Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Spellbound (Spellbound, #1)Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm going to give Spellbound a good review simply because I enjoyed reading this book. It wasn't the most original plot and many of the characters felt very formulaic, but the plot was interesting enough to keep me reading. I wanted to know if Brendan and Emma were able to break the curse or not. I won't spoil this book by answering that question, but I will let you know there is to be a sequel. I personally don't think there needs to be a sequel (and I probably won't be reading it) because this book is fine as a stand-alone novel.

The thing I liked about the story is how the insta-love didn't seem so instant for both characters, even though you find out later on that it really was. I also enjoyed how you never know (during the story and maybe even after) if they will be able to break the curse. I found myself turning the page more so in hopes of finding out if they succeeded or failed than for any other reason.

I do have to say the characters were not necessarily my favorite. Right from the get-go, I was confused about the living with an aunt and a best-friend/younger cousin but then come to find out the cousin doesn't live with that aunt but rather another aunt in the same building or nearby...I'm still not exactly sure where the cousin lives. Maybe it was explained well and I just read over it, but I did find myself scratching my head in puzzlement a few times. Also, I'm so tired of reading Young Adult books that feel they have to conform to the common cast of the dumb jock, mean blonde, gothic witch, hottie boyfriend, and so-so main-female character. Oh, and let's not forget the gay guy. If you've read any of my previous reviews, you know how I feel about that being thrown in just to fill the quota.

Also, near the end of the story, it felt like the editing of the book was maybe a little rushed.

All in all, this was an enjoyable, quick read. It provided a little paranormal to an otherwise typical high-school misadventure in romance. I would recommend you borrow this one rather than buy it though.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Review: A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

A Need So Beautiful (A Need So Beautiful, #1)A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying I really wanted to give this book 5 stars, but couldn't for some reasons which I'll discuss in a moment.

Suzanne Young can really write. It's the WOW kind of writing I felt when I read Hunger Games, or Before I Fall, or Night World. Just beautiful. Suzanne tells Charlotte's story in a way that make you believe it's real...or could be. The character development is simply amazing. Each character has its own distinct voice and you can almost see them, even those you only meet for a few paragraphs. Also, Suzanne give you just enough information, just enough stuff happens, to keep you begging for more to find out the final outcome. Even until the very end, you aren't 100% sure what Charlotte will do. I know there is a sequel to this book and I will definitely get it out from the library.

So, why didn't I give it 5 stars? The writing is stellar. The characters are solid. The plot is paced perfectly. So why not the full 5 stars?

Well, I'm going to try my best to explain. This book is written for teens. I know teens experiment with everything from sex to alcohol to drugs and more. I know they see these things on t.v., in the tabloids, in school, and in books. It's all there, so why try to hide it and pretend it's not?

Because not everything needs to glorify or normalize those behaviors. I really hoped and expected this book to have more of a moral compass than it did. I mean, the girl is supposed to be love and light and goodness embodied. She's supposed to choose good things. And yet she has premarital sex, her best friend is involved in sexual acts and alcohol abuse, and her brother and another character are openly gay. Now, please, I'm not a gay hater BUT I don't think books which are geared toward our impressionable youth need to be so mainstream and try to 'fit' the modern media-produced image of what's acceptable for teens. The same goes with the sex stuff. By putting all of these behaviors in a book about choosing what is right over wrong, or light over darkness, it makes these actions acceptable and okay. It even kind of glorifies them.

See, I truly don't think this story would be any less beautiful without the sex stuff. In fact, it would've been maybe more beautiful because I could've shared the story with my daughter. And the gay characters were given that character trait unnecessarily. They would be no less appreciated, no less loved, if they'd been straight instead. Their issues/problems would still have been real and hard to deal with. It is just an attempt at being mainstream which really just made the story less beautiful in my eyes.

The drug and alcohol abuse shown in the story was done in a way that made it known to be a negative choice. A junkie mother was going to lose her daughter. The teen drinking alcohol becomes seriously ill and loses her freedoms, friends, and even the school she was going to. Negative consequences for negative choices and for that, I was okay with it being in this book.

So, as I've said, the writing is amazing, the story unique, and the characters fleshed out and believeable. I only wish the story was a little cleaner so I could let my children read it. I definitely plan to read the next book A Want So Wicked and anything else Suzanne Young writes.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Books of Faerie, #1)Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book by Maggie Stiefvater I've read. The first two were from the Shiver trilogy (I haven't gotten Forever out yet) and then The Scorpio Races. All three were actually audiobooks, so this is the first one my eyes actually read.

I was a little disappointed.

I liked Shiver and Linger well enough...some of the characters' traits were annoying, but then we can't like everyone we meet. I LOVED The Scorpio Races. I think that is her best book I've 'read' yet.

So, what did I like about Lament? I liked how some fairy myths were woven into the story. It helped it feel more solid and realistic (even though we're talking fairies here). I liked how the ending is happy but not too happy (even though I really didn't like how the ending came to be). And, I liked the occasional bits of humor Luke or James offered. Other than that, I don't know.

I really wanted to like Lament more. I kept hoping something would happen to make me love it...what that something was, I don't know and it never happened. I really didn't care for how much description was given to all the music stuff. I understand that music is integral to the fairy-lore (even though this isn't really discussed much), heavily sought after by the fairies, and extreme musical talents are (apparently) signs/symptoms of supernatural abilities. But why did I have to hear so much about the flow/sound/feel of the music? I really didn't care and found myself skimming the paragraphs a bit.

The thing I disliked most about this story is that it had too many things appear/happen to make the plot advance and seem plausible but felt forced and sudden. And I really didn't like how Dee became so smitten with Luke and just went with the crazy he brought at the start. Like Shiver, the insta-love (or semi-insta-love) between the main character and her beau is kind of...annoying. And the best friend who is in love with her but she's oblivious or pretends to be and he confesses just before tragedy not original. And this story had the potential to be original. It just wasn't.

I was going to give it 2 stars but since I do plan to read the sequel, I must've liked it more than just okay but definitely not a "really liked" book.

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