Monday, August 25, 2014

An Open Letter to YA Dystopian Fiction

No offense to all ya'll who love Dystopian. This is just my opinion.

Dear Dystopian Books,

Over the past few years, you've gained prominence in the YA genre, and I've come to appreciate many of your kind in that time. I love reading about all your messed up societies and the equally messed up people who live in them. It makes me grateful to live in the wonderful USA, where I have access to so much food, that my butt and thighs can grow bigger than I ever wanted them to.

But I have a bone to pick with you.

What's up with the lack of originality? I'm so tired of reading about people who are unhappy so they decide to start a rebellion against the government and then a whole bunch of people die including the main character (No spoilers, but you know who I'm talking about. I am NOT pleased about that.) and then everybody is happy because they defeated the bad guys. Maybe I just want to read something about people who live in a dystopian society but learn to deal with it. Sound good?

Like in Divergent. Quite frankly, I'd be perfectly happy with the first part of that book. If the factions had remained factions, that's cool with me! That first part had a very Mulan-esque feeling and I was totally embracing the warrior underdog thing, but then me-oh-my! the bad guys appear and thus starts the rebellion thing. Now, the books that came after Divergent were fine, but that's all they were. Were there tears? Yes, endless words-are-blurring-on-the-page tears that made it impossible to read. But I didn't want it to happen.

Also, I'm just not cut out for all your rule-breaking and sticking-it-to-the-man. In Delirium, I kept getting so upset with the main character for just feeling free to go against all the rules she'd grown up with. I mean, she had one job. Follow the rules. And look what a mess she made of it.

And I know what you're telling me:


But maybe sometimes I don't want to rock. Sometimes I like to classical music or jazz too, and you have to give me some options, you know?

Variety is key. That's all I'm saying.

You, Dystopian. You're almost always about some girl who can't be with a boy so she goes and raises hell, making everything fall to shit and killing my favorite characters in the process.



I know, I know. But please get on it. Because I'm quickly getting sick of you. I mean, I love you, but really.

Much love,


PS - If anyone wants to read a good, original dystopian book, you should check out Shades of Grey by Jasper FForde. No, not Fifty Shades of Grey. They're very different.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

Rating: 3/5
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life. 

Review:
Despite Anna's advertisement of a romance story between a ghost and ghost hunter, the main plot revolves around Cas's job and all the disturbing things he's seen. Much as I wanted to enjoy this, I simply couldn't really get into it.

As for the fear factor that this book gave me, I'd say that on a scale of tingles-down-my-spine to crapping-my-pants, I would place this somewhere in between. For the most part, Anna was very centered on the blood and gore that occurs throughout the book, from stabbing to dismemberment and all the little categories in between. It definitely succeeded in putting images in my mind that I definitely would not want to be thinking about in the dark (I had trouble sleeping last night. I thought there was a corpse under my bed.)
Romance-wise, this book disappointed me slightly. I guess I couldn't get over the fact that Anna had a pile of dead bodies in her basement. Not only that, but the buildup to the romance was pretty lacking. One second she was just a ghost, the next he had feelings for her. And then not five minutes later, they were willing to die for each other.

Cas, the main character, was overall a pretty likable character. He was flawed, but in a slightly insecure, realistic way. While I was pretty unimpressed by his ghost hunting skills (he usually flailed about for while before accomplishing anything), he was really passionate about what he did and it made him a pretty interesting person. Anna on the other hand, was pretty tragic the whole book. Her life and afterlife were both depressing. Around the end she acted more human, but I could never forget that underneath it all, she was wearing a dress dripping with blood.

The minor characters, Carmel and Thomas, were alright. They were good friends that stuck by him through the worst, although the side-romance that was building between them was so unlikely, yet predictable that it was hard to root for.

I'd recommend this to people who enjoy horror books, like if you've read Spirit Walk by Richie Tankersley Cusick. But keep in mind that this isn't for the faint hearted. It gets pretty gory up in there.

Rating: 3/5
By the way, I'm meeting Kendare Blake later this month at the National Book Festival! WOOHOO!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: 4/5
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.


I can't believe it's all over. I'm genuinely having difficulty writing this review because of the shock that I'm experiencing write now. Oh man. I think I'm going to suffer from Daemon withdrawal soon.
Summary:
The newly arrived Luxen land on Earth, killing humans and hybrids left and right. Daemon and Katy fight to find a way to defeat them and still keep the ones they love safe, turning to some very unlikely sources for help. I know this is vague, but I wanted to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

Review:
Of all the books in the series, Opposition is by far the most action-packed one out there. Right from the get-go, JLA gives us immediate drama. It was like, boom boom boom. There were less than a handful of times that Daemon and Katy even sat down and relaxed (that is, unless they were getting their sexy time on, but who's going to complain about that? Certainly not me.).

In all the books that I've ever read, there are very few couples that I've fallen for as hard as I have Katy and Daemon. They completely drew me in from book one and I've been obsessed since. They didn't disappoint in Opposition at all, becoming even stronger characters that I just couldn't help but root for. Katy is probably one of the most relatable characters that I've read about before and there is literally no end to how much I swoon for Daemon. JLA writes their romance so well, as per usual, and the chemistry between them stayed just as strong as it did from day one.

