Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

•July 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Shiver, a werewolf story by Maggie Stiefvater, was surprisingly good, not campy or going for the cheap thrill. Grace is a seventeen-year-old who survived a wolf attack as a child, and she has developed a fixation with the wolves that come to the area in the winter. After a popular jerk named Jack Culpepper is killed by wolves, the town sends out a group to to thin the numbers of the wolves in the local area. Grace hardly stops them, and in her yard, she discovers a naked boy with yellow eyes, like her favorite wolf’s. She takes him to the hospital and discovers that yes, he is her wolf- his name is Sam- he is a human during the warmer months, and during the cooler ones, he becomes a human. With every progressing year, his time as a human becomes shorter and shorter and his days as a wolf become longer and longer. Sam was ‘raised by wolves-‘ older members of the pack, who were bitten later and made sure he was educated, fed and cared for. Grace, who was bitten seven years ago, cannot remember why she was bitten by the pack, and did not turn into a wolf– but she can remember why. But Sam is her favorite- he phased back to a human form and carried her to her back porch that fateful day, cementing his place in her heart after she was attacked.

Similarities to Twilight:

This is a very well-written werewolf story. Every line seems poetic and pretty. I liked the romance- it was well-done and a good reimagining of the werewolf legend- a man against nature sort of plotline. My only complaints were that Grace didn’t seem to develop as a character until after Sam became human. I didn’t get a real sense of her until she had a boyfriend.

I also thought Grace’s parents were awfully distant. They didn’t seem to care very much about Sam when he was introduced to them as her boyfriend. They didn’t check on her when she went to bed. When I was seventeen, my parents regularly invaded my room and came into it at all hours of the night just to scream at me over shit. Grace’s parents didn’t take her out, spend time with her, etc, not even after they found out she had a serious boyfriend. Grace’s parents didn’t care very much about her. Most of the parents in this book didn’t seem to, just like Charlie Swan didn’t try to stop Bella from driving from Forks, Washington to Phoenix, Arizona on her own. I thought that having a serious boyfriend out of the blue would scare them into realizing they were letting their daughter be too independent and she was growing up and they weren’t involved. Most parents would pick up on who their kid was dating someone or liked a boy, even if they aren’t ‘involved’ parents. Every parent I know would worry if this suddenly happened.

It did make me cry, though- in a good way, at the end.

Overall Rating; 8.5 out of 10 stars

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

•July 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Beautiful Creatures… what can I say? There was plenty of romance in it and I couldn’t tell how she’d turn until the end. But, I felt the ending left something to be desired.

I felt like the authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl got the Small Southern town setting just right. All the secrets, gossiping, the “War of Northern Aggression” and the “in” crowds like the DAR and the Guardian Angels… Ethan felt a little bland to me- and a friend of mine pointed out how much he noticed clothing, like a girl would. It gave away that A.) two women wrote it and B.) it was meant for girls only.

Edward Cullen Similarity Ranking: (Spoilers Included) 3 0f 10

I couldn’t tell how Lena was “different” from the others I’ve read in the past six months. Like Bella, she was a bid bland, if it weren’t for her family. She finally got interesting towards the end when the cheerleaders gave her a tiny metallic purse and she immediately tossed it in the fire.

Then, she was “a rebel.” It was like how in Not Another Teen Movie she dressed differently so that made her a rebel and that made her different.

Ethan gave up everything for her, which is a big no-no wherever you go, like how Bella gave up her own friends and hobbies the moment she fell in love with Edward.

The relationships were slightly different than Edward and Bella. It wasn’t la la la la la, OMG, I’m in love. It was a relationship that built up over time.

Overall Rating: 7 of 10

I wish they had told it in 3rd person from Ethan’s point of view instead of 1st person. One of the characters I wish they had expanded on was Larkin. Why did everybody think he wasn’t going to go Dark and why couldn’t they tell? I felt like Ridley was an interesting character, too, but she got more and more time. Uncle Macon was pretty stereotypical Southern Gentleman and I wondered why he was a dark creature, but was on the side of the light. Hopefully, it will be explained in time. I’m looking forward to the sequel out October 13th, Beautiful Darkness. I’m left wondering if Lena turned Dark or if she’s going to go towards the Light.

Ruined by Paula Morris

•July 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

I was kind of dubious of Ruined at first. The author started it off with a short history lesson on New Orleans and then having modern-day Rebecca Brown going to New Orleans from her hometown of New York City. A classic fish-out-of-water tale, just like Bella Swan leaving Phoenix for it’s polar opposite, Forks. She goes to live with her “Aunt” Claudia and cousin Aurelia. Aunt Claudia lives in the Garden District and was talking about how the city of New Orleans is changing because of Hurricane Katrina. I thought it would date the story that they were talking about Hurricane Katrina, but that was the only datable event I remember in the book. Aunt Claudia tells Rebecca never to go to the enormous cemetery across the street. So, guess what Rebecca does after her first day of school where she doesn’t fit in?

