Scribbling

I am a double time college student who volunteers at two libraries where I help decide what books to purchase. 

 

But mostly this is just about me trying to find time to read books in between. 

Bellman & Black - Diane Setterfield I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Real rating: 1.5


I’m really conflicted about this book. Writing wise, there’s absolutely, positively nothing wrong about this book. I liked the author's other book The Thirteenth Tale too.

This is a major case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” To be honest, I skimmed the last 30% of this book, and I really can’t say much of what happened because I did not care.

This book follows William Bellman, who accidentally kills a rook (crow, for those of you, like me, who only use the word rook in chess) when he’s little. Crows essentially remember this and proceed to kill everyone and then he makes a deal with someone and then I stopped caring.

Really, it’s not this book’s fault. I’m just not the audience for this. I read the word “ghost” in the summary and perked up. I like ghosts. Who doesn’t like ghosts? I love ghost stories more than anything because ghosts are these paranormal beings that get away with a lot of shit.

This is not a ghost story.

This is a character study. Which is fine. If you like character studies, read this book. It’s a great book for people who like character studies.

I don’t. I hate them.

This book spends a majority of the time detailing Bellman’s work at the mill and how good he is, all the calculations he runs in his head, what he does to keep the grief away. I don’t care.

Who cares about the mill and the work? I want to see these crows go crazy on Bellman! I want to see them sneakily assassinating everyone and killing all hope and love and being evil.



That’s a creepy ass bird that will literally alter their flight routes if one of their group is killed. I’m not joking. Crows can remember faces. They can stalk. This story should be one of the creepiest things ever.

It’s not. It’s a lot about Bellman at the mill. Entire chapters of him at the mill, his wife’s death? Hardly mentioned. Suddenly you’re at her funeral.

But the major problem with this book is that I hated the writing style. It was like if Edgar Allan Poe wrote sober. It lacked passion. You never connected with the characters. The prologue told you that everyone was going to die.

WHAT?!?!

Authors, please listen to me, if you tell me the ending of your book in the prologue, your book lacks all the bite. Yeah, we can read to find out what happens, but the surprise is gone. The tension is gone.

I KNOW THEY DIE!

But even with that, the way it’s written just seems too…nonchalant. “Bellman went here and they died” sort of thing. Like I said, the writing just lacks passion. You can’t connect with Bellman because the style doesn’t allow it.

So I guess, now that I’m thinking about it, this book doesn’t even work as a character study. If you can’t connect with the characters, then I just don’t see how this book is going to work for people who do like character studies.

There’s very little in the way of plot. The characters are boring, Dora’s the only one who manages to be interesting. The only thing this book has going for it is very lyrical writing.

And lots and lots about how Bellman is a really great mill worker and manager and everything he does is brilliant.

I just got this feeling that the author cared either very little about this or far too much. She was trying to follow writing styles of Poe and Shelley but forgoes character and plot.

If solid writing is enough to get you interested, then by all means read this book. If it’s not, I’d avoid it. But if you’re looking for an old fashioned ghost story with passionate writing, check out any of Edgar Allan Poe’s writing, and Frankenstein will give you plot and wonderful characters with the same writing style.
Strange Angels - St. Crow,  Lili I don't know how I'm seeing all these awesome reviews. I got maybe a quarter of the way in and had to ragequit.

YOU DO NOT REPEATEDLY REFER TO ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS AS A "HALF-BREED"!!!!!

I mean, what? How is that even a fucking thing?!!?

Ragequit because I couldn't deal with the half-breed comments.
These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner Five out of five! I want to cuddle with this book until it makes me forget about all those other crappy romances.

Review, unfortunately, has to wait until closer to publish date. But come December, I expect everyone to buy this book.
Shadows  - Paula Weston Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

There once was a girl who did not want a NetGalley account because all her friends said bad things about it. Those mean friends were wrong, of course, NetGalley is wonderful and this girl has gotten many books from them! But the first book, the one the girl wanted the absolute mostest was Shadows.

Oh, she prayed and pleaded. This girl had pre-ordered Shadows in January, she was so excited for it! And beyond all hope, the email came! And the girl got the book she wanted most of all.

And she read it as soon as she could, excitedly showing her hubby her new book on her Kindle and going and locking herself in her bedroom to the displeasure of her hubby.

She unlocked the door at 15%, letting her hubby back into the room and confusingly remarking "I hate the amnesia trope. Did they really use the amnesia trope? And why are the two characters making out after ten seconds?"

To the girl's displeasure, they were indeed using the amnesia trope, along with the "I only have eyes for you" trope. The girl supposed that some people may, indeed make out after ten seconds, but those really weren't the kinds of relationships this girl wanted to see, nor the ones found out of erotica books.

But the girl had hope! This is an angel book, after all. The girl has been working on writing her own angel book for what felt like a millenia. She loved anything and everything about angels.

"Oh. They're Nephilim. Again. That's fine, but do all the character's have to be assholes?"

Yes, indeed, little girl. All of the characters do have to be assholes in this book. Why! You're only thirty percent in! Wait until you meet everyone! Is there one likable character? Luckily, there is! Jason. Goldilocks. Too bad all his surprises were transparent.

