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Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host - Meyer Stephenie

This is the most boring 600 page book about an alien invasion I've ever read. The writing was amateurish and lazy, the characters were flat, esp. the one I'm supposed to care about the most, and the world building was un-creative and ridiculous; a Water World inhabited by plants called See-Weeds, a Fire World, a Plant World, an Ice World? Give me a break. Either Meyer has no imagination whatsoever or she spent too much time playing Super Mario Bros. The plot drags majorly due to the fact that there is no real antagonist. It would seem like there's a pretty decent good vs. evil set- up. After all, you can't have an invading alien race that takes over human bodies and present them as anything other than the bad guys but Meyer goes out of her way to show how peaceful and loving the aliens are. I get it, they have feelings too but clearly some of them are ok with hostile takeover or we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with. In the beginning it looks as though the Seeker is going to cause some problems and tension but she pretty much goes away once the action (and I use that term loosely) moves to the rebel hideout where the main problem then becomes how Wanderer fits in and how she deals with loving someone who doesn't even like her and someone loving her who she can't love fully. Yeah, it's real Lifetime movie crap and is about as pointless and un-interesting as it sounds. Melanie's, and by extension Wanderer's, love for Jared and Jamie and later Ian is supposed to be the driving force (again, loosely) behind the plot yet we're only given two flashbacks of Melanie and Jared, their first meeting and then a conversation about their age difference (which wasn't a big deal) and not sleeping together yet. Where's the sexual tension, the falling in love part, the being in love part? If I'm supposed to believe this love is so great that Melanie refuses to give up and go away and the memories alone are enough to make Wanderer love him too I feel like we're missing some key scenes here. Same goes for Ian. I must have missed the falling in love with him parts too. Maybe I nodded off. And let's talk about Wanderer, or should I say Wanda, the most cringe-worthy name since Renesmee. Seriously, can someone please get Stephenie Meyer a baby name book. This name is awful! And despite the other characters saying over and over how much it suits her, Wanda doesn't suit anyone younger than 80 years old. Anyway, I digress, her main personality traits of peace and goodness and self-sacrifice just come across as boring and one-dimensional. For a main character this is a big problem and I never connected with her on any level. I know what I'm supposed to feel but I just don't and if I don't care about the main character it pretty much ruins the whole book for me. As a reader you can see the end coming 595 pages away even though Wanda *cringe* agonizes over it for at least 100 pages before we get there. I can't imagine there being anything else to write about these characters and I know it's nothing I care enough to read about. Instead of stopping while she's ahead, Meyer needs to stop while she's too far behind to catch up.

