Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: A BLUE SO DARK by Holly Schindler

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been taking care of her mother since her father left them years ago. Life has been barely manageable then but it's even worse now, since her mother's schizophrenia has been so bad that she couldn't work anymore. Watching her own mother falling because of the disease, Aura shuns her own artistic and linguistic talents as she believes that art=crazy. It doesn't help that her best friend is doing nothing, cause she's too wrapped up in her own issues(pregnancy, boyfriend, whatnot). Watch Aura come into terms with her own artistic abilities and her mother's illness.

     Deeply moving and surprisingly relatable, Schindler spins a new tale of love. What I love most about the novel, though short(200+ pages) is the writing. Beautiful and highly lyrical, it felt like song to my ears, or extremely magickal writing to my inner poet(ress). I especially love the poems in the books, but now I can't give you an example cause the book's with my friend, and my memory ain't that good.

     The plot is well crafted, with some unexpected twists and expected turns. One thing though, I don't get why there's a male interest in the novel, as it doesn't help the plot a bit. That can be omitted, even if the novel's short enough.

     The main character, Aura is likable, though not lovable. Not because she is not a good protagonist, but because she throws and burns her art. Yes this is a small matter but it annoys me. A lot. Still, put that aside and you'll have a good story as you watch Aura grow from a broken girl to a sure and confident young lady proud of her art.
      I also love the development of the relationship between Aura and her mother. Authentic and believable, you sense the love of Aura towards her mother and her fear of losing her mother and herself. This is how good a writer Schindler is.

     The theme of A Blue So Dark is about healing. The relationship between Aura and her mother, Aura and her BFF, Aura's mother and Aura's grandmother and Aura's fear of becoming schizophrenic mends and heals as the dynamic propels the plot forward. Beautiful stuff, as I'd said.

     A little wacky, a little moody and a lot of love, A Blue So Dark is a beautifully crafted literary novel that'll make any literary lover's heart go "zing". Romance fans steer clear, though it doesn't hurt to be moved now and then.

     The cover : Beautiful! And it corresponds in a scene from the novel. You'll find out if you read 'til the end.

Rating: 4.5 stars ( half a star reduced for the unnecessary romance and half a star added for the lyrical writing)

* mild swearing included

For more info about the book or author, please click here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster Pulse It!

Mara Dyer is in Miami, miles away from her home town and miles away from her best friend. Dead best friend, that is. And Mara was just waking up from a coma when she got the news, with no recollection of what had happened, even though they were together when the building collapsed on Mara, her BFF, her BFF's friend and Mara's boyfriend, Jude. So, now she's in Miami with no friends in a new private school. To make matters worse, she has hallucinations on the first day of school and land herself on the radar of the most popular girl on school, just because of one single guy, as most novels begin. Noah Shaw, the most unattainable and most beautiful British guy -yup, a Brit with a sexy accent- takes an interest in Mara. To top it off, she has to deal with sudden, violent recollection of the night that changed her life.

I have nothing to say. Except that it's awesome! Decently plotted and strategically planned, Hodkin wrote with a precision that moves you along the page. She caught the voice of a traumatized, angsty teen perfectly. Evenly paced, laced with suspense, thrill, mystery and -whatnot- romance, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a novel you can't miss.

The protagonist, Mara Dyer is someone you'll remember and sympathize with. A beautiful, strong girl's life is turned upside down by the death of close friends, and she has to move to a new place, and she meets a totally hot guy, and she gets picked by a popular girl. Now, doesn't that sound familiar? Yet, Hodkin mixed this combo with paranormal and deep, moving relationship with family. You'll love her, as she's vulnerable and unbreakable at the same time.
Noah Shaw, the male interest, is as perfect as a guy you can get. Well, he's a playboy, but you see that change when he meets Mara. Attentive, sensitive and loaded, he is the perfect boyfriend. His relationship with Mara is real enough for me, but sometimes he's a little too perfect. 