"Wait. Is Gabe really that stupid?"

Absolutely! Why not go off without protection when people are trying to kill you? This girl wondered and wondered and thought of a myriad of reasons. Gabe thought of none.

"They're really going to do that to her?! She's supposed to be their sister! What the fuck is that going to do?"

Ah ah ah! This girl was forgetting that ALL characters are assholes, and not assholes with common sense or dignity? These are the lovely sadistic assholes that this girl was always warned about. That's surely only to make Rafa look more like a catch, the girl thinks.

"Wouldn't this be so much easier if Rafa told her something?"

Well, Rafa seemed to take a page right out the Winchester brother's book. It's called the "We Could Have Resolved This in Season Four But Prefer Lying and Showing How Hot Castiel Is."

In all fairness, the girl thought, Castiel was rather hot.

"Are we really going to show all these humans what Nephilim -I refuse to call them Rephaim- can do so easily?"

Why not? It's not possibly like the Nephilim go around telling people they are begotten from angels, right? That's wrong. They tell EVERYONE if there's the slightest provocation towards needing to mention it. Silly you! Falling for my tricks.

"I only like Gabe when she's fighting."

This girl was not going to be happy when she finds out it only happens twice. And she wasn't! She wasn't happy at all.

"I hate the characters so fucking much."

Silly girl, we all do. We all do.

Two and a half stars because the writing was not bad. But I can't tell you how disappointed I was to find out this follows all of the tropes YA follows nowadays. Also, did no one notice that Rafa seemed to take a few pages from *shudders* Jace's books?

A disappointed girl without a BAMF angel book


White Space  - Ilsa J. Bick I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This is probably the hardest book review I've written in...ever. I loved the book, but there are some parts I don't like about it. I will tag all of my major spoilers, so no worries.

I've also never been one of the first book reviews for something, so I feel like pressure is on. So, if you can deal with me, this will be a rather tangled mess of a review because the book was a rather tangled mess. In a very good way.

I'm flopping between a 4 star rating and a 4.5 star rating. But then sometimes I go to 3.5 because I can't make up my mind.

So White Space is a trippy novel. You follow many characters, but Emma's our main one. Emma suffers from what she calls "blinks." These blinks means she zones out, anytime, anywhere, and imagines a different person's life. Lately, during her blinks, she's following Lizzie McDermott, the daughter of Frank McDermott, a very famous author.

Well, Frank McDermott has been messing around in the Dark Passages. Which is not a good thing. Essentially, his writing is just pulling things from the Dark Passages onto White Space, a space where characters and creatures from the Dark Passages can sort of live. He uses the Dark Passages to travel to different Nows to find different stories. Nows are essentially alternate universes.

Following me so far?

So Frank McDermott has been traveling way too much in the Dark Passages and gets addicted to it, essentially. So he fucks up. Big time.

But Emma is still traveling up a mountain during that blink. A mountain which actually ought not to be there. In this mountain she meets up with our other characters, Rima, Casey, Eric, Tony, Bode, and Chad. (I might be forgetting someone)

All together they decide something's not quite right with this mountain, the storm, and definitely the fog. And decide to investigate and find a way to get the fuck away from the creepy mountain/storm/definitely creepy ass fog.

Then some creepy, Kingdom Hearts Heartless type things come around and things go to hell.

They're like these guys, only way more heartless and skin rippy offy.

You with me so far? That's the basic premise, but needless to say it gets a lot more awesomer.

In short, I loved this book. However, and note this big however, it will not be for everyone. So let's start out by doing a quick little survey.

Do you mind frequent POV switches?
Do you mind being tossed into a world with little to no explanation at first?
Do you mind gore?
Do you mind waiting a very long time for a very good payoff?
Do you mind being confused a majority of 500 some-odd pages?


Did you answer no to all the above questions? CONGRATS! Go read this fucking book. Because it's seriously good.

I know a lot of the questions all seem like detriments, and for a very long time in the book, some of them are. In fact, I would say that yes, multiple POVs bother me, and I dislike being asked to swim in the middle of an ocean without a life boat nearby, which is what this book does with world building.

But everything is so fascinating! The entire time I was reading it I was like



Creepy ass Heartless (They aren't really Heartless, but I can't imagine them otherwise) pop up and rip someone's skin around their eyes off so you're just left with sockets and it's gross and awesome.

The entire time you're trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. Who are these people? Why did they all meet on the mountain? Some of them have special abilities, like Rima's able to sense death and see crows that mean someone's about to die.

And you know something's wrong, obviously. The mountain and fog are hiding something from them, pushing them towards something. When they get there, when Emma actually gets to the place the fog is pushing her, it is a barn that's really only half formed.



But once the world building starts, once you start getting answers, it's like everything starts to come together in this beautiful mosaic of awesome and convoluted-ness and questioning what reality is. There's a lot of philosophical sophism here and what defines reality and people and yeah.

Lizzie is my favorite character. I guess? She's strong for her age and does a remarkable thing of keeping it hidden. She sees the destruction in her father and proactively decides she needs to learn to defend herself against it.

