Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reading Reflection: Starcrossed

Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1)
by Josephine Angelini
Published May 31st 2011
P. 487
Rating: 4/5

Set on the island of Nantucket, STARCROSSED tells the tale of Helen Hamilton, a young woman whose destiny is forever altered when she meets Lucas Delos and tries to kill him in front of her entire high school. Which is terribly inconvenient, not only because Lucas is the most beautiful boy on the island, but also because Helen is so achingly shy she suffers physical pain whenever she is given too much attention.

Making matters worse, Helen is beginning to suspect she’s going crazy. Whenever she’s near Lucas or any member of his family she sees the ghostly apparitions of three women weeping bloody tears, and suffers the burden of an intense and irrational hate. She soon learns that she and Lucas are destined to play the leading roles in a Greek tragedy that the Three Fates insist on repeating over and over again throughout history. Like her namesake, Helen of Troy, she’s destined to start a war by falling in love. But even though Lucas and Helen can see their own star-crossed destiny, they’re still powerfully attracted to each other. Will they give up their personal happiness for the greater good, or risk it all to be together?

I guiltily admit that the first few chapters of this book had me so confused as to why so many people loved the story.  I didn't connect to Helen or understand the events in her life, and I wasn't drawn in enough to really care.  I gave serious consideration into quitting the novel.

Then, one line focused my attention: "Meeting his eyes was an awakening.  For the first time in Helen's life she knew what pure, heart-poising hatred was."

What?!  From that point on I was hooked.  I wanted to see why and how this potential love interest, Lucas, elicited such a strong reaction in shy, awkward Helen.  She knew she was different and hid this from her peers, but after the Delos clan moves onto the tiny island she can't seem to control her strangeness or her newly found rage.  Lucas and his family have some of the answers, but not all.

I might not be a total sucker for Helen and Lucas individually, but there's something about the whole premise of the story that draws me in.  My favorite part of this story was actually my confusion.  Not understanding the behavior of the characters because Helen didn't understand.  Then the author slowly integrates information and events to keep you sucked into their plight, answering some questions while creating more.  There are so many past stories, obstacles, and mysteries to be uncovered that I couldn't put the book down. 

I loved the supporting characters too, especially Claire, Helen's best friend. The twins, Cassandra, Hector, Jerry... I liked them all.  They added so many other dimensions to the story.  I can't wait for second novel of the series. 

Teaser Tuesday: 5/15/2012

Teaser Tuesday
May 5th, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
Here is my Teaser Tuesday:

Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1)
by Josephine Angelini

"Meeting his eyes was an awakening.  For the first time in Helen's life she knew what pure, heart-poisoning hatred was." ~ Starcrossed, pg. 44.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reading Reflcetion: Everneath

Everneath (Everneath #1)
by Brodi Ashton
Published January 24th 2012
P. 370
Rating: 4/5 

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

This book left me with mixed feelings.  I love mythology and was looking forward to that aspect of the book, but I didn't find it as prevalent to the story as I'd hoped.  It was still interesting, but not what I expected.  Instead of the story being centered around the story of Persephone, the mythology was used to fill in parts of Everneath... not bad, just not what I expected.

The story is about Nikki, or Becks, and how she sought refuge from her emotions.  She searched for Cole for the sole purpose of having her feelings taken away.  What she didn't expect was what this escape would mean.  It meant a 100 years of feeding Cole her emotions and then six months to decide whether she would be dragged into the Tunnels by the Shadows or follow Cole to become an Everliving, possibly a queen.  Becoming an Everliving meant she would have to feed off people's emotions for eternity, something she couldn't bring herself to do.

Nikki gets six months to return home, return to the friends, family, and boyfriend she left behind and say goodbye for the rest of eternity.  But with every passing day, this gets more difficult.

Nikki, I'm confused about her as a protagonist.  I didn't love her or hate her, but was annoyed with many of her decisions.  I didn't understand them.  I did like how she refused Cole, even though he provided the easiest solution.  She fell for him once, but refused to do it again.  That redeemed her in my estimation, but only slightly.

