Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.
It is a rare occassion for me when I can't finish a book. There have been very few books where I simply can't go on. More often than not, if I have a did not finish (DNF), it is because I'm just not in the mood for a particular genre and I will eventually go back and re-read a book when I'm in the right mood. In the case of The Replacement, I've been struggling through this book, according to my Goodreads updates, since October 19th. I read the first twenty-two chapters. However, I'm throwing in the towel. I've got too many other books to read and while there are some things I like about the book. I'm not going to be able to finish it.

Normally, if I have a DNF I don't review it, not because I don't want write a negative review, but because for the most part it's usually not the book's fault. It's usually my mood. However, I picked up The Replacement as part of my Debut Author Challenge so I felt the need to go ahead and post why this was a DNF for me.

I actually really liked the premise behind the novel. Changeling, faeries, creatures of the night, what have you that require a sacrifice from the local community every seven years in exchange for keeping the town generally happy and safe. Very pagan, very interesting. I think Yovanoff did a really good job of creating a creepy atmosphere. Her descriptions were very good and I definitely enjoyed the ambiance of the book.

What didn't work for me were the characters. I really felt no connection to any of the characters including our main character, Mackie Doyle. I kind of felt sorry for him, but only slightly so. I think his relationship with his sister, Emma, and his best friend, Roswell, could have been engaging. I wanted to know more about them. But, in the end, I just couldn't connect, I didn't feel ANYTHING toward the characters. I can't feel apathetic towards characters. Give me a character to love, or even hate but I have to feel something for the characters. I'm really bummed I didn't like this better because it had such potential!

If you're looking for a good creepy read, this may be just for you. If you're looking for a well written, character driven story. . .  you might want to pass.

Whew, now that I've let go and decided not to finish the book, I totally feel like a weight has been lifted. How do you all deal with books that aren't working for you? Do you tough it out? Do you move on? I'm kind of frustrated that I waited this long to give up on the book. I could have read at least two other books in the time I've been struggling through this one. Sigh.



Here are some other perspectives on the book:
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
Smash Attack Reads
Steph Su Reads
Supernatural Snark

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Wow. I was completely blown away by If I Stay. This slim, wisp of a novel packs quite an emotional punch. Forman effortlessly balances humor, love, and loss in this unique twist on the traditional "teen death book". There are currently a lot of YA books out dealing with death; the loss of a parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend or friend however, Forman has a unique twist on the topic.

In a dramatic twist of fate, the main character, Mia, has been in a car accident with her parents and younger brother. She is the lone survivor, barley holding on to a life she's not sure she can face without her family. With her physical body comatose, Mia is on the cusp of the afterlife. She's in a state of limbo with an impending life or death decision.

Through alternating flashbacks of her life and her present state, we learn about her relationships with those closest to her: her parents, brother, boyfriend, and best friend. We learn about her budding career as a cellist with a bright future at Julliard. We want her to choose to stay, to fight, to live. Our hearts break for her monumental loss and sympathize with her fear of a future without her family.

If I Stay is quite possibly one of the most touching stories about family, love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit that I've ever read. My review is sparse and, I feel, inadequately conveys the emotional response that the book elicited from me. So I'll simply say that I would highly recommend this book!


One additional comment. I saw the paperback cover of If I Stay at Barnes and Noble and noticed that they quoted USA Today as : "Will appeal to fans of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight."

Um....okay?! This seriously irks me. While yes, I'm sure that many a Twilight fan would enjoy this novel, I don't really understand how, or why, the connection to Twilight was made. I don't think this comparison is fair to either book or to the possible readers. Why, oh why does every YA have to be in context to fucking Twilight?! Sigh. Anyway I just thought that was interesting. It gave me serious pause when I saw it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Library Loot: October 20 - 26

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted alternatively by Marg and Claire that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (at Marg's this week) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Since I had massive amounts of books last week, I have practically nothing on my reserve list. This is good, I can try to get all caught up. (Like that's going to happnen!) But I did get some great books this time:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unnatural Selections: The Exile: An Outlander Grapic Novel by Diana Gabaladon and Hoang Nguyen

Unnatural Selections will be an irregular feature where I read and review books outside of my comfort zone. I'm always open to trying new genres and expanding my reading palate but I tend to stick to what I know I enjoy. However, it's always nice to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile!

