Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review: Poison Study

Poison Study (Study, #1)  

Title: Poison Study

Series: Study #1

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Pages: 427

Publisher: Luna Publishers

Published Date: September 1, 2006

ISBN 13: 9780373802579

Rating: 5/5

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear…


Through trial and error, I've learned to be picky with books. Especially ones that sound as promising as Poison Study. I've learned that if a book sounds interesting on the back cover, it usually isn't so. However, I am so glad that this wasn't the case. 

Immediately from the beginning, I was drawn into the book. Snyder has a straightforward style of writing, yet it does not leave the imagination lacking. I instantly clicked with Yelena's character, and even to this day I still think she is one of my favorite female leads in any book I've read. She's intelligent and cunning, but sometimes her past gets the best of her. That's another thing; no matter how bad her situation got, (and it was pretty grim) she never once blamed it on anyone else. 

Valek's character was particularly interesting to me. I really enjoyed how Snyder took the time to reveal all of his quirks and qualities. In the beginning, I strongly disliked him, for I was convinced he was one of the bad guys. After all, he had poisoned Yelena, hadn't he? But as the story progressed, I found my opinion of him changing. The growth and change behind his character really boasts Snyder's writing skills. 

And don't even get me started on the plotline. Normally, I don't dig books that are laced with politics, but I found myself overlooking it for the sheer fact that it only made the story that much better. There were so many twists and turns, that my head was spinning by the end. 

I also adore books that have an Old Age setting to them. Often, I read a lot of modern day/supernatural themed books, so this was a refreshing change of pace. I honestly can't even find something I disliked about this novel. If I had to be nit-picky, I would have to say that there were some questionable adult themes, such as abuse and rape. But it wasn't graphic at all, and I have read worse, so I can't even really consider it a complaint. All in all, I would definitely give this book five out of five stars. I can't wait to read the next in the series! 

Review: The City of Bones

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)Title: City of Bones 

Series: The Mortal Instruments #1

Author: Cassandra Clare

Pages: 485

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Published Date: March 27, 2007

ISBN 13: 9781416914280

Rating: 2/5

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.


So, I had the misfortune of reading this book when I was still new to YA literature, and before I heard about dear Miss Clare and the Draco Trilogy. 

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, until I realized it was almost exactly the same as one of her more notoriously known Harry Potter fanfictions. (The Draco Trilogy.) This knowledge only fueled me to revisit the series a second time. This did not help Miss Clare's case, for I managed to see all the awful parallels this time around. The entire plotline reeks of stolen material. 

Honestly, the only thing that saved this book at all was Clare's ability to write well. Putting aside the fact that this story is almost identical to her fanfiction, and that she was obviously living vicariously through Clary, I did genuinely enjoy some aspects of the book. 

The fight scenes were well thought out and detailed, and many of her descriptions often left me with a clear mental picture. There was just enough action to keep me reading to the end, but not so much that it got overwhelming.

As for characters, I often find myself attached to the lesser characters in a novel. Magnus, by far, was one of my favorite parts of the entire book. I don't normally enjoy it when an author will use stereotypes to portray a character, such as making Magus obviously flamboyant, but in this case, I feel like it worked for him. I only wish he would have had more appearances.

Alec and Isabelle were my other favorites. I loved their sibling dynamic, and their vastly different personalities. I could even feel myself sympathizing with Alec. He certainly got the short end of the stick in every situation.  

I'm not even going to touch upon the whole "kissing your brother" aspect of this novel, because frankly, it just creeps me out too much. I feel like that is an area of writing that Clare shouldn't have delved into. Things like that are better left in the dark, in my opinion.

All in all, I really wanted to give this book more stars, but in the end I'm going to have to stick to two out of five. As much as I would like to, I just can't forgive an author for plagiarizing her own work. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, #1)
Title: Eighth Grade Bites

Series: The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd #1

Author: Heather Brewer

Pages: 182

Publisher: Dutton Children's Books

Published Date: August 16, 2007

ISBN 13: 9780525478119

Rating: 3/5

Junior high really stinks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers and no one to teach him, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a strange substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he realizes he has a much bigger problem: He’s being hunted by a vampire killer who is closing in . . . fast!


