Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review : Darker Still



While Darker Still l is Leanne Hieber's debut YA novel she is no stranger to Victorian era historical fiction, having written a successful adult series. With that in mind  I had high hopes for this novel.


Darker Still  is told thorugh the diary of Natalie Stewart, a mute seventeen year old girl  in late 19th century New York City. Natalie's uncertain future becomes derailed when she comes face to face with a mesmerizing painting and its cursed subject, Lord Denbury.


I liked that this novel is told in the form of diary entries, it gives the readers more intimate potrayl of the Natalie and makes her seem more real.


The plot of this novel is inspired by Dorian Gray, but Heiber has created a truly originally story


 I liked the relationship between Natalie and Denbury, it was very storybook-like, and while borders on the verge of insta-love  it has a lot more substance.


Unlike a lot of the other Victorian-era novels I've read I think Heiber had a good grasp of the dialect, that flowed well within the story


I did find the plot of this novel to have a lot of tell not show, ecspeially when it came so explaing the dark "Magic Most Foul" the explanation felt a little rushed to me.

It seemed like the I was being convinced about the plot and the logic behind how Natalie was supposed to save the day and why Denbury is traupped in the painting.After a while I  just went with it for the sake of the book. I mean it IS magic so what do I know right ?
  
This novel will be at home with fans of A Great and Terrible Beauty, there is a lot of magic and darkness  and mysticism but it's mostly just talked about and pieced together. It features a whirlwind romance but with a heroine who holds her own. While I will certainly be checking out Hieber's other other novels Daker Still left me wanting a little bit more.








Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Top Apps For Book Bloggers



Take your blogging to the mobile level with these fun apps.

* - also avalible in Android market

*Amazon Price Check

Have you even been in a used bookstore and wondered "Can I get this cheaper on amazon ?" With the  Amazon Price Check app all you have to do is snap a picture or scan a barcode to instantly compare prices online before making a purchase










Instagram
Add a little artistic flair to your In My Mailbox or book haul pics with Instagram. With this app you can turn basic pictures into vintage inspired photographs and share them instantly via Twitter, Facebook or Flickr














*Goodreads Book Scanner

Sometimes you come across a book you don't know much about, with Good Reads Scanner you can scan the barcode and instantly read reviews from the Good Reads community.














Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review : Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

“You know what they say about boys next door...” 
- Jennifer L. Armentrout, Obsidian

Yeah, new covers ! ! !

So, I kind of have a weird relationship with this book. When I first started book blogging this was one of the first books I saw on a book blog. I thought the original cover was kind of off and one of my our posts involved seriously critiquing it.

Needless to say, I started following Jennifer on Twitter, sat in on some of her videochat sessions and read all of her fan comments and pretty soon I was just as excited for this book as everyone else. Plus, it's about a book blogger ! So, when I got a Kindle for Christmas this the FIRST book I downloaded.

Our male protagonist, Dameon Black falls into the "your mood swings are seriously giving me whiplash" category. He runs both hot and cold in the book, one minute he like Katy the next he can't stand her. I think it is easy to hate him at first, but if you know what this book is about you kind of understand where he is coming from.

As for Katy, I think it's really special she is one of us (book bloggers that is). This book just got picked up for mass market so, I wonder if people reading it will understand what a In My Mailbox vlog is ? Maybe it will  cause more people to become book bloggers ! Katy is like all of Armentrout's heroines, she's snarky,  a bit self-conscious and is getting thrown in a whole new element.

I think Armentrout has found her way into a new subgenre of paranormal romance, I don't think anyone has tackled aliens in YA paranormal before. I was expecting more like, Falling Skies (anyone watch that show?) and it was like a modern day teen Men In Black. I thought it was interesting how she created the story, because there is really not much around to base it on.

I'm more of a dystopian/contemporary girl than paranormal romance so, I can't fangirl over it , but you know who I am a big fan off ? Jennifer Armentrout ! When she has exciting news I get excited and I want her to succeed.





Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review : Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

“Keep calm and carry on. 
Also, stay in and hide because the Ripper is coming.” 
― Maureen JohnsonThe Name of the Star

As a fan of Maureen Johnson this novel was on my radar pretty early. The the cover and synopsis of this novel looked like a departure from her usual work so I was excited to see what  Johnson would come up with. She doesn't usually write paranormal stuff and most of her books aren't series.