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster  - Jamie McGuire

Despite getting sucked into this book and finishing it pretty quickly there are a few glaring problems that made it impossible for me to really enjoy. First of all, this could be the most destructive, volatile, train wreck of a relationship since Bobby and Whitney and we all know how that worked out, and it wasn't happily ever after. The main problem for me and the reason I didn't buy into what I'm supposed to believe is this fated, all consuming, awesome love story was the incomplete and inconsistent characterization of Abby and Travis. More explanation needed to be given for why Abby needed or wanted to completely reinvent herself at college. We are given glimpses of her life with her father but the back story lacks a convincing reason or sequence of events that would make Abby reject her former lifestyle so strongly or be so secretive about it. And the trip to Vegas makes things even more confusing when we find out that her ex-boyfriend is really a hot pit boss who seems like a pretty nice guy instead of the I'm-saving-myself-for-marriage youth pastor making the characterization of Abby as an innocent, sexually inexperienced virgin even more unbelievable. Clearly, the virgin thing was just a device to make Abby and Travis's relationship seem more profound that it really was since from the beginning she never acted innocent or inexperienced in her dealings with Travis from not showing the least bit of awkwardness or confusion while snuggling up to Travis in bed to when she finally does decide to have sex with him because she's going to miss him? I'm still a little confused about her reasoning behind that move. The only times she seems naive or oblivious to what is happening between her and Travis are when it is convenient for the plot. Her feelings about Travis are also inconsistent and when she finally decides she loves him and wants to be with him forever it seems more like an embracing of the inevitable than an actual coming to terms with her feelings for him and her sudden emotional reversal makes all the seemingly endless romantic obstacles of the last half of the book pointless. I don't even know where to begin with the problems with Travis. I get that he's supposed to be the rebel without a cause bad boy who rides a motorcycle and avoids any kind of relationship because he's just too damaged with too many demons blah, blah, blah. But, when you really get to know Travis, turns out he's really just an ass-hole frat boy who drinks too much with major aggression issues. In other words, every college frat boy I've ever hated. And speaking of being a frat boy, no way would a so-called bad boy like Travis even think about being in a frat. That just goes against every anti-commitment, anti-establishment thing he supposedly stands for. Even though he and Sheply (the douchiest of douchy frat boy names) are cousins I can't figure out why they're friends. Anyway, back to Travis, his big demon? His mom died when he was a little boy. Yes, this is tragic and possibly explains his commitment issues but not his excessive drinking, violent tendencies, jealousy and scary obsession with Abby, none of which were treated as the major problems that they were and were barely even considered obstacles to the relationship. Travis needed some real past trauma, like an abusive foster home, to justify his rehab-worthy violence and obsession and needed to show some kind of growth and maturity over the course of the book which didn't happen. The only people I can imagine enjoying this book are new to the romance genre in general. Traditional romance, esp. historical and paranormal, do the tortured bad boy with demons much better and to greater emotional effect and satisfaction. Only desperate, insecure door mats put up with this crap, real women kick it to the curb.

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem - Lauren Oliver

Here's the problem, you can't finish a series about the freedom to love with a book that has no love in it. What this book should have been about was Alex and Lena finding each other and learning to love the new people they have become after their experiences in Pandemonium while Julian (who, as far as I'm concerned was never a serious romantic rival for Alex) becomes the figure head of the resistance movement. Instead, what I got was Lena pointlessly walking around in the Wilds interspersed with a post-procedure Hana (Hana?!?) ambivalently wondering around Portland kind of feeling guilty about turning in Alex and Lena and kind of not. Another problem, I couldn't care less what is going on with Hana. Instead of wasting time checking in with Hana in Portland we should have been getting Alex's POV on what was happening with Lena and how he was feeling about the whole situation. For some reason, instead of running into each other's arms and never letting each other go again, which is what ANYONE IN THE WORLD would do when a love that you thought was dead is miraculously alive again, Alex is mad at Lena for I'm not sure what and Lena believes him when he says he never loved her so she just continues things with Julian like nothing even happened. And that's pretty much how they go on throughout the book until the end when Lena finally sits down to have a conversation (novel idea there) with the girl she thinks Alex loves who tells her Alex still loves her and never stopped loving her blah, blah, blah. Suddenly she's over Julian and back on the Alex train where she should have been the whole time. Despite all this there is no satisfying conclusion to their love story and, along with a lot of other stuff, we're left to draw our own conclusions on how it all plays out. The end is another big problem for me. After wondering around in the Wilds for the whole book and seeing bombings and massacres by the government I'm supposed to believe that a poorly planned and disorganized group of rebels can pull off a successful coup, tear down the wall and suddenly everything's going to be ok and everyone lives happily ever after? Sorry, don't buy that. Pretty much everything is wrong with this book. It's not the story that should have been told and is a completely frustrating and unsatisfying conclusion to the series. Everything that happens is pointless and irrelevant and ultimately a massive disappointment. I feel about this book how cureds feel about life, disinterested and uncaring. What a waste of time. Verdict: Silver Linings Playbook this mess.

