17 May 2012

Review: Fever

Title: Fever
Series:  Fever
Author: Dee Shulman
Goodreads Link: Goodreads Description
Rating: 4.5/5

Note: There are no major spoilers below. In fact, any possible spoilers do not even count, as you would have known this by reading the synopsis. You are safe to read on.

This book was really... compelling. I wasn't too convinced that I would like it at first, because the synopsis made me wary. How was a present-day girl supposed to have a romance with a gladiator who wouldn't even speak the same language? It didn't seem possibly realistic. I wasn't sure how this book would play out, but I picked it up and read on anyways, and I must say that I am glad!

I haven't read many time travel books, because ... Well I don't really have a solid reason other than that they never appeared in front of me, apart from a series my mother is reading. But it's really the underlying plot of a book that I like, not just one specific genre, even though I do tend to stay in the broad 'fantasy/secondary words' realm. But anyways. I am extremely glad I branched out a little bit, because this book is nothing but interesting. We're introduced to two main characters near the beginning: Sethos the gladiator, and Eva the troubled 21st century student.

The story goes back and forth between their points of view (Eva's in first person, and Sethos' in third -- which, in itself was quite interesting, as most books that switch points of view are either strictly first person or strictly third), giving us a detailed glimpse into their worlds, as well as nicely setting up the main plot. We learn about Seth's sickness and the people around him, giving us a good look at his life, and we learn about Eva's troubled home life and get to really know her character as she seeks out a school she fits into. I don't usually like to compare books to ones I have previously read, but before this I read and reviewed Immortal City by Scott Speer. In that book, though the plot is quite different, the point of view switches between both characters, and they are due to meet up at some point in the book. It happens rather fast, which, if you read this review you would know I felt disappointed at the lack of background we got on each character. It takes Dee Shulman half of Fever to bring the two protagonists together, which to some might seem like the story is bring dragged out, but I was refreshed. Both characters and their own individual plots kept me very interested and intrigued; knowing they were to meet up and seeing how it was all slowly laid out was incredibly interesting and I was glad for it. It allowed for me to really get to know each of the characters without rushing into the main plot, thus possibly rendering the story to feel unrealistic.

I need to take a minute here to fully appreciate the character of Eva. I will keep it short, as I don't want to give anything vital about her away, but I loved her. She might come off as a 'perfect' character: she's highly intelligent, beautiful, and talented. But she has some serious flaws that make her likeable. Also, she is relateable. Even if you aren't super smart (which I am not - school was never my thing), if you have a passion for something and feel you're constantly looking for someplace that will satisfy your craving for that passion, you can relate. That was how I related to Eva, even though I cannot relate to her immaculate intelligence or other talents, I know what it feels like to be constantly disappointed with what the world has to offer in regards to my interests. So in this way, I was glad she was relateable in some way to me, because I often have difficulties relating to main characters. Dee Shulman, I applaud you.

To me, this book felt very realistic. As I reached the ending, I was beginning to panic, because there were still so many questions that I (and the character) had, and it did not seem like it was at all possible to answer them. And I was right. When I finished reading, I hopped onto goodreads to see if there was a sequel,  because if not I would have been extremely disappointed. Surely the book would not leave so many important questions unanswered like that! Luckily, after some research on google (all praise google) I learned that Fever is the first of a trilogy. So there will be two more books. I must say, I am very much looking forward to the next one! Hopefully we will not have to wait too long.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go out and buy this book!

13 May 2012

Review: Immortal City

Title: Immortal City
Series:  Immortal City
Author: Scott Speer
Goodreads Link: 
Rating: 3.5/5

Warning: Tiny spoilers below. This one's pretty safe as I don't talk about anything that gives anything away, unless it's something that's pretty obvious, like the relationship between the two main characters.

This book is more of a 3.5 than a solid 3 or a solid 4. While there were some moments in the book where I just didn't believe what was going on (as in it felt forced, and not real; like I was being told what to believe was happening), the plot was rather enjoyable overall, and I never once found myself bored. This is the first of a series, I believe, and after that ending, I am intrigued as to see where this book will go. Of course, where it ended left off at a point where a continuation is not entirely necessary. So I guess it's up to the publisher now.

