Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Minireviews 4/30/12

Hey guys~! It's a Monday and because I'm currently sitting in an emergency room waiting room without any of my books, I have a few good hours ahead of me of time to waste. And spare time on a Monday can only mean one thing: Monday Mini reviews! [Insert confetti shower]

The Law of the Lycan series by Nicky Charles
The Law of the Lycan series in its entirety is currently available on the Barnes and Noble store available for the Nook as well as Smashmouth. Those of you with Kindles might also find it on the Amazon store, but without access to a working one any longer, I can't be certain. It's also, I might note, a completely free series that so far consists of three pretty interesting books.
Each of the three books tells the story of a different couple, although all three couples have been heavily connected in between books. In the first book, The Mating, Elise is the daughter of the Alpha of her pack and comes home one day to find herself chosen to be mated to the Alpha of another pack, Kane, to solidify an alliance. In the second book, The Keeping, Melody is a reporter trying to find the story of an artist that her employer is very interested in, a secretive man named Ryne. The third book, The Finding, is about Cassie, a returning character from the second book, but being as I haven't finished it, I can't be sure about any of the other details.
Although I'm sure that each of Charles' books could easily deserve a review of their own, and I may decide to write one for them in the future, my intent when I was reading this series was to escape from the numerous amounts of essays and reviews I have on my To Do List, so I didn't originally intend to review them at all. But the fact that the books are free -and- enjoyable means that I simply couldn't resist.
Charles' characters that I've seen so far have been very interesting, as have the plots. My favorite book so far is actually what I've read so far of the third, but I don't think I have a favorite character. The reason I don't is because, although I'd say that this series is spectacular for being a free story, I wouldn't be half as enamored of the series if I'd had to pay for it. There are some characterization issues, some sections of the books where the writing is a little iffy, and parts of the book were frustrating because of how utterly unbelievable some of the character reactions were. An example of something that bothered me was the romance of the first book: it just happened. They met, they mated, and there is suddenly love and adoration despite the fact that they barely know each other.
But keeping in mind that these books ARE free, they're really good for what they are. Free books in the nook and amazon stores, from my experience, have always tended to be trash writing, porn, or excerpts that aren't free books at all. To find a book that is actually decent is always a nice surprise. So if you can handle a few small flaws, definitely look into downloading your own free copy of The Mating to get started on the series. It's worth it.

The Legend of Korra as of 4/30/12 (Episodes 1-4)

Or, translated from happyfangirl:
Korra is the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. It takes place after Aang's death with the new Avatar, a girl from the sourthern water tribe named Korra. Korra is a headstrong girl who has already mastered the physical aspects of every element except for airbending, but has yet to understand the spiritual side. She's passed on to Aang's son, the only current airbending master, in the hopes that she will learn the spiritual side of bending while learning airbending. In order for her to train with him, however, she has to move to Republic City, the capital city. There she deals with the Equalists, an anti-bending group, joins a pro-bending team, and struggles to learn airbending.
Honesty, I freaking love this series. Everything about it so far has been spectacular. It has humor that is true to the original series, the characters are great, and a lot of interesting topics are being covered. I love the fact that the main antagonist is a group of nonbenders against bending, and I love that this series looks like it will be going more into what it's like to be a nonbender in a world where benders are glamorized and rule. A lot of other random questions also seem like they'll be answered, such as the question of what happens when two different kinds of benders have kids.
Since Korra is only on its fourth episode so far, there isn't a lot I can say besides I love it. I love it so much, and I am beyond excited for the rest of the series.
And if you haven't heard about Korra because you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, or you just haven't decided to watch it yet because you're afraid it will ruin the original, let me be one of the many to tell you that you have to start watching it now!

