I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

[Warning: this post may contain spoilers]

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, someone talked me into reading the series. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about it, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. While Twilight focused on Bella and Edward’s relationship,  New Moon, focused on Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. I finished book two just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring; I actually skipped nearly an entire chapter of this book because it could not hold my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk– she was over-compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. Their attitudes were so unappealing that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy; attempting to finish the book became a challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences, and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because, while I liked the movie’s ending a little better than the book’s ending, it was still a “cop-out”, and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan #Review

The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover’s Dictionary
Released:
January 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆☆
Synopsis:
A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.

 

My Thoughts

I am smitten with the format of The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. The novel is a series of dictionary entries, and each word represents a feeling or a thought or a moment that occur during the course of a romantic relationship. The entries are brief, but Levithan’s writing is powerful. If you’ve been in love or if you’ve been hurt or if you’ve been in love with the idea of love, then at least one passage will resonate with you, knock you down, leave you breathless. This was mine:

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

The Lover’s Dictionary is told in alphabetical order instead of chronological order, and while I appreciated the creativity of the storytelling, I did struggle with the story as a whole. At first, I thought I was reading vignettes about many different relationships. It wasn’t until the end that I realized it was about just one relationship. I ended up giving the book a quick, second read-through so I could gain a better understanding of what I had just read. I also feel like I may have picked this book up at a bad time. The Lover’s Dictionary isn’t the happiest of novels. For every entry about love and butterflies, there were twice as many about drinking too much, distrust, and complacency, and it weighed heavy on my heart.

I recommend this book…but not if you’re falling in love because it will just “harsh your mellow”. And not if you’ve just gotten out of a relationship because it will make you feel even worse. Everyone else should give it a go though!

Book Report: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #1)
Released:
December 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Synopsis:
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

 

 My Thoughts

You guys, why didn’t you tell me how amazing Beautiful Creatures was? Oh wait, You did! I often talk about how book hype usually ruins books for me, but on this rare occasion it didn’t! In my opinion, Beautiful Creatures deserves all the rave reviews it’s received so far.

There is something so satisfying about Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It was the setting that sucked me in first. The fictional town of Gatlin, South Carolina reminded me of hot and soggy summers spent in the woods and creek behind my house in northern Georgia. I half expected kudzu to creep and crawl from the pages of my book. Had the transmission in my car not gone kaput a month prior, I may have jumped in to my dodgy Ford Taurus and drove south for the winter. Next, I was immediately preoccupied by the lives of the people in small-town Gatlin. I wanted to stand in line at the corner store sipping sweet tea while nonchalantly listening in to gossips air their neighbor’s dirty laundry.

The characterization in Beautiful Creatures was near perfect. They all came alive almost effortlessly. The southern belles and their jock counterparts were a cause of friction that was written well. The mean girls/jock conflict might be overdone, but Garcia and Stohl’s approach is surprisingly refreshing. Perhaps because it reads more like a small town versus an outsider threatening what is comfortable rather than the mean, preppy girls versus the goth. The Sisters, with their batty ways were hilarious! But Amma, with her crossword obsession and her voodoo superstitions stole the show for me.

If the characters and the setting don’t suck you in, perhaps the point of view will. What a surprise it was to discover that this paranormal romance  was written almost entirely from a male’s point of view. When was the last time you read a book dealing with romantic elements from a guy’s perspective? It’s just not usually done, which makes this book even more outstanding. Ethan is more complicated than some high school horn dog. He struggles with parting himself from the small town mentality that his friends are trying to shove down his throat as he realizes he’s falling for mysterious and eccentric looking Lena. The romance that develops between the two is sweet and so reminiscent of what I remember of high school romances—holding hands and almost-kisses and wondering if you’ve really just fallen in…well, the “l-word”(because who knew saying “love” would be so anxiety inducing even though it’s kind of invigorating?). It’s such a nice break from overly dominant and manly teenage boys and submissive teenage girls.

