Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's not you, it's me.

So yeah, I am breaking up with this blog. Blogger is just not working out for me and it's become too frustrating for me to try and work with it anymore. But do not fret! I will still be posting reviews on Goodreads and on a new Tumblr blog called Flying Kick-a-pow! Reviews. Hope to see y'all around!

- Brigid

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review #9: DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry

UGGHHH I know it's been months and months, and I promised to post this review a lot sooner. I'm sorry, I'm a terrible person. But as it is the beginning of a new year, I promise that I will stop neglecting this blog so much and actually remember to post my reviews on it. :)

You can also find this review on Goodreads.

Series: Benny Imura, #2
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This review is fairly brief since I covered a lot about why I love this series in my review of the first book. So, you may want to read that one first. 

Nevertheless, even if I repeat myself a bit, let me talk about why I loved this book:

A lot of things that I loved about the first book were still present in the second. The world-building gives the story a compelling and dark atmosphere that drew me in and kept me interested the whole time. Although the book was long, it was very fast-paced and exciting. The action and violence are nicely dispersed and handled well. There's a terrific balance between the fighting sequences and the parts where the characters just get to talk to each other––and thus, there is a lot of great character development going on, while the story is still thrilling. Also, I FREAKING LOVE TOM. HE IS THE BEST.

There are some cool additions to the cast of characters in this one, especially other bounty hunters like Sally Two-Knives, and J-Dog and Dr. Skillz. 

I also loved that we got to see Gameland in this one. Throughout the first book I was eager to find out more about it, so I was overjoyed that we finally got to experience it in the second book. Well ... I guess that sounds kind of sick, because obviously Gameland is horrible. But you know what I mean. I was glad that it didn't really come into play until the second book, because I see how there was already so much going on in the first book, it might have been too much. So, in the second installment seemed like a good place for it. And it definitely lived up to its horrific reputation.

Another one of my favorite parts in this book was the relationship between Lilah and Chong. I was glad that Chong played more of an important role in this book, and he steadily became one of my favorite characters. And since Lilah was already also one of my favorites, the fact that they were a couple ... it just makes me explode with fangirl-ism. Anyway, I just think they're both terrific characters and they balance each other so well. I love them. I just want to squish them. ... I know in my review of the first book, I said something about how I wanted Benny and Lilah to be a thing. And well, I see how that could still be interesting. But, I love Lilah and Chong too much as a couple, now. So, FORGET THAT.

Although, I have to say––as I also mentioned in my review of book one––I'm still not really enthusiastic about Benny and Nix as a couple. Throughout the second book, I tried and tried to love them together, but I just ... couldn't. I've been trying to decide why, and I guess I don't have a great reason. Maybe it's because they got together so quickly in the first book, and then ... that was that. I tend to be more of a fan of couples who take a while to get together, with more doubt and disagreements before they finally decide to be a couple or whatever. Sorry, that was a pretty lame explanation. But, I don't know. I just think they're okay but not the best fictional couple ever. So, meh. 

Ahhh and the ending, the ending ... MY POOR HEART. I won't spoil it, but just know that at the end of the book I was pretty much like this:

But really, this book was good. Very good. I love Jonathan Maberry's take on the zombie idea––and how the story has as much heart as it does horror. As he put it so nicely in a recent YA Lit Chat on Twitter, "I don't write about monsters––I write about people who overcome monsters." 

Next Review: DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review #8: THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa

Hi everyone! Sorry it's taken me so long to post another review. I've just started my second year of college and things have been crazy and ... yeah. But I still don't have a very good excuse. I actually wrote this review more than a month ago, so ... I'm just a terrible person, I guess. But also, this blog was having some technical difficulties but I think it's taken care of!

Anyway, so here it is. 

As always, you can also find this review on Goodreads!

Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Once upon a time, an author decided to combine the two most overused aspects of current YA literature––vampires and dystopia. And .... she actually wrote a book that was REALLY FREAKING AWESOME. The end.

I know, Patrick. I know. I wasn't expecting it either.

So, I admit that I know next to nothing about Julie Kagawa, except for that she wrote the Iron Fey series, which I have not read. I heard mixed things about them, and I'm not really into faerie books, so I'd decided against reading them. But after seeing what she did with vampires, I'm much more intrigued.

There was a lot to love about this book.