I actually like Rima second best, but that may just be because of all her abilities and again, the strength to push on for friends.

But that's all I can say for the characters. This was a plot driven by characters or character, depending on how you see it but mostly by the world building. The world was this constantly changing mess that propelled the characters on this path.

I'm really upset that I can't say more without spoiling the entire book.

This book exists solely for the payoff at the end. If you can't bear through the first seventy percent of the book, swimming in the deep ocean, then this may not be the book for you. But I promise, the payoff is awesome.

I even guessed some of the ending and it was still enough to keep me flipping through pages at work at risk of being caught and fired.

The writing was very solid, and the author did not skimp on the gore. She talked about red fleshy meat while cutting someone's throat and black tendrils eating someone from the inside and burning them alive.

Yeah.

Yeah.



And now let's discuss my nitpickiness. As some of you may know, I'm an asshole reader. What I mean by this is that it does not take a lot to turn me off something. I've put books down before because of one cheesy sentence.

Obviously, I nitpick. But here are some of the larger problems I found.

First, did I mention the POV thing? Because it switches rapidly. Some chracters only get four paragraphs and then we're jumping. Other times, the POV is going to switch mid-sentence. I know it's done for dramatic affect, but it felt cheap.

But, the author does let you know whose POV you're in by placing their name at the top of the section, so that's awesomely helpful.

Second, did you read the synopsis on Goodreads? That one right up there that says it's a mixture of Inkheart and The Matrix? Well, the author is also going to tell you that this world is a lot like The Matrix. A LOT. Let's prove my point with a few excerpts.

Some loopy Matrix meets Inkheart-with-a-vengeance crap like that.

"It's not like Morpheus is going to show up and give you a choice between red and blue."

This was a nightmare, like Neo at the mirror, after he'd swallowed the red pill. Stop, I want the blue pill, she thought, crazily as she kept pushing.

"This isn't The Matrix. I'm not Neo."


That's only some of them. There's more. I understand that the author is a huge film buff, but this sort of allusion doesn't add to the world building, it detracts from it. She's got an awesome world here, it stands on its own. It comes off as weak writing, like she's using the mentions as a crutch, instead of a reference.

Speaking of weak writing, if the phrase "You nut" does not have a purpose in the next book, I'm going to be pissed. According to my Kindle, it occurs THIRTEEN times. Emma's always saying it to herself, and I sort of hate it. Immensely.

A few other things I'm hoping get cleared up, and please note the following is mildly spoilery, so in this book that means MAJOR spoilers. I'm still unclear on the Dickens Mirror. Also what's up with Arthur Conan Doyle? If Battle was written, who wrote him? Why can't Lizzie make infinite Nows?

Regardless, this book is extremely ambitious and handles it all very well. I wish I could say more, but I can't spoil it. This book is all about the surprises and the payoff.

I recommend this book, but I understand that this book is not for everyone. If you don't appreciate trying to find out what a world is all about, you won't like this book. If you can't wait for a payoff, you won't like this book. If you hate being confused for a majority of the book, you won't like this book.

But if you like mystery and horror, then this is an awesome book.

But I'm not kidding when I say my face looked like this the entire way through.

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith Actual rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

It’s not fair, but Queen J.K. gets a bump up just for being Queen J.K.

If we’re being honest here, and I believe we should be in this book review, I would have dropped the book early on. It’s not that it’s a bad book, but there are mistakes galore in the first portions of the book. Maybe it’s just my edition, because I can’t imagine these getting past an editor.

Landry’s rosy, golden-hued morning mood might easily have turned dark and hopeless in the day and half a night that had preceded her death; he had known it happen.

First, the glaring grammatical flaw is the clause after the semicolon. Something needs to be done with that ‘happen.’ It can’t just stay like it is. Does she mean something had happened? Or does he know it to happen?

Second, do you have a thing against semicolons? Well strap yourself in, because J.K. doesn’t use them sparingly. Not always correctly, either. I don’t even understand all the rules to semicolons, but the few I do were fairly ignored. Hardly a page went by without a semicolon ruining a perfectly good sentence by making it a run on.

There were friends all over London who would welcome his eagerly to their homes, who would throw open their guest rooms and their fridges, eager to condole and to help.

I think that’s supposed to be ‘him’, isn’t it?

Those are the two I had highlighted, but there are many more within the first fifty pages. Were I reading anyone else’s work, I would have dropped it. But this is Queen J.K., so I pushed on.

As for the writing style in general…it works when it works, and it doesn’t when it doesn’t. The dialogue is wonderful, but some of the descriptions get overly tedious and overly long. Would anyone read the below without skimming it?

His grubby fingers passed over a string of what seemed to be rosary beads; numerous empty cigarette packets with bits of card torn out of them; three lighters, one of them an engraved Zippo; Rizla papers; tangled leads unattached to appliances; a pack of cards; a sordid stained handkerchief; sundry crumpled pieces of grubby paper; a music magazine featuring a picture of Duffield in moody black and white on the cover; opened and unopened mail; a pair of crumpled black leather gloves; a quantity of loose change and, in a clean china ashtray on the edge of the debric, a single cufflink in the form of a tiny silver gun.