So sets off a series of events. The reason Rebecca wants to go into the cemetery is because she wants to follow the popular, old-money girl at school, Helena, and her friends. She tries to be inconspicuous, but ends up being chased and almost locked in. She trips and falls, and a strangely dressed girl named Lisette helps her up and gives her directions to the exit. This almost getting locked in incident doesn’t deter Rebecca from going back. She gets to know Lisette and right as the popular kids come up to the Bowman mausoleum, Lisette takes Rebecca’s hand and Rebecca becomes invisible. All this is because Lisette is a ghost. Usually she appears to the Bowman daughters at the age of 16, and the Bowman daughter don’t live to their seventeenth birthdays. And it looks like Helena is going to be the next recipient of that curse.

Morris had a lot to work with in Ruined. She set it in New Orleans and in the old-money circles, so Mardi Gras and the parades were an enormous part of the plot. She obviously knew a lot about them.

Of the characters, she really had me guessing as to who was the real villian.

Anton seemed a bit generic as the love interest, but it came to fulfillment towards the end. But, he was a bit bland overall.

Helena almost had a redeeming moment, overall, she was just a mean girl.

Development of Rebecca’s character picked up momentum as the story went on.

Aunt Claudia was interesting, and so was her daughter, Aurelia. I liked them both.

Similarities to Twilight: 2 of 10

The Fish-Out-of-Water element.

A few Cullen names were found.

Stars: 8 out of 10

I did like it, and it didn’t end with the setup for a sequel. So, as a single book, I think it’s very much worth reading.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

•July 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The novel was fun, and better mapped out than City of Bones. The gang is back with a new wolfpack that Luke, or Lucian, is in charge of as Alpha and fun new character in Maia.

In City of Ashes, after Jace has been kicked out by his foster mother in Maryse Lightwood, he attempts to make a life for himself in the real world, but immediately aggravates the lycan community. As a fight ensues, someone is assaulted outside the bar. He is incarcerated by the Inquisitor, who sends him to the City of the Bones underground with the Silent Brothers to get him to admit what he did. His night alone is terrifying when one of the Silent Brothers is killed and drops dead inside his cell. Valentine appears, holding the Mortal Sword. With a little bit of teen Downworlder Sluething, they figure out that he must bathe the sword in the blood of four different types of Downworld creatures to become unstoppable.

Similarity Ranking: 0 of 10

It’s not at all like Twilight, more like Harry Potter.

Worth Reading: 8 of 10

I give it this score because the kids figured it out right off the bat, there was no decoy or red herring. It was a little too Harry Potter, too.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

•June 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place.

If I had read this summary in a book store I would have immediately put the book down—I don’t read stories where kids kill each other. Well, now I not only read them—I love them! Fortunately for me, a friend bought this book for me after hearing wonderful things about it, so I gave it a chance and now I’m a passionate Hunger Games fan!

Suzanne Collins is a master at character development. It’s rare to find an author who can develop so many characters so fully and beautifully with ease.  The first person point of view and use of the present tense really draws the reader into the book immediately. You aren’t just reading The Hunger Games—you’re living The Hunger Games.

One of the refreshing things about this book is that the characters aren’t all beautiful. The men don’t always do and say the right thing. They aren’t dressed to kill. Girls and women aren’t primping themselves, flirting, and trying to land the hot guy. The characters in this book are just surviving—but you’ll love them just as much as you love the Cullen family.

I rate this book a 10!

Similarity to twilight: 0 out of 10. There are no beautiful, sparkly characters in this book—only real people fighting for their lives.

The Mediator: Haunted by Meg Cabot

•June 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In the 5th and installment of the Mediator series, Haunted, Suze begins her first day of her junior year at the Mission School. Everything’s going great, she’s got a new designer wardrobe she bought herself, and she’s got her license to drive!

Of course, it all comes crashing down when Paul Slater shows up and her step-brother Brad decides to have a kegger around the new hot tub while their parents are out of town.

Suze can’t believe her bad luck- Paul is the most arrogant, selfish mediator Suze has ever met. To make matters worse, her oldest stepbrother brings home a friend who’s got a straggler- an angry older brother ghost.

While she tries to sort out the haunting, she must deal with Paul, whom Father Dom let in because “everybody deserves a second chance.” Suze realizes that she’s falling in love with Jesse, but can’t stop it.

SPOILER SUMMARY:

Paul offers some evidence about how he and Suze are really “shifters.” Suze, thinking of how this affects her and Jesse, goes with him. At his only partially-conscious grandpa’s home on the coast, he shows her old drawings and articles supporting his evidence by a doctor named Slaski.  It looks like “shifters” can go to different times and dimensions, not to mention, see ghosts.

