Review: Speechless

August 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

Speechless
Speechless by Hannah Harrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip. When she spills a secret that has violent repercussions, Chelsea makes a decision to do the right thing even if it means losing that all-important popularity. Suddenly, she’s on the outside and getting back all that she’s dished out in the past and then some. An article she reads in the National Geographic inspires her to take a vow of silence since talking without thinking has gotten her into this mess.

The beginning of Speechless was very slow and angst filled. The characters were all largely unlikable, a bunch of selfish, shallow teens with entitlement issues. I couldn’t stand Chelsea and didn’t feel particularly sorry for the position she found herself in. I even thought about marking this DNF and moving on to something else. I’m really glad that I didn’t though, because as the story progressed, it slowly became more than it first appeared.

The vow of silence she took seemed to be for selfish attention seeking reasons initially, but the unforeseen result of not speaking allows her to really examine the person that she is as well as the people and things she had surrounded herself with. Her silence also caused her to listen more fully to what people where saying and to consider their words instead of simply replying. Through her vow, she learns about friendship, accountability, loyalty, and the power of words. Her character grows very slowly throughout the story as she acknowledges some hard truths about herself and attempts to become worthy of the new friends she’s made and, of course, the boy. There’s always a boy… 🙂

No flowery prose or layers of meaning, the writing was as simple and straightforward as the story itself and felt authentic and perceptive. I enjoyed Speechless much more than I thought I would after reading the first couple chapters and encourage anyone who chooses to read this to push through that initial reaction to these characters because the book does get much much better.

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Review: The Immortal Rules

August 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Immortal Rules
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Immortal Rules is a dark, violent, edge of your seat, up all night kind of story. And it is hands down the very best book I’ve read all year. I read and loved Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, but The Immortal Rules is even better. I mean, the first line of the story starts with a public execution, and it just gets darker from there. I was 9 pages in when I knew this book would make it to my favorites list.

The world that Kagawa has created is terrifyingly brilliant with an almost post-apocalyptic or dystopian feel. The US has been decimated by a disease that almost destroyed the human race to the point that vampires, who had before hidden among humans were alarmed that their food source was being wiped out and so created cities where they ruled and kept the humans penned in like sheep under the guise of “protection”. Because outside these walled cities among the ruins of other towns and cities were inhabited by mindless scavenging “rabids” which are essentially vampire zombies. Yes, I said Vampire Zombies. So the vampires protected the humans from these things as well as provided food and necessities to the registered and in return for this protection, the humans were required to give a quota of blood every couple weeks. Those unregistered humans were not required to give blood, but they also were not given food and the penalty for stealing is death. The majority of the humans live in what is called the Fringe, outside the walls of the inner vampire sanctum, but inside the walls of the city itself and out of reach of the rabids.

The main character, Allison, was basically a street urchin, living in abandoned building, eating garbage, bugs, rats or anything just to stay alive. Allie’s bravery, loyalty, and wit quickly endeared her to me. She seemed to be always struggling with a balance between self-preservation and the need to protect those she cared about. Kagawa certainly wasn’t kind to her, this poor girl, throughout the story gets the crap kicked out of her both physically and emotionally as she attempts to hang on to her humanity. While Allie was a kick-ass main character, everyone in the story had a depth and background that made the entire story just come to life. I was drawn so deeply into this story that there were several times that my husband spoke to me from right in front of me that I didn’t even notice him standing there. (He so loves when I do that :P)

And yes, there is a bit of romance between all the blood and starvation. Vampire Zombies be damned, teens will insist upon falling in love, no matter how hopeless it seems. In this situation, however, the romance was absolutely fitting. It built so slowly from them beginning to trust one another based on their actions, then coming to understand one another’s differences. It added yet another poignant element to the story and it definitely worked, despite their differences and despite how impossible things may seem.

The writing was stellar, flawless. Kagawa effortlessly built this bleak and frightening world populated with terrifying creatures, a broken society, and a heroine with a strength built on years of pain and disappointment and yet a capacity to love that almost defies that world she grew up in. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up The Immortal Rules, but I know I had no idea I would be so completely blown away by this incredible story. If you haven’t read this yet, you should do so immediately.

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Review: Monument 14

August 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Monument 14
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Monument 14 takes place in small town Colorado where 14 kids, ranging in ages from 5 to 16-17 find themselves trapped in a Greenway store while the world falls apart around them. On a seemingly normal day, Dean and his tech-savvy little brother Alex race to catch their school bus. On the way to school, crushing oversize hail begins denting the roof of the bus, breaking the windows, and in an effort to get the kids to safety, the two school buses quickly go to the Greenway store, which seems to be like a super Walmart. Once inside, the bus driver goes to find help and the 14 kids find themselves alone in the store as the riot gates come down essentially trapping them inside, which may be a good thing since they soon find out that a series of natural, and not-so-natural disasters are tearing the US to pieces around them. The Greenway store might be the safest place to be, unless they fall apart themselves.

The plot was pretty fast paced. It definitely kept me reading up into the wee hours of the night. The story had a sort of Lord of the Flies feel with the older kids having a power struggle about who would be in charge and how best to survive. I very much enjoyed the whole concept of the story while the execution sometimes left a little to be desired. Nonetheless, Monument 14 certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.