I’m exhausted writing that and Microsoft Word if freaking out because it’s an unnecessarily long sentence. And guess what? That sentence is in a MYSTERY book! Do you know what’s starkly different about reading a mystery book versus an adventure book or romance book?

Every detail can, and should matter in a mystery. Because in a mystery, you’re likely looking at that list and wondering what could have been used in the murder. What gives away the killer, if this is the killer? Does anything here absolve him?

No?

Then read that over again and tell me it isn’t an unnecessarily long list that should have been hacked to pieces.

Also, my vocabulary is by no means lacking. It’s not great, it could stand to be better, but it’s above average. There is no reason I should have to look up words every single chapter, maybe once every four pages. Thank God I read it on my Kindle. But it seemed rather unnecessary because the words were just sprinkled in, randomly. It’s like she found a thesaurus and went around replacing random words.

But the writing style worked when it worked. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work more often than not.

Luckily for Queen J.K., she has always done characters fantastically well and the plot is engaging. I guessed the murderer outright, but I am a rather diehard mystery genre fan. Regardless, it was still fascinating to watch Strike work and piece things together. It wasn’t so much about the murderer, it was what he knew, when. When the security guard reveals that he tripped, Strike seems to piece it all together and you’re like “HOW?!”

And I had a guess, but I was wrong. Which is always lovely.

By the by, did I mention this was the single most British piece of literature I’ve read in a long time? Like, if there was a mood to this book, it wasn’t tense. It was British. It’s not a bad thing, definitely not. I live in the US and have my computer hooked up to think it’s in the UK. It’s more for the news, since the US news is atrociously biased and self centered, and also so I can watch Nevermind the Buzzcocks.

But again, everything in moderation. There are a few times where I was like, yes, yes, I get it. We are in London.

And for my Americans here, the one thing that continuously kept reminding me I was in Britain was the fact that Strike, for his prosthetic leg, did NOT worry about money to see the doctor. It was pure pride that kept him at him. I can’t even imagine how expensive it would be to go through physical therapy AGAIN in the US.

The plot and characters kept this book afloat and by 40% in, I was hooked. Because there’s a smarter character than you in Strike. He’s figuring things out, hinting that he figured it out, and then leaving it there. So the entire time you’re not battling to find the murderer, you’re battling to figure it out along with Strike.

I complained a lot about the writing style because it was such a turnoff. You could see glimpses of J.K.’s signature style, but it was shrouded in poor word choices and semicolons.

DEAR GOD!

THE SEMICOLONS!

I enjoyed the book because I enjoy mystery and I liked the characters of Strike and Robin. You will know if you like either of them right off the bat. If they seem annoying to you, then I would caution against reading the whole thing.

If I was still deeply entrenched in mystery books, I would probably rate this lower. However, since it’s been a good three years since my last mystery genre party, this was a nice book to ease back into the mindset.

I would recommend this book, and I would definitely love to read sequels to see where Robin and Strike end up going.
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare I wrote a review and Goodreads ate it.

So I'll write a review later when I'm not furious at Goodreads. All that needs to be said is that I hate Clary.

I hate Clary so fucking much.
Outcast - Adrienne Kress Actual rating: 2.5 stars

It may not come to surprise you GoodReaders, but I’m an aspiring writer. I have a feeling most of us are, in some form or another; fiction, journalism, cookbooks, or writing book reviews. It kind of goes hand in hand with wanting to read a great deal.

And for all of us writers, we have the one Golden Rule. Oh, it’s not the same for every writer. Some people respect plot over character, character over everything, morality in every story, etc. But let me give you my Golden Rule:

Behold! Mary’s Golden Rule!

SHOW do not TELL!!


Praise be before the Golden Rule!

Now, you may be asking yourself what that has to do with this book? The short answer? Everything.

Because EVERYTHING is told to us in this book. Not one thing. EVERYTHING! Want us to know Riley is smart? Riley is going to go on a little mental journey where she tells you that she’s smart. Want to see relationships get healed? You don’t really get to see them as much as you get to read Riley tell you that they were healed.

You want to know how sick I get of characters telling me how I should feel? Because it’s a number that I haven’t even thought of, and I can count pretty damn high. Not to mention, Riley has to mention how humid it is at least seven times in the book. I get it. The South is humid. Move on, get a new description. Something!

Okay, fine. So you’ve got my number one writing pet peeve. I’ve overlooked it in other books that have had great plot, characters, or relationships. Barely, but it’s happened. So what did Outcast give me?

Nada.

It gave me a funny voice, Riley, and a character with mildly amusing dialogue, Gabe. After that? Nothing.

So the plot, right? People are getting grabbed by angels every year and taken away. That sounds awesome, right? It should be an engaging, creepy plot about angels coming and snatchin’ people.

Nope.

The problem is there the first ten percent and then disappears until the last fifteen percent. In the meantime, you’ve got Gabe going back to school and Riley telling you that Pastor Warren is bad because she’s suspicious and so he’s bad.

