Friday, July 18, 2014

Forgotten Fridays (#2): Vampire Academy


This week I joined Forgotten Fridays with the lovely ladies of Great Imaginations!

What is Forgotten Fridays? It’s a fun feature that was created to give attention to the older books (published a year or more ago) that we review and discuss together! Check out more on this feature by visiting Great Imaginations! (The above image also belongs to Great Imaginations)



 




We were reading and discussing Vampire Academy-- which happens to be one of my favorite series ever, so this was a fun re-read for me, and a first time for the others. After re-reading Vampire Academy (probably my fourth time haha) for the first time in a couple of years, I saw it in a slightly different light. Have we ever discussed how as a blogger, I’ve noticed my reading tastes changing through the year--me becoming more critical at times? Yeah well it happens.

Not to say I didn’t still enjoy reading, of course. I just realized how much different things have changed since the last time I read it. VA is great for its mythos and unique characters, but I did see where it was a little cheesy. And the slut shaming I never really paid attention to before. Overall, I still enjoyed going back into the world and characters. Especially being reminded how great Dimitri was at his job. Haha.

I love group discussions and read-a-longs though. Here’s why, the fun sharing of the conversation between some very different readers. I think we all liked it really--and the analyzing of the story and characters we each had.

Hey check out the discussion we had, which is also seen over at Great Imaginations!


Bekka: Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really excited to talk about this book.

Lyn: I have to admit, it was better than I thought. There were just a few things that bothered me, but overall, it was promising.

Pixie: It’s always been a bit of a funny first book to a series for me. The first time I’d read it, I almost didn’t want to continue the series. A little cheesy.

Kara: I mostly liked it. Ultimately, I had a few issues *coughs* the writing and the infodumping. But as far as the story itself, I liked it. Also liked the vampire mythology and thought it was unique.

Bekka: THE WRITING. So painful at times. It could have used some tightening, especially in the weird way the author phrased things, like “I arrived at the cafeteria.”

Lyn: I had issues with the world building. Why would the stronger vampires not take over the weak, non-breeding vamps? Did I miss something?

Pixie: I always wondered about that with the vamps, too, Lyn. But I’m with Kara on really enjoying the mythology.

Lyn: It was a different take. Kara, you are right about the info dumping. I felt sort of lost most of the time. Confusion was a large part of the story for me.

Bekka: Totally agree. There were times, especially during the explanation of the breeding system that it all went right over my head and I just kinda had to roll with it.

Lyn: I agree, Bekka. My brain was on overload at times.
I know it sounds like I am knocking the book. I did really like Rose quite a bit.

Kara: Yes, I LOVED Rose. For the most part. There were a couple of times where I was a little irritated by her recklessness and found it to be a bit much, but I really did like the evolution of her character and her devotion to protecting Lissa.

Lyn: It was really nice to read about a strong-bonded girl-girl relationship.I found that so refreshing, and I miss that in YA fiction at times. I loved the theme of friendship and loyalty.

Pixie: Rose is probably one of my favorite female characters of all-time. And I love the bond her and Lissa share because we don’t get to see many best friend relationships in books.

Bekka: Rose made this book for me, all the way. I don’t really understand what it is, because I feel like if you put all of her characteristics together (physically attractive, funny, confident, sarcastic, etc) you would come out with a “Mary Sue” type character, but it SO WORKED for Rose.

Kara: You know what I didn’t understand? The Dimitry fangirling. Maybe he gets better in later installments, but I thought his character was supremely flat. I don’t understand the big deal and wondered the whole time while I was reading when he would get more of a personality. I just didn’t see anything unique to swoon over.

Lyn: I….fangirled. I love the whole stoic, ice-cold male prototype. I like to try to win over my book crushes. I think it might be a personality thing. I didn’t like how he shamed Rose about her sexuality, but I just really felt attracted to his character.

Bekka: I fangirled over the relationship, but not necessarily the character. I loved Rose’s crush on him and her unabashed flirting that sometimes crossed the line into Totally Hitting on Him territory.

Kara: Okay, maybe it was my issues with the writing because I found all of this flat. I do believe this was the author’s first YA book, right? Maybe that’s it. I just feel like everything was all on the surface and I didn’t connect with a lot of it, including the relationship. Just when I would start to get into it, she would summarize or infodump and yank me out of the story. There was SO MUCH summarizing. It was brutal for me. Especially towards the end. Major telling instead of showing. The amateur quality just stuck out at me.

Bekka: Amateur is exactly the word I would use to describe the writing, which is a shame because I think the story underneath is awesome.

