Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

You're probably wondering why I haven't been posting lately. One word: swim season. Okay, that's two words. But when you're suffocating from a lack of sleep and lack of oxygen, in my case, it's hard to get enough time to actually finish a book. As always, you can subscribe to my Goodreads account via the link in the sidebar because I'm better at updating that account than this. Plus, I have to delete spoiler tags from my original reviews to post them on Blogger, so you get that extra little something if you read these on my Goodreads. Memes will start again next week when I get the hang of my new schedule. 

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Author: Lish McBride

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Part of a Series?: First in series

Goodreads Summary:
Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak. 

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.  

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

It took me a while to actually start this book, but once I started, I couldn't stop (hence, why this review is being written at 1:21 am). I can sum up the story in one sentence: A fun paranormal romp that sacrifices realism for the sake of awesomeness.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer proved to me that it's possible to have a bucketload of supporting characters and balance all of them in a somewhat satisfying way. I thought at first that McBride was overshooting when the initial 4 character cast was added upon with 2 bad guys, 1 love interest + family, and a convoluted family backstory. Some might even argue that she did indeed overestimate her abilities. I, however, can't see it that way. I thought that the supporting characters all got their own development or at least hinted to a new story line in the sequels. Honestly, this was the only time where I could actually stand the "average human sidekick" trope; Ramon is possibly my favorite sidekick in a PNR that I've read recently.

Sam could've turned out to be a generic protagonist. McBride certainly didn't do any favors by giving him the "my mother didn't tell me about my true paranormal powers and now it turns out I'm uber powerful" trope. Yet all I can say is that Sam is certainly a character I could root for. He's not the smartest guy when it comes to school, but he is rational and likeable. He thinks like a normal human being shoved into a ridiculous situation. He's not perfect but he doesn't pretend to be. I actually think he is the most believable out of all the characters (although realism on a plot level is...sketchy). However, I don't think that I could've read a whole book about Sam. It helped immensely that McBride actually changed the POV each chapter, alternating between Sam's first person POV and supporting character-centric third person POV. The way this book was formatted helped flesh out each facet of the story without overwhelming me with too-much Sam or too-much Ramon.

I have a lot of other minor good things to say about Hold Me Closer, Necromancer like the world-building and action, but I took off a star because the realism in some aspects was really lacking.  On the other hand, in McBride's defense, I probably would have made the same move she did. Sometimes, readers just like to get to the fun stuff, and if that means skimping on the realism sometimes, so be it.

I think this is a pretty fun book to get a hold of. I'd recommend it if not just for having a nice way to pass the time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: Shattered Souls

Title: Shattered Souls

Author: Mary Lindsey

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Part of a Series?: Standalone

Goodreads Summary:
 Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

2.5 stars

This book was a pain to finish. It took me twice as long to read, and I had to pick up different books to keep myself occupied. The main thing I think was bad about this book was that Mary Lindsey was really inconsistent with the quality of her plot. She shoved all of the boring stuff into the first 75% of the book, leaving only a few chapters for the exciting action and mystery.

I was totally overwhelmed with the sheer number of clichés that riddled this book. Had it not been for the predictability, I think Shattered Souls would've been fairly interesting. It had reincarnation, ghosts, exorcisms, and the sweet smell of faux-bureaucracy. But we also got a whole lot of messy love triangles, stupid protagonist decisions, and frustrating "I love you but can't be with you" speeches. 

Lenzi is awfully difficult to support. She is weak, whiney, and overall a pain to read about, especially in the first half of the book where she alternates between rejecting Alden's help with her ghost problem and playing 20 questions with him even when they're on a time crunch. Her ongoing identity crisis didn't help either. Furthermore, she falls into the "innocent seductress" stereotype too easily. She leads on Zak, her current boyfriend, even though she clearly loves Alden from day 1. Can I just tell all YA female protagonists with love triangle issues that CHEATING IS CHEATING, NO EXCEPTIONS. If you have a boyfriend but like someone else, break up with the boyfriend before you kiss the other guy. Because if you kiss that other guy before breaking up with said boyfriend, you are a CHEATER and deserve no sympathy if said boyfriend tries to kill you in a fit of drunken stupidity.