But he didn’t do anything until the last five percent of the book! The entire time I’m waiting for this plot to deepen, thicken, because you’ve got all the possible outlets here. Does someone realize Gabe is from another time? Are the angels angry that one of them was taken? Could Pastor Warren be a fallen angel and -oh fuck!- could that be why he came to this town at JUST the right moment preaching JUST the right thing?

Nope.

And that would all be fine –FINE!- if the plot was strong enough on its own. It’s not though. But the author describes away any tension before the climax. Gathering the army that may or may not be good enough to fight the angels? Alright, before that fight happens, let’s tell Riley why it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE for her to lose.

But the characters weren’t anything special, either. Riley is smart. I mean, I did know that. She told me that on a few occasions. Gabe is sweet and has an over the top 50’s way of speaking. I really only liked Father Peter, and I really only liked him that one time he struggled with his faith.

Oh, and last, this is NOT Angelfall. The only similarities that I can see are that the male is the angel and they’re around a female human.

Overall, I just didn’t care about the story at all. I had too high of expectations going into it.

If you don’t mind telling and not showing, then you may have a different story here. It just grated on me too much.
Red Rising - Pierce Brown This ARC was provided to me for an honest review and did not alter my thoughts in any way.

Funny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.

My favorite book ever is Brave New World. If you tell me it isn’t just the perfect representation of escapism in consumerist societies and I will literally punch you. Here’s a little tiny secret though, I hated the beginning of Brave New World.

Don’t ask me why, I reread it and it’s a wonderful beginning and I slap myself for ever hating it. But that’s a sort of relationship I have with dystopians. I don’t like their beginnings, and when you stop and think about it, you really shouldn’t like beginning of dystopians. They’re all about how weak the human race can be, and if they’re good enough, you should hate them in the beginning for how dangerously close they come placing human psyche on the table and pointing out all the nasty flaws in society you didn’t notice.

Or that you did notice and can’t remedy.

So I say, with a smile, that I had my doubts about this book in the beginning.

If you’ve read a Young Adult dystopian book in the last three years, then you know true pain. If you’re a dystopian fan and try to venture into Young Adult, you know true pain. These are romances parading around in futuristic worlds which are only slightly oppressive stating they are dystopian. Bitch, I know my dystopian genre, and you aren’t in it.

Red Rising isn’t just a Young Adult dystopian how dystopian should be, it’s a Young Adult book how Young Adult books should be written. There isn’t unnecessary instalove, there isn’t a confusing love triangle for the sake of a love triangle, and there IS a plot.

It’s the Young Adult dystopian that we’ve been waiting for!

Some people will compare it to Hunger Games. You have my permission to gut those bastards with an ionBlade. This is FAR superior than anything Katniss ever did in her small little tournament thing.

One of the best things about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from anything. Want to trample someone to death with horses? Let’s do that. Want to cut people’s ears off because Golds don’t know how else to treat people in society? Let’s fucking do that. If people thought Hunger Games was brutal, sweetie, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Darrow is, in one simple word, a BAMF (four words, but whatever, acronyms count). This is a guy who sometimes forgets his purpose, sometimes forgets who he is because of the mask he has. That’s okay! He always comes back to it, always remembers what he’s striving for and where he came from. And this isn’t some pansy ass hero either. He doesn’t whine incessantly about how cruel the world is to him the entire book. He goes out and gets shit done and will choke a bitch if need be.

If you like Darrow in the beginning, keep in mind that he gets even better. Like, not even a little bit. He goes from an arrogant HellDiver to someone that commands loyalty of people that never even realized what loyalty is. Seriously. He's Alexander the fucking Great. There's a scene straight from the history books, paralleling when Alexander denied himself water in a desert when he knew his men wouldn't have any.

Eo is also a BAMF (get used to this word, people, you'll see it a lot in my review). She's a beautiful, cunning, determined, and smart BAMF. She is also not your YA love interest. No. When Darrow says he lives for her, she pretty much tells him that there's more to live for. Greatest line in YA romance.

There are a number of minor and not so minor characters in this book. Here's a small list of what I thought of them.

First of all, all of them? BAMF.

Cassius is his pedigree and so much more. Darrow says that Golds don't know anything about love, but Cassius does. He clearly does. He's got the same single mindedness about him that Darrow does. But he really is a great friend. Darrow's paranoia is all I'll say here.

Sevro is hands down my favorite. He sort of reminds me of San from Princess Mononoke if San went fucking insane. And that’s a good thing. A GREAT thing. I’m not quite sure how, but he’s awesome. He also kills someone with his fingernails and that’s just the best thing ever.

Matteo is hilarious and I love him. It's sad that he's hilarious too, every time he does something that I think is funny, I laugh and immediately feel bad. It's the Society's fault that he's hilarious and loveable and I wonder what he would be like on his own nature.

Mustang is also awesome, and the single smartest character in this book, I think. She provides a foil to Eo in a lot of ways, but pales in comparison. Not because she does, because I may like her better, but because this is Darrow's POV, so of course everyone will pale with Eo. So if anyone has anything bad to say about Mustang, please direct them towards me.

Also, the Proctors. OH! The Proctors. I will skin each and every one of the Proctors, Moriarty style.

Titus. Misunderstood and angry Titus. And you feel bad for him once he slips and you realize what's driving his hatred and poor leadership.