Kara: Yeah, SO awesome. I agree. But the writing quality declined, and now I wonder if her adult book was the same or she wrote on a more amateur level because she doesn’t think teens need it. O_o

Lyn: I really want to read Gameboard of the Gods and see if her writing has grown. It feels like something the author wrote at the start of her career (which, I see, is true). She has a very detailed mythology in her story, and I would love to see if the writing matches the world building.

Kara: I have not heard good things from others about that book. A lot of people I follow either DNFed or didn’t like it because they found it boring. If you read it, I would be interested for sure to know how you felt. As for this one, I am rating it 3 stars. Normally this would mean I am probably not going to continue on, but in this case, I think it might get better a book or two into it, plus the mythology has me intrigued.

Bekka: I’m gonna rate it a 3.5. I just really loved Rose, I don’t know. As for the rest of the series? Hell yes, I am continuing. I kind of want to drop everything and just read read read Vampire Academy.

Lyn: 3 stars. I want to continue because I invested in the UK version of the books. The covers are to DIE for. Dearly Departed Pixie said she rated it 3.5.

Kara: We are reading Jellicoe Road next which is Lyn’s pick and I don’t know about you guys, but I am excited. I have wanted to read this FOREVER but could not find the time.

Lyn: I DNFed the first time around, but Jessie convinces me to push through and read it. I am thrilled to give it another shot.

Bekka: Same. I made it about twenty pages in, but it was soooo confusing. But everyone is NUTS for this book so I am going to give it a real shot this time.

Kara: I hope it doesn’t go the way of Going Bovine for me. LOL. Okay, are we finished?

Lyn: Yes, good, done, in the can.


As you can see, I wasn’t around long… and sadly we missed Jessie from Ageless Pages Reviews, which read it with us but didn't get to make the discussion. But it still worked out. :)

Also, my original rating of this book has went from a 4.5 down to the mentioned above, 3.5. It’s not that I liked it any less than before, I just noticed that I was being a bit too generous as a reviewer with the rating. Book two is a must. That’s when we meet Adrian! Yippeee!

Have you read Vampire Academy? Would you agree with some of the points made? Are you thinking of reading this one? What about the movie?? (Which I could probably write a separate review for on its own--I did at my entertainment blog when I first saw it. Had so much to say.)

See you again soon, lovely readers!








Friday, June 27, 2014

ARC Review: Broken Monsters

Title: Broken Monsters
Author: Lauren Beukes
Category/Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Horror
Expected Release: September 16th

See it at Goodreads


New York Times bestselling author Lauren Beukes returns with her next smash crossover thriller.
Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards; half-boy, half-deer, somehow fused. The cops nickname him "Bambi," but as stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?

If you're Detective Versado's over-achieving teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you are the disgraced journalist, Jonno, you do whatever it takes to investigate what may become the most heinous crime story in memory. If you're Thomas Keen, you'll do what you can to keep clean, keep your head down, and try to help the broken and possibly visionary artist obsessed with setting loose The Dream, tearing reality, assembling the city anew.

If Lauren Beukes' internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her BROKEN MONSTERS is the genre-redefining thriller about the horror of our city's future.



It was hard marking this review. I’d started off really quite loving it so wonderfully, and to be completely honest by the end, there wasn’t anything in the writing itself to say that it was terrible or off the charts great. I’m sure many people will love this book. It’s just… I have a bit of a weak stomach when it comes to animal death/descriptives and details of any animal violence. I can handle it to an extent for a majority of titles I read, because it’s usually not so detailed or abundant in the reading, but this title does get quite descriptive within the first hundred pages. I had to keep setting it down and that was just unfortunate…I did enjoy the words and found the characters unusually interesting during other times. There are many characters introduced in the beginning, which can get mildly confusing until you get them all in order. I won’t lie-- after I finally picked it back up, I skimmed the last half for the most part and final few pages so I could spoil the outcome (so I’d know the answer to the mystery at least). That could tell you that it really wasn’t attention-grabbing at times, but still, it was worth me knowing the answer so I didn‘t want to just NOT finish it completely… I just couldn’t risk reading anymore possible animal violence in future pages. Maybe I’ll try re-reading for a more thorough, slow read in the future. But I would count this as well-enough read to rate it now because I read well over half, know the characters, story, plot, ending, etc.

Broken Monsters will keep you up, too. It’s not light on the senses, having been a read full of scary things and wow Beukes… In a strange and unusual way, I found it quotable and artistic at the same time despite some of the ugliness that was happening to the characters. It was beautiful and crafty. I did enjoy many parts to it. And characters and their interactions. Just certain areas I couldn’t get past as I already mentioned. Ha.

This having been my first Lauren Beukes novel though didn’t turn me off from wanting to read more of her work. Her writing is beautiful and full of wonderful imagery and heart-pounding emotion. I’d love to pick up more titles with this author’s name.