Heartwarming moments of Mara with her brothers, Daniel and Joseph are genuine, and Hodkin created a couple of authentic siblings. The bickering and care of those three will sometimes make you go "aww...". And damn I wish I have a brother like Daniel. The dynamic of the family is genuine too, and when a string is pulled, a doll follow(sorry, crappy analogy, but you get what I mean). There's no wasted scene as every happening is crucial to add tension or to build the plot.

A little ramble on the paranormal front. Though there's a lot of romance and suspense, there's not a lot of visible paranormal. Well, it's there right from the beginning, but it become more pronounced as the plot grew. I have to say the paranormal is a little unexpected.

Tense, compact and vivid, with a heavy atmosphere and twisted romance, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one novel you should read.

The cover is plain uh-mei-zing! Dark and moody, one of my faves!

Ratings: 4.5 stars

For more info on the book or author, please click here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday : 23 Nov

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth
Release date: May 2012
I looove me some Divergent(read review here) and am eagerly waiting for more Tris and Four. Ooooh. <squeal>

On Slacking Off...

My apologies for being such a slacker these days, but school and an unexpected illness of me grandma has thorn me away from my blog. That and my laziness. And my apologies again for (being forced) to be a slacker(again) for some time as I have a camp and I have to take care of my grandma. Sorry, I'll make time for books and reviews when I can. For now, just stay strong for the (good) reads.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: BLEEDING VIOLET by Dia Reeves

Biracial and biculture(Hanna’s words, not mine) Hanna Jarvinen (the last name is different, but I don’t know how to type it) is a normal teenager hitchhike to find her mother, Rosalee in Portero, Texas. Okay, Hanna is far from normal. She is manic depressive, hears voices, hallucinates and has a history of violence. With that, she thinks she will  stand out in Pertero, but she is far from wrong. No matter how strange Hanna is, Portero is stranger with its doors that lead to somewhere and the monsters that plague the town. Rosalee gave Hanna two weeks to make a friend in order to stay, and when she starts dating a Mortmaine, initiates who guard the town from danger, all hell broke lose. Watch Hanna and Wyatt(the boyfriend) battle evil and discover the truth about Portero.

     Bleeding Violet is dark and moody, just my type of novel. Reeves created a wonderful world of paranormal, letting us follow Hanna through her fitting in in Portero. There’s also some gore provoking action too, and more than enough steamy romance. What I love about Bleeding Violet is the darker mood of the novel the language made you feel. There are laughs, but more ew factor.

     Hanna is a lovable character, though not your typical one. She is the first patroganist I’d read that is loose in the mind, in a good way. She lacks the stereotype patroganist’s qualities, like sweet and kind. But Hanna is sweet in her own way and perhaps even more ass-kicking than most female characters. She is ultra witty too, always ready with a sharp response-you’ll know after the first few chapters.  Also, it’s not everyday you get to read about females characters of color.

     The side characters are less developed, except for Rosalee and the subject of interest, Wyatt. Well, there’s not many side characters anyway. I like how Hanna and Rosalee’s relationship grows, from pushing away to acceptance at last. It’s like watching a game of tug-and-war, always guessing who would tire faster and give in.

     The romance of Hanna and Wyatt is a fully developed one. There’s no love at first sight or pathetic puppy dog love, just two people despising each other at the beginning to falling in love during interaction at the end. The conversations and fights between the two are very realistic and resemble a real life couple. And they went through thick and thin together, so that just makes their relationship that much stronger. There’s enough chemistry and you’ll simply heart the couple. Enough said.

     For the paranormal front, there’s no vampires or werewolves, only the kind of monsters you were afraid of when you’re still young. And Reeves was pretty creative with her monsters. There was action scenes too, described vividly so I could see Hanna slicing off meat.

     All in all, Bleeding Violet is a crazy paranormal, the key elements in it working together perfectly. Reeves brings us a psychotic, nutty tale full of everything for everyone, going through the life the strangest girl on earth. The insane girl inside of me just LOVE this novel.