The supernatural elements were a show-stopper as well. They were just plain, ol’ neat. I mean, we’re talking about controlling elements, shape shifting, seeing time, mind control, healing, and that’s only scratching the surface. But, that’s not all. There is also Amma who wards off bad spirits with voodoo charms and pleases dead ancestors with chicken and whiskey. There is a natural conflict that arises between the casters and Amma just as there is a conflict that arises between all of the mortals in Gatlin and the casters. It makes for some pretty suspenseful moments.

Beautiful Creatures would be perfect except for two issues that I had with the book. First, the book seemed long. I understand that it is long but so are Harry Potter books, and sometimes those don’t seem long enough! I don’t know if it was pacing or if certain events in the middle were dragged out a chapter too many or even if my anticipation for the events at the end made the book seem so long. Regardless, at some point, I lost my reading vigor because it seemed daunting. Now, on the flip side, it seemed like the ending was rushed! And it seemed like a few explanations were made up suddenly at the end to cover holes in logistics. Like, how is Ethan supposed to get from the Library back out the spooky mansion when they’re clear across town from each other? A perfectly rational supernatural explanation is offered even though no mention of such a thing was made when Ethan first visited the library.

Overall,
I LOVED Beautiful Creatures! The setting, the characters, and the point-of-view made the book a refreshing read. Especially in a genre that has exhausted shoddy love interests, vague characterization, and love triangles. Perhaps Beautiful Creatures was a little too satisfying though. I honestly felt Beautiful Creatures would have worked perfectly as a stand-alone novel. It tied things up nicely but left enough to the imagination. So, as much as I loved Beautiful Creatures, I’m not entirely convinced I want to continue on with the series. Conflicting, eh? I’m not sure book two can live up to its predecessor. If I’m way wrong, please tell me in the comments!

Book Report: If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Released:
October 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Add to Goodreads
★★☆☆☆
Synopsis:
“It was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to look away but couldn’t take my eyes off them.”
IF ONLY …If only I hadn’t gone to that party. I never would have seen what I did. Jackson wouldn’t have driven me home. I wouldn’t have started to fall for a guy just out of reform school. I could go back to pretending everything was normal. I wouldn’t be keeping a secret from my mom that could blow our family apart …

My Thoughts

I wanted to love this book. It seemed promising enough. I mean, at it’s bare bones If I Tell was good. The main character, Jasmine, is a bi-racial girl in a white-washed suburb in Washington. If feeling like an outsider because of her skin color isn’t bad enough, Jasmine also sees Simon, her mother’s boyfriend, mackin’ on some other girl at a party. (Do people even use the word “macking” anymore?). Jasmine struggles with how to deal with this situation: how will she keep her cool around Simon? He’s been a good friend to her, and he is one of only two black people in Jasmine’s life. She also struggles with how to approach this issue with her mom– if she even should bring it up. Because Jasmine’s mom is pregnant, and Simon is the father.

If I Tell also deals with the issue of postpartum depression, which adds depth to the storyline. Jasmine was born when her mother was a teenager and unprepared to take care of a child on her own. So, Jasmine was raised by her grandparents. Now, Jasmine’s mom has a second chance at being a parent, and all throughout her pregnancy she’s excited by the idea. But after Jasmine’s mom gives birth, the depression settles in. The moment she’s been waiting for for nine months disintegrates. It’s truly heartbreaking.

But…the rest becomes really muddled. I mean, if you’re looking for an “issue book”, If I Tell really fits the bill. Infidelity, racism, and broken families aside, this book also deals with…molestation, alcoholism, homosexuality, AIDS, drugs, psychotic ex-girlfriends, death, uh…and sexual assault. I just felt like all of these issues piled into one book that was too much for a book that has a little more than 200 pages.

I also didn’t care for the author’s approach to sex. Or maybe it’s really Jasmine’s view of sex, but sometimes it’s hard to separate the two from the message. Most of the time, whenever the topic of sex was brought up, slut-shaming was involved. Even more, the “slut” in question was an adult very capable of making adult decisions. I don’t know why this character’s sex life was blamed on her troubled past.