Pax. Sweet Pax.

I am also a HUGE mythology nerd. Greek mythology gets more spotlight than Roman, so it’s nice to see Roman mythology get a bit of sun. The book acknowledges that the Romans bastardized Greek mythology too, which is a nice plus.

The government IS oppressive too. It’s none of this whiny “I can’t have rice on Tuesday, OMG, my awful life!” dystopian that’s NOT DYSTOPIAN AT ALL!

The government controls food supplies until people barter sex for food, it rigs who gets bonuses, the hierarchy determines your jobs and some breeding goes into it as well. If you’re an artist, they literally DRUG you so that you can think of crazy shit to paint later. Seriously. And that’s not a bad hierarchy to be in.

The top hierarchy? The Golds? They still fight to the death. They’re oppressing and killing off their own selected! Because Golds should still fear Golds, because that is how this society works. Nothing is granted, everything is taken.

This is a book with a lot of political research behind it too. You have some of Hobbes’ theory with the beginning of Mars and a sprinkle of Rousseau as well. This book explores what it would be like if society were stripped away from us, if we had to learn to rule and govern on our own.

Special scenes of note, though I refuse to spoil anything since everyone should read this book; the Alexander the Great scene I mentioned above, there’s a scene with Apollo, and a scene with Fritchner. Some of Darrow’s one liners are just awesome.

There are a few things that left me wanting in this book. Very few and far between, but I wouldn’t be doing the review justice if I didn’t mention it. Even on reread, I still hate the prologue. I only hate the prologue because of the style though, which you see in the first few chapters before it’s abandoned. Very early on, a TON of the sentences aren’t truly sentences. It’s strange, like they should have a comma but instead have a period. It gets a bit annoying when I have to reread a sentence a few times, but the author dropped the choice early on.

Also, I wish we could see a bit more detail into how the Colors are bred. It would give a better view on how the Golds are keeping up such an absolute oppression. It seems only the lowReds are lied to, so what’s stopping all the other Colors from revolting? There was a mention that Pinks had brittle bones, but that was one of the only hints I noticed.

Those above comments? They really don’t mean anything. This is the best YA book I’ve read since I read A Monster Calls.... And that’s saying a lot! I mean, have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Yeah, it’s better than that.

Read this book. I don’t care if you have to kill someone’s brother.

READ THIS BOOK
A Shimmer of Angels - Lisa M. Basso Real rating: 2.5 stars, bumped down to two

So, have you ever read a book and thought to yourself, this seems familiar? Then by the end, you realize that you’ve read this book before, a few years ago. It wasn’t remarkable, I mean hey, you forgot about it. It wasn’t awful though, but it did have a good enough blurb to fool you twice.

That’s this book.

No, I’ve never read it before, but the book was a massive retelling of the same old, same old.

So, ladies and gentleman, how do we make a Young Adult book? Do we have a love triangle? Why, of COURSE we have a love triangle! Does the love triangle make sense, or is it just there for the sake of a love triangle? Silly! Why would there be a reason for the love triangle? How about we mix that in with some cardboard cutout characters? What other kinds of characters are there in Young Adult?

So, yeah. We’ve got Rayna, who thinks she’s insane because she spent a few years in the insane asylum. I think it’s a pretty legit reason to think you’re insane. She’s in the asylum because she can see angel wings on random people, and attacked said random people. It’s never really explained why she can see angel wings suddenly. I would have liked a little hint in the first book, but it may be explained in subsequent books.

Rayna goes from being an awful liar to a fantastic liar, depending on what the author needs at that point. It drove me insane. Because you can’t be an awful liar to your dad sometimes and then not other times. But a pretty legit liar to a maybe antagonist a few seconds after being unable to lie to your dad. You either are a good liar or a bad liar. It’s a “skill”, people.

Then we’ve got Cam, who has wings and no personality at ALL! Seriously. I tried to find some in him but for the entire book, I was playing Where is Cam’s Personality? It’s sort of like Where’s Waldo, except not as fun. Anyway, Cam has golden wings and can make people feel relaxed. Except Rayna. Oh, wait, no he can do that too in the latter half of the book. But the golden wings is the most important part and the only thing that makes him stand out.

Now we’ve got Kade, who comes in halfway through the book. Who I originally thought would be the antagonist, but silly me! Then we wouldn’t have a love triangle. On a different note, maybe I just wanted him to be the antagonist because three quarters of the way through the book THERE’S STILL NO ANTAGNOIST! Kade isn’t terrible, he’s got more of a personality than Cam, but still not a ton. So of course that means that Rayna is more drawn to Cam. Why? Maybe because of the golden wings, but she actually spent time with Kade and I thought it was just ridiculous. Kade is the bad boy with black wings and sarcasm. He also fell for loving a human. Rayna’s mom. Yeah, let that sink in.

Then we have an awful parent in her dad, a geeky best friend whose only personality trait is geeky, and a really embittered sister who is, of course, only really embittered.

The best piece of this book? The suicides. And they are sort of, kind of, glossed over as soon as the love triangle comes through. The writing isn’t awful, but I think Miss Basso just got bogged down in what she thought Young Adult should have.