So I only heard about Sherlock pretty recently. The reason I'm not going to give it a full review is because, chances are, you've already heard about it and I was just really slow on the uptake. But having seen the first season and loved it, I have to say -something- about it!
Sherlock is a BBC series based on the original Holmes novels. It's a new take on Holmes and Watson in modern day London. This Sherlock Holmes is a sociopathic genius who, as one of the character's puts it, simply 'gets off' on solving mysteries. John Watson is a Afghanistan Vet who moves in with Holmes in order to be able to afford a flat in London, and who gets roped into helping Holmes out with whatever he needs. He runs a blog that he uses to write up his adventures with Sherlock.
Every episode of Sherlock is about the length of a movie: 1.5 hours. Each season has only three episodes, but every episode is so long and full that it's okay. I've only seen the first season so far because the second season isn't out in the US yet, but I'm already in love with the series.
Sherlock's character is so screwed up and unique that I fell in love with him from the start. If the people gushing about Cumberbatch on Tumblr are anything to go by, I'm far from the only one. Watson is also a very interesting and amusing character, but Sherlock is obviously the star of the series.
There isn't much about Sherlock I can say that others haven't said already, but if you -haven't- seen this show, then I'd definitely recommend you try the first episode. It's available on Netflix if you're a subscriber, and I'm pretty sure it would be easy to find elsewhere if you aren't. It's entirely worth watching.

Breaker by Shire.Conspire and Primeval by Xaphrin both on FF.Net
I rarely bother to review fanfiction, but these fics are exceptions. My shipping love when it comes to Teen Titans is Raven and Beast Boy, but I haven't found a decent fanfiction for them in...well, ever, until now. Everything I find is always horribly written, has a ship I dislike, or is so short that it's barely worth reading.
Breaker and Primeval are both fanfictions that run about the same general subject, except that they're kind of polar opposites of each other. In Breaker, one of Raven's emotions comes to the forefront after Beast Boy's actions feed it until it's strong enough to fight Raven for control. This emotion is summed up with the name Depravity, and it is everything that Raven pretends doesn't exist: her animalistic self, all of her violence and hatred, her lust, her cruelty, all in one package. It begins to fight Raven for control and slowly take her over at times, until Raven turns to Beast Boy to try and keep Depravity under control.
In Primeval, the opposite happens when the Beast begins to wrestle control away from Beast Boy to try and seek a mate. Because of Beast Boy's affection for Raven, she is chosen. The Beast is for Beast Boy what Depravity in Breaker is for Raven: the animalistic side that wants nothing to do with humanity.
Both of the fics have joined my list of favorites, but I do have to warn anyone reading and interested that they're both graphic, sexually and otherwise. If that isn't something you want to read, avoid these fics like the plague. But if you're a BBRae fan who doesn't mind, then I'd definitely recommend these fics for you. They're the only good fics I've found so far for this ship.

That sums up my short list of Monday Minireviews this time. Remember to check back later this week for a chance to win a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random Notes and Goodies!

Hey guys! As you probably know, I've been really busy with school, so I'll apologize for the millionth time for being so slow to post these last two months! But I figured I should give you a heads up!

Book Expo America is quickly approaching, and Zenita Dee and I will definitely be finding our way there this year too, haha. I'll be going at least one day, possibly two, but I have to miss June 7th because I'll be at Bucknell University participating in this really awesome summer program that I'm lucky as hell to have gotten into. I'll try to write up a recap of Book Expo sometime right after, so that I don't forget amidst the chaos of school again.

Starting this May, I'm also going to start doing giveaways~
Most of my giveaway goodies will probably come from Book Expo after I've reviewed them, since my bookshelf is already doubled up, but I'm going to see what I can do for other stuff, too.
The first giveaway will start on May 1st. It's nothing superawesomeamazing, because this is my first giveaway and it's a test more than anything else, haha. The official announcement will tell you how to enter, but I can tell you now that the prize is a signed bookmark from Rachel Caine's Last Breath release. If you're interested, be sure to check back.

Finally, I'd just like to thank those of you who are returning visitors. It's really nice to actually see that I'm not reviewing to an empty room!

Thanks guys! Check back in the next few weeks for the contest, and I'll see you soon with a review for The Moonstone Series by Marilee Brothers!

The Stone Girl - Alyssa B Sheinmel

Hey, guys! Three more weeks, max, until I’m done with all these finals and projects and can post more regularly, haha. But until then, I had some of that magical stuff called free time today, and I decided to dedicated it to books~
So I got a hold of The Stone Girl a few weeks ago from NetGalley, and I'm happy to say I finally had the time to get it read. But before I can go on with the review, I feel I have to note that The Stone Girl, and possibly this review, may contain triggers for anorexia and eating disorders. If that's not a problem for you, then on with the review!