The plot is a little disjointed and uneven. I can sort of understand the amount of infodumping in this book. There is a lot of backstory that we need to know. However, told through Alden in monologues that compose several pages, the flood of new information made me feel overwhelmed and frustrated at the stagnation of the story's real plot! The minor restitutions scattered around the chapters are sort of satisfying (and really, really interesting. no sarcasm there), but they only served to increase my impatience. When we finally get to the Big Baddy of the book, the final conclusion to the battle left me wanting more. Even Lenzi comments on how fast everything was going; literally, we meet, learn about, and beat the Big Baddy all in the span of half a day. 

Overall, I thought this book had potential. Unfortunately, I just got tired of wading through the clichés in search of a good story.

Quote Something Sunday #4

Last week's quote:

With the last spark of life I had left, I tried to speak, tried to let Dimitri know I loved him too and that he had to protect her now. I don't think he understood, but the words of the guardian mantra were my last conscious thought. They come first.

This quote was from the thoughts of Rose Hathaway in Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead. Best vampire book ever. 

This week's quote:

“It's okay,' he tells me. 'If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I've ever wanted anything in my life.' His voice cracks with emotion. He stops, clears his throat, takes a breath, and continues. 'But that's what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It's okay if you have to leave us. It's okay if you want to stop fighting.' 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Zombiecorns

Title: Zombiecorns

Author: John Green

Rating: 4 stars

Part of a Series?: Free novella

Goodreads Summary:
 Dearest Reader, 
This is a bad zombie apocalypse novella. It was written in a hurry. It is riddled with inconsistencies. And it never quite arrives at whatever point it sought to make. But remember: The $25 you donated to charity in exchange for this steaming mess of prose will help our species shuffle along, and I hope you’ll feel warmed by your good deed as you read. Thank you for decreasing the overall worldwide level of suck, and as they say in my hometown: Don’t forget to be awesome. 

Best wishes! 
John Green 

* The book has been made available under creative commons license, so it can be acquired legally here:http://effyeahnerdfighters.com/post/2835... :)

If only this was longer! I thoroughly enjoyed Zombicorns (which isn't about Zombies and Unicorns, sadly...hence the 4 stars) and I absolutely loved John Green's style of writing. It's funny, quirky, sarcastic, and joyously self deprecating. Had Green made this a full length novel rather than a free novella, it might've even topped my list for best zombie fiction, which, granted, is a limited but quality list. 

I don't really have a full review nor can I really comment on the character development or plot pacing because Zombicorns is too short. Besides, all of that is totally irrelevant because THERE IS MAGIC CORN IN THIS BOOK! NO JOKE, MY FRIENDS! MAGIC. MIND CONTROLLING. CORN. Along with a "subtle" jabs at the government; religion; and Leeroy Jenkins, reference that made me laugh so hard my sides hurt (That was a brave move, Green. I congratulate you for outing your inner nerd). 


That is all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fan Trailer Tuesday - Artemis Fowl

I read the Artemis Fowl books religiously when I was little. They were so addicting. Child genius + fairies + jetset adventures around (and under) the world? They were really entertaining. Granted, I haven't read the recent books because I'm just too old for the series now, I'll always have fond memories of the series. Now for the trailer:

I said last week I was getting annoyed with the constant casting of Ben Barnes as the male hottie in books. Well, this week I realized my pet peeve of seeing scenes from The Spiderwick Chronicles in every single trailer. Used well and tastefully, the movie clips have the potential to improve the trailer. But for this trailer's case (which otherwise is okay), I found the clips lacking in coherency to the actual book.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vampire Diaries: The Books or TV Series?

The Vampire Diaries book series by L.J. Smith was never my cup of tea. I bought books 1 and 2 (in an omnibus edition as seen to the left) from Barnes and Noble a couple years ago, and I thought the story was garbage. Yeah, this happened to be during my Twilight-vendetta-phase where I angrily raged against vampire pop culture for polluting the reputation of the young adult book genre. But I still stand by my dislike of the books. They never really appealed to me. Character-wise, I found the main protagonist Elena to be too unrelatable, and plot-wise, every twist was trite -- even though the book was published pre-Twilight.