There are a ton of little things that got on my nerves. I still don’t know what the hell happens at the climax. The antagonist, Az, is trying to drag Rayna to hell so they can see angel wings or he’ll kill everyone. The way it’s described is rushed, almost like the author couldn’t wait to get it over so that she could get back to other things. Plus, the antagonist is stupid. Why aren’t we just torturing Rayna? What’s with this whole convoluted plan? Not to mention, why hasn’t Rayna seen anymore black wings than this?

The job at the diner may have been the most frustrating piece. First, Rayna should have been fired. How many fucking coffee pots did that chick go through? Second! After you think you saw someone get killed there, and you know the murderer is coming back, why did you not quit your job? When she said she was going back, I almost threw my Kindle. Seriously. That’s a new level of stupid.

Also! “Clear of heart.” Gag me. Seriously.

Nope. I’m out. This was too predictable, too cheesy in some parts, and too confusing in the others. The only saving grace was that there WAS a plot, and the writing wasn’t awful. Which is worth 2.5 stars.
If I Stay - Gayle Forman I don't know, reading the reviews on this book just make me feel like I have something wrong with me. This book is short. SHORT! Very, very short in comparison to some of the books I read in a day with no problem.

This book sits on my DNF shelf because it took me a week to get fifty pages and honestly, I don't care about her choice. Either make it or don't.

I may just be cold hearted -may? I'm pretty positive I am- but to me, the MC was nothing special, at all. Tell me why I'm supposed to feel for her, her in particular. Because EVERYONE could possible go through this. People who live in impoverished neighborhoods, war-torn communities, abusive families. Because all of that? That sounds SUPER interesting. Do you want to stay in an abusive relationship, live and try to protect your children or let go because it just might be easier and it just might be less painful?

No, you give me a relatively boring girl who loves music and has a perfect family and perfect, perfect, PERFECT. Why do I care? There's nothing to lose or gain by her choices. She can continue to live, find a way without her family. But that's what EVERYONE's choice would be.

Overall, I couldn't handle the characters. Cardboard cutouts of what the author wants the perfect family to look like.

So it sits, DNF, because I seriously don't care what the MC's choice is.
Easy - Tammara Webber Now this, ladies and gentleman, is how you write a mother fucking book.

Review to come tomorrow over how fucking fantastic this book is.
The Iron King - Julie Kagawa Real rating: 2.5 stars

So, I'm not exactly positive how I feel with this book. The more I think about it, the more I don't like it. On the one hand, it was entertaining, if not predictable. On the other hand, I put the book down with no complaints three times during the climax. Not a good sign.

I have to throw this out there, I just hate instalove. It's a problem for me because I hang out in young adult pretty exclusively. But there it is. I hate it. So Meghan's relationship was just a total fail for me. It doesn't help that it comes almost out of nowhere. All of the sudden after all this, they kiss and she's beloved of Ash. Um. Right. Okay.

Pixar has this nice list of storytelling rules. I think there's twenty-two and they're something to live by. One of them is that a character cannot win because of a coincidence. They can get in more trouble, but they can't win. This is probably why the ending upsets me. I mean, really, Packrats? You just happen to find a piece of the arrow and just happen to give it to Meghan? Also, could that girl randomly start swinging a sword like a king, or what?

Also! Faeries are stronger based on how much belief they have, right? So then how is Puck Oberon's lackey? I mean, Puck is the faery. Oberon's famous, but this is fucking Robin Goodfellow. He should have the Nevernever under heel.

On that note, if the faeries are brought on by belief, then how are the Iron Fey strong? No one knows about the Iron Fey, so they're clearly not believed in. And yeah, the argument is made that it's because we believe in technology more than anything. But the Seelie and Unseelie Courts are literal embodiments of seasons. We did not stop believing in winter or summer. We still have those seasons. So then how are the Iron Fey more powerful than the Old Courts? One more thing, if Robin fucking Goodfellow can't be around computers too long, then Ash cannot fucking be alive after they travel to the Iron Palace.

So the characters? I liked Meghan, though she seemed to adapt too quickly to everything. I was fine with it since she was part of that world. I did not like Ash, not really. Well, okay, so I liked him in the beginning before the instalove thing. Afterwards, he was reduced to knight in shining armor instead of awesomely gray maybe good buy maybe bad guy.

Puck gets his own paragraph. Because Puck. Really Puck? There's absolutely no reason for this jump in personality. So you go from Robbie to Puck, which are almost two totally different characters. Puck probably was one of my favorite characters, but he gets pushed to the side by the instalove. You can't sit there and tell me the Iron Palace wouldn't have been so much better if it had Puck instead of Ash? I hated that Puck pined after Meghan too. Mandatory love triangle and mandatory "this is what friend-zoned looks like." I really hope we don't run into guilt tripping or tricky flirting in the following books.

BUT! Ladies and gentleman, we have a plot. Something so rare and unheard of in Young Adult, it may as well be a freaking unicorn. Meghan is going to find Ethan. Simple. The plot is continuous and you have a beginning and middle and end. You would think it's the hardest thing ever, but seriously. I nearly weep for joy when there's a plot.