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me - Tahereh Mafi

The fist third of this book was a struggle for me. The end of Shatter Me left me assuming that Juliet had finally found a place where she would feel accepted and valued not just as a weapon, but, not so. After a couple of months in Omega Point she has reverted to her "everybody hates me/no one understands me/I hate my life" former self which got old, fast. Yes, she has a terrible "gift" but guess what, moaning and groaning about it isn't going to change anything. She's at a place where people actually want to help her learn about her abilities and make awesome gadgets to help her control them but it takes her an unreasonably long time to come to terms with her mess. Thank God for Kenji cause without him the first 1/3 would have been completely annoying instead of only a mild irritation. Luckily, things get much more enjoyable after a run-in with the one and only Warner and his Big Bad father. It is the mark of a successful love triangle (and really, there's no such thing) if the author gets me to start questioning my loyalties, and question I do. Adam is Adam and he's still supportive and loving and steady in the face of opposition but Warner is... I don't even know where to start with him. He's the classic bad boy that you want to hug one minute, punch the next and jump his sexy bones at all times. I haven't read Destroy Me but I certainly will now. Unravel Me is the stereotypical second book of a trilogy where dynamics are changed, romantic relationships so steady in book one are now in jeopardy, and the third book light at the end of the tunnel is just starting to become more visible. The end leaves me with hope that Juliet will finally start to own her abilities and there's exciting things afoot with Adam and Warner so I can't wait to see how everything plays out.

Book Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter - Megan Shepherd

In this re-imagining of The Island of Dr. Moreau, Juliette Moreau is struggling to survive in Victorian London after her father disappeared in the wake of scandal. After discovering her father is alive and well on an island in the South Pacific Juliette flees her own scandal in London with her father's assistant, and her childhood friend, Montgomery. Instead of the apologetic accepting father she hopes to find she discovers that her father has continued his experiments with vivisection and become a delusional madman convinced of his own genius who has created his own horror show of an animal/human species who worship him like a god. Juliette makes plans to escape the island and her father's madness with Montgomery and mysterious cast away Edward but they have to survive the many monstrosities of the island first.After a strong beginning the book gets bogged down in romance about 1/3 of the way through. Some readers may lose patience with Juliette's romantic moans and groans and her flip-flopping between Montgomery and Edward. Despite all that Megan Shepherd is at her best during the suspenseful chaos surrounding a string of horrific murders on the island and the search for the killer. There is a decent twist but the end itself is pretty weak even knowing it's just a plot point to leave us in anticipation of the next installment. Juliette's a smart girl (most of the time) she should know how to paddle a boat.

Heart of Iron

Heart of Iron - Bec McMaster [a:Bec McMaster|5763301|Bec McMaster|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1334926187p2/5763301.jpg] continues her genre blending London Steampunk Series with this solid and completely satisfying follow-up to [b:Kiss of Steel|13507512|Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1)|Bec McMaster|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344055795s/13507512.jpg|19058959]. Lena Todd must navigate the ballrooms and predators of the Echelon while secretly working for an underground group of human rebels intent on destroying the reign of the corrupt vampire elite with the unwelcome protection of verwolfen Will Carver. But Will has his own battles to fight with a contingent of Scandinavian verwolfen at court to make peace or war and his problematic love/hate relationship with Lena. Readers of [b:Kiss of Steel|13507512|Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1)|Bec McMaster|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344055795s/13507512.jpg|19058959](and if you're not, you should be) will be eager to see where Will and Lena's relationship goes after the flirtation in Kiss and they won't be disappointed. Lena has matured from the bratty younger sister to a cool aristocratic ice queen and watching Will melt her icy defenses to expose her vulnerabilities while helping her become a strong powerful woman is what makes this second series installment a match to the greatness of the first. I love everything about this series from the large cast of interesting characters that surface enough to hint at future storylines but not enough to overpower the featured couple to the fast-paced narrative and action sequences that keep me reading way past my bedtime. As a steampunk-paranormal-historical-romance this series has something for everyone and I can't imagine a fan of any one of these genres being disappointed.

