All posts by Roberta Rice

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

LIAR by Justine Larbalestier: Larba Larba Larbalestier~ I love the sound of the author’s last name.

LIAR was a very confusing book. It’s about Micah, a girl, a boy, a werewolf, a liar. We’re never sure whether or not anything she says is true. If everything she says is a lie, then wouldn’t her calling herself a liar be a lie? Thus everything she said would be true? My head is spinning.

LIAR was written to confuse, I think. It’s never confirmed whether or not the protagonist is telling the truth about her life (or if she’s even talking about her life at all). I kind of like it that way. I’d like to imagine this crazy girl telling her story to the police and then being sent to an asylum. I digress.

I was a fan of Justine Larbalestier’s Magic or Madness, so when I heard she had this new book out, I decided to read it and write my essay about it. I wasn’t disappointed. The narrative is well-written; it sounds exactly as if Micah is telling the story. The story is broken up into little bits of Before, After and little bits of Family History, among other less-used headers.

The book starts out with a seemingly-normal scenario, until the narrator admits she hasn’t been telling the complete truth. And then, about 150 pages later, she admits that again, she’s been lying. So it’s really hard to keep the story straight, if it’s a story at all. But I think that’s the point.

Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard:

Johannes Cabal was fantastic! It was so full of humor (which in turn contradicted the dark topic) that I was smirking almost the whole time I was reading.

I’m not sure why this book ticked me so much. Perhaps it’s because the writing was lovely and the characters (especially Johannes) were quite amusing. Undoubtedly my favorite part of reading it was the humor.

I definitely, definitely recommend this. But only to those who have a taste for British humor. If not, it won’t quite hit the spot, because I believe the comedy was a big part of my enjoyment.

I’m definitely on the lookout for the sequel! I look forward to reading more of Johannes’ quirky adventures.

Have you read one of these books? Did you like it? Feel free to share your opinion!

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books

Released: February 1, 2011

Pages: 320

Summary: Grace is only fifteen, but already her life is in shambles. She’s been raped, her subsequent baby perished, and she must look after an older sister who isn’t quite right in the head. To make things worse, Grace and her sister have just been forced out of their home, and being orphans, they have nowhere to go. They find themselves working at a morgue to make ends meet, and quickly wind up in the midst of a con bigger than they could ever imagine.

My thoughts: Fallen Grace is a beautifully written historical novel. It is rich, well developed, and completely immersing. I haven’t read any of Mary Hooper’s other books, but if they are as well-researched and gorgeous as Fallen Grace, I’ll have to give them a read.

Mary Hooper expertly captures the late 1800’s woman in both Grace and Lily, her sister. They have delicate sensibilities, but are firm in their beliefs and strong for their time. I enjoyed how Grace was so responsible for a fifteen year old—I never would have been able to survive in her shoes. Lily, despite being “simple”, is not too easily taken advantage of, and holds her own as an interesting sub-character.

Fallen Grace’s story reminded me a bit of Oliver Twist, what with Grace and Lily being poor orphans who end up working at a morgue and are eventually taken advantage of without their knowledge. However, I felt that Fallen Grace focused more on a girl’s perspective and journey, so it was unique enough to hold my interest. The sad situation Grace and Lily came from was quite shocking, and I couldn’t help rooting for them to overcome their obstacles.

I’d recommend Fallen Grace to any fan of historical fiction; it takes a good look at the gritty side of the late 1800’s, and really puts things in perspective. I definitely enjoyed reading about the trials and triumphs of Grace and her sister.
At the moment I am thinking about what to read next, do you have any ideas, guys? If yes, let me know in the comments below where you’re welcome to leave your opinion as well.
Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments below! I’d gladly discuss this book with you personally.  See you soon!

 

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release date: January 17, 2012

Pages: 416

Summary: After the giant fire, Clara’s life returns to normal. She goes to school, spends time cuddling with her boyfriend Tucker, and continues to practice her angelic abilities. But Samjeeza is lurking at the edges of that normalcy: he’s back for revenge. Plus, Clara starts having visions again; this time of a place on a hill where she’s filled with overwhelming sadness—and Christian is the only one there to comfort her.

My thoughts: Unearthly was one of my favorite reads of 2011, so I was expecting big things from Hallowed. Unfortunately, it fell right into that rut that so many YA sequels do: the heroine gets a little more emo, the love interest gets a little less sexy, and the story gets a little less exciting. Clara spends the majority of the novel kind of bummed out, both because of the price she may have to pay for angering Samjeeza, but also because of her uncertainty in terms of love. I really wasn’t expecting Cynthia Hand to bring the love triangle back (considering it wasn’t much of one in Unearthly), but she does, and it’s frustrating. Tucker is such a sweet guy that you just can’t help feeling a little disappointed with Clara’s indecision.

