John Dreamer by Elise Celine

 Title: John Dreamer

Author: Elise Celine

Published: February 1st, 2014

Rating: 2/5 stars

Goodreads

Andy wasn’t usually sure about much, but she was absolutely certain this was the weirdest day of her life as she stood stranded in the middle of a great white room with six strangers. Well, they were mostly strangers. She could have sworn she’d seen the guy with the green eyes before, and maybe that was why he kept staring at her.
When a man calling himself the Guardian appeared and said they had come to make their deepest dreams come true, they embark on an adventure none of them ever imagined, and the consequences of their actions would change them forever.
“John Dreamer” is the first in a series of books set in the confines of the Great White Room.

Review

*Many thanks to AuthorBuzz for the free review copy via Netgalley*
(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)
“John Dreamer” is more optimistic than most of the books I usually read, but that wasn’t what I didn’t like about it. The writing was good as well, but the plot drove me bonkers along side my dislike for the main characters. Alongside six other teens with their six chairs our MC, Andy (or Andrea), finds herself in a strange white room.
What bothered me the most about the plot was it’s repetitiveness. It started off good enough, as I had no idea what was happening but then it took a turn for the worse. One sequence of events begins repeating itself. First one of the teenagers is taken away, then the Guardian shows up acts superior and a task is completed in which someone else disappears. It was predictable every single time apart from the very first time and none of the characters seemed to understand what was happening. They thought many situations were real until the end of said situation and didn’t use what they had learned in the next situation.
Andy, the main character, also fell in love with John Dreamer within eight and a half seconds, a fact she openly admits too. It was insta-love at it’s worst and I felt insta-nnoyed right away. It was in her POV for the entire book as well, so I had to deal with my disliking of her until it randomly changed. It didn’t even change to John’s POV, which might have made a bit more sense, it changed to the bully’s to show his perspective.
In my opinion the way the story was structured and the annoying array of cliches made it a very juvenile read. The author didn’t seem able to make up her mind on what to do at some points, and that being said, I can’t really recommend reading this.

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R Carey

imageTitle: The Girl With All the Gifts

Author: M.R Carey

Published: January 14th, 2014

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Review

*Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the ARC review copy of this book via NetGalley*

I wasn’t expecting to read this book when I started it. Well I planned to read it, I just thought it would be entirely different. A monster in the guise of a little girl perhaps, I imagined that she wouldn’t know she was a monster (or superhuman thingie) but would have an extraordinary level of power that government officials would fear and wish to exploit. It was sort of like that, sort of, but much more powerful than I imagined it would be.

A group of people and one not so human person have to put aside their differences so that they can reach a safe haven. They were a largely diverse group of characters, young and old, dark and pale, crazy and reasonable. I enjoyed reading about all of them, though I think I may have hated Doctor more than I should have. Her character development did nothing to stop me from hating her and I just wanted to hide Melanie, the little girl, behind me and hiss at her aggressively. These were not cardboard characters to say the least, none of them were perfect and none flawed beyond recognition. They each believed in what they were doing, and that made them all the more powerful.

The plot was extraordinarily well paced, it never lost my interest or patience. There was a bit of a metaphor in there somewhere that still hasn’t left me behind, and grossed me out more than it should have. Actually the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the all too present scientific nature of it overall. This mostly bothered me because I didn’t know what all of the words meant, but I think that most people would have less trouble in that aspect than me. It’s a definite must for zombie fans everywhere.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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Title: The Orphan Queen

Author: Jodi Meadows

Published: March 10, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars (subject to change with full reading)

 Goodreads:

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Review:

Although I may not have been aware that this was going to be an excerpt when I started it, I still ferociously enjoyed reading the twelve chapters offered. Wilhelmina was a perfect heroine for this story. Unlike so many before her, she has set her first priority to reclaiming her country instead of focusing on a boy. This is something I truly appreciate because although I enjoy reading romance, it sometimes has a bit too strong of a place in books defined firstly as fantasy. In “The Orphan Queen” everyone does a really good jog of remembering what their fighting for, and they have a tight knit group that helps to remin anyone who loses track. Among this group is Melanie, a particularly interesting character. Wil’s bestfriend, Melanie is either one of my favorites of the characters or the one I will end up liking the least. She’s very mysterious, kind and protective to Wil and the other orphans. So she comes off a bit like a mama bear at times, but it doesn’t seem like she’s entirely trustworthy at the point in the story at which my sample ended. (which of course just makes me more anxious to read the entire thing) The Black Knife is just the icing on the cake, but I won’t give away the little bit that I know about him. It’s more enjoyable to find that out for your self.