The world Kagawa creates is dark and terrifying. And I think the scariest thing was how realistic it felt, compared to most other vampire books. A lot of the vampire books I've read involve vampires trying to hide from everyone, pretending to be normal, so on and so forth. And Julie Kagawa is like, "FUCK THAT SHIT. If vampires really existed, THEY'D TAKE OVER THE WHOLE FREAKING WORLD." I mean, that makes much more sense to me. Why mope around pretending to be normal, when you could just take over the world and start eating people left and right without anyone stopping you? Sounds good to me. So, you get the idea. Kagawa created a more original and intriguing vampire world, full of violence and paranoia and gore and all that other stuff I love so much.

Secondly, I loved our protagonist, Allie––a girl who has recently become a vampire, and is living with a group of human rebels and trying to keep her true identity a secret. She's very tough and super cool, doesn't need anyone to save her, chops people up with swords ... What's not to like? Also, she was Asian, which was cool because a vast majority of YA protagonists are Caucasian and it's good to see some diversity.

((On a related side note: The cover really pisses me off. When the book mentioned briefly that Allie was Asian, I had to read the sentence a few times because I was like, "What? Really?" I look at the cover of the book again, and I'm fairly sure I'm not imagining things. That girl is clearly white. ... Either that, or the model really is Asian but they tried to cover it up with an awful lot of eye make-up. I thought maybe it was just me, but as I've been looking through reviews, I see I'm not the only person who was angered by this. WTH. This is not cool. Hopefully they'll make more of an effort when the paperback cover comes out. And when the other books in the series come out. Because come on ... really? This is just offensive.))

Anyway, I digress ...

There are only a couple of reasons why I knocked off half a star.

First of all, I wasn't a huge fan of Zeke. I didn't dislike him, but I just found him a little bland. I mean, he's a nice guy, but I would have liked to have seen him become a more flawed and fleshed-out character. I just wasn't really rooting for him and Allie to be a couple. I did, on the other hand, really like Kanin––Allie's vampire-mentor at the beginning of the book. He reminded me a lot of Lestat from Interview with the Vampire (which is another vampire book I like ... although to be honest, I like the movie better; it's more ... concise. BUT ANYWAY...). I'm not sure if Kagawa was ever hinting at a romance between Allie and Kanin ... but if there is one––or heck, even if there isn't one––I SHIP IT. I DON'T CARE WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. I MEAN, LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THIS SHIP IS:

Ah-hem. Anyway. What I mean is, I hope there is more Kanin in the next book(s), because I was super intrigued by him.

My other minor problem was that I found the plot itself a little clichéd and predictable. I mean, we've all seen it before: a) future-dystopian society in which two "species" (can't really think of a better word for it) are set against each other, b) person from one side decides to wander over to the opposite side and pretend to be one of them and/or at least pretend to be friendly with them, c) this person's secret enemy identity is revealed and everyone feels so betrayed and it's one big horrible misunderstanding! Oh no! And ... yeah. I've seen it in Uglies, in The Host, in James Cameron's "Avatar" ... Heck, I've written that story before. I mean, it's a cliché that I like, but ... well, it's rather predictable since it seems to always turn out the same way.

But over all, I loved this book. It was exciting, it was fast-paced, it had a mostly-good cast of characters, it was well-written and properly developed ... It was great. If any book can restore your faith in YA vampire books, then this may be it.

Next Review: DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry ... coming soon. And this time I really mean "soon" and not in like more than a month. Really.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review #7: CINDER by Marissa Meyer

You can also find this review on Goodreads!

Author: Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2012
My Rating 4/5 Stars

Ugh I'm sorry guys, I'm like 8 books behind on reviews. Not that there's much of a point in apologizing, I guess ... I just like to imagine that there are thousands of people just sitting there, drooling, waiting on the edges of their seats for my next review! And uh, that's the only thing that motivates me to keep writing reviews. So don't crush my hopes and dreams, please.

Anyway, since I'm so behind on reviews, I'm going to try and put this as concisely as possible.

I liked this book a lot. It was surprisingly good. I remember seeing advertisements for it on Goodreads a long time ago all the time. And I'd be like, "Umm what? What on earth is that? Cyborg Cinderella? WTF." And I didn't think I'd actually read it. But then, I started hearing positive things about it. So, I decided to give it a try. And, well, I liked it.

When it comes down to it, Cinder is just a very entertaining book. It's not the greatest or most genius thing ever written, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

I adore fairy tale retellings––especially ones that make me see the fairy tale in a totally different way. I had never read a retelling of Cinderella in which Cinderella was a cyborg. And although the premise sounds ridiculous, I thought Marissa Meyer pulled it off well.

First of all, Cinder was a likable character. She was a tough, strong, smart female lead. Unlike the Cinderella in the original fairy tale, she wasn't sitting around whining and waiting for Prince Charming or a fairy godmother to pop out of nowhere. She got things done for herself, by herself.