The story is told from the perspective of Dean, a bookish teen who is chronicling the events as they unfold. The interaction between all of the characters was fascinating. There is one particular character, a 5 or 6 year old named Max who told some of the most outlandish stories about his life. While there were a few crushes and hookups among the older teens, there wasn’t any real romance in this story, although it seemed to be heading in that direction.

The writing sometimes fell a bit short for me. I felt like using the teenage Dean to narrate the story was a way to compensate for less than stellar writing. The story felt choppy in places and jumped around a bit and I would have liked to seen some more character development in the older teens. However, as you see by my 4 star rating, I truly enjoyed Monument 14 and I won’t hesitate to pick up the next in the series. There was quite a cliffhanger ending and not much was resolved in this book, which is a pet peeve of mine and I considered only rating this 3 stars because of that. But I didn’t simply because I really liked this book, despite its flaws.

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Review – Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

August 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneAmelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Amelia Anne is dead and gone but she apparently left behind her thesaurus because her story was quite adjective-alicious. But, once I waded through the overabundance of metaphors and descriptive prose, it was a fairly ok read….until the last 30 or so pages. That ending was bullshit. I was so angry about the fact that I had been drawn in to the suspense of this murder/mystery only to be rewarded with some half ass muddle-muck of an ending. Not to mention that it just WOULD NOT, COULD NOT logically have happened that way.

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This less than perfect ending, the overly descriptive writing, and the fact that I found the main character, Becca, to be utterly unlikable, left me a rather grumpy reader after finishing this book. I guess one could look at it as Becca was a “flawed” main character, but I just thought she was nothing but angst and asshattery. This is an example of some of her “personality”

“Rebecca Williams?”
“That’s me,” I said, hoisting my backpack. The fat girl-whose named turned out to be, hilariously, Bonnie Biggs-smiled and waved at me.

Ugh. Needless to say, I did not enjoy Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone and certainly don’t recommend it. However, there are other people who thought that this was a wonderful story and if you’re at all curious about this book, take a look at Wendy’s review here for another perspective.

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Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

August 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first saw the title a while back, I had first thought it would be some ridiculously campy, cheesy vampire book. But then the movie previews caught my attention and made me reconsider. And since I’ve decided to watch the movie, I of course, had to first read the book.

AL:VH was so much more than I was expecting; rich in detail, the story quickly drew me in and I was hooked. The story was interspersed with newspaper articles and speeches that I assume are actual historical fact that gave it all a bit of frightening plausibility and also had me pausing the audio to google random details to learn a little more.

While I loved Abe’s character, the vampires were one of the biggest surprises for me. These are not your run of the mill, bite your neck and drink your blood kind of vamps. These were some of the most frighteningly vicious vampires I’ve encountered in fiction. This book was certainly a lot more bloody and violent than I anticipated, even after watching the movie previews. Also, the authors ideas of how slavery was affected by vampires was horrifyingly brilliant, the stuff of nightmares, but effective.

There were areas where it got a bit slow and tedious but never to the point where I was ready to walk away from the book. I’m glad I decided to read this and I’m really looking forward to the movie and hope that it lives up to the book.

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Review: Raziel

August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Raziel
Raziel by Kristina Douglas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Raziel By Kristina Douglas was much better than I had expected. I usually don’t have much luck with books about angels, with the exception of Angelfall and now Raziel, apparently winged hotties are just not my thing. There were some elements of this book that reminded me of Angelfall which I LOVED, and which initially drew my interest in reading this book. Raziel is definitely for adults and has some pretty detailed erotic scenes which I was so happy to find were not overdone and cheesy as in so many adult books (I thought they were actually quite well done).

The main character, Allie’s new and uncomfortable shoes distract her to the point that she doesn’t notice the huge bus bearing down on her until it is too late and she finds herself standing next to what must be an angel? demon? vampire? He informs her that she is dead and he is there to escort her to heaven. This doesn’t work out exactly the way Raziel, her fallen angel escort, has planned, however, and now he has to explain to the other Fallen why he has brought this human woman to Sheol to live among them. Allie would like an explanation about this as well because she’s not really sure what she’s doing living among these terrifying, grumpy, gorgeous creatures but she’s fairly certain she doesn’t quite fit in. Meanwhile, the Nephilim are at the gates and if they break through, it will certainly be a bloodbath.

While there were some parts that were almost painfully slow, Raziel was still an satisfyingly entertaining read. I guess I like my angels to be more the dark, apocalyptic, dangerous type instead of all goodness and light. The background of the Fallen and their ongoing conflict with Uriel and search for Lucifer was original and one of the most interesting parts of the story. I’m looking forward to learning where the author takes it in the sequel because the ending left a lot of unanswered questions. This is certainly a series I’d recommend for fans of the genre.

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Review: Enchanted

August 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

Enchanted
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanted introduces the reader to Sunday Woodcutter, a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, who discovers and befriends a talking frog near the fairy well and begins telling him stories of her eccentric family. This family includes her rather normal father, her mother Seven, her sisters Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, her brothers Jack, Peter, and adopted brother Trix. The Woodcutter family were my favorite part of the story and I would love to read more of their adventures!

I LOVED everything about this book. Enchanted is an enchanting blend of many popular fairy tales into one whimsical feel-good story. It is sweet and charming without being syrupy. There is a bit in the middle where I got a little confused with how the story was jumping around, but all loose ends were tied up at the end.

This is the perfect story for anyone who enjoys fairy tales or for something light and fun to read in between reading a “heavier” series.

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