Monday, November 19, 2012

Blogging Hiatus

Having been extremely busy for the past month or so with a new job – hence the decrease in posts and the late comments – and with little time to read in the future – I’ll be working on some applications due in the next few weeks for a couple of Master’s and Bachelor’s programs I’m interested in for next year – I’ve decided to take a break from blogging until at least mid-December. This will not only allow me to get through a few books for review and work on some posts in advance, but also hopefully read a bit for fun (which I feel like I haven’t been doing lately). Anyways, see you guys when I get back!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mini Reviews: Conjure by Lea Nolan and Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

From Goodreads: Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry - hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday. When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer - and her friends - are lost forever.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although Conjure by Lea Nolan is a YA book, it can easily be read by older MG readers because its tone felt a bit younger, particularly since the main character, Emma, was only fourteen and repeatedly thought about how dreamy her crush was. While I liked Emma, I found her twin brother Jack to be whiny and kind of selfish. To me, the most interesting and unique thing about Conjure was the incorporation of hoodoo. I’m not going to lie: before I read the book, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between hoodoo and voodoo. Not only do I know the difference now, but I actually felt like I learned quite a bit about hoodoo from reading Conjure. It’s very clear that Nolan did a significant amount of research on the topic!

Conjure was released in October 2012 by Entangled Publishing. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Entangled Publishing) for free.
From Goodreads: Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud - and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection - and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city - including herself. 

My Rating: Wavering between 3 and 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With a plot that features a pair of starcrossed lovers, I was a little disappointed that the romance in Theo Lawrence’s Mystic City didn’t exactly make me swoon. Also, I found the story to be a bit predictable and thought the characters were okay – nothing special. Oh, and Aria was definitely not the smartest cookie around! But, for some reason that I can’t figure out, Mystic City left me interested enough that I know I’m probably going to read the sequel. 

Mystic City was released by Delacorte Books for Young Readers in October 2012. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Review: Renegade by J.A. Souders

From Goodreads: Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law. But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster. Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb ...  and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all. 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: If I could sum up J.A. Souders’ Renegade with one word, I’d use a word like messy because the frenetic pacing of the plot made it hard to follow what was going on. It also caused the development of the world, characters and romance to be sacrificed.

My first problem with Renegade was that the worldbuilding was sketchy at best. As a reader, I knew that Mother, her dad and their friends moved to Elysium to avoid war on land. That’s all I got though, really. I couldn’t fully comprehend the way that Elysium was set up – a map might have been nice since Gavin (who I still feel like I barely know!) and Evie were running all over the place – nor did I know what was going on on the Surface because Gavin doesn’t really speak much about the subject. I assumed at first that the people of Gavin’s community were living almost a pre-Industrial lifestyle since Gavin talks people getting married at a young age, trading and going hunting; but I later had to amend my thoughts when Gavin mentions video games.

I also couldn’t make myself care about the characters. Initially, the tone of the novel was great because although things seemed perfect for Evie, there was this underlying feeling of menace. However, over time, Evie’s repeated episodes of forgetfulness became more annoying than chilling to me, and made it hard to connect with her. When characters themselves don’t know who they are, how can you get to know them properly?! Evie’s forgetfulness also seemed as if it was just a convenient way for the author to get her characters to uncover another secret.

Lastly, I hated the romance because I thought it lacked chemistry and involved insta-love. From reading Evie’s perspective, it felt as if the reason she fell for Gavin was because he looked so different from the people of Elysium – meaning not only was he a Surface Dweller – something she’s fascinated by – but also because he had gray eyes instead of the Aryan qualities sought and cultured by Mother. As well, I was a bit weirded out by the fact that Evie could be so casual about Coupling with a guy she didn’t know anything about!

With its flimsy worldbuilding and weak characterization and romance, this dystopian, unfortunately, wasn’t for me!

Renegade will be released on November 13, 2012 by Tor Teen. 

Comments About the Cover: Unlike the book, I love the cover! It’s such a perfect-looking scene, but the dripping blood gives it a touch of danger.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.