This book was a very quick read, since I managed to finish it in all of one day. But it was surprisingly good, nonetheless. The plot was simple and easy to follow; typical of a book aimed towards preteens, but I enjoy a nice piece of fluff literature every now and then.

When picking a genre to read, I’m always a bit hesitant to choose books on vampires. Ever since Twilight came into success, everybody thinks they have what it takes to write about the undead. Not necessarily true.

However, I think Miss Brewer did a fantastic job of depicting the life of a thirteen year-old vampire. Not only was Vladimir’s character believable, but she gave life to the secondary characters as well. Sometimes authors make the mistake of focusing too heavily on the main character, and the others seem one dimensional. This was not the case at all. I also enjoyed that even the bad guys had redeeming qualities, while the good guys had their faults.

The only true complaint I have with this piece was the naming. I felt that some of the names, such as D’ablo and Otis Otis, were ridiculous. I can let this slide, because again, this is a book that is supposed to be geared towards kids in their early teens.

Aside from that, I felt like this was a refreshing change from some of the heavier books I normally choose. All in all, I give it three out of five stars.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series #1)
Title: Guilty Pleasures

Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

Pages: 272

Publisher: Penguin Group

Published Date: August 26, 2002 (Originally published in 1993)

ISBN 13: 9780515134490

Rating: 3/5

When St. Louis's most powerful vampire comes to Anita Blake for help, she is faced with her greatest fear-a man capable of arousing in her a hunger strong enough to match his own.


There was so much hype surrounding this book, that I couldn't resist temptation. I had to see for myself what had captivated so many of my friends. 

My opinion?

While it was a very good start to what sounds like an incredibly interesting series, I just didn't love it as much as everyone said I was going to. The plot was well thought out, and the characters were very nicely developed, but aside from that, there was really nothing special to keep my interest going to the end of the novel.

Anita, the main female protagonist, is likable enough, but I found myself focusing more on the secondary characters. Yes, she is able to shoot a gun and raise the dead, but seriously? The woman couldn't make a decision to save her life. I felt like the entirety of the novel was us listening in on her inner battling with herself. 
Also, the fact that she never seemed to own up to anything she did really hit a nerve with me. Every time something even remotely undesirable happened to her, like oh, I don't know, an incredibly sexy vampire bestowing his attention upon her, she'd piss and moan about how she was "forced" to do it. It just seemed like she could never take responsibility and just say "Yeah, I did it, but I had a hell of a time, so what's it to you?"  

Another thing that bothered me, is that I've never liked books where every male character seems to be attracted/devoted/hopelessly in love with the leading female. Completely unbelievable.  

On the flip side, I like that she isn't just a normal human, or some typical form of supernatural creature (vampire/werewolf). The necromancy really caught my interest, since it wasn't something I came across often in my reading. And her relationship with Jean-Claude; just amazing. ;)

Overall, I give this three stars for creativity, interesting plot, and sexy, sexy men.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush

Series: Hush, Hush #1

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick

Pages: 391

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Published Date: October 13, 2009

ISBN 13: 9781416989417

Rating: 1/5

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. 

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.


First off, let me just start by saying, look at that cover. Look at it! 

Now cry, because that wondrously breathtaking, scrumptious cover is really all a ruse to hide a total crap piece of literature. 

The only redeeming quality Fitzpatrick seems to have as an author is that she is somewhat, kind of, maybe original when it comes to thinking up a unique take on the seriously hyped-up "fallen angel" cliche. But as I said, it is her only redeeming quality when it comes to this novel. 

Honestly, the book itself was less than spectacular, and while this would normally be a quick read for me, I found it hard to even get all the way through to the end. Part of the reason might be that the entire plot was so wishy-washy and confusing. The other part is mostly contributed to the horrible characters. 

