Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Retro Reviews - Bloody Jack - L. A. Meyer

I first read this book when I was still in middle school, and I loved it. I loved everything about it. A few years later, I had the most amazing realization that this book was only the first in a series that I've followed since. The newest book in the series came out last fall, and I'm rereading the series again so I can continue on. That being said, I couldn't resist not throwing a plug out for one of my favorite series, or at least the first book.

Bloody Jack is the story of a young girl in London who is orphaned and thrown onto the street after her parents and sister die of disease. She survives on the streets in a gang, begging and stealing and sometimes reading signs for those who never learned, until the day that her gang leader is killed and she decides its time to try and move on. She dressed like a boy, Mary Faber, known now as Jacky, manages to get herself posted as a ship boy on the HMS Dolphin, at which point her taste for sailing and adventure blossoms.

I love this series, I really do. I love gender bending stories of all kinds, but Bloody Jack holds a special place in my heart because I love the main character so much. Jacky is a headstrong, stubborn, and practical girl that you can't help but fall in love with, particularly in later books, but in this one too. She's just this great character to read about, always doing something interesting and handling things in a practical way. And what's even greater about these books is that Jacky isn't some super special snowflake character who never has anything bad happen to her: she's stubborn and, frankly, badass in a lot of cases, but she's also very human and real. She's awesome, but she's still this very human little girl.

There's so much that I could say about this series that I'm resisting, because I don't want to ruin the first book for you, but I will say that this series is one of my absolute favorites. If you -haven't- read Bloody Jack before, you NEED to pick up a copy, even if it's just at your local library, to give it a shot. This series just gets better and better the farther in you go, so if you have read Bloody Jack, and liked it, make sure you pick up the sequel, Curse of the Blue Tattoo. Actually, BUY ALL THE THINGS, because this series is just amazing!

So if you're a fan of spunky and strong female characters who are still reliably human, give Bloody Jack a shot. If you like gender bending books, and especially if you are a fan of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, you need to try Bloody Jack. And if you're just looking for a good series to read, well, this book is definitely one you should pick up.

And if you like Bloody Jack, the series is currently nine books long, with a tenth on the way this year! So pick up your copy soon, so you can get started. You won't regret it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Moonstone Series (Unbidden Magic Series?) by Marilee Brothers

So let me start out by saying that despite reading this series, and attempting to research into this question, I have approximately no clue what the official name of this series is. When I got the series from NetGalley, it was being offered as the Moonstone Series. Trying to search that term, however, gets me other people's reviews of that name, and that's about it. The Unbidden Magic series is what this is listed as on Goodreads, and I think on the author's site, but I have to assume that if Netgalley is offering it to me as the Moonstone series, that's probably what I should consider it.

The first book in the series, Moonstone, sets up the story of Allie, a young girl who, after an accident at home, suddenly finds herself with an interesting range of powers that she has absolutely no idea how to control. One day she's just doing her best to slide by, taking care of a mother who suffers from fibromyalgia (self-described), the next she finds herself able to control a giant rampaging bull and being gifted a magical moonstone pendant by an elderly friend, the town witch.. Nobody ever said life was predictable.

Allie's powers come with a catch, however: there are people who are willing to do anything to get their hands on the moonstone, and they quickly prove that they're more than willing to hurt whoever gets in their way. Throw in a hippie guardian angel, some daddy issues, a touch of fairy and demon magic, and a few studdy boyfriend options, and you have the Moonstone series to date.

It's hard for me to figure out how I felt about this series as a whole, because it has such an interesting blend of good and bad elements. It's far from a perfect series, and there are a LOT of things that annoy me about it, but a lot of the same things that annoy me also make me happy in other ways.