“There are two things that are true about Sethie: one is that she is always hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly; the other is that she is always missing Shaw.”

Sethie’s real name is Sarah—but don’t call her that—and she’s a student at an all girl’s school. Once upon a time, she used to be heavily involved in school, taking SAT tutoring and staying late to work on the yearbook every night. But now she has Shaw, a boy she loves and adores, who calls her kiddo despite being younger than her, and does all those lovely boyfriend things with her that she wants. Her time with Shaw is a lot of waiting for him to be late when she’s early, and sex and pot and fun and love. And Shaw likes pretty girls—so, of course, Sethie has to stay pretty. She has to stay –skinny-. If she’s skinny and pretty and enough for Shaw, one day he’ll take her hand in public, because that’s what boyfriends do, right?

The Stone Girl is Sethie’s story of dealing with anorexia amidst a whirlwind of love and friends and loss and heartbreak. It’s the type of book that you come away from having learned from, and it’s also a good read. The story itself is told from Sethie’s perspective, and because Sethie is sick, that means that the reader is in the head of a girl with skewed perceptions, something that becomes more and more apparent as the story goes on. What’s particularly interesting about being in Sethie’s perspective is seeing how her perspective changes as she falls deeper and deeper into the draws of anorexia and bulimia.

Characterwise, I find myself pitying Sethie too much for her to be my favorite character, but I do love her development. Her spin into a kind of madness is very realistic, and the author’s portrayal of her is great. Reading about her battle and confusion about everything is beyond interesting. One of my favorite parts of the books comes from Sethie’s confusion in the nurse’s office at one point: “They don’t say whether you’re anorexic if you only starve yourself some of the time. They don’t say whether you’re bulimic if you’ve only thrown up a handful of times.”

If I had to pick a favorite character, I’d probably pick Ben, a boy that Sethie gets to know later in the book. Ben is college kid and an overall nice guy who finds himself very interested in Sethie. I can’t say too much without spoiling too much of the book, but Ben is the really nice guy in the story, the one who is there to support Sethie. He’s the only who helps her realize the heartbreaking moments in her life, and the one who tries to help her get through them. He became my favorite character at a specific point in the book when he first realizes what Sethie is going through and—instead of taking advantage of her—sets himself up to be her safety net when she realizes what she’s been doing.
In all honestly, I think that Sheinmel was excellent with all of her characterizations. Sethie was the perfect mix of confusion and desperation, Janey the perfect mix of reckless teen and wise older friend, and even characters that aren’t very likable tend to have their portrayal skewed by the fact that the book is in Sethie’s perspective. 

Overall, I liked The Stone Girl for what it was, but if I’m being honest, books like this really aren’t my thing, and I may not be the best person to judge one. I’m a big girl and I’m comfortable in who I am, so I can’t really relate to the tribulations faced by the main characters. And if you’re like me, then this book might not be for you. But if liked books like Wintergirls, then you’ll probably like The Stone Girl. If you can relate to issues with eating disorders, then The Stone Girl is something you might really like. And even if you can’t really relate with the main character, like me, The Stone Girl is still a really interesting story that’s worth picking up. If The Stone Girl -does- interest you, it comes out on August 28th, so make sure you get your hands on copy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grow Up - Ben Brooks

Grow Up was my first NetGalley grant from my most recent round of requesting. I’d be lying if I said that the cover wasn’t the reason I wanted to read it, so props to the publishing company for that.

Grow Up is the story of Jasper, a teenage boy living in Britain whose daily life consists of school, his best friend, fake therapy, and more drugs than I thought was possible. His goals consist of getting laid, doing drugs, and…oh. Proving that his stepfather is a murderer, which he already knows but that everyone else doesn’t seem to understand.

To start off, if this book is supposed to be even remotely descriptive of what it’s like to be a teenager in the internet generation…well, either the British are a lot more wild and drug obsessed than American teens, or I was really out of the loop in High School. I think Jasper, or someone with him, does drugs literally once every chapter on average. That may or may not be an exaggeration.