Of course, Paul puts the moves on Suze and she loses her head for a moment, but regains sensibility when she realizes she can’t be in love with Paul. Herein lies the love triangle.

I think my favorite part of the book was when Paul and Jesse got into a fight at the kegger.

And then, we get a new insight to Paul’s ability at the end, when Grandpa Slater is wheeled up and tells Suze, “Don’t listen to him. He’s got it all wrong. Suze, you have the ability. But it’ll kill you. Maybe not right away, but eventually” admitting his real name was Dr. Slaski.

Edward Cullen Similarity Rating:

Love Triangle: Got it

So, 1 out of 10.

Overall rating?

We get a lot of excitement here. I’m going to give it 9 out of 10. Just because my favorite book in the series is up next, Twilight/Darkest Hour!

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

•June 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

After the fateful ending of Frostbite, where Rose has taken out two Strigoi in Spokane, she has gotten her first two Molijna marks, tattoos designating that she had killed two Strigoi. In the process, she had lost a friend in Mason. Mason was killed by the Strigoi, proving that Mead is not afraid to kill her own beloved characters, indicating a bloodbath in the future.

On the plus side, Dimitri turned down Moroi Tasha Ozera’s offer for a guardianship- a guardianship that might have been okay-ed to yield a relationship so Tasha could have a Dhampir baby with him. His reasoning- his heart is with Rose, not Tasha.

As Rose continues her training, they begin a guardian exercise where she’s assigned to a Moroi at the school and the trainers pretend to be Strigoi at odd moments to catch the Dhampirs off guard, she does NOT get assigned to Lissa. She gets assigned to Christian instead of Lissa like she expected. She’s never considered that she’ll be a guardian for anybody other than Lissa with their spirit bond, it’s shocking. She must adjust and figure out how to guard different Moroi.

They are sent to the Royal Court to meet the Queen with Lissa. On the way, Rose begins to see Ghosts and Demons and she doesn’t know what it is. Upon arriving at court, they learn a few things. As they arrive home, Rose can see Mason’s ghost, who seems to be warning her of something in the woods near St. Vladimir’s Academy.

Tasha Ozera makes another appearance, which I cheered for. I like her. She’s pretty kick-ass for a Moroi.

Through the story, Rose discovers the true meaning of the term “Shadow Kissed” and how it applies to herself and Lissa.

I’m not going to do the Edward Cullen similarity ranking since this overall story arc is proving to be so different.

I’ll just do spoilers:

SPOILER ALERT REVIEW:

Rose isn’t the reason things are happening. She’s observing more than anything and trying to help the forces of good while finding out that the world isn’t all black-and-white. She grows immensely through the series and learns about love and sacrifices. She is definitely a dynamic character.

Tasha says that the Moroi shouldn’t sacrifice their Dhampirs at age sixteen to add more protection, but proposes scandalously that the Moroi should fight beside the Dhampirs like they used to against the Strigoi and stop being so passive in their safety. It all makes sense to me- and I see some reflections in modern society today. She embodies this by knowing how to physically fight and use her magical power. Despite the indignity the Moroi society puts on her for being the sister of a Moroi who chose to be Strigoi, she doesn’t let that bring her down. She fights on. She’s a survivor. GO TEAM TASHA OZERA!

I love the chemistry between Rose and Dimitri, but Adrian still shows up in Rose’s dreams. I like Adrian at this point in the series, but I feel like he’s horning on Rose and Dimitri territory. I think that’s kinda rude. He’s like the Robert Downey Jr. of the series- blessed because of his birth and status and talent, but lets drugs and alcohol get in the way. But he’s still a badass and I like him.

As for Rose and Dimitri, I think we were all holding our breath for them to consumate the relationship, but when they did, bad things happened. I think that’s a message for the younger readers- forbidden and taboo relationships can end terribly with a lot of devastation. I was heartbroken when in the cave, he was taken and forced to become Strigoi.

Christian proves to be a strong fighter as well when the Strigoi ambush St. Vladimir’s. He uses his fire power to help destroy the attackers along with Rose’s ass-kicking skills when St.Vladimir’s comes under attack. He ads to the idea that Moroi should learn to fight alongside the Dhampirs to ensure their survival. I think it took a lot of heart and strength to go against the norm, but then again, he’s been an outcast since his parents took the path they did, scandalizing the family.

And I finally came to like Mia. Mia was a complete brat during Vampire Academy.

There were minor characters introduced that wanted to be Moroi fighters alongside the Dhampirs that I liked a lot like Jill.

Overall ranking: 10 out of 10 stars

Why am I giving it so many stars? Because this series keeps getting better and better, that’s why!