But I gave the book three stars -rounded up- and I do plan on reading the series. It was a very entertaining read. There were plot holes, see above spoiler, but it wasn't a bad read. Especially with the YA out there? I'd read it. The writing is solid, the characters aren't cutout for the first half of the book, and there are some really great lines.
The Summoning - Kelley Armstrong Actual rating: 3.5.

I really liked 60% of this book, the first 60%. It's hard to do because I'm such a sucker for endings and that's where I place all my hopes and dreams and fuzzy feelings.

The end really didn't do anything for me. It was clear that this was part of a series, not just because I know there's a series out there, but by eighty percent through, we weren't wrapping anything up. But I felt like there were no questions really answered at the end. We find out some of the baddies, one of which I did not see coming, but we don't really know anything to our larger questions. I'm fine with that in a series.

The ending didn't do anything for me because we were finally given some action then nothing again but planning for a looooong stretch then a little bit of action to wrap it up. The planning stage just lasted way too long for me.

On the plus side, I really, really liked Chloe. This is a girl who gets sarcasm and wields it well. She has a few moments where I'm like, no, no Chloe, let's not do that. But with current YA heroines, she's clearly ahead of the curve in the YA Paranormal field.

Simon and Derek...not so much. Simon was bland. I also got the impression that Chloe had no interest and he kept getting into her space. Now, that may be totally wrong and maybe I was impressing upon Chloe too much, but he was bland and space invadey.

Derek was a totally ass in the first half of the book. He gets marginally better by the end, but I still can't get over the fact that he threw Chloe against the wall. He seemed too caveman-esque to me, grunting and glaring. Also, if he's the beast they're talking about at the end, why not just kill him? I mean, they killed Liz. They don't seem to have much of a problem with it.

The action scenes, for how short they were, were done very well. You really got a sense of adrenaline when Chloe was running and freaking out. It's probably why I wanted to see a ton more action scenes.

The settings got confusing though. Maybe it's because I've never been in too many crawlspaces, but I could not imagine that setting in the least. In fact, for a lot of the book, I was never too grounded in where we were. The crawlspace though, where Chloe spends a good deal of her time, just didn't have any real descriptions beside crawlspace and dark.

I did give the book 3.5 stars because I really do like the book, but I feel like one more edit around could have made me love the book. There were too many lulls for me and the concept didn't get the love it deserved. I'm biased because seeing ghosts is a storyline I love and work with, but we didn't get to actually see much of the ghosts. We heard a lot about Chloe freaking out that she could see ghosts. Understandable. But I wanted more ghost confrontations.

White Cat - Holly Black Meh.

That's actually a fairly good description for this book, I think.

The positives were the writing and concept. I hadn't seen the idea of a Curse Worker around, they kind of come close to Air Bender rules. Some are just born with it and some are awesome and the Avatar and that's how things are.

I liked the little touches with the book, the first mention of the gloves were done really well.

But the book wasn't memorable. I'm having a hard time recalling names after only, what, a week? And my memory's not bad. I can remember Dumbledore's favorite jam, it's raspberry, by the way. So if I'm not all that forgetful, why can't I remember anything?

Because I knew the book before I even read it. I knew where everything was going. I knew who the memory worker was, I knew what kind of worker Cassel would be, I knew the second the white cat showed up that it was Lila who was the white cat. I shouldn't know ALL the things about the book before the book happens.

At that point, I was just reading to find out if I was wrong. I wasn't.

The book amounts to a drive home, you know the route like the back of your hand, but if someone asks what streets you pass, you draw a blank. At least, I do.

So I went on a leisurely drive with the book, everything going exactly how it was supposed to go.

3/5 stars, because Cassel was a good character and the writing was solid. Concept was great, but it was thrown in a predictable plot.
Son - Lois Lowry I love The Giver. I count it as one of my favorite books of all time. It was the book that inspired me to read and made me want to write.

And I should have stopped at The Giver. My ratings of the books in the series have gotten progressively worse. I liked Gathering Blue, wish I didn't read The Messenger, and now wish I could take back time with The Son. I spent money on it, and I want it back. Sort of. I do love Lois Lowry.

But this is a great example of how to set rules and not break them. The Giver's rules were a little bit out of the ordinary, a little bit fantasy. That does not mean that suddenly, at the end of the series, you get a personification of evil that gambles and deals like the devil.

No. No. Noooooo.

Where the hell did this come from? Your guess is as good as mine, because I have no idea.

Then the ending. I don't get it. The moral was fight evil? Okay...that's...no justification for how long this book was. She's training for the cliff! Has she gone up the cliff yet? Nope. Still training. ON THE CLIFF! Still on the cliff. Are we going to get off this cliff?

And then you meet the Devil. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Which, I don't get why if you stand up to Evil, it still wins. Apparently you have to be super special and either Jonas or Gabriel and then, and only then!, will evil be swayed by you.

But seriously.

That entire book just so we can fight a personification of evil?

I feel cheated because there was no point to this. It didn't add anything to the arc. It gave a moral that I realized at five.

One star and a desperately plea for Target to give me my money back.

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