Hallowed isn’t all disappointment, though: Clara’s humor is still there, and so is Cynthia Hand’s lovely writing. The story is slower and less action-packed than Unearthly, but it still keeps you turning pages with big reveals. Hallowed is full of surprises, especially in regards to angel mythology. Clara knew that her mother was keeping secrets from her, but it’s incredible how much Hallowed shows us she was hiding. Cynthia hand does a great job of building on the mythology she introduced in Unearthly, and its complexity is great.

If you loved Unearthly as much as I did, you’ll still enjoy Hallowed. It’s a little disappointing as a sequel, but it’s still worth the read, especially considering how much the overarching story progresses. I’m definitely eager for book three! Things can only get better from here.
At the moment I am thinking about what to read next, do you have any ideas, guys? If yes, let me know in the comments below where you’re welcome to leave your opinion as well. See you soon! Good luck!

3.5/5 stars

If you will like this book, don’t forget to look my review of Hunger by Jackie Morse 

 

 

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Publisher: Egmont USA

Release date: June 14, 2011

Pages: 397

 

Summary: Emerson has grown up thinking she’s certifiably insane. But when her older brother brings in someone to help her with her hallucinations, Emerson discovers that she might not be as crazy as she thinks. What she sees are “rips”—bits of the past seeping into the present. Emerson must learn to harness her ability quickly, because it seems like the rips in time are expanding—and that’s not a good thing.

 

My thoughts: Hourglass has everything you’d ever want in a YA novel—humor, action, suspense, and romance. Even better is the fact that all these elements are put together and executed very, very well. Hourglass is an expertly crafted, thoroughly enjoyable read that is literally impossible to put down (I read it in one sitting!).

 

Readers will easily fall in love with and look up to Emerson, Hourglass’s protagonist and narrator. Her sass, sarcasm, and confidence make her incredibly fun to read about. Emerson is awesome, and she knows it. She’s not without insecurities, though—Emerson frequently refers to herself as “crazy”, a reminder of her rocky childhood in a mental institution. She also notes her lack of an “edit button”, or a lack of thinking before she speaks, which often makes her dialogue very entertaining (not to mention honest).

 

Myra McEntire nails the time slip concept—paradoxes and all—in Hourglass. It’s interesting, exciting, and quite well developed. However, the supernatural element is second string in comparison to the fantastic romance Hourglass brings to the table. The tension between Emerson and her love interest is almost palpable—steam rises off the pages of the novel. A second love interest is introduced later in the story, and he is just as lovable—if not more—than his rival.

 

Hourglass will win your heart from the very beginning—it sure won mine. Myra McEntire has crafted a hilarious, hot, supernatural story that will make you wish you had a sequel, like, yesterday. Highly recommended for fans of strong, snarky female characters, steamy romance, and original concepts.
If you’re looking for a book to put you right on the edge of your seat, it is a perfect choice.

It will win over the hearts of all readers with its creative concept, lovable characters, and thrilling storyline.
Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments below! Good luck!

5/5 stars

 

Flesh and Fire by Laura A. Gilman

Flesh and Fire by Laura A. Gilman: I got this book $2 used. Awesome. It turned out to be a pretty amazing book, too.

Liked:

+ Educational! (I learned a bit about grape-growing and winemaking. Yaaaaay)

+ Magical wine! (Wine with magical properties. And it didn’t seem cheesy or lame at all. It was well-implemented)

+ Characters (Jerzy and Malech were such wonderfully complex characters. Loved them, as well as the other characters)

+ Pronounceable names! (Normally books like this have incredibly fanciful names that no one can even fathom pronouncing. Not this one!)

Disliked:

– Cliffhanger! (Nnnnooooo…now I have to wait for book 2 to be published…)

– Slavery (I’m okay with slavery in books. But the fact that all Vine Arts are former slaves…it didn’t make sense that they’d turn into such awful slavers themselves. They could at least be nice; they should remember their terrible childhood!)

Conclusions:

I really enjoyed Flesh and Fire. I can’t wait for the next book. The novel was well-written and developed thoroughly. Plus, wine magic. Win!

 

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Publisher: Harcourt Graphia

Released: October 2010

Pages: 180

Hunger is an incredibly unique novel that combines an “issue” theme (eating disorders) with fantasy. Jackie Morse Kessler’s inventive idea originally seemed a bit forced, but towards the end of the novel I began to fully appreciate her creativity.

Hunger’s protagonist, Lisa, wasn’t exactly a character I felt too connected with; she just didn’t seem fully fleshed out to me. Likewise, Death and the other Horsemen were lacking in character, too. Lisa frequently makes commentary that makes it seem like she knows Death quite well, but their relationship seemed almost nonexistent.