The Name Of The Star starts off at a slow pace. Lousiana teenager Aurora "Rory" Deveaux decides to attend Wexford, a London boarding school, when her parents get  jobs in England.  At the same time a string of Jack The Ripper copycat murders are happening around the school.

 We are slowly dipped into  world of Wexford and get a feel for Rory's environment and the tension of the situation.  Once the plot got rolling I was quickly captivated.


I think this book is perfect for Americans who are obsessed with British culture and life.  I know Johsnon splits her time between London and New York so, I think she included some interesting aspects of British life we may not be aware off. Like that they have bars at high school dances. Her descriptions of Wexford and London felt so spot on, it made me want to visit.

The book and characters come off as very British maybe to a point where it feels cliched. It takes place at a boarding school. One characters likes to drink tea and read in the evening and of course they have names like Jazza, Boo and Callum.

 Rory doesn't have the strongest of  personalities, but I feel like we get to know alot about who she is and where she comes from.I loved her relationship with her roommate Jazza. The two girls like to read books and drink tea in the evening and I think that's something most people reading this review can appreciate. They felt so real.

Johnson has also created a pretty large and diverse cast without making it super obvious. It was nice to see characters from different backgrounds show up in YA.  I loved most of the characters, they felt fully developed and I could clearly see them in my head. I honestly felt like they all didn't get enough screen time.

Even though this is a contemporary-ish novel with a paramornal twist, I think the world building was really solid. I think Johnson captures exactly what would happen if there was a repeat of the Jack the Ripper murders

Johnson will occasionally swtich perspective to tell a more full story and I thought it flowed nicely with the storytelling.The plot felt like it could have been more intricately handled it seemed a little muddled. Overall the story was good, but the details could have been better. Once the big reveal was made I was hooked, but I wish it had been handled differently. This book also has a  cliffhanger, something I think a book really needs to sustain itself as a series.

Also, is this a Twilight reference ???

“I looked at the stained-glass image of the lamb in the window above me, but that only reminded me that lambs are famous for being led to slaughter, or sometimes hanging out with lions in ill-advised relationships.” 








Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review : Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare



“Ah,” said a voice from the doorway, “having your annual ‘everyone thinks Will is a lunatic’ meeting, are you? 
“It’s biannual,” said Jem. “And no, this is not that meeting.” 

― Cassandra ClareClockwork Prince




I'll start this review much like Kat did for her review for City of Glass. In Clockwork Prince; Jem is kind, Will is a jerk, Tessa is confused, the plot fades in and out of the background letting the various love triangles, squares and polygons shine. Oh and as per Cassie Clare style the characters keep cutting each other off when they are about to say something im---

Counting this I've read 5 Clare novels and I am familar with her writing style and generally got what I expected writing wise. At times it was  filled with tension, mystery a bit of whimsy and a bit of steaminess; while other times I wondered how many ways she could describe Will's eyes.


Keep in mind this is probably a good book, but it just isn't the type of  book for me, I say this because people LOVE this book.

 Clockwork Prince was more like a backstory novel, it's like the Half-blood Prince of this series; we get background on the villian and then everything else is relationshippy.Also, HPB is the sixth book in the Potter series, this is the sixth book in the Shadhowhunter series, they both have prince in the title. I'm just saying . . .

The novel just didn't really  carry on the plot from the first book. Instead it created so many new tiny threads of plots that I had a hard time keeping up with. Seriously, the Lightwoods need their own book with all their family drama.

I feel like this series would be better if each book was its own story, it feels like there wasn't enough material and a lot of the stuff was filler.

One of the improvments  I've noticed in the book is that Clare finally gives her characters motivations, granted they all generally have differnt versions of the  same motivations , it still made the characters feel more defined. . . well except for Tessa, for some reason she just seems like a blank slate to me.

As a sequel I felt this book didn't really tie together  and now that I think about it I can't believe it actually ended the way it did, it was like a deux ex machina.

Like any Shadowhunter (Is there a name for the all 9 books ?) reader I appreciated the generous appearances of Magnus Bane and the little shouts outs to the Mortal Instruments.












Title Sharers : Same Title, Different Book


Quick, when you hear these book titles which book do you think of first ?

Pure




City of Bones





Shine




Forever








Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review : Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1 )


“You've been captive for so long that you don't even realize you want freedom anymore.” 
  - Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Synopsis  Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with [Rich] men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters

Wither is the  taboo, energized and tumultuous story of three girls kidnapped and forced into marriage to the young Governer Linden. 