Secondly, the world-building was really cool. It was interesting to see the story reset in a future Beijing, which was a refreshing and unique aspect of the story. I liked all the new technology, the politics, etc. It seemed to be thought out pretty well. It was sometimes a little confusing, and could have used some more development here and there, but for the most part I found it original and intriguing.

Thirdly, there were a lot of interesting takes on the secondary characters. In this version, only the stepmother and one of the stepsisters were bitches! And the other stepsister was actually Cinder's friend. So, I thought that was cool. I also adored Iko, Cinder's robot-friend ... who I guess was the fairy godmother replacement? Errrm I don't know. But she was super adorable and awesome. And Prince Kai! AAHHHH! He was just so sweet and sexy, and over all a super awesome love interest. He wasn't creeperish or stalkerish or controlling, or any of those other terrible personality traits that a lot of YA male love interests have. HOORAY!

I don't have too much to complain about. Like I said, there were parts/aspects of the story that I found a little bit confusing. And there were also parts that felt a little ... silly? I don't know. It's hard to explain what I mean, I guess. Anyway ... also, I didn't really like the ending. It was that type of ending where I got to the last page and I was like, "Wait, that's it? Am I missing pages?" I'm not a big fan of cliffhangers, and in this case it just left the story feeling incomplete. I know it's a series, but I still would have liked a bit more closure of some sort.

Anyway, this was a fun read and something I highly recommend. I'm excited for the sequels, and to see what Meyer does with other fairy tales! :)

Next Review: THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa ... coming soon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review #6: ÆRENDEN: THE CHILD RETURNS by Kristen Taber

You can also find this review on Goodreads!

Author: Kristen Taber
Publication Date: May 21st, 2012
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Hey guys! I am friends with the lovely Kristen Taber, who wrote this book. Today is her birthday, so I'm promoting her awesome work! You should all check it out, and spread the word. (The Kindle edition is free on Amazon today!)

17-year-old Meaghan witnesses her parents' death at the hands of evil creatures called Mardróch. Luckily, Meaghan is able to escape from the creatures with her best friend Nick––who tells her that the Mardróch came from another world. And if that's not crazy enough, he and she are from that same world as well. Soon they are off to this world, a land called Ærenden where they begin a dangerous journey to Nick's home. And in the meantime, Meaghan is slowly learning the truth about who she is and where she comes from.

I tend to stay away from epic fantasy type things, since it's not really my favorite genre. However, I found The Child Returns quite enjoyable.

First of all, Kristen is a great writer. I think a lot of fantasy books tend to go overly-flowery in the prose, but Kristen is very to-the-point, while she also is able to capture vivid images and emotions. Her world-building is fantastic and creative––including vines that can strangle people and monkeys that can freeze you with their eyes. Also, Nick and Meaghan are both likable characters. The relationship between them is cute, and I'm curious to see how it develops in the sequels.

Over all, I found Kristen's debut novel to be very exciting and fast-paced, and it left me hungry for more. Can't wait for the sequel! This is an indie book that is definitely worth checking out. Enjoy! :)

(Side note: Oh yeah, I said I'd review CINDER next but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Don't worry, that review is coming soon!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review #5: THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson

You can also find this review on Goodreads!

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publication Date: April 29th, 2008
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I need to stop reading so many books so that I don't fall so behind on reviews. (Haha, who am I kidding ...)

Anyway, I'll keep this one fairly short and to-the-point, because I have a lot of reviews to do. Plus, I don't think I have a whole lot to say.

I loved the premise of this book. It's kind of hard to talk about without spoiling the "big twist." But, let's just say it brings up a lot of intriguing questions about identity––what makes you who you are, and what makes you human? If you lose all your memories, are you still the same person, or are you brand new? That kind of thing. I think that was the strongest part of the book. The themes are definitely interesting and thought-provoking.

But, over all, I felt like the execution fell a bit short. In my opinion, it could have been a lot more innovative and powerful.

My biggest problem was with the main character, Jenna. I just found her to be rather bland. I understood that her situation was difficult and she had a right to be angry with what had happened to her ... but still, she came off as bratty and annoying a lot of the time. I got a bit sick of her angst-ing and blaming everyone else for her problems. I suppose she had a right to feel that way––but it still made her hard to sympathize with, when it felt like everything was about her and no one else.

My second-greatest issue was the lack of world-building. The concept of the future world felt half-baked and not fully realized. It had that type of "near future" feel where everything wasn't drastically different, but there were enough changes that it was obviously a future time period. I don't really have an issue with that idea, but in general I felt disconnected from the world in which the characters were situated. I wish there had a bit more description of what everything looked like and how it all worked, because I had trouble imagining it.