Overall,
This book was okay. I think there was a good story here, but all of the other characters’ problems was a distraction.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Book Report: Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless

Timeless by Alexandra Monir
Released:
January 2011
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆☆
Synopsis:
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Thoughts

Book hype can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it certainly draws attention to a book, and it can help drive sales. On the other hand, the more the book is built up, the farther it has to fall. Such was the case with Timeless by Alexandra Monir. I had high hopes for Timeless. Every review I read about the book seemed to rave about it. But, after I finished the book I was left scratching my head and wondering why. Now wait just a tick! This is already starting to sound like a negative review. I promise you, it’s not really. It’s just one of those books that made me wonder why there was all the hype.

As an individual who loves character development and character driven plot, Timeless left me feeling disappointed. All of the characters in this book read a little generic to me. Michele was alright as a protagonist because she wasn’t annoying, whiny, weak, or any other negative personality trait that really grates my nerves. But, she didn’t really stand out to me either. She wasn’t the kind of character I could relate to or empathize with. Unfortunately, I felt that way about most of the other characters in this book except for Lily, one of the Windsor ancestors Michele meets during a time travel episode. Even though Lily is essentially a caricature of a 1920s flapper girl, I couldn’t help fall in love with her boldness and her sass.

Then there is the issue of the romance. Michele has been having dreams of a handsome boy with astonishing blue eyes all her life. During one of her time travel episodes, she comes across him. This boy! He’s real! His name is Phillip Warren! And then they start a cross-time love affair. I mean that kind of literally since Michele’s presence causes Phillip to break off his engagement with another one of Michele’s ancestors. And then ever since, the Windsors have hated the Warrens. Way to go Michele. You’ve started at century long family feud. Anyway, I digress. I get the feeling that Michele falls in love with the idea of Phillip and not Phillip himself. I understand she’s been having dreams of him forever, but that’s all they really are– dreams. Throughout Michele’s time travel episodes, she probably has only spent literally 2 or 3 days total with Phillip. And yet, she professes her love to him! And he breaks off an engagement! I mean, if ever there were a case of insta-love, it’s present in Timeless. And, the whole time I’m wondering, if 100-year-old Phillip Warren were still alive in Michele’s time, with his wrinkles, grey hair, and liver spots, would she still love him? I mean, that’s the kind of thing you have to take in consideration when time travel is involved!

When Phillip and Michele weren’t professing their love to each other, they were writing and composing songs together. As a music lover, I should have appreciated this, but it just came across as really cheesy. Especially when the song lyrics were included in the book. Song lyrics out of context make me cringe. On the plus side, Alexandra Monir actually had these songs produced, and you can listen to them on her website. In this context, the songs are wonderful! Especially Bring the Colors Back. Monir’s vocals and the jazz band sound really capture the 1920s atmosphere. Unfortunately, this isn’t a review on Monir’s singing abilities.

The final aspect of the book that struck me as problematic was the time travel. Time travel is pretty neat, but I imagine it’s difficult to write about. There seemed to be a lot of inconsistencies in the time travel in Timeless. Michele has no control over her time travel episodes. All we know is that it involves a special key necklace and maybe an old Windsor relic (most of the time). Except for that one time when Michele suddenly hopped back in time when she was watching a Broadway show. Uh wut? But, then Monir tries to go scientific on her readers. One of Michele’s new, smart friends brings up Einstein’s theories of time travel as a way to justify her belief that Michele is actually traveling through time. But, it just doesn’t work for me as a reader. Because there is no scientific basis for Michele’s experience. A key necklace does not even have the physical properties to bend space-time, so don’t try to convince me that it does. Also, there are inconsistencies in the way Michele meddles with the past. At first, she has no problem stealing the heart of her great-great-great aunt’s fiance. But, she’s too afraid to tell her aunt from the 1940s that America wins WWII. She thinks if she spills the beans America will lose the war. Really? Telling one insignificant person that there is hope will ruin the world? But, boyfriend fiance-stealing is okay.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I stuck around for 304 pages. I thought the characters were alright, I hated the romance, and I pointed out all the inconsistencies in Monir’s time travel. But honestly, at the end of it all, I simply loved Monir’s writing. The descriptions were beautiful, and I could see the events unfold in my head. Even more, Monir’s accounts of America in the past were stunning. The atmosphere she created and the descriptions of new Ford Model Ts along side horse and carriages just struck a chord in me. It’s so evident that Monir put a lot of time and research into the eras she wrote about, and I whole-heartedly appreciate that as a reader. Also, Monir wrote about the Gilded Age. The only time I’ve read about the Gilded Age was in 10th grade, and I read about it in a school textbook. I found Monir’s inclusion of this time period to be absolutely fascinating!