I felt, at some points, like there was something missing, but as to what exactly I was not sure. There was a nice little OH MY GOD moment near the end, which I thought was well-done. And the cutesy bits were cutesy enough without making me roll my eyes. Although, I admit I was not completely sold on the love story -- I think that's where I felt something was missing. Perhaps more interaction between Jacks and Maddy would have made them more believable. I'm good with them now, it just took some more convincing. Their "insta-love" thing felt off to me, because I feel there wasn't enough in the text to make me believe in it. I have formed a ship of my own, though, which I won't give away, but I expect we will see more of if the next book does come out. I'm not yet sure if anything has been confirmed. But I have questions about some characters and happenings, so there is definite potential for at least one sequel.

I also had a bit of an issue with Gwen, Maddy's best friend. She just felt 'there'. Like the author didn't want Maddy to be friendless, so they threw in Gwen. Their friendship wasn't as believable as I would have liked. The two girls just seemed so opposite and there was never any explanation as to what their connection was. There was no development in their friendship, and this is also where I felt like something was missing. At one point, Gwen was furious with Maddy and refused to speak to her, but then later after not appearing for several chapters, she was all 'you're the strongest person I know Maddy. I believe in you.' and I was sitting there, frowning at the page, thinking... Why? When did you, Gwen, ever see her being strong enough to handle this situation? You weren't there. It just came out of no where. So the story might have made more believable sense to me if there was more background. Even a paragraph of Maddy thinking back to how they became friends would have sufficed, but there was nothing.
In a way, this book felt like it would be better as a movie script. It had a certain feel about it that made me think that. Then later I found out that Scott Speer is a music video director, and it all made sense.

I feel like this book could have gone through another edit or two. Perhaps different eyes would have caught this stuff and hopefully Scott Speer could have gone back and added more. For a 300+ word book, it felt like under 200 because it moved so fast, and not in a good way. Also whoever edited for grammar missed two glaring errors that made me wince. Easy fixers if they had been caught :/ I know this happens all the time, but as a grammar freak (who, by the way, does not think she is the master of grammar and is never going to make a mistake -- I've made lots and will continue making more), I noticed this stuff and it bothered me.

I know that most of this review points out the negative aspects of the book, but they are what stood out more to me. I did like the surprise at the end -- that was well done. I mean, I did not expect it at all, but I was never one to be the greatest mystery-solver, either. The writing wasn't bad, overall, and the story's plot was pretty interesting. Celebrity angels? That is a pretty neat idea, because well, why not? If angels perform miracles all the time, why wouldn't some want to be noticed and recognised for it? Some might argue not all would. I agree with that, and if that's your opinion, you'll find that is mentioned in the book. Several times. I am very curious as to where this story will go, because it does have potential. Hopefully in the sequel will improve.

I liked how the point of view changed so that we got to see what was happening outside of just our two main protagonists' eyes. However, this may have contributed to the lack of detail. I was left with many questions, but since this is a series, that is also a very good thing. Hopefully they'll be answered in the next book, though there was no obvious lead-in to that. For example, certain characters were acting very suspicious, but in the end, they weren't a part of the problem (for lack of a much better term) of the story; they ended up having nothing to do with it. The fact that they were never mentioned again bothered me, because that seems like a simple loose end to tie up, and I don't expect it to be addressed in the next book. 

All in all, good plot line. Could have used a few more edits and some more elaboration on some parts, but I'm glad I read it and I do look forward to the sequel.

9 May 2012

Update 5.9.12

In regards to this post, I have a few things to say:

I will most likely not be reviewing each individual book in The Mortal Instruments series because in order to do them justice, I would have to go back and re-read them right now. However, I have at least twelve books in my line-up of books to read and am looking forward to getting to those.