*A review copy of the first twelve chapters was provided on Edelweiss by Katherine Tegen Books.*

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

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Title: Scorched

Author: Mari Mancusi

Published: September 3rd, 2013

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads:

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

Review:

With a crazy grandpa obsessed with mythical creatures and a crumbling Museum business, Trinity Foxx has a lot going on. Things only worsen when he brings a beautiful egg he believes belongs to the last of the dragons home. This leaves the two of them with next to no money and Trinity with quite a bit of anger.

This book just barely missed being four star worthy. A number of its aspects got on my nerves.

– Trinity Foxx – The name Trinity gets on my nerves enough by itself, but Trinity Foxx sounds like some preppy girl who thinks she’s above everyone else. Her character was also a bit too dependent on others for my liking. Even though she kept the museum business alive and helped her grandpa with his financial problems she still let herself rely on Connor and Caleb throughout the majority of the novel. For someone depicted as so strong she should have been more willing to make her own decisions.

– The dialogue – These characters are supposed to me in their late teens and they go around thinking and saying things like “I’m the good guy,” he wanted to add. “The one they sent to save your world” and “There were men,” she said at last. “They barged into my house. I freaked out and ran here to hide before calling 911. I think one of them might still be in the house.” The dialogue also indicates that the author is a beginner and not the best author in the over use of “said bookisms.” There were way too many she demanded, he muttered, she hissed, and she joke type dialogue tags as opposed to just saying she/he said, a technique that would have made the book seem more professional. Instead it seems like the author thought the “said bookisms” were necessary and in turn it made the book less interesting, and the characters sounded even younger than they would have with just the more simple dialogue.

Despite its many faults Scorched had a number of characteristics that made up for it’s faults. The number one thing that made me like it was the dragons. I’m pretty much incapable of resisting dragons and these ones were cute (especially Trin’s dragon who we saw most of) and I enjoyed their playful mannerisms. Also Fred the female dragon amused me to no end.

Caleb and Connor also had me constantly entertained. Unlike Trinity they kept me guessing for the majority of the book – with Trin it was more of a fifty/fifty chance she’d follow what either one said – they interacted with the world with much more intuition than Trinity seemed capable of.

Between the dragons and the twins I mildly enjoyed this book. Though it was much too simple for my liking as I was hoping it would do better to mentally engage me in the story. But oh well. If you are in fact looking for a quick easy read with dragons and romance then you will more than likely enjoy this book.

Visit the Mari Mancusi on twitter @marimancusi or at her website here.

I Recommend… Anne McCaffrey and The Harper Hall Trilogy

Those that know me well are likely aware that I love dragons. I read books about the creatures somewhat obsessively, as well as watch shows including them and collect objects involving them.

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But of course, I love some dragon books more than others, just as I favor some authors above others. And since I’ve recently reread the book for what must be the third or fourth time, it seems only natural that I speak about The Harper Hall Trilogy and Anne McCaffrey. These aren’t all of the books that McCaffrey has written, certainly not all of the ones about dragons, but I continue to find myself pulled back to them, the first two in particular. They aren’t even exactly about dragons, to be truthful, but the creatures that dragons came from. The main focus is on the fire lizards. What all dragons would have remained if the humans of Pern had not genetically engineered them to grow bigger and fight off the deadly Thread that falls from the planet’s Red Star on occasion. But these mini dragons are just as interesting to me as their larger and more highly focused on counterparts.

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My copy of the first book in the series is proof to that, as it has become largely mangled and torn from various rereadings as well as its age (it was published in 1976).

So why do I like it so much? The short answer would have to be the main character. Her name is Menolly and I love her. Menolly is a bit younger than most YA protagonists at fourteen, but this doesn’t stop her from being just as awesome as any of the more well known YA protagonists.

At the start of the novel Menolly lives with her family in the Sea Hold. This wouldn’t be much of a cause for trouble for most, but Yanus, Menolly’s father, makes everyone work with the fish and do other sea related chores, and sees music as pointless at best. Menolly prospers even among these conditions, and manages to leave the hold and Impress nine fire lizards. Basically I find her very impressive, especially since practically everyone in her original home is prejudiced against girls. I’ll leave it at that, so that anyone who wants to read Dragonsong can discover for themselves how she finds the lizards and survives without her hold. It really is amazing.