Book Review: Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel by Beth Revis

Shades of Earth - Beth Revis

The final book in the Across the Universe trilogy picks up immediately after the cliff-hanger ending of A Million Suns with Amy and Elder finally arriving on Centuari-Earth. But all is not what it seems on the planet with unknown dangers lurking around every corner from mutant monsters in the sky, to aliens and even internal threats and tensions between the Frozens and the Shipborns. Secrets are revealed, love is tested, and trust is betrayed through all the twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the pulse-pounding conclusion. This is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to this action-packed, unique series and I hope Beth revis isn't entirely done with Centuari-Earth. Only critique is that an epilogue wouldn't hurt. With a lot of big things not completey resolved the ending felt kind of abrupt.

Book Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Blood Red Road - Moira Young

Saba's quiet, isolated life with her father, twin brother Lugh and younger sister Emmi is turned upside down when a group of government troops called Tonton kidnap Lugh and murder her father. Vowing to find him Saba sets off in pursuit with unwelcome Emmi by her side. Battling the elements of a hostile environment and the evils of a future society gone horribly wrong Saba becomes a warrior, savior, and protector but above all she is a survivor. She lets nothing stand in her way including being imprisoned and forced to cage fight in a Roman-inspired, society-at-its-worst arena where she meets Jack, a fellow fighter and maybe love. Together with a group of female warriors who call themselves the Free Hawks they stage an epic escape and join together to find Lugh and just maybe take down the corrupt government along the way. This book did what very few books succeed in doing, it surprised me. I expected to like it, I didn't expect to love it. This is not your typical YA dystopian starting with the no-nonsense first person phoenetical narration of Saba which, although jarring, isn't as distracting as you would expect it to be and drives the relentless pace of the storyline. There is a corrupt government that must be taken down but the real theme of Blood Red Road is family, both the one you have and the one you make along the way and the lengths you will go to for someone that you love. Saba starts her journey in search of Lugh but along the way finds a connection with her sister, friendship and acceptance with a group of like-minded warrior women, and a love that teaches her the most important lesson of all, that you don't have to fight your battles alone. There are inevitable comparisons to The Hunger Games and if the producers of NBC's Revolution weren't in part influenced by this book I would be extremely surprised. But, Blood Red Road has a greater sense of adventure than The Hunger Games not to mention a more fully realized romance and as far as I can tell no annoying love triangle. This is a brilliant start of an exciting new series, I couldn't pick up the sequel, Rebel Heart fast enough.

Reached (Matched Trilogy Book 3)

Reached - Ally Condie

This third and final book in the Matched trilogy follows Cassia, Ky and Xander, as they make their way in a post-Society world. Cassia, as a sorter in Central, involves herself in the underground paper trade. Ky and Indie are pilots for the Rising and Xander is working as a Medical Official. What starts out as a promising, mostly un-hostile takeover by The Rising quickly spirals out of control when the carefully planned and contained virus mutates and becomes a pandemic without a cure. As with Matched and Crossed, Condie weaves poetry and art and its value to society throughout as well as giving the reader a good sense of the chaos of revolution by switching between Ky, Xander and Cassia's point of views. Although not as exciting as Crossed, Reached is nevertheless a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

Out for Blood

Out for Blood - Kristen Painter

Massively disappointing and a huge waste of time. Four books for a non-existant sex scene? Infuriating. Skipped over most of the increasingly hard to keep track of side story lines and by the end didn't even care about the main one. Made me hate books for all of five seconds before I started a new one which will hopefully help me forget this mess.

All These Things I've Done (Birthright)

