and I would have fallen face-first onto a wood floor if he had not caught me. “He” is the young man attached to the hand I grabbed. He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. his eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.” -Tris’s first impression of Four.
Four is not your normal swoon-worthy YA book boyfriend. He is not a particularly sympathetic person, but Tris wouldn’t love him if he was. He tries to protect Tris in every way that he can, but he has his own fears that Tris must help him conquer. I love that this was not a “love at first sight” story. The romance started slowly through a student-crush-on-hot-instructor relationship, a kind of admiration for this ideal member of her faction. Four sees how brave and selfless Tris is, and sees someone who might actually understand his broken past. And yes, Tris does help Four begin to unravel the tangles and snags of his past.
The basic plot of this book if Tris trying to survive her initiation process. Only the top 10 of possibly 20 (not telling you how many initiates there are) initiates will fully join the faction they chose. Some were born in the faction, and others were transfers. Those who do not make it become factionless, essentially the homeless of this dystopia world. Loyalty is very important in this world, as shown by the phrase and pledge “Faction before blood.” Also, there is a shocking surprise near the end of this book that involves Eric, Tris’s instructor, and another major antagonist. Tris is one of the few who is able to save her original faction and the faction she transferred to because of a special “mutation” in her mind. She will have to hide this  special aspect of her mind because the leaders of each faction will most likely kill her if she reveals it. Why does she have to hide this? Will Tris be able to claw her way up to became a full member of her new faction? Will she be brave enough to fend off the various obstacles, both mental and physical, thrown in her way? What happened in Four’s past and why is he called Four? All of these questions and many more will be answered if you read Divergent!

Steph’s Review (she feels the need to do one for this book):
    Before picking up Divergent (actually, the only reason I even bothered to pick it up was because of Danielle’s recommendation), I had some serious skepticism about it. I admit I read plenty of reviews on Goodreads and lots of people said things like ,”It was so Hunger Games like”, and “just unoriginal”. It got pretty high ratings, but I thought the 4-5 stars were from people who just wanted, and got, another dose of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games. I started reading Divergent, thinking I would only be disappointed in the end.
    Well gosh was I wrong. Remind me not to doubt your judgement too much again Dani. Why thank you.
    One lesson I learned from reading this book: Just because a book is in the “dystopian” genre, that doesn’t mean that it will be a Hunger Games or 1984 copycat.
    Divergent follows the story of Beatrice (Tris), who has a choice to make among the 5 factions of her nation, which will map out certain actions in her life: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). She has to take an aptitude test to see which faction she fits the most strongly into, which is supposed to help her in her decision-making process, even though it honestly isn’t a good test for your real feelings.
    But things don’t go as expected for Tris, and she is left with a decision: her family, or her independence and freedom. She wants both, but she can only have one. Which one does she want more? If she chooses family, she will be shackled to the rules of the Abnegation faction for the rest of her life--“you must always put others before yourself”, something that is has never been easy for Tris from the start. If she chooses her independence and transfers to a different faction, she will never be able to see family again. Her choice is pretty obvious at this point, but I won’t spell it out, just in case you don’t put the pieces together. She must face the challenges that come with her decision, obstacles that she never knew she would have to overcome. She learns, the hard way, that your decisions can bring consequences unto yourself and those you care about.
    This plot is NOTHING like the Hunger Games. Hell, this book doesn’t even have a dystopian feel to it in the beginning since Tris has a choice. The aptitude test didn’t decide for her, it only gave her strengths and weaknesses.  If I was a total clueless and I didn’t ever hear about Divergent as a dystopian novel, I would have read the 1st half of the book thinking that its world was just a completely fictional world with the story of a girl’s problems in her faction. Things do seem to turn upside-down for Tris later in the book, but I love that her earlier experiences can make her tough and strong for what is inevitably going to pass. There is a love story here--between her and the one nicknamed “Four”, but it is pretty subtle in the beginning especially since Four seems like the cold-hearted bad boy :). It was nice to see Tris help Four with his fears; I think they really strengthen one another. No, this love story is not a “ridiculous-love-story-that-Steph-hates”.
    All in all, I would recommend this book to people that are particularly fond of the dystopian genre. It’s a great model book. If you aren’t a big fan of dystopias, I would still say to give this one a chance, because it might make you like the genre a little more. It isn’t a book that is heavy on the oppression, so much so that it is noticeable within the first few chapters of the book. You never really get a empty-stomach sense of foreboding, only butterflies because you are so excited about what’s going to happen next. I was reeling throughout the entire book, and I had a hard time falling asleep after putting it down. The dystopian feel creeps in slowly, so that it feels natural and that it should be there by the time you actually notice it. Veronica Roth shows the reader glimpses of the corruptness in the system while Tris is learning of the same thing. You can...become Tris in this book. A full 5-stars!
    P.S. I stayed up until 3 A.M. to read this book. Then I had to force myself to go to bed when I had 50 pages left of it.
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