Now, the boyfriend she left behind is Jack.  The book is segmented into portions about the present day and days before "The Feed."  I loved Jack.  One of my favorite parts of the story was reading about their relationship.  He was strong, considerate, and absolutely perfect.  Actually, I resented Nikki for being so foolish in her decisions and how they affected him in return.  Jack was my favorite character of the book and I hoped everything worked out for him, not necessarily Nikki. 

Now Cole, an Everliving who feeds off human emotions to live forever.  He tactically pursued Nikki, influencing and manipulating a vulnerable moment in her life. That's when she made the decision that changed her life forever.  When he discovered Nikki was different by surviving the feed, he wanted her for himself.  He wanted her to to follow him to Everneath and rule alongside him, but she refused.  For six months, while on the surface, he pursues her and tries to convince her that his option is the best -- she would avoid the Tunnels and live forever.  His strategy ranges from convincing arguments, stalker behavior, vengeful retaliation, and vulnerable pleading.  He is a whirlwind of confusion and my second favorite character of the book.  There's something about him... something underneath the callous and emotionless surface.  I think he really loves Nikki, it's not just a conquest. 

The biggest downfall of this book is that there are really no emotionally charged instances throughout the novel, it's very bland.  I found myself skimming certain areas and forcing myself to return to the lost pages.  However, the storyline itself is interesting enough to keep the story moving forward.  I wanted to know what happened with Cole and Jack specifically -- they held my attention through the book.  Sorry Nikki, but those two boys are what kept my interest enough to give a three rating.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Reading List

May Reading List: Vampires, Gods, and Monsters
Alright, May is all about Vampires, Gods, and Monsters.  I'm kinda sick of vampire books, but there are a couple that are on my TBR list that need some attention.  However, Gods and Monsters seem very interesting so I'm excited about those genres.

So here's the list...
1. The Immortal Rules (Book of Eden #1)
2. Vampire Academy Series *
3. Half-Blood (Covenant Series)
4. Starcrossed *
5. Everneath
6. Enclave*
7. Destined
8. Oppression*

Reading Reflection: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
by Laini Taylor
Published 27th 2011
P. 432
Rating: 5/5

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I have to admit, after a few pages in this book I was utterly confused.  Karou, the female lead, was baffling.  The book starts off with her natural bright blue hair, her mastery of languages, a charismatic ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, the beautiful city of Prague -- not so confusing, but then...

Karou is an artist and the first few pages refers to her skill, specifically her notebooks filled with pictures of creatures with names, personas, and little anecdotes.  Kishmish, Issa, Twiga, Yasri, and Brimstone -- made up of different animal and human parts -- all creations of her mind.  Or so I thought, even when she says she spends time with them I thought it meant like the time I spent with characters in a book.  No not so much, they really existed.

That's when I was confused, but intrigued with the storyline.  I already liked Karou and her attitude, but things just kept getting more and more bizarre without warning.  She has a necklace that grants small wishes, her drawings are not imaginary, and then a bizarre bird/messenger Kishmish sends her a message while she's in the middle of dinner with her best friend Zuzanna.

And it gets even stranger...

Brimstone is a real creature, who works in a magically hidden workshop and sends Karou on various missions to collect... teeth.  Yes, teeth.  Brimstone and these other creatures have raised Karou her entire life and she knows next to nothing about them.  She loves them, they really are her family, but their entire existence is shrouded in such mystery that it's impossible to fully understand what is going on.  It also adds to the mystery of Karou, she barely knows anything about them, but she also knows less about herself.  She doesn't know where she came from, or how she came to belong to this group.

Now enter Akiva, an unemotional, but of course gorgeous angel-type.  He and his kind have been marking all the doors leading to Brimstones lair.  Why?  Who knows?  Karou doesn't, but she faces him during one of her teeth finding missions.  Apparently, they are not on the same side.  Karou doesn't know why, she's clueless to all this alternate life that goes on around her, but the mysterious tattoos on her palms save her from this battle... another mystery.  Akiva seems confused by her tattoos as well, but he knows their meaning.  From that point on Akiva is drawn to her, but can't explain why.