As far as side characters are concerned, I totally love Archer and Luc (By the way, I totally would get behind a spin-off series for Luc.), but for some reason, I just can't make myself like Dee or Beth at all. And Dawson looks like Daemon, so he's good enough for me. Also, the Arum part with Lotho... Am I the only one who thought his trolling was hilarious, if a little bit creepy?

My only issue is that the resolution felt a little too quick and clean. The build up was incredible, heart-pounding and whatnot, but I was expecting something a bit more... explosive, I guess. It just ended so quickly, I almost didn't believe it. That aside, I saw the whole Nancy thing coming as soon as they said she'd gone MIA. But that was just about it to complain about. (Also, I'm not too pleased about that cover. Doesn't compare to Opal, in my opinion.)

Now that that's all said, I can go mourn the loss of one of my favorite series in the comfort of my bed. I'll just go down and lie there in a fetal position until JLA comes out with something new. I feel like my best friend died, no joke.
I'm going to miss this series SOOOOO BADDLYYY. *sobbing in corner*
Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Blogger Memory Challenge

I found this challenge on The Book Cookies and Gloria the Violinist and my immediate thought was, "Bring it on." So, yeah, it was bound to happen. Anyway, here it is, and I promise I didn't cheat very much.

  1. Gone by Michael Grant
  2. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (This one was a lot harder than I thought it'd be.)
  3. Curious George? Sorry. Don't read about many Georges and this was the first one that popped into my head.
  4. The Nightworld series by L.J. Smith
  5. HAHAHA. NICE ONE. 
  6. September Girls by Bennet Madison
  7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Actually it might be a sword, but close enough?)
  8. The One by Kiera Cass (I got that one in like five milliseconds because America Singer is ma' gurllll.)
  9. Does I Am Number Four count? (I just learned that an eponymous book means that it's named after the main character. Thanks Google!)
  10. HARRY POTTER. (Hey! This one could be #9)
I think we can safely conclude that I suck at this tag. I don't think I've ever read a book about Australia. I mean, not for lack of trying, but most of the books I get are in London, New York, or some tiny, tiny little town in West Virginia/Maine. 

I tag all the people. Everyone should try these things! They're super fun.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bookish Pet Peeves #1

My books are some of my most prized possessions that I've ever owned, and while I love them, sometimes there are things that just get to me. That being said, I thought I'd talk about some of the things that truly irk me about either my books, or things I see other self-proclaimed book lovers do.

1) Dog-earing Pages 

Why would you harm books this way? When a book has no folds inside the pages and it looks like I just picked it off the shelf at the bookstore (you know, the way it should ALWAYS look), that makes me feel like everything is right in the world. But when I see someone try to bend a page in my book - and even when they try to bend pages in their own books - shit's about to go down. I just can't handle watching them mutilate the perfectly pristine pages like that. My reaction is always like:

2) Cracked/Broken Spines 

So I know some of you probably think this is kind of unavoidable when reading big books, but I discovered the secret. Open the book super tiny and then you can't read like, half the page, but WHO CARES because then the book looks better. This is important stuff. When I see broken spines, I just want to cry for the books. I just want to pet them and stroke them and tell that everything's going to be okay. BUT IT WON'T BECAUSE THEY'RE UGLY NOW.

    3) Tropes

    I hate it whenever authors use the word smirk or smug. I mean, I was all for it before, but there are an infinite number of ways to describe arrogance, and following basic tropes isn't fun to read about, and it doesn't really make the person sexier anymore like it used to. I swear, every book has those words in it now. AND OH GOSH. What about how everyone describes sex as "becoming one?" It's like, the only way YA authors can fathom writing about people doing the deed. Once, I was reading a series I liked, and I thought, "You know, this series is good enough that I think the author will know how to-  What? WHAT? NO. That's- This is- WHAT?" There are other ways to censor it! Find words!

      For now that's all, but there are definitely more I didn't list on here. Since this is just the first one, you can trust that there will be more coming soon! And if you have some of your own, don't be afraid to mention them in the comments.

      Saturday, August 2, 2014

      Stacking the Shelves #10

      Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by  Tynga's Reviews! This meme showcases the books received, bought, or checked out from the library over the past week.

      Sorry I've basically been absent for the past few months. I blame nothing but my laziness. Sometimes these things just can't be controlled. Anyway, I'm back now and I've been active this whole week!

      This is one of the bigger hauls that I've done, mostly because I ordered nine books online the other day (six through Book Outlet and three though Thriftbooks). I was having a horrible case of online shopping withdrawal and had to take action. It was the only way. The thing is, I hate having a slim wallet, but I absolutely adore making my wallet slim. By the way, book buying bans don't work. Just saying.

      Bought

      Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
      Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones
      Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
      The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
      Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines
      Because of Low by Abbi Glines
      Soul Thief by Jana Oliver
      Forgiven by Jana Oliver
      Foretold by Jana Oliver



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