All These Things I've Done  - Gabrielle Zevin Anya Balanchine, the daughter of a murdered crime boss in 2083 New York City, tries to distance herself from her family's illegal activities while taking care of an ailing grandmother, a mentally handicapped older brother, and a younger sister, all while dealing with her own typical teenage problems of bad boyfriends, school, new boyfriends, and trying to figure out who she is and where she fits into the world. Although Anya struggles to keep herself and her little family on the good side of bad she learns that there are just some things you can't escape, your last name and your past being two of them. Zevin has created one of the most interesting and frightening urban dystopian worlds to date in YA fiction. Natural resources are all but gone, museums are night clubs and, most disturbing of all, chocolate and coffee have been outlawed. I can take kids killing kids but, no chocolate and coffee? That's just barbaric! Speakeasy's serve espresso and Anya keeps her family's Balanchine Special Dark chocolate locked in a safe in the closet, hard times indeed. Anya, by virtue of necessity, is wise beyond her years and her first person narration is honest, self-deprecating, humorous and heartbreaking. Orphaned at a young age she has a very keen sense of the consequences of her actions and makes very mature and selfless choices as a result. It was refreshing a. not to have the ubiquitous YA love triangle and b. to have a smart teenage heroine who realizes that some things in life are more important than whether your boyfriend loves you or not. Although there is romance it was Anya's inevitable journey from high school junior and de facto head of her family to wrongly accused juvenile delinquent and (maybe? someday?) head of The Family all while never compromising her values as a "good catholic girl" and maintaining her strength and dignity throughout. This is a great start to an exciting new series and I can't wait for the next installment.

A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)

A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness Discovery of Witches is basically a mass market paranormal romance dressed up in a fancy cover and A LOT of extra words. Luckily, I'm a mass market paranormal romance kind of girl and that's what kept me reading through all the history wordiness (seriously, I can't stress the amount of words in this book enough,I'm pretty sure this is the longest book ever written.) I thought I would never get through it but ultimately it was worth all the time I spent with it. In the end there's something to be said for books that are lengthy enough to allow relationships and plot lines to be developed. The length and depth demands a certain amount of dedication and involvement and by the end I certainly felt involved with Diana and Matthew and what promises to be an epic journey. I did wish for more action, both romantically and just in general, and the pacing of the narrative was slow at times. However, the end was dead-on and was just enough of a cliff-hanger to leave me anxious for the next installment.

Insurgent (Divergent)

Insurgent  - Veronica Roth

Though not as good as Divergent the continuing story of Tris and Tobias is still a good read. Tris's teenage angst over her feelings for Tobias got on my nerves a lot because to me it didn't fit in with the persona of Tris as the strong and capable heroine who stands up for what she believes in. On one hand she's orchestrating a revolution and then on the other she's biting her nails over whether a boy likes her or not or if he's keeping secrets from her when she decides not to be honest with him on a regular basis. I guess it wouldn't be YA without a little annoying teenage-ness.

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 12) (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)

Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris I'm finding it hard to care about Sookie anymore and is it my imagination or is Harris' writing getting worse? There's way to much extraneous information; if I don't care what happens to Sookie I definitely don't care what Jason orders for lunch at Merlotte's when it has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. The only reason I'm continuing with this series is because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, although I wish I had stopped reading at Dead and Gone, the rest have just been a massive waste of my time.

Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)

Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers This book was so disappointing I don't even know where to begin. I feel like it took advantage of me. Most of the book was awesome; action, adventure, romance, kick-ass girl assassins, and then it came to the end and LaFevers completely dropped the ball. I would rather one of the characters had died than get a crappy love scene but it was a total let down and kind of confusing. As a veteran of adult and YA romance even I was a little confused about what was going on. Lafevers needed a lot more Cashore and a whole lot less Meyer. Relative to the length of the book and pacing of the storyline the end felt rushed in general. I doubt even the awesome parts will make me continue on with this series.

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

The Iron King - Julie Kagawa This is one of the few books that lives up to the hype. I expected to like it but not as much as I did. I was surprised how much of an adventure it was and how fast the narrative moved. There truly wasn't a boring moment. There were elements of Alice in Wonderland with Meghan being led into a strange new world and The Wizard of Oz with a group of heroes on an epic journey. The influences of classic fairy tales are there in the love story and the sense that Meghan has a destiny just waiting to be fulfilled. Meghan is a smart, brave heroine that has just the right amount of vulnerability but usually sucks it up and goes on. I can't wait to see where Meghan and Ash and Puck's journey takes them in this awesome series.