So here's what will happen:

  • I will do a review on The Mortal Instruments series (so far). It will be my overall thoughts on the series as well as what I think will happen in the final book. Expect spoilers. Lots of spoilers.
  • I will not review Divergent or Clockwork Angel. When Clockwork Princess is released next year I will do a review of the entire The Infernal Devices series with heavy emphasis on Clockwork Princess. Assuming I still have this blog by then, but never say never, right?
  • My next book review, after The Mortal Instruments series (so far) will be Immortal City.
  • I will continue reviewing books
Here's a look at some of the books I'll be reading soon which I will be reviewing when I am finished:
(In no particular order)
  1. Immortal City by Scott Speer
  2. Fever by Dee Shulman
  3. Hallowed and Unearthly (most likely a combined review as well as predictions for the third in the series) by Cynthia Hand
  4. A combined review of Sherrilyn Kenyon's Chronicles of Nick series (only the first three are out, so this review will probably include my thoughts for the next book(s)).
  5. A combined review of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, unless I change my mind and review them individually.
And again, I do take review requests. So check out my page on that and see what I've read on my Goodreads.

8 May 2012

Review: Blood Red Road

Title: Blood Red Road
Series: Dustlands
Author: Moira Young
Goodreads Link: Goodreads Description
Rating: 3.5/5

Warning: Minor spoilers below.

I am going to start this off by saying that I did enjoy this book. However, it took me until about halfway through to do so. The reason why was not because the plot was not interesting until later, but because of the use of poor grammar and spelling. I understand that Moira Young used that as a tool to emphasize the characters' lack of an education, and it was an interesting tool to use. For me, however, it made it difficult to get through, because I'm a stickler for proper spelling and grammar. The lack of quotation marks was sometimes confusing, as sometimes I had to think about where the quotation began if it was included in a paragraph with narration.

Towards the end of the book, I realised the lack of quotation marks helped me pick out each character's 'voice', meaning I was able to say "Okay, that part is Saba's narration, and this is Jack beginning to speak here". I was able to train myself to see the difference between each character's way of speaking, which was actually pretty cool towards the end.

However, the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading. This book is not one of my favourites, but it was enjoyable. We are told the story from Saba's point of view and see everything through her eyes. I felt that at sometimes, the way Saba was, I did not get a full feel for the other characters, but that also could have been because I was so focused on trying to ignore the grammar that I missed her initial descriptions of each character. It may take me a second or third read for me to truly appreciate this story.

Do I recommend this book? If you can put up with the grammar and spelling issues, then go for it! Saba tells an interesting story, and the post-apocalyptic land Moira Young created is certainly intriguing.
Am I looking forward to the rest of the series? Ask me again after I re-read this book; I'm still digesting it. It left off in a way that I could be satisfied not knowing anymore (meaning no huge cliffhanger), but I did read the second book's synopsis and am intrigued as to what happens next. We'll see.

(Also, can I just point out that I love the hardcover edition's cover [seen above] a lot better than the paperback's and others that I have seen. I hope the next books don't all follow the paperback's theme of a cover)

2 May 2012

Review: Insurgent

Title: Insurgent
Series: Divergent trilogy
Author: Veronica Roth
Goodreads Link: Goodreads Description
Rating: 5/5

Warning: The following review contains spoilers. If you have not yet read Insurgent and do not want anything to be spoiled for you, I suggest you turn back now. This has been your warning.
Unnofficial Warning: I'm not a professional book reviewer so I leak pure bias into my reviews and talk about how I feel about specific characters and not just a generalised feel of this book. So if that bothers you... skip this one. :) 