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton

22019704 Title: The Artful

 Author: Wilbert Stanton

 Published: May 26, 2014

 Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Goodreads:

New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.

Review:

*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*

Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.

Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.

He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.

One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.

Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

7657321_orig Title: Crazy

 Author: Linda Vigen Phillips

 Published: October 20, 2014 

 Rating: 4/5 stars

 Goodreads:

Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960’s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance. But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother  is suffering from a mental illness.

No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. She finds some solace in art, but when her mother, also an artist, suffers a breakdown, Laura fears that she will follow in her mother’s footsteps. Left without a refuge, can she find the courage to face what scares her most?

Review:

I am highly greatful that the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, which provided this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

‘Crazy’ was a very interesting book to read, and that’s not just because it’s written entirely in verse. It follows the life of a girl, just 15, named Laura who has to deal with the overwhelming presence of her mother’s mental illness. She is terrified that she will end up like her, so she drags her own happiness into the dirt to watch herself for symptoms. It is especially difficult for her and her family because they are living in a time when mental illnesses are very poorly understood. It would have been a great story even without the verse which served to make it even better than it may have been and twice as memorable. Not to mention, despite her dealings with her mother’s illness, this book makes it clear that Laura, and others like her, are not so different from everyone else as some books would have us believe. It’s the kind of novel that really not only makes you think, but also feel. Not to mention, the characters are very interesting and their lives and interactions engaged me greatly. This is definitely something worth reading and I recommend it to both lovers of realistic fiction and those who are unsure about the genre!

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen


briar roseTitle:
Briar Rose

 Author: Jane Yolen

 Published:  August 15, 1992

Rating:
5/5 stars

 

Goodreads
An American Library Association “100 Best Books for Teens”

An American Library Association “Best Books for Young Adults”

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.

Review:

I’d be the first to admit that I’ve never really particularly liked historical fiction. I’ve always been partial to dragons, magic and duels and robots, other worlds and aliens, never historical fiction. I had some bad experiences with the genre when I was younger, Johnny Tremain and I did not get along, and the only historical fiction I’ve really ever read has included magic of some kind. So when I went up to the counter at the library and asked for some good historical fiction recommendations, I was expecting the worst. But instead I got something that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long time and recommend to scores and scores of people.

The main character Rebecca, known mostly as Becca, grew up with two older sisters, two parents and one mysterious grandmother known only as Gemma. It was really interesting to learn about both women, and their connections to various people. To Becca, her grandmother’s repetive telling of Sleeping Beauty and Briar Rose, was a magical and enjoyable story that defined her grandmother. But to Gemma, it was her life and she could not be persuaded differently no matter how many times her various family members tried. She lived in a castle. Her name was Briar Rose and she was the only one that the prince woke up from a sleep that would have lasted a hundred years.

It’s a very creepy, and lasting story about WWII and a family’s tragic history. But somehow it manages to be at times, light and uplifting through its unlikely events. I highly recommend it to both lovers of historical fiction and those who aren’t so sure. Maybe it will change your mind about the genre like it did for me.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

2614272Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: September 18th, 2012

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Review:

I was a bit nervous about this one, admittedly, but I didn’t really have any real need to be. I’ve heard a thousand different good things about Maggie Stiefvater and her writing, but the only other time that I’ve read one of her books is when I was much younger and not quite sure what kind of books I liked. I enjoyed the first of her werewolf series, but it wasn’t something I was all that eager to continue with. But, this book is not like The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Blue Sargent is unique in a way that I can’t quite place, and maintained a very vibrant personality with some set and defining characteristics, throughout the novel. Her most emphasized trait being, for the most part, her lack of clairvoyance. It sets her apart from her family, making her just a bit too ordinary to fit in with them and still much too strange to have any friends at her school or anywhere else. Gansey, and the other Raven Boys change that, and in ways beyond what the synopsis suggests. The group become each other’s friends, allies and saviors at many different levels and in many different ways.  It wasn’t really a love story as the description suggested, the relationships inside are more powerful than that, and thus, the book is more lasting on the mind. Lastingly strange, like the bird Ronan named Chainsaw, and brilliantly odd.

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.” 


Visit Maggie Stiefvater on Twitter 
@mstiefvater and see the trailer that she made for the book below: