Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
US Pub. Date: 8 February 2005 (Paperback)
UK Pub. Date: 8 July 2005 (Paperback)
448 pages (US version)
Genre: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian

Note: The next several posts will be about the books in this series. Although I have read all the books, I will write the reviews from my perspective after I finished each one instead of going back with the mindset of having read the whole series. I think it's important, because my opinions and the way the story affected me changed as I kept reading.

I chose this book because it was recommended to me based on some other books I had read. After reading the back of the book, it sounded like it would have good escapism potential, which is the main reason I read. Uglies filled this need. I was easily swept up in the story and plot line from the first chapter. Tally's voice was strong and my younger self (the "me" from the old days) immediately felt a connection to her, wanting to find out more about her life in a world in which I wasn't familiar. The idea of the book, a society which is obsessed with looks for reasons you discover later on, was intriguing to me. Westerfeld did a wonderful job raising questions about what it means to be pretty and how that affects your happiness. The message was there without being in your face, which I appreciated, and I think teenagers would appreciate as well. 

I also enjoyed the other cast of characters, although I found it difficult at times to identify with them (unlike my connection with Tally). There is definitely a struggle between two groups of people here. Those who want to keep the world "pretty" and those who don't. It wasn't immediately obvious what was going on, which allowed me to raise questions, get more interested in the story, and, ultimately, continue reading the other books in the series. All in all, this was a good, quick read. There was a good amount of action along with some character development. Although the message is a serious one, I wouldn't say it transformed my life, but wasn't looking for a book that would do that.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
US Pub. Date: 9 December 2003 (Hardback)
UK Pub. Date: 2 May 2006 (Paperback)
416 pages (US version)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Historical

This is the first in a series of three books about Gemma Doyle, a wealthy late-Victorian teenager who is sent to a finishing school outside London after some mysterious events lead to the death of her mother in India. The first book is kind of a lead-in to the next two books, and introduces the main characters that appear throughout the series. 

 Gemma is an outcast at first, but comes to make some friends throughout this book. She also discovers that there are supernatural things happening to her and in the surrounding areas. So, the series covers her realization of herself as a person and as something more. She really kind of grows up over the course of the trilogy. I thought this book was a little more superficial than the next two in the series, but really, once you keep reading, it becomes apparent why that is. Overall, this was a great book. The characters are strong-minded, for the most-part. I also liked that the social rules of the time were threaded throughout the books. The fight against evil was superimposed upon the fight of the social hierarchy, and it blended well.

I wouldn't say this is a self-contained book, and the action picks up in the second(1) and third(2) books. The only real issue I had with this series is that it's told in first person present tense, which was something I hadn't encountered before(3). After about 100 pages, it no longer bothered me, as I was completely wrapped up in the characters and the story. This series is as much character-based as it is action-based, giving a good mix of the two.

  1. * Rebel Angels (US Pub. Date: 23 August 2005 [Hardcover]; UK Pub. Date: 2 July 2007 [Paperback]; 560 Pages [US Edition])
  2. **The Sweet Far Thing (US Pub. Date: 28 April 2009 [Paperback]; UK Pub. Date: 5 May 2009 [Paperback]; 848 Pages [US Edition])
  3. ***Since reading this series and joining a writers' forum, I've read many more stories written in first person present, and it seems that this is becoming more pervasive in YA literature.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Review: Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

US Pub. Date: 1 March 2007 (Paperback)
UK Pub. Date: 1 August 2007 (Paperback)
496 pages (UK version)
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Having only gotten into paranormal fiction in general over the past year or so, this was my first book about a succubus. I have read the Vampire Academy series, so I knew I liked Richelle Mead's writing. I was rather excited to start Succubus Blues, and I was not disappointed!  

Basically, this first book introduces us to Georgina Kincaid and a cast of characters (most of them her friends) on either side of the "struggle for good and evil". The characters all had individual personalities that shone through, often making me laugh.  

Throughout the book, we, along with Georgina, try to figure out who or what is stalking the immortals in Seattle. This gave me a nice element of mystery, which is really the genre of book I started out with a long time ago. I loved wondering whodunnit, following through the reasoning of the characters, questioning everything that happened, and generally trying to solve the mystery myself.  

At the same time, we see Georgina dealing with her feelings of being a succubus, especially after meeting two guys. On the romance end of things, there seems to be an overarching theme that stems back centuries (or millenia??) with Georgina of choosing between love and lust, which I found intriguing.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved Georgina, and found her funny, yet flawed. There seemed to be character growth over the course of the book, and the plot was interesting. I would recommend this book to others who like paranormal romance with a touch more plot and maybe a tad less romance than your typical romance novel.

Note: The previous books I've reviewed on this blog have been Young Adult. This one is not, and, therefore, has mature scenes (especially given the romance element) and language.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Blog Update

It looks like November is shaping up to be a busy month with work and writing. I hope it continues to be this busy, actually, because it means I using the degree I spent 23 years in school to get. Plus, I'm hoping to finish a writing a book. I haven't been writing long, and I think it will help my writing ego if I can at least finish something. :)

With that, I am setting a posting goal for myself, specifically related to this blog. I plan to post one review every week. That means on top of everything else, I'll have to keep my reading schedule in tact! That shouldn't be difficult since I have six library books and about ten books I own staring at me from the bookshelf.

There are several completed series I've read, and I'm still trying to decide if I should review them as a whole or individually. I think it will come down to whether or not each book is self-contained. But, I haven't completely decided. But, I will be posting some reviews from those series. I also foresee some non-YA book reviews coming soon, because a lot of the books on my shelf at the moment fall in the adult paranormal romance genre. Fun times!

If you have book questions about the books I've reviewed (or ones I haven't yet) or want to recommend something to me, email me! I've added an email address to my profile, so I should be able to receive and reply to emails.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

US Pub. Date: 1 August 2009 (Hardback)
UK Pub. Date: 5 October 2009 (Paperback)
448 pages (UK version)
Genre: Young Adult Romance with Werewolves

I'm active on a writers' message board, and when Shiver came out, this book was all I heard about. Generally, I'm disappointed when books are so hyped so much (with a few exceptions). I was even more wary when I asked about the book and was told that it had "beautiful prose". Anyone who knows me, realizes that I've had a hard time in the past with works of literature, mostly stemming from school. So, when I heard those two words, I immediately thought "Grapes of Wrath" or "The Scarlett Letter" and basically wanted to run the other direction. (No offense to readers who LOVE those books. They just didn't do anything for me.) 

That being said, I was intrigued by all the recommendations, and my library happened to have a copy available. The first several chapters were a little slow, but I think that may be a pattern with me based on the other reviews I've written. Luckily, the first few chapters were also incredibly short, and after that, I was able to easily connect with the characters. I think that was the point of this book, because there wasn't a lot of action. It was mostly character development, specifically the development of the relationship between the two main characters. I was emotionally tied to Grace and Sam almost right from the start, and the attachment grew and grew until the end.

This was one of the slowest reads for me in the last six months, not because it was boring or dense, but because I found myself wanting to savor the beautiful words. Because of the lack of heavy action that might have spurred me on to read this book in one sitting, Shiver had natural breaks where I could easily stop and think about what had just happened. It's also inspired me to go find some Rilke poetry, because I just thought the words were so incredibly moving.

To sum it up, if you generally like action-driven books, this may not be the book for you. But I would at least give it a chance, because I found myself being a lot more introspective while reading Shiver. That doesn't happen to me often. I loved this book and think I may even go buy it so I can have it on my shelves!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Reviews Coming

Since it's been a while since my last review, I just wanted to put out there that I have some reviews coming! Things got a little busy with work, and I haven't had a chance to type up the reviews. I'll have at least one new one this week.