 Wow. This book is one that I have been waiting to read every since I finished the first in the series, Divergent. There's this thing that can sometimes happen when you anticipate to read a book, and then you actually read it and are let down. That thing is called disappointment because you have been so worked out and the excitement has built up that in the end, the book could never have possible lived up to the expectations you built for it. In the case of Insurgent, this does not apply. This book series is one of my favourites out of the many I've read in the past while, and that has not changed with this book.
I'm going to start off by talking about the ending. That seems like a good place to start, no? Anyone who says that the ending was no surprise to them and that they saw it coming it a liar or is Veronica Roth herself. Because that ending was a total brick wall. The kind you slam into when your eyes are closed tight and so you don't see it coming even if you were expecting some type of cliffhanger. Specifically I am talking about how we learned about Edith Prior and what was outside of New Chicago. Of course we all knew something was out there. But Edith Prior? No no no. That was total unexpected and I applaud Veronica Roth for that. Amazing. Ingenius.
And now let's skip back to the beginning! One of the things I noticed a lot of people complaining about after reading Divergent was how Tris did not seem to mourn the loss of everyone that died at the end of the first book. I don't understand how they came to this conclusion because the book ended with Tris, Four, Marcus, Peter, and Caleb on the train to Amity. There was no time to show mourning because the book ended there. So I'd like to know how those people feel now, for I'm sure they are eating their words considering Insurgent opened with Tris thinking about Will and regretting what happened, and a vast majority of what happened in the book to Tris was affected by her PTSD. She couldn't even touch a gun as a repercussion of what happened in Divergent! And again I just want to applaud Veronica Roth for this, because as great as bad ass heroines are in a book, I love realistic bad ass heroines even more. And PTSD and guilt and regret are all realistic things for Tris to feel. Tris is not my favourite character of this series (and main characters are usually my favourite, so this it out of the norm for me), but I was able to appreciate her more because of this. She is real. Tris is real. 
 I had heard talk about a betrayal in Insurgent in a part of one review I read somewhere online, and I was all prepared for it. Or at least I thought I was. I kept it in mind while I read the book, but when the betrayal actually happened, I was floored. I stopped reading for a good five minutes and must have said 'no no no no no' more times than I probably should have. I won't say who it was because I don't want to spoil everything that happened in the book, but I loved that character. And now I don't know how to feel about them. I feel betrayed. And for the third time so far, I applaud Veronica Roth. It hurts thinking about that character now because... well I mean they had my trust. They had everyone's trust. I did NOT see that coming. Honestly I thought it was just Peter and well... who wouldn't expect that? Oh, the plot twists. Veronica Roth, you are currently the queen of plot twists and I love you for that. I hate you, because how am I supposed to feel about this character now? But I love you.
I'll stop here with the love now to point out something that bothered me, and I know others have mentioned this in review of Divergent, but I'm going to say it again anyways. The action is great, the character dynamics are fantastic, but the one thing this book lacks is setting description. There was more of it in Insurgent than there was in Divergent, because I can picture a few of the places better now, but the biggest bother for me was the lack of Candor description. The Amity description sufficed, but considering they were also in the Candor faction for a while, it's a bit disappointing that I still have no idea what most of it looks like. Just that there are Candor symbols everywhere. But that's just the interior of one building. While it does not take away from the plot, I do wish there had been more description. Tris does notice how rooms are decorated and there was description there, but what I really wanted was to be able to picture the specific factions better, especially since I have no idea what Chicago looks like. However, the book still gets a 5/5 from me, because this is a minor thing.
In regards to Tris and Four's relationship, I'm glad it was not perfect in this book. I felt they both had changed, and Four having trouble dealing with his own issues while Tris dealt with hers... Well I'm just glad that they weren't all lovey dovey and there were moments where I seriously feared for their relationship. That's real. As I've mentioned before, I like realistic happenings when it comes to characters. When everything is perfect between them, that makes no sense to me. So I applaud for a fourth time, Veronica Roth.

Overall, I'm sure it's obvious that I loved this book. It was certainly a page turner, which I'm glad for because I read it all in one sitting. I've read other books all in one sitting before and have regretted it, not because they weren't page turners, but because so much happened at once and it was difficult to follow along with. And while a lot happened at once in Insurgent, it all flowed well and made sense and none of it felt fake or rushed. This book made me love characters that I didn't notice before, it made me hate characters I loved, and it made me love characters even more than I did before. Amazing. Well done. Brilliant. I bow to you, Queen Roth. And now to wait painfully for a year for the third book. *breathes*

This book, you guys. This BOOK. Read it.

Also, I've noticed that my reviews are turning more into 'how I feel about this book' posts, but that's fine with me, so it will probably continue. I'm not good at straight-forward reviews.