Now the entire book seems very unclear and confusing.  It's filled with this partially explained otherness surrounding Karou, but without clear definitive answers.  That's the magic of the book.  She knows nothing about her life, nothing, and all these events leave the reader fully aware of this fact.  Then bam... it's a story inside a story.  All of a sudden all these secrets are revealed.  That's when I fell in love with the book.  Everything made sense.  All the confusion turned into an unexpected fairy tale. 

This was a great book, magically written and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. 

Reading Reflection: Forgiven

Forgiven (The Demon Trapper's Daughter #3)
by Jana Oliver
Published March 27th 2012
P. 354
Rating: 4/5

The days are growing darker for 17-year-old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne. With her father’s reanimated body back safely, Beck barely speaking to her because of a certain hunky Fallen angel, and a freshly-made deal with Lucifer, she has enough on her hands to last a normal teenage lifetime. Though she bargained with Heaven to save his life, her ex-boyfriend Simon has told the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she’s working with Hell. So now she’s in hiding, at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list.

But it’s becoming clear that this is bigger than Riley, and rapidly getting out of control: something sinister is happening in Atlanta… or someone. The demons are working together for the first time ever and refusing to die, putting civilians in harm’s way. Riley thinks she might know who’s behind it all, but who’s going to believe her? Caught between her bargain with Heaven and her promise to Lucifer, Riley fears the final war is coming – and it may be closer than anyone thinks…

I enjoy this series more with each passing book.  I think it's a case of familiarity with the characters and setting.  I'm emotionally invested with Riley and her endeavors in life.

So the ending of the last book left A LOT of unfinished business.  First, kinda shocking, Riley gave her virginity away to Ori not realizing his true intentions.  He was a fallen angel who wanted her soul -- fun first time.  Right afterwards Lucifer shows up and imprisons him, with the condition that Riley owes hell a favor.  So now she owes heaven and hell.  After her huge mistake, Riley runs to Beck and tells him what she's done only to have him react like a jealous jerk.  Some of the things he says to her makes him plummet on my list -- Bad Beck!

The last scene, Riley escapes Becks home knowing the hunters are after her, and runs to Mortimer's house for help.  Once there, she finds her dad.  Through all the bad that happened those last few pages, when she sees her dad my heart stopped. 

Alright... Book Three
  • I've never mentioned Stewart, a master trapper who is like the wise old guru.  He knows exactly how to handle Beck and Riley.  I love him and the fatherly role he takes in these last two books.   He has a way of dealing with those two and their obvious problem. 
  • Riley finds her dad!  Yay!  He's reanimated, but there's something different about him.  Not to mention he was reanimated by Lucifer himself, there seems to be a point to this at the end of the novel, but I have to admit I almost missed it.
  • The hunters are after Riley to ask her questions in the very beginning of this book.  There are too many coincidences following her: Grade 5 demons hunting her, demons knowing her name, a strange relationship with a fallen angel, etc.  They take in Beck instead, but Riley comes forward to save him even though he was horrible to her the last time they met.  They decide that Riley will be released onto Stewart's custody because their not really sure what to make of her.  The hunters begin to play a more active role in this novel.
  • Some of the hunters are not bad guys, especially Salvatore.  He seems vary laid back and starts building a friendly relationship with Beck and even helps Riley.
  • Justine is an evil seductress, I hate her even more at the end of this book.  Hate her.
  • Um.... Beck and Riley finally start to understand each other.  Again, this book reveals a lot more about Beck.  I start to like him again, especially when he changes his pet name for Riley from "girl" to "woman."  In this book you can see they make the conscious effort to be decent to one another, not pushing buttons and trying to respect boundaries. I enjoyed their relationship in this novel, you can feel the walls breaking down between them.  It's nice.  They would be great for each other if they can resolve their personal quirks (and they try).
I have to say, that I'm so involved in the Riley vs. Beck relationship that I overlooked every other sub-plot in the story.  Again, there were so many in book one that it was hard to keep track.  I think I just focused on this one and let the others slip away.  There was a few more major events at the end of this book, some surprises left unfinished.  So I'll have to read the next book... but I have to reread this last one and focus on something other than Beck and Riley -- or try to anyway. 