 Overall,
Due to all of the inconsistencies, this book was mostly a miss for me. But, because of Monir’s beautiful writing and in-depth research I stuck around for the entire book. There were aspects of this book that were lackluster, but then there were aspects of this book that made the book hard to put down. I’m truly conflicted!

Won from Kathy @ I Am a Reader Not a Writer

Book Report: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Released:
March 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Synopsis:
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death–and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My Thoughts

Maybe it’s too early in the year to tell, but Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver just might be my favorite read of 2012. Yeah, yeah, I realize it’s only four months into the year. But, Before I Fall is that good of a book!

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver made me feel an array of emotions. Isn’t it amazing when books can do that? At first I was angry and annoyed with the main character, Sam Kingston. She seemed so much like the selfish and entitled brats that annoyed me when I was in high school. But, despite that I wouldn’t wish Sam Kingston’s fate on anyone– to live her last day on earth over and over again. As each day passed, Sam Kingston learns about herself, about her friends, and about the people she alienates. And, as each day passed, I found myself becoming more and more sympathetic to this girl I initially deemed shallow and mean. As each day passed, part of me started feeling angry and frustrated and sad about all of the obstacles Sam had to face– friends, family, the kids she alienated, love and heart-break, all of it! I just wanted Sam to find peace and happiness.

The tone of Before I Fall is very bittersweet. There were moments in the book that made me smile– like when Sam returns to her childhood secret spot, and she invites her little sister to tag along. It was an endearing moment, but considering the circumstances, I couldn’t help feeling sad. So sad, in fact, that Before I Fall will go down in my personal history as the second book ever to make me cry. (While the rest of my 6th grade class was weeping at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, I was the only one with dry eyes. Even the boys cried! And, I didn’t even cry during any of the Harry Potter books.) And, Lauren Oliver’s writing was a perfect match for Sam Kingston’s story. It was beautiful and poetic (yet, Sam’s voice still seemed genuine), and that probably played a role in making my eyes tear up.

Overall,
Before I Fall was amazing. It’s a shame this was the second book I read of 2012. It sets a pretty high standard for the rest of the books I will read this year.

Book Report: 13 Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Thirteed Days To Midnight

13 Days to Midnight
Released:
April 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆☆
Synopsis:
You are indestructible. Three whispered words transfer an astonishing power to Jacob Fielding that changes everything. At first, Jacob is hesitant to use the power, unsure of its implications. But there’s something addictive about testing the limits of fear.

Then Ophelia James, the beautiful and daring new girl in town, suggests that they use the power to do good, to save others. But with every heroic act, the power grows into the specter of a curse. How to decide who lives and who dies?

In this nail-biting novel of mystery and dark intrigue, Jacob must walk the razor thin line between right and wrong, good and evil, and life and death. And time is running out. Because the Grim Reaper doesn’t disappear. . . . He catches up.

My Thoughts

This is a haunting story of three teens who discover the perils linked to immortality. When Jacob reveals to his friends he is indestructible, and he can control the force at will, he cannot begin to imagine the events that will unfold. Set against the backdrop of a Catholic high school, 13 Days to Midnight is a thought-provoking book about playing God. Initially the teens use the force for good, to save lives. But, do they have the right? Soon, they become greedy for the power which unleashes a darkness in each of them.