     Normally I pick a book up by its cover(not a good habit, I know) and Bleeding Violet captures my attention instantly. What do you think that says?

Ratings: 5 stars

* Contains swearing and sex, for mature readers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: EVERY OTHER DAY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes(to be released on 27th Dec, 2011)

Courtesy of NetGalley(Egmont USA) program

Seventeen-year-old Kali D’Angelo is not quite human, yet not quite monster, as she couldn’t sense pain, fear or adrenaline. Every 24 hours that is. Since she was 12, for 24 hours she is a dauntless warrior, hunting and killing hellhounds; and for the next 24 hours she is a vulnerable teenage girl, and she spends every minute of her human girl life anticipating for the arrival of the next cycle. Three weeks in her new school, Kali meets self proclaimed school slut and ultra perky blonde, Skylar Hayden. On the same day, Kali spots an ouroboros on Bethany  Davis, her father’s boss’ daughter -a sure sign of an infection of chupacabra, a life draining and memory sucking monster- she lures the creature into her fragile human body, expecting the creature to last long enough to be killed off when her body switches to hunter mode at dawn. However, her expectation fails, as the chupacabra seems to suck her life out at a faster rate than normal, so she fainted. When she wakes up, Skylar urges her and Bethany to flee from school, as her instincts tells her that something bad is happening. And it is. A woman and man knows about the chupacabra that was in Bethany’s body, and it sounds like it’s an intentional injection, and they’ll stop at nothing to retrieve the creature, even murder. Now, Kali has to flee for her life, and protect her two new found friends, all the while keeping the chupacabra at bay. Can she do it, or will she die at the attempt?

     Near perfect, Every Other Day is a breath of fresh air in my long line of YA reads. Fast paced, action-packed and supernatural-packed, this tale hooked me from the start, though lacking on the romance front. More centered on the friendship part and trust, you’ll find yourself a little surprised by the twists of events. The language is realistic and flowing, narrated by Kali and will sometimes making you laugh and shake your head at her.

     Kali, the main character is a witty, smart, loyal person, not so different from Rosemary Hathway in Vampire Academy(my review here). Barnes made her strong, and also vulnerable. Breakable. The loss of motherly -and fatherly- love at a tender age left Kali afraid of intimate relationships. It also made Kali who she is today. Family and trust issues are the factors leading to the ending of the story, and what makes Every Other Day relatable to most people. It doesn’t hurt that Kali is pretty good in kicking hellhound’s asses. Pardon my French.

     Skylar, the supporting character is a sunny fluffy blonde, sweet and endearing, kinda like your best friend. Her psychic power rocks too, even when she has a not so favorable end. Bethany though, is a complete opposite off Kali and skylark. She is what you called a pampered bitch, though there is more to her than what meets the eye.

     The love interest –I’m giving you a treat here- Zev is one of the paranormal –another treat- is the centre of event (kind of). Though he appears for quite a while in the novel,  his presence is not strong, merely enough to get the plot going. Sorry romance fans, no hot steamy scenes in this novel.

     Now that I’m writing this review, I realize that I don’t like the way the relationship between Kali and Zev develop. There’s not much interaction between the two and somehow they fall in love. That’s my only grudge.

     In Every Other day, you’ll find yourself reading about the strong bond between friends, the tug-of-war between family members and the cruelty of humans and paranormal creatures alike. Perhaps YA fans will find Barnes as a new favourite.

     The book cover was decent, although not my fave. Maybe that's just my obsession with dark, moody covers. 

Ratings: 4.5 stars

To be released on 27th December, 2011

For more info about the book or author, please click here

* check back on 5 Nov for a review of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: 2 Nov

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

LENOBIA'S VOW by P.C Cast and Kristin Cast
Out: January 31, 2012

It's House of Night, what more should I say?

* Check back on 3 Nov for a review of Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
* Check back on 5 Nov for a review of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
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