Thirdly, there was the epilogue. I found it disappointing. I won't spoil anything, but ... I'll just say, when the last chapter ended I thought it was a solid, powerful ending. I enjoy endings that are open-ended––endings that don't resolve everything and leave things to the imagination. Then I turned the page and ... the epilogue happened. It was one of those epilogues that skips ahead in time and just tries to tie everything up a bit too tightly. In my opinion, I thought it took a lot away from the impact of the book.

In conclusion, this book was okay for me but I wasn't a huge fan. The idea was great, the writing was pretty good, but I thought it could have been stronger in characterization and world-building.

Next Review: CINDER by Marissa Meyer ... coming soon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review #4: THE SHAPE OF WATER by Anne Spollen

You can also find this review on Goodreads!

Author: Anne Spollen
Publication Date: April 8th, 2008
My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

15-year-old Magda's mother has recently died. Now Magda must cope with the loss, while also trying to solve family secrets and find her own place in the world––all the while dealing with several surreal elements that have leaked into her mind. 

I'll be honest … I picked up this book because the cover is freaking gorgeous. There's no denying that. Seriously, the back of the book could have said "POOP POOP POOP" and I still would have read the book anyway. Because, man … THAT COVER. Such gorgeous artwork. And a cool, ironic title as well. Sounds good!

Well, the inside of the book was a bit disappointing for me. It wasn't bad, but I felt like I'd seen the same thing done before, but done better than this. 

Some areas for discussion:

The writing:

When I first started this book, I was in love with the writing style. I found it unusual and poetic, with a lot of great imagery. That didn't necessarily change, but after a while it started to kind of lose its glamour. Sure, the writing was very good, but it just didn't strike me as particularly realistic. Although it was pretty, it didn't flow naturally; it started to feel a bit forced, and it made it harder to connect with Magda when she didn't narrate like a normal person or have much of a distinct voice. 

In addition, Anne Spollen went a bit overboard with the metaphors and similes. Obviously, water and fish and other aquatic things are a big theme in the book, but after a while, it was just like, OKAY I GET IT. You can stop that now. 

Speaking of Magda…

As I said, I didn't feel very connected to her. It was partly the writing style and partly that I found her to be an unlikable person.

*Minor Spoiler* My main problem with Magda was that she was an arsonist. She enjoyed going off into the forest near her home and starting fires, apparently not giving a crap for the lives of the people living in her neighborhood. 

Sorry, but grief isn't an excuse to endanger other people's lives. I understand she was sad, but that doesn't make it okay for her to do such a horrible thing. Not only that, but she allowed another girl to be wrongly accused and driven out of town, and didn't do a thing about it. Ummm. Not cool, girl.

The pretentiousness:

I feel like a snob when I call something pretentious, because I feel like it's a harsh word. But, that's the term that comes to mind. Over all, I felt that this book was just trying way, way too hard. As I mentioned before, the writing was a little too heavy on symbolism, but it was more than that.

There was a lot going on in the book that felt really unnecessary. Magda encountered a lot of people/situations that served pretty much no purpose in the story, and instead it just felt like filler. For example, she had a conversation with a lady whose job was putting make-up on dead people, and talked to a guy who made women out of driftwood, and she had a random lesbian encounter with one of her friends. … I mean, these things could have been necessary, but they all went by so quickly and were hardly ever mentioned again after they happened. Ultimately, they just felt like artsy/quirky things that the author just wanted to add in for no particular reason. 

Then, there was the surrealistic aspect of the story. Where to begin.

Look, I'm a big fan of surrealism if it's done effectively, and I've seen it done very well in several YA books. But surrealism is hard to pull off, and if it's not executed properly then it just ventures into "WTF" territory––and I felt like that's what happened with this book.

Anyway, the surreal parts mostly involved Magda imagining a family of fish talking in her head, dressing up in weird costumes and arguing with each other. I understood it was supposed to be like, memories of her parents arguing that she had kind of suppressed or something. But why fish? As much as I tried to get into it, I just couldn't help but feel it was a little too ridiculous.

And then there was this thing where, whenever she was upset, Magda imagined herself turning into a giraffe. Uhhh … ? 

I don't know, I can't even try to understand what that was supposed to symbolize. 

So! In conclusion, this book was just okay for me. The writing was generally good, although I started to lose interest in it towards the end. It was original at least, but the surrealism and quirkiness felt rather forced. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, I've read similar books that just pulled off the themes much better. If you want to read a YA book involving surrealism and grief, then read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Or if you just want a surrealist YA book in general, check out The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

Next Review: THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson ... coming soon.