And even though I find myself lost in some of the story lines, I like this book.  I really like Riley, so I will continue to read the series to find out what happens.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reading Reflection: Soul Thief

Soul Thief (The Demon Trapper's Daughter #2)
by Jana Oliver
Published August 30, 2011
P. 339
Rating: 4/5

Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them…

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.
But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever

Alright, I like this second book better than the first.  My original problem was that there were so many different things going on that I couldn't keep track of every conflict.  Now with this second one, either these problems are being resolved or I finally got them in order (I think the second is true).

At the end of the first book Riley's father -- Paul -- is no longer in his grave, someone broke the wards and summoned him.  Somehow demons also broke the holy water wards around the trapper's meeting and all hell breaks loose.  The unsuspecting trappers are being demolished by various level demons and if it wasn't for tall-dark-and-handsome-Ori, Riley would probably be dead.  Not to mention a group of angels swooping in to save the day.  I have to say that I didn't really understand what was happening at this point of the last book, very confusing -- definite, Huh? feeling going on. 

Along with this violent ending, Simon gets really hurt during the battle and no one thinks he's going to make it.  While visiting him in the hospital, Riley encounters another another angel who says she'll save Simon, but Riley owes heaven a favor.  So she accepts. 

Book two.
  • Let's start off with Simon.  Riley accepts the offer and is debt to heaven so Simon survives, but he has changed drastically.  In the last book his faith guided him, now he swears Riley and her father are working for hell.  He turns into a huge jerk and I felt so bad for Riley.
  • Peter starts taking an active role in helping Riley out with research.  He starts stepping into her world and the definitive line of friendship I didn't really sense in the other book are clear in this one.  I like Peter, his the normalcy Riley needs in her life.  The nerdy, reassuring, BFF, always there when she needs him.
  • Ori.  Where did this guy come from?  He's a major character in this book, Riley's new love interest, but there is something more to him that proves Riley should stay away from guys for a long time.  However, there is a scene with him and Beck and I kinda like how Ori handled the situation.  Beck started his chest puffing and Ori provoked him, not very mature, but Beck seems to be walking an unclear line which he needs to clear up for himself.
  • Beck, oh Beck.  He tries to protect Riley, but is such a jerk in the process all the good intent is lost.  In this book you see more layers to him.  I like him, but by hiding his real feelings for Riley he's just pushing her away.  I understand his concern, he feels responsible for her and crossing that line doesn't seem like a good idea at this point in her life.  But turning that emotion into demands and constraints isn't working. 
  • Alright, Riley doesn't know who took her father and she's on a mission to find his body.
  • Damon Trappers and Demon Hunters do not play nice.  Now a group of demon hunters are coming to town.
  • Along with the demon hunters comes a seductive red-head, Justine.  She and Beck play nice for a while, really nice.  I hated him for it and hated her even more. 
  • Someone is messing with the holy water and Riley is doing her part to solve that mystery. 
  • Riley befriends a witch named Ayden and necromancer Mortimer.
Again there is sooo much happening in this book that it is very difficult to keep track of... too many love interests and problems.  Her latest love problem is huge and forces Riley into another debt owing decision and possibly ruins her chances of becoming a demon trapper and damages other relationships.  Again, I felt bad for her.  Not once in this book do I forget that Riley is a young adult with a lot to deal with.  She handles her situations like a teenager would, some she does great some not so good.  But she tries, that's what I like about this book.  She has the right level of teenage stupidity/naivety, angst, and kick ass drive.