Grow Up is supposed to be a coming-of-age novel. I honestly don’t think I knew what that meant until I read this book, but it makes a lot of sense in context. It has everything a book about teenagers should, I’ll say that much. Plenty of angst, lust, anger, smugness, frustration, desire, utter inappropriateness.. It has it all in spades. And let us not forget teenage arrogance, which Jasper absolutely reeks of.

I will say that Grow Up is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while. This is probably because I am a teenager myself, and the inappropriateness of everything just made me giggle. Jasper wants to hook up with the perfect princess of his school, and his Holy Grail quest to get laid had me rolling quite a few times.

What’s interesting about Grow Up is that, because it’s a book about growing up and not about saving the world or something, the plot jumps around like crazy. Without spoiling the details of everything for you, included in Jasper’s drug hazed story is graverobbing, (kind of) rape, golden showers, ruined lives, and a good bit of fire. Only in a book like this can all those things go together and actually work for the story.

So if you’re into coming-of-age teenager type books, I’d recommend Grow Up for you. If you’re into a book about drugs, booze, and sex, well, Grow Up is definitely for you. And if you want all that good angst mixed in with enough humor to make it easier to swallow, pick up Grow Up when it comes out April 24, 2012.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hanging By A Thread - Sophie Littlefield

So my apologies for the delay: this whole 'college' thing is a real time sucker.

I got Hanging by a Thread through NetGalley, as usual, after Littlefield tweeted about it's avalibility. Being a fan of her post apocalyptic zombie book, Aftertime, I've been pretty interested in getting something else by her. Lucky me, I got accepted!

Hanging by a Thread is about Clare, a young girl who recently moved back to California in time for her sophomore year in high school. Clare is a designer who enjoys taking old clothes apart and turning them into something new, and her business so far has been pretty successful for a weekly stand run with an old friend. But as someone who deals so heavily with old clothes, Clare has a pretty big secret: when she touches old clothes, she can sometimes see what happened to the people who were wearing them. It's a skill her grandmother used to have, and it's one that Clare's mother has made her promise to ignore and let die. But after Clare finds a jacket she believes belonged to the girl who went missing last year, Clare's power gives her a clue that might lead her to discovering what happened to Amanda...if she can manage to not get hurt in the process.

Maybe it's because I'm already a fan of Littlefield and I was expecting a decent book, but I liked Hanging by a Thread. It wasn't a book I'm planning on gushing about to my book minded friends, but it was an enjoyable read and I wouldn't mind reading it again one day. I enjoyed the mystery, enjoyed the complexities of Clare's power, and I enjoyed guessing at the reason for Amanda's disappearance.

That being said, Hanging by a Thread is somewhat...bland, at times. The beginning of the book was a little slow, with far too much description and not enough action. After the admission of Clare's powers, the book does pick up a lot. But maybe not as much as it could have. A lot of the relationships between the characters aren't really gone into very much, and I feel the fact that Clare was a returning resident of the town with build in friendships was something of a cop out--the relationship between Clare and her once best friend isn't really developed very much, and is kind of just taken as a given. And Clare's love interest in this book...well, there isn't really anything -wrong- with the relationship so much as it isn't all that special. I can only remember one real 'development' point in their relationship off the top of my head, and the very nature of their relationship is cliche and overdone. He's the unpopular bad boy who she's continually told isn't a good guy for of course he's the guy she somehow goes for.

But don't get me wrong, I did like Hanging by a Thread. I love unique types of powers, and seeing visions from clothes isn't one that I've read a lot. I though the mystery was great, the conclusion was pretty cool, and Clare's backstory was a really good look at what having powers can do to a family. But as much as I did enjoy the book, it had some pretty glaring flaws, and if I'm going to be honest, this isn't really a book that I'd recommend to everybody.

If you like reading about teens with unique powers, then Hanging by a Thread is something you might find interesting. If you like YA mysteries with a touch of supernatural, then I would recommend this book to you. But if you're one of the many YA fans today who are looking for an amazing romance aspect, or you're looking for a book about a teen who is a heavy power user...well, this isn't the book for you.

But if you are interested in reading about Clare's story, then Hanging by a Thread comes out in September 2012. Make sure you pick your copy up!