The novel reads like a brand of feminist speculative fiction. Girls under the age of 20, are kidnapped  and forced into marraige by rich families so they can bear children that  rich people will use in hopes of finding a cure for a fatal disease that claims those under 25.

When Rhine Ellery becomes one of these unwilling brides she refuses to live her short life imprisoned and  is determined to find a way out.

Reading this novel was like watching a particularly squickyepisode of Law and Order SVU or Criminal Minds. It’s so unrealistically disturbing on the surface, but you just can’t look away.

While Rhine is determined get escape her new role as wife and find her way back home, Stockholm Syndrome and the bond she shares with her fellow captives causes her to question  her every move. DeStefano crafts Rhine’s world inside the mansion  and relationships with her fellow captives with such mystery and desperation that I couldn't stop reading.

I feel like this novel will be an easy one for people to dislike because of how morally bankrupt many of the characters appear. No one in this novel is even close to perfect and it's difficult to agree with any of the choices the characters make

On the flips side I had a hard time believing the society created in Wither.  I just don't think the novel  gives a good case for why a society would allow rich people to capture these girls, I mean no one even considers it a crime nor is there any "resistance force." And why do they have to go through the pomp and circumstance of marriage if all they want them  to do is procreate ? Can't they just steal their eggs ?

 I have a feeling a lot of my questions about this novel will be answered in the sequel, Fever, however  I also think this  could also pass as a stand alone novel. I'm concerned about how this can be shaped across 3 books.

This novel features complex characters, a twisted romance and dark tendencies which is enough to make it enjoyable , but it lacks the world building needed to make the plot believable. I give it four stars in hopes my world building questions will be answered in Fever.



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In My Mailbox Vol.16



In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren



This week we didn't get much, but we did get some great deals !

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
 This is the last Shadowhunter book we haven't read. It was 7.00 at the used bookstore so I grabbed it ! No spoilers, please !
Soul Screamers Volume One by Rachel Vincent

Jess is in the Soul Screamers reading challenge and having a novella +2 books bundled into a 9.99 paperback volume is an awesome deal. Not to mention we used a 50% BN coupon so the book was 4.50














Link us to what was in your mailbox. We love to comment ! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review : The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer




“I don't have feelings.” 

― Michelle HodkinThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer



SynopsisMara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
I wasn't around the blogging block when buzz for this book began (holy alliteration, Batman !), but I can see why people were so excited. The cover is just beautiful, the name is wonderful and the synopsis is haunting. Unfortunately, what started as a chilling read quickly, turned into a lukewarm novel that disappointed me on one level.


This novel starts with a mysterious handwritten prolouge, an intriguing first chapter and then dives right in the story with Mara waking up in a hospital after being in a building collapse that killed her friends. 


With this start I was hooked, but the story started to teeter and after a while the whole thing collapsed, as it took a backseat to our British, smiling and beautiful  friend Noah Shaw. 


There is no way around it--Noah Shaw is one of the biggest jerks I've read in YA literature and not in the charming way. Having to spend so much time in the head of someone obsessed with him takes a toll.


I was so confused as to why all the some readers were fangirling over him. I thought I was over analyzing someing, but then  I read Jennie over at My Cute Bookshelf's review and she describes Noah best:
From Mycutebookshelf: Even though he was gorgeous, had a sexy accent and was rich, he still had one big flaw-- his personality.
Jennie also talks about how parts of this  book are slut-shaming. Anna, the mean girl is a specific example of this:

"Anna used to be the abstinence poster girl, but post-Shaw, you could write a comic book about the many adventures of her vagina. It could wear a cape."


From Mycutebookshelf:  But get this, Noah is described as a player in the beginning of the book and for most of it. He's a guy who supposedly sleeps around with a ton of girls. And that practically makes him sexy. Mara and all the girls are dying for this guy. This guy who supposedly sleeps with any girl. And that's... HOT. Because really, when a guy does it, it's ok. Yet this girl who apparently had sex with Noah and then they broke up-- she's now considered a whore.

 I'd like to expand on this, because it's not just Anna. Here is a quote from Mara's male friend Jamie describing Noah to Mara to warn her about him:


"Noah doesn't date. He'll screw you--literally and figureatively. Everyone knows it--his conquests know it--but they pretend not to care until he moves on to the next one. And then they're alone and their reputations are shot to hell. Anna is a prime example."