However, this is where I get to start my rant. I absolutely adore the T.V. series adaptation of the books. The Vampire Diaries is probably my number one guilty pleasure. I know, it’s a CW production. People who are TV connoisseurs turn their noses away from CW because it's the “teen drama” channel for its long running series like Gossip Girl and America’s Next Top Model. 

Let me just say…WHO CARES? 

The Vampire Diaries started out really slowly. It was really angsty and the characters all seemed to follow a straight, predictable plot. However, it’s only been three seasons and I’ve seen ten seasons worth of plot twists. If you’ve followed the show, you’d also be plenty exhausted with trying to keep up with the newest escapade of Elena, Stefan, and Damon (and I mean this in the best possible way). As I continued to watch the series, I found myself diving into the storyline as if it was a great book. I rooted for the characters and mini ranted with my best friend about the latest episodes.

I sort of wish, for once, that the books followed the T.V. series more closely. Unlike the generic vampire drama in the books, the T.V. series humanizes every character we see, developing them into actual 3D people rather than cut out T.V. stereotypes. 

I urge you all to give The Vampire Diaries a try…at least past the first few episodes (because I know the pilot was a disaster…fog machines should be banned from sound stages for eternity).

Quote Something Sunday #3

Last week's quote:

"I'm useless upriver," _________ told the Chief Healer flatly. "There's only Jon's or Myles's armor to clean,
and I can't clean it while they're wearing it. If I don’t do something, I’ll scream.” 

This quote was spoken by Alanna in Tamora Pierce's In the Hand of the Goddess. This is possibly  my favorite book out of all of Pierce's published material. I read this book for the first time in 5th grade, and I still remember my initial awe over her writing. The book is phenomenal.
Now for this week's quote...

With the last spark of life I had left, I tried to speak, tried to let Dimitri know I loved him too and that he had to protect her now. I don't think he understood, but the words of the guardian mantra were my last conscious thought. They come first.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Rot & Ruin

Title: Rot & Ruin

Author: Jonathan Maberry

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Part of a Series?: First in series

Goodreads Summary:
 In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn’t want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash—but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
Acclaimed horror author Jonathan Maberry makes his young adult debut with this detail-rich depiction of a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has fallen, the dead have risen, and danger is always imminent.
Help! I'm on a 2-star book streak! 2012 really is bad luck :(

I don't have too much to say about this particular book...I'm sure if you really like zombie books, then you will like this. Rot & Ruin isn't your typical zombie book though. It portrays those mindless bullet fodder as human beings for once! 

Maberry did several things differently than I'm used to. 

1) After humanity struggled back into semisurvival mode after the apocalypse, teenagers were made to pick jobs when they turn 15. These jobs aren't like mailman or schoolteacher. Jobs highlighted include cadaverine bottler (think zombie sweat), erosion artist, minimum wage worker who bangs on fences with sticks to attract "zoms", etc. The creativity and realism are present, but sometimes this formula doesn't equate exactly to the most compelling read. Zombie hunting is the most captivating aspect of Rot & Ruin, but for some reason, Maberry slowly guides us around town, showing us some of the more...scintillating characters in town. I especially liked the stereotypical Dumb and Dumber characters that Benny, for some reason, idolized blindly. Fun stuff. I think, for the sake of realism, Maberry detracted a lot from the first part of the book's fun adventure.

2) Bromance is a hard thing to write, especially when Benny is completely unlikeable and Tom is a self righteous idiot. I think Maberry had the right idea in creating a younger brother who would slowly come to understand his older brother while also maturing his own view of the world at the same time. It sounds good on paper, doesn't it? However, I have to say that the execution was poor. Benny and Tom's relationship slowly progressed from infuriating to boring. I knew something was wrong with their relationship when I started wishing Benny would go back to outright hating his older brother...at least it was interesting! After reading this book, I had to go watch season 4 ofSupernatural because no one has more bromance than the Winchester brothers. 

3) I just overall didn't think the plot was that intriguing. There were some interesting parts, but when I could neither root for the good guys or bad guys (both sides were utterly hopeless, I swear), my interest came down to a grinding halt. 

Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of 2 star books! 2012 is not going well for me. But I actually think a lot of people would like this book. It just didn't appeal to me personally. Try it out and see.