Each chapter is one day leading up to the inevitable and gruesome consequence of playing with Jacob’s “super power”. The plot in this book was constantly on the move, which insured there was never a boring moment. But, since the book took place in just thirteen days, some of the relationships developed almost too quickly. I felt I had to willingly suspend disbelief more for the relationship between Jacob and new student and love interest “Oh” compared to the paranormal nature of the book. I would also say that this book is not for the faint of heart. There are events that many will consider disturbing, but I wouldn’t consider it gratuitous. Each scene, however heartfelt or disturbing, has a purpose.

 Overall,
I found this book to be addictive. Each day that passed, the darker the events and the greater the tension grew between the three teens. I read this book fairly quickly because I needed to know what happened next!

Won from Hallie @ Undusty New Books

Book Report: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Released:
October 2011
Publisher: Del Ray
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Synopsis:
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

My Thoughts

I actually finished this book at the beginning of October 2011, and yet it has taken me nearly three months to write a review. Honestly, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel is easily the best book I read in 2011. I think that’s why it has taken me so long to write this. It would be easy to gush about this book to others who loved the book as much as I did. But, it’s a little more difficult to write something that won’t spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet. Alas, here are my best attempts.

There is a subtitle on the front cover that says “Love can never die”. Initially I rolled my eyes and wondered what I had gotten myself into. Had I picked up yet another love story dripping with insufferable angst? And oh God, please don’t let this be about vampires. Luckily I was wrong. Habel’s Dearly, Departed, although tinged with romance, is surprisingly deep.

Much of the world we know has been destroyed by catastrophic climate changes, disease, famine, and a global war. Even though the story takes place far in the future where there is technology we can only dream of, Nora’s world has reverted back to more conservative, Victorian times in order to prevent further destruction. Despite their efforts, there is trouble brewing. Dearly, Departed is delightfully political but in a way that isn’t overwhelming to readers. The book delves into problems like classism; the problems Pamela Roe, Nora’s best friend, faces as a middle class citizen surrounded by a “new aristocracy” only begins to scratch the surface. Then, there are violent revolts led by the Punks in the south that threaten New Victoria’s reign of peace. On top of that, a new virus has broken out that is turning people into zombies, and this disease has no prejudices.

The book takes an interesting turn when Nora finds herself in the company of civilized, undead soldiers who seem more humane than some of the people she is forced to associate with. Overtime, Nora begins to develop feelings for Bram, who many look up to as a leader. It’s not as disturbing as it sounds (well, kind of considering Bram is decaying). But, the romance between the two characters is so genuine I may have felt my heart flutter.

Habel’s book also tells the story from five point of views– Nora, Pamela, Bram, Victor, and Wolfe. Each offer valuable insight into the world’s current disarray, however some POVs are more interesting than others. I didn’t favor Wolfe’s or Victor’s POV, but luckily they didn’t get as many chapters as the other characters. I found Pamela’s to be most interesting because she had more complex obstacles to overcome. Although, both are strong female characters who deserve to be considered among the ranks of heroines like Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen.

Overall,
I don’t know if this adequately conveys how much I loved this book. So, I’ll go about it another way. The only books I’ve ever re-read are the Harry Potter books, but that’s about to change. I definitely belive I will find myself re-reading Dearly, Departed.

Book Report: Wings by Aprilynn Pike

wingsWings by Aprilynne Pike (Laurel #1)
Released:
May 2009
Publisher: Harper Teen
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆☆
Synopsis:
Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

 

My Thoughts

My introduction to this book was an interesting one. Reviews for this books kept popping up across book blogs, and the cover kept catching my eye. I thought the cover was lovely, but the picture of the cover was kind of small so I would squint at it for a few moments trying to figure out what I was looking at. Admitting defeat, I clicked to enlarge the picture and saw it was two flower petals shaped like wings. A week or so would pass and I would stumble onto another review of Wings, and I would find myself staring at the cover again trying to figure out (or at this point, trying to remember) what was on it. How could I forget so soon? I just looked at it! This happened more times than I would like to admit, which lead me to think this book would be forgettable. (Hey, I’m not saying my logic isn’t fallible).