So, to put it the way  Jamie does, Noah treats girls," like condoms" and they get their reputations ruined. Meanwhile Noah Shaw gets the celeberity treatment.


All the single girls in the novel are like this. 


All of Them. 


I'm not saying slut-shaming doesn't exist in real life. It does, but I feel like Hodkin used it in the novel to elevate Noah and bring all the other females down. 


On this note there are a few other convinent mysoginitic quotes in the book.  Mara has a Spanish teacher who hates her for no reason, except to be a plot device and Noah brings the gem "Today's Spanish class, brought to you by the letter C". Also, there is the random male character who exists to  cat call to Mara "I'd hit it so hard whoever pulled me out would be King of England". 


Obvioulsy this creates the perfect opprotunity for Noah to defend Mara's honor and beat someone up. Don't worry Noah doesn't get into any real trouble--Noah is rich and gets out of things. I think when making this book, they wanted to make the book feel edgier. Yeah, there are a lot of awkward sex jokes in this book. 


If thats not bad enough there is the other story about a guy who made out with Noah's sister, so to get back at him Noah humiliates the guys sister.  Because, girls are like objects and property. You'd think that would be enough to turn Mara off, but it doesn't. Also, no there are no specifics on how he humiliated her, but c'mon. He calculated it.


Noah is controlling and tells Mara what he wants and expects her to be obeyHe keeps Mara in the dark about where they are going, what they doing or who they are seeing. He likes to keep control of the situation and Mara is so obsessed with his hotness, she just goes along with it.  I mean, He says he is taking away the word "why" and she is no longer allowed to use. And he is't saying it for some philosophical reason it; he says this so she will tell him how many other guys she has kissed.


Also, Mara falls in love with Noah after a few weeks. I get if she just is physically attracted to him, but I have no idea why she loves him. 


I don't care how sexy you look smoking cigarettes (while driving a Prius so it cancels out, lol !), how British your accent it or how rich you are. Noah is a jerk. I think he'd make a great villian or something but, as the love interest it did not sit well with me.


And when you do get the final reveal from Noah, his behavior makes less sense.  And considering the things Mara discovers about her past, it makes you really think about her and Noah's relationship.


In these Tumblr posts people asks Hodkin if ethnicity of the characters do come into play. Now, Noah is British and Mara is half-Indian Um, I don't know much about British history but didn't the British imperalize and control India for a long time ? 


I do think this book has potential, I feel like Hodkin has an interesting story going with this and knows where she is going and how it will end. I just wish she had stayed close to the paranormal-ish, mystery plot, kept it linear and more concise. This could have been  a story about a journey of discovery and budding romance  instead of a Noah Shaw is a hot jerk fest-- it would have been a much more compelling novel.









Sunday, February 5, 2012

Books and Sensibility's Thank You Followers Giveaway !



While at the Miranda Keneally Catching Jordan event in our local bookstore, we picked up an extra signed copy to giveaway to our readers. We decided with the Superbowl today and Valentine's a few weeks later this was the best time

This  giveaway is open to anyone who has taken their time to follow our blog.To enter you must be a follower by E-mail, Twitter, GFC or RSS. Books Bloggers get an extra point ! The pack includes:




*  1 Signed copy of Catching Jordan
* 2 Catching Jordan bookmarks
* 1 Catching Jordan sticker

Just fill out the Rafflecopter. Winner will be announced on Valentine's Day !
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 4, 2012

IMM Vol. 15


This week's IMM is bough to you buy an awesome coupon that came from Branes & Noble and the fact that Kat has no one to slap book out of her hand at the library.

E-Books

Illuminate By Aimee Agresti (via Netgalley)
























Purchased


Dustlands by Moira Young

I hadn't heard about of this series, but a writer from one of the author events we went to seemed really excited about it ! I saw the trailer and decided to give it a try.  I believe this book was originally published in the U.K









Shine By Lauren Myracle
Been meaning to read this since the National Book Award drama.












Kat's Library Haul
Non-Fiction
The Pregnancy Project
Jess saw this book on a few blogs, and after watching the Lifetime movie I decided to read this to get some more background on what happened.










A Little Bit Wicked
One of my resolutions was to read more biographies and I like Kristein Chenoweth !










Fiction
The Water Wars, The Six Rules of Maybe and Love is Hello 
                         
I just like the cover of Water Wars. I've seen Deb Caletti around a lot so I thought I'd check The Six Rules of Maybe out. I want to read more short stories so I picked up Love Is Hello.













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