See my original review at Goodreads or check me out on Twitter!
Followers will be given hugs. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fan Trailer Tuesdays - Clockwork Angel

Love her, hate her, wish her luck, wish her death, Cassandra Clare has an immense fanbase. She is one of the most followed authors on Goodreads, and her books always top some sort of reputable book chart in terms of sheer number of buyers. It was only the next step that one person in her gaggle of worshippers was handy with iMovie.

 I really liked this trailer. I was pretty ambivalent about Clockwork Angel as a whole, but as always, these are trailers so I can't really take into account the quality of the book when I review them. 
First off, I really LOVED the use of the cut scenes with the clock gears in the background. They were a clever use of special effects that left me wondering where she got them--certainly no fanmade trailer before this has had cut scenes like them before. I also liked the voice overs (FINALLY!) because they just added that touch of realism to the trailer. You don't ever see a silent trailer with only music;  there is always some sort of voice or narration involved. 

The only thing I can really say I didn't like was the use of Ben Barnes in the role that I presume is Will Herondale. He is so overused in fan trailers, I have to keep an eye out to pick trailers that don't have his face in them. Some people find him hot...well, I think he's kind of odd looking and way too old for a love interest role in a YA book. He's 30 years old, for God's sake. Please, I don't need him filling the shoes of my teen boy candy anytime soon...not even as Dimitri from Vampire Academy.

Goodreads Controversy Jan 2012: Two Sides

I'm not an aged, wizened reviewer on Goodreads yet. I joined last year around May (I know this because of my Goodreads profile and because I nearly failed my finals; the site had me compulsively digging around my bookshelves for new books to add rather than attending to my studying).

Goodreads caught my attention not because it allowed you to brazenly boast about your book collection (I do love to boast.) but because it gathered bookworms and bibliophiles alike into a single community to share thoughts and opinions freely about the latest novel. I must emphasize one word in that last sentence: freely. Goodreads is one of the most uncensored review sites I've been on. We are allowed to cuss. We are allowed to spoil every plot twist we want, with the optional use of spoiler tags (of course). We are allowed to friend our favorite authors and have a real rapport with our literary icons without actually having to drag our butts over to the once-in-a-million author signing at the local bookstore. Goodreads, I love you dearly. I'm proud to be a Goodreader.

Apparently, one of the more followed reviewers on the site wrote an impassioned, negative review about one book. I won't name the reviewer, author, or participants (as I don't think this was an isolated incident either), but the review became a subject of harsh criticism from not the actual book's author but a third party writer and his/her friends from Twitter.

From reading all the sides of the controversy, I tried to understand where each party is coming from. Let's call the person who wrote the original review "X," the reviewed book's author "Y," nd the third party author "Z."

X's review was very vocal, and I can totally relate with his/her opinions. Often times, I rant vehemently on books that just push my buttons too much (Wither by Lauren DeStefano...). And as I've said before, Goodreads is the one site that allows me to express what I'm really feeling rather than blunting it with a teaspoon of sugar for the sake of an author's self-esteem. Sites that make you add nice things to your review, even if you have none, are inane wastes of my time. An author shouldn't need to have his/her ego stroked at the cost of honesty.

To be fair, I think Z's original comment on X's review was rather civilized. The comment politely pointed out some things Z found to be unfair (since I think X hadn't finished the book yet). It was X's followers who took Z's comment out of context and provoked Z's subsequent Twitter action. I was shocked because from what I could see from external sources on Goodreads, most Goodreaders painted Z in this awful light. Honestly, I couldn't see why Z was initially lambasted for his comment on X's review. As an aspiring author myself, I could understand why Z had some concerns about X's review. X was under no obligation to soften his/her voice, but Z was totally free to call X out for some of the points he/she made about the book.

However, Z then went to Twitter (a dick move, man...), and everything went spiraling into Hell. Y, the original book's author, stepped in gracefully to assuage the parties involved, but the momentum did not stop! In my opinion, Z was free to post his frustration on Twitter -- it's a free country -- but Z should not have added links back to the original review so that all Z's author friends could join in on the party. It was, as I said before, a dick move that really showed how juvenile Z could be. I wished Z could have stuck to the high road...which I know he/she was trying to do originally, but really I think this is a case of impassioned Goodreaders inciting an argument when there hadn't been one.