Sad that I couldn’t find myself more immersed in this one due to some unfortunate problem--but we all have our reading preferences I know. At least I’m pretty certain this is going to be one awesome read for many others.

(Hey… I would give it a 5 for that cover alone. One of the best covers I’ve ever seen.)

 





Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Haul (BEA Part Two and other things)

Buckle up, it's going to be a long post. This is THE HAUL.

But it's more than just my BEA Haul. I wanted to include books/ebooks I received in the last week or two as well while I was at this. And there's pics. And lots of flailing. So yeah. Let's just get the show on the road now, shall we? :D

Let me start by saying this is actually a post in relation to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. I don't post often with this feature, I know, but I'm pretty much making up for that right now with this one. And will try and get around to doing so more in the coming months.

I'm going to begin with the easy ones before I get to the major haul from BEA.

The e-books I was approved for in the last two weeks on NetGalley/Edelweiss:

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club - Genevieve Valentine
Of Monsters and Madness - Jessica Verday
Stray - Elissa Sussman
In the End - Demitria Lunetta

Physical copies I received from pubs:

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead from Dutton.
The Jedi Doth Return from Quirk (have already read, enjoyed, and given away)

Purchased:

The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Highland Hearts - Hannah Howell (sshh, I have a secret enjoyment for some of these books)

Gifted (now here comes the BEA haul immediately following!):



Okay, so there's a story to this gift. One: I love love love TMNT. Don't judge me! Two: I have been trying to find Dreams of Gods and Monsters EVERYWHERE and I just couldn't and it made me really sad. I live in the sticks. I pretty much have to order a majority of my books when I want particular ones it seems. I was on the verge of ordering this, and was going to when I got back from BEA, until Lyn (Great Imaginations) handed it to me the night before our trip. Did I mention we traveled together? Oh, well, we did. I miss her already. I nearly screamed in her face though when I saw she got these for me. Just wait until she sees what I get her.


BEA HAUL!!





I paced myself people. I didn't get as much as I thought I'd get. And I didn't get invited to any parties this year, probably because it was my first year and I don't really know anyone or have any connections. I don't know. Maybe next year? Either way, I was still extremely happy and grateful for the books I did bring in. I picked up my biggest priority books I think -- Melissa Marr, Holly Black, and Sarah J. Maas especially. I really look forward to a lot of reading over the next few weeks.

So here's what I've got:

Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes
Made For You - Melissa Marr
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas
Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick
Famous in Love - Rebecca Serle
Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater
Mortal Heart - Robin LaFevers
Unhinged - A.G. Howard
Salt & Storm - Kendall Kulper
I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson
Lacy Eye - Jessica Treadway
The Boy Who Drew Monsters - Keith Donohue
Clariel - Garth Nix
The Map to Everwhere - Carrie Ryan & John Parke Davis
History of the Future - A.S. King
Messenger of Fear - Michael Grant
10:04 - Ben Lerner
The Jewel - Amy Ewing
A Plague of Unicorns - Jane Yolen
Gabriel Finley & the Raven's Riddle - George Hagen
Nest - Esther Ehrlich
On a Clear Day - Walter Dean Myers
Missing Reels - Farran Smith Nehme
Positive - Paige Rawl
Story of Land and Sea - Katy Simpson Smith
A Sudden Light - Gath Stein
Burn For Me - Ilona Andrews
The Question of Miracles - Elana K. Arnold
Tape - Steve Camden
Anatomy of a Misfit - Andrea Portes
Falling into Place - Amy Zhang
Lies We Tell Ourselves - Robin Talley
Belzhar - Meg Wolitzer


Book I'm already reading: Broken Monsters
Also currently reading The Forever Song. Can't wait to start reading Dreams of Gods & Monsters and Made For You soon. <3


Now I can't guarantee I'll read ALL of these. I know there's been a lot of drama the last few days regarding BEA and ARCs, so I'm going to say a few quick words: When I picked up my books, I had full intention of wanting them for reading/reviewing at that moment. I was caught up in the moment. Everyone is, am I right? Now that I am at home, with a deeper, longer look at each individual book, I can see there a few in this pile I probably won't be so in to after all. When it comes down to it, I'd much rather take the few I know would be disasters for me and host a fun giveaway (in which a reader from my blog can win a cool little bundle of about 3-4 books) and pass them on to someone that would have much more interest. Ya know? That's the whole gist of an ARC anyway. Passing them around, giving them out, promoting. And that's that from me on this particular topic. Lol.


Also... I'm still freaking out a bit over this:

<3





I can't wait until next year!!





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