Take Allie's mother, Faye, as an example. The woman is incredibly selfish, and, if we're being honest, is nothing more than a drain on society. She lives with her daughter in a trailer on the land of a family member, doesn't work, hooks up with a sleezy lawyer, and claims to have fibromyalgia in order to claim disability from the state. She's an incredibly self-centered woman, and there are several times in the story that Allie is almost taken away from her. I honestly hate her character, and the fact that Allie doesn't think there's anything wrong with this, just accepts it and continues with her life, bothers the hell out of me. It seems like Allie should know better, should hate her for the way she's treated, but she doesn't. And while I hate that, there's also a part of me that knows that this portrayal isn't exactly a false one, for a young girl. And although I like to think of my main characters as older, sometimes, Allie really is just a teenage girl; the fact that she loves her terrible mother is like this great, unmentioned depth to the story. Like, if Brothers had made a bigger deal out of this, elaborated on it more, Allie and her mother would have been so much more real.

Another aspect of the story that was both amazing and terrible was Allie's love life. First off, in about every book, Allie finds a new guy that wants to hook up with her. And that's a little weird and excessive, but alright. I kind of love the fact that Allie isn't one of those typical heroines who date one guy in a book and suddenly they're in so much love and they're devoted to each other and they're perfect and they're going to get married and have babies becausethey'resoperfectforeachotherandamaizngandaljhdflkajsdlf. Like, maybe that happens when you do finally find that one guy, but how often does that happen when you're a teenager? Not just a teenager, how often does that happen as a teenager, with the very first guy they fall in love with and date? Not that damn often.

Much like Tamora Pierce, whom I love for this same reason, among others, Brothers' main character doesn't fall in love with a guy in one book, and become the super couple where the rest of the series always has their relationship problems traipsing all over and hijacking the plot. Allie meets and hooks up with different guys and doesn't just automatically settle down, and I love that about her. 

On the other hand, if I had to pick one thing I absolutely hate about the modern YA book fads, it would be the stupid love triangles that every single book seems to have, and it seems that this series isn't an exception. But I will give Brothers mad props for not letting those love triangles take over the book completely, turning an otherwise good plot into nothing more than a teenage girl's relationship problems. 

Overall, I'd say that I had a few problems with this series, most notably the way that the plot just tended to conveniently fall together--for instance, a plot revolving around a prophecy that nobody even bothers to question, just believes in the first time they hear it--but I also feel that it's pretty good. It's not a perfect series, but that's okay. It's a really nice series to read if you're just looking for something small and simple to read in your free time, and I'm sure that younger readers who enjoy it even more than I did.

I would recommend this book to typical fantasy fans who enjoy simplistic YA books, and I think I'd recommend this book to fans of the new YA fairy fad, like fans of The Faerie Path books by Allan Frewin Jones. 

Like always, if you think you might be interested in this series, the first four books are published and released, and can be found at your typical bookstores. If you can't find the first book there, then it can also be found on Amazon!

And as a final plug, if you're interested in winning a signed Last Breath bookmark fom Rachel Caine's tours, the giveaway won't be ending until June 10th. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teenage Bibliophile's First Giveaway!

Hey guys!
As promised, I'm hosting my very first giveaway this month! As I've already mentioned, I'm afraid this giveaway isn't for anything as big and shiny as an ARC. This is a test run of sorts, I guess you could say! If it's successful, Zenita and I are in the planning periods for a June BEA giveaway. But that's all you're getting from me on that topic until later! ;)

So for my first giveaway, I'm giving away a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath, the 11th book in the Morganville Vampire's series! It's nothing too big, but if you missed seeing Caine on tour, it's a nice little memento that you missed and that I'm happy to share.

How do you win, you ask? Well, you enter my raffle, of course. You can enter up to three times. For your first entry, all you have to do is comment on this post and tell me who your favorite Morganville Vampire character is and why. Nothing too big, just something short and fun! For your second entry, all you have to do is tweet a link to this giveaway, and include the link to your tweet in your comment. Finally, for the third entry, all you have to do is follow this blog and make a note that you follow it in your comment.

And because this is my first giveaway, and I'd like to give kudos to the followers I already have, I'll give a free fourth entry to any of the 13 original followers I have as I'm typing this. I have your names written down, so just mention that you were one of the people who already followed me, and I'll give you an extra entry. Thanks for being with me for so long!

So to sum up, this is a giveaway for a shiny signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath tour, and you can enter by tweeting, following, and commenting with your favorite character.

Good luck guys! I'll close the giveaway on May 31st, so make sure you get your entries in before then!