Though the characters in Hunger were nothing to get too excited about, Jackie Morse Kessler’s portrayal of eating disorders was. The scenes where Lisa’s Thin voice speaks to her and the scenes involving Lisa’s bulimic friend were so raw and horrifying. Kessler does not baby the reader at all, which I found very impressive.

Also impressive was the author’s connection between anorexia and Famine, a Horseman of the Apocalypse. Lisa learns how to suck the life out of things (and occasionally people) and in turn give that life back to something else that needed it more. I loved the positive spin on Famine’s legend; it give the book a hopeful undertone.

Overall, Hunger was a quick read that tackled a whole lot in its 180 pages. Though I found the characters lacking, the creativity of the concept outshined any grievances I had with the book. I’m definitely looking forward to Rage, the next story in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series.

 

3.5/5 stars

Dark Song by Gail Giles

 

Publisher: Little, Brown books for young readers

Released: September 2010

Pages: 304

MARC: Hey baby, wanna feel my guns? No, like, my actual guns. The ones that shoot and stuff.

AMES: I know I should find this enormously creepy, but I am somehow turned on by the power you hold.

MARC: Also, I’m 7 years older than you. Wanna hook up?

AMES: Hellz yeah!

 

Gail Giles is the queen of psychological/dramatic YA. Ever since I read What Happened to Cass McBride (which, by the way, completely creeped me out), I was dying to get my hands on her next book.

Dark Song offers an incredibly suspenseful build-up to a haunting conflict. As soon as things began going downhill for Ames, I became completely lost in the story. I knew things were just going to get worse and worse until Ames hit her limit. And boy, did things get bad. Gail Giles’ portrayal of seriously flawed parents was fantastic. I grew to completely hate Ames’ mother and father, and I understood her desire to be free from her situation. I could not believe how absurd the parents became—but Gail Giles did a great job having them represent two different ways of coping with life-changing problems: denial and anger.

Ames’ method of coping was to seek out ways to feel powerful—and though her method is really not the best, in context of the story, it made a lot of sense. Her character was so frightened and full of rage that you just couldn’t help pitying her, even when she acted like a spoiled brat. She had such a strong desire to protect her sister, too, which gave her bonus points in my book. Yay for sister love!

 

Overall, Dark Song is a somewhat frightening story about one girl’s world falling completely apart. It’s not a particularly happy book, but it is a very good portrayal of the way people cope with hardships and the anger that builds up inside.

I fell in love with the characters, the setting, and the story immediately.

If you’re looking for a book to put you right on the edge of your seat, it is a perfect choice.

It will win over the hearts of all readers with its creative concept, lovable characters, and thrilling storyline. Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments below! I’d gladly discuss this book with you personally.  

4/5 Stars

 

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

Release date: October 18, 2011

Pages: 281

Summary: Alex, a half-blood, has been on the run from daimons for the past three years. They hunt members of her kind for the aether they possess in their blood. Members of the Covenant finally find her after her mother is torn to shreds. The Covenant, a boarding school for “freakish” teens, was where Alex went to school until her mother decided to take her away. Now that she’s back, Alex needs to play catch-up so that she will be ready to become a Sentinel—a warrior against the killer daimons. Her trainer, Aiden, is a pure blood—off limits to Alex because of her half-blood status—but he might just be too tempting…

My thoughts: With Half-Blood, Jennifer L. Armentrout manages to take a few tried and true concepts and twist them into something entirely new. The mythology behind the pure bloods and half bloods is utterly fascinating, and readers will delight in this unique concept. Daimons, zombie-like flesh eaters determined to turn pure bloods into one of their own, are horrifying, and Armentrout succeeds in utilizing them to create a never-ending sense of foreboding and doom. The story, overall, is incredibly addicting. The first few pages don’t exactly hook you, but the entirety of the novel is intense, dramatic, and downright un-put-downable.

Alex is a fierce heroine, and though she’s not instantly likable due to her inability to conform, her stubbornness is ultimately endearing. She matures over the course of the novel, and becomes much more likable—even lovable—towards the halfway mark. The most important aspect of Alex’s character is that she feels real. She talks like a teen, she grieves like a teen, and she acts like a teen. Jennifer Armentrout has nailed the teen voice with Alex.

The romance in Half-Blood is too good to go without mention. The chemistry between Alex and Aiden is perfect. The forbidden love concept is often tiresome for me, but I couldn’t help but root for these two. They sizzle together! Jennifer Armentrout doesn’t skimp on the sexy—fans of romance will love the tension between Alex and Aiden!

Half-Blood is a surprisingly fresh paranormal romance that will hook you and reel you in—I certainly couldn’t do anything until I’d finished the book! Veteran paranormal readers will be pleased to find Jennifer Armentrout’s mythology unique, and everyone will dig its non-stop pace.

4/5 stars