Nora's character is so incredibly convoluted that I felt like I was watching a tennis match. At one moment, she's head-over-heels for the guy, and then all of a sudden, she can't possibly like him because he's just that dark and dangerous, and what the fuck? Nora is supposed to be a self-proclaimed brain, so why is she suddenly throwing out every bit of common sense and acting on impulses that she knows are going to end badly? I mean, if you know the guy is as "dangerous" as you think, then why would you let him into your house with you? 

Patch's character wasn't much better, to be honest. Yes, he sounded utterly delicious in description, but his bad boy credibility kind of deflated with me when he fell in love with a twit like Nora. Also, the whole stalking-at-every-opportunity thing? Yeah, a little creepy. Would I honestly consider dating a guy who I caught standing outside my window, watching me sleep? Uh, no thanks, I'll pass. 

And don't get me started on Vee. I've had best friends like her in the past, and I've only put up with half the crap Vee put Nora through before I called it quits. Some of the things she did just made me stare at the page and think "Really? Did she really just do that?" 

As for Elliot and Jules...well, they were so poorly developed that they aren't even worth ranting about. As far as villains go, they were pretty bland.

So needless to say, I'm only giving this book a 1 out of 5 stars. I doubt I'll go on to read Crescendo. I don't think I could bear it... 

Review: Generation Dead

Title: Generation Dead

Series: Generation Dead #1

Author: Daniel Waters

Pages: 392

Publisher: Hyperion

Published Date: May 6th, 2008

ISBN 13: 9781423109211

Rating: 5/5

Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent…and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn’t want them. 

The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the “differently biotic." But the students don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the “living impaired” from the people who want them to disappear—for good.

When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?


I have to say, Daniel Waters proves himself as an author with this exceptionally written debut novel. The plot is fast-paced and incredibly unique for having such a cliche theme. I was quite impressed with the way Waters takes on the topic of death (or undeath, in this case).

Each character is well-developed and constantly changed and evolved throughout the story to the very end. Waters put so much effort into each individual, that I couldn't help but like them all. Even the trigger-happy antagonist, Pete Martinsburg, who I loved to hate with all my being.  

By the end of the book, I actually caught myself getting angry. Not because the ending was written badly, but because it was so well done, I found myself angry with the outcome. Very few books have been able to make me feel an emotion at the end, whether it be anger, sadness, or happiness. I was quite literally drawn into the book.

All in all, a refreshing and enjoyable read.    

Review: Gods Behaving Badly

Title: Gods Behaving Badly

Series: N/A

Author: Marie Phillips

Pages: 292

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Published Date: December 10th, 2007

ISBN 13: 9780316067621

Rating: 4/5

Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.

Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees—a favorite pastime of Apollo's—is sapping their vital reserves of strength.

Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?


I have to say, when I found this little gem on Goodreads, I was pleasantly surprised. I've always held a certain fascination for Greek Mythology, so I was really looking forward to reading this fictional, supposedly humorous tale about the twelve gods. 

This book did not disappoint me. 

It was a fast, easy read with a nice flow, and had some witty one-liners that forced me to put the book down until I stopped laughing. Each character had a different, unique personality type, which kept them from blurring together in my eyes. I never had any trouble remembering who was who, and I felt that the character interaction was entertaining and believable. 

Some people might find themselves deterred by the sheer amount of profanity used, for this book can be downright vulgar in some places. Most of this can just be contributed to Apollo's foul mouth and detailed sexual exploits. For the most part, I really overlooked the raunchiness, seeing as how I've read most of Laurell K. Hamilton's books (the Queen of Raunchiness).

That aside, I truly enjoyed the way Phillips portrayed each god. She kept them very close to the way history portrayed them to be (Artemis never having sex, therefore being very chaste with everyone), but gave them certain qualities that made them fit very well into the modern world.  

The only real discrepancy I had was that I had the misfortune of receiving one of the unedited drafts of the book. As such, there were many spelling errors that would later be edited out during the publishing process. I also have a feeling that some of the scenes were cut from the book for either being irrelevant or sloppy. 

I don't like to go much more in-depth with a book, lest I give everything away. Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. The only way it could've been better was if it was a bit longer.