I decided to give this book a try, and I found myself absorbed into the book. Okay, so for the most part, the personalities of the characters are pretty bland. I mean, the characters were overly perfect. Laurel is the most beautiful girl in the world in school; she’s mediocre in biology, but that’s really the limit to her flaws. Then there is David, her love interest in this book. He’s the All-American type of boy who is good at sports and school, and as far as I’m concerned he doesn’t have a flaw. Then there is Tamani who just seems stoic.

Wait, sounds like it’s turning into a negative review! It’s not, I swear. While the characters didn’t impress me, the storyline kind of did… I really enjoyed Pike’s unique twist to the fairy tale. Without really revealing anything, reading about Laurel’s true origins was a treat, and it was fun learning how she’s coming to terms with who and what she really is. The mystery surrounding Laurel’s old home as well as the Mr. Barnes who seems very interested in procuring the property is compelling. Especially since people who’ve met him seem to lose self-control and think nothing of it.

Overall,
I think Wings by Aprilynn Pike is a good start to the series, and I’m looking forward to reading Spells.

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Paranormal romance books are still flooding the market thanks to the Twilight series.  It’s not my genre of choice mostly because of clichés and overdone love triangles with the main character always falling for the total creep.  But, these are not the things that describe Yvonne Woon’s Dead Beautiful.  Of all the paranormal romance books I’ve read, I have declared Dead Beautiful to be my favorite (thus far, at least).

Initially, I thought this book was yet another vampire love story, but I was wrong.  So very wrong.  Dead wrong (har har!).  The Latin-rooted philosophy and “mythology” that were woven into the story made Dead Beautiful unique amongst other paranormal romance books.  I say “mythology” because I believe Woon created it for her story, but she did so in a way that made it all seem like the myth had been around for centuries.  And, as you can guess from the title, death is a major subject throughout this book.  This might be an unappealing subject for some, but I loved the spooky and foreboding atmosphere this created.

I did appreciate the romance in Dead Beautiful.  I think the relationship between the main character, Renee, and her love interest, Dante, progressed pretty quickly.  And it’s clear Renee is smitten with Dante, but it’s not overkilling.  It’s also apparent to the reader that Renee thinks about her friends and the world around her as much as she does about Dante.  I would say it’s a breath of fresh air from many of the newly published young adult books regardless of genre.  I would also have to say that for once I found the love interest to be swoon-worthy!

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead Beautiful is equal parts romance and mystery, so the story had me guessing all the way through.  Several twists and turns that had me formulating ideas of what could be next, but more often than not I was wrong!  I found the mystery to be compelling, and I think this is what made the book such a page-turner for me.

I did think the pacing of the story was a little off.  There were times in the story that moved slowly, but that didn’t bother me.  I did think the ending was rushed though, which left me feeling like something was missing.  The first 470 pages were written so beautifully.  I truly loved Woon’s writing style, and I have to admit, I am quite envious of it.  Everything was written so vividly, and getting lost in the world Woon created was easy.  However, the last 10 pages went by too quickly.  I would say I was even left quite confused to the point where I had to re-read the ending to make sure I understood what had happened.  Now, that being said, after I fully understood what happened, I thought the ending was perfect– not the way I thought it would end (thank goodness!)

Overall, I loved this book. (Notice how I bold-faced and italicized “love”?  Yea, that’s how much I loved it).  I think it would be a great addition to the bookshelves of lovers of the paranormal romance genre.  It would be perfect for the shelves of those who aren’t so keen on the genre, like me, too!

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Released: September 2010
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult

[add to goodreads ]

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she’d ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral, Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.” It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.