Short summary? Things got hectic because X didn't like a book, Z added opinions about the review, X's followers got a little pissy, Z got a little pissy, Twitter was involved, and now there is chaos.

I won't stop using Goodreads because of this nor will I go around axing off books from my possible to-read shelf. This action itself is immature. Everyone has bad days and everyone has actions they regret and wish to take back; does that mean I should forgo a possibly amazing book just because one author has an opinion that differs from the rest of us?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Shatter Me

 Title: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Part of a Series?: First in series

Goodreads Summary:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. 

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting asThe Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

Mafi has created the single most coincidence-driven plot line I've ever read. 

Adam coincidentally goes to the same grade school as Juliette. They coincidentally both liked each other but never had the guts to confess. They both coincidentally have the world's crappiest parents. Adam coincidentally finds out that Juliette is held prisoner at the asylum after years of separation. Juliette coincidentally doesn't recognize Adam at first, even though later she explicitly says she could never forget his gorgeous eyes. Coincidentally, Adam is the only one who can touch Juliette without kicking the bucket. Warner also can touch Juliette without dying...COINCIDENTALLY! Kenji coincidentally finds them both after they run away. Kenji coincidentally happens to have superpowers and that's how he found them after they ran away. Juliette coincidentally happens to have ANOTHER superpower that comes in handy while rescuing Adam. EveryoneFifty two people at Omega-Whatever-It's-Called coincidentally have superpowers as well. Mafi coincidentally overuses the slash feature on Microsoft Word. 

But hey, if that's how she likes to write her books...moving on. 

I just really didn't like this book. At first it was the prose. There are a lot of metaphors and similes and analogies and, in general, a lot of literary devices. Half the time, I had to stop and reread the sentence just to figure out what Mafi was referring to. But I got over it. I actually started to warm to the author's style of writing; it's pretty, once you get used to it. However, the issues I had with Juliette and Adam never really faded. I started hating Juliette right away because she just is so negative. She has the mentality of Edgar Allen Poe without the sprinkling of poetic genius. Constantly, Juliette holds these internal monologues with herself about how craptastic her life is/was before she got sent to prison by her own parents. Then, she meets Adam, the only other person in the world who can match her for the sheer amounts of emo screen time. Since we don't get to read Adam's POV firsthand, Mafi generously let us HEAR his thoughts ALOUD in horribly dramatic love confessions to Juliette. Together, their conversations together went something like this. 

"Remember when you gave your pudding cup to that girl in fifth grade?" Adam asked. "That's when I fell in love with you for the first time! And it just hurt my soul so much because you represented the only thing that's good with this world!"
Juliette blushed (because she does that a lot) and touched Adam's cheek; their connection filled her heart with warmth rivaling the sun!
"Juliette," Adam whispered. "You complete me."
Juliette started weeping. "You had me at pudding cup!"

By the time Adam and Juliette manage to escape Warner and his cronies, I had lost all sensation in my head. This story numbs your brain because you're forced to deal with the farfetched situations Mafi sets up for her little characters while simultaneously wading through five soap-worthy confessions a chapter. It barely registered on my "plot twist" meter that the big underdog resistance movement is filled with X-Men. I knew that part of the online summary had to play in somewhere...I just wasn't expecting it to be after chapter 50.

Don't read this. I don't recommend it.

P.S. I have nothing against Jerry Maguire!

Most Anticipated Book to Movies in 2012

I'm a big book nerd, but if there is one thing I love more than books, it's an awesome movie. I definitely could call myself a cinephile (just like my hero, Michael Bolton). Since this is a book blog, I thought I might share with you my most anticipated book-turned-movies in this upcoming year! These are in no particular order.

  1. The Hunger Games 
  2. Snow White and the Huntsman (a debatable book-turned-movie, but I'm excited to see Chris Hemsworth, my future husband)
  3. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
  4. Breaking Dawn Part II 
  5. World War Z
With a fine hand, movies can bring out a book's full potential. Or not, as seen in the case of the Twilight movies--they really didn't have a chance, though.