The Exile fits this bill because it is a graphic novel. However, it is related to Outlander, so in that respect it's not completely outside of my comfort zone. I'm willing to give anything a try if it involves Jamie Fraser!

The Exile gives readers an alternative point of view to Outlander, which is told from Claire's perspective. The Exile covers only the first third of the Outlander novel, ending with Claire's big decision to either stay with Jamie or try to return through the stones to her old life.

I have to say that reading a graphic novel is definitely a different reading experience. I struggled for the first half of the book. I had to "re-read" sections but about halfway through the book I was able to get into the groove of reading a graphic novel.

At first I was apprehensive about the renderings of Jamie, Claire, and other characters. As readers we each have our own mental images of the characters we love so; I was afraid the artists representations would not match up with my own personal images. However, I was pleasntly surprised by Hoang Nguyen's character sketches. Especially Jamie, which, as we all know is the sole reason most of us are head over heals in love with this series. Claire isn't quite what I had imagined but, all in all, I think the representations of the characters were accurate.

One thing about Gabaldon's novels is they're very descriptive and detailed, and with each book clocking in at over 800+ pages, it stands to reason that there was a lot cut out of The Exile. While I think die hard Outlander fans will read this simply because it's another piece of the Outlander story, I think they'll find it somewhat lacking. There's no way to get the kind of character and plot development in one slim graphic novel that we saw in Outlander. It's just not possible for the medium. I think those new to the Outlander story, might be able to enjoy this condensed, visual representation more than long time Outlander fans.

Lastly, for those of you that have read Outlander and The Exile...was the Kenneth character in Outlander? It's been so long since I've read Outlander but I don't recall this character. In The Exile, he came back through the stones as well. Was this a unique element to The Exile story or do I just have that bad of a memory?!

I'm glad I gave The Exile I chance. It was my first experience reading a graphic novel and I'm always happy to see my favorite Outlander characters. I'm not sure I'll purchase the book, but I might, eventually, to add to my Outlander collection. If you're on the fence, I'd check to see if your local library has a copy!

For those interested, Scribd has The Making of The Exile which gives readers an insight on how Diana Gabaldon and the artist, Hoang Nguyen, collaborated on The Exile.

Here are a few pages from The Exile, enjoy!
Claire has a run in with Jack Black Randall.

Jamie on the run!

Last, but ceratanly not least, is this orginal drawing of the wedding night as posted on Diana's website. This was deemed a bit too explicit and the final image has a blanket covering Jamie's arse!


Monday, October 18, 2010


This week I'm combining Library Loot and In My Mailbox. This is a large haul for me. Too many books to upload all the cover images. But I've linked to Goodreads if you're interested in reading more about a book! 

Library Loot
Co-hosted by Marg & Claire

Whale Talk – Chris Crutcher
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes – Chris Crutcher
A Hunger Like No Other – Kresley Cole
The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel – Diana Gabaldon & Hoang Nguyen
Empty by Suzanne Weyn

In My Mailbox
Hosted by The Story Siren


I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan (Thanks Rowena!)
Matched by Ally Condie (Thanks to the YASLA folks at the OLC Expo!)

For Review:

I am J – Cris Beam
Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly
Bloodthirsty – Flynn Meaney
Fixing Delilah – Sarah Ockler


So when I went to the OLC Expo last month I stopped by the Junior Library Guild’s booth. They’re located about 15 minutes outside of Columbus and they were handing out fliers for their warehouse book sale. I remembered on Saturday that it was going on so I ran out there and HOLY AMAZING BOOKS! All of their hardback books that would normally cost $16 or $17 were all $5. If I bought the following books in store at full price the total would have been $100.91 before tax and I only spent $30!!! That’s quite a deal!

I so could have come home with so much more but I exercised some self restraint. I’m so excited to know about this sale which they do twice a year, in the spring and fall. And it’s open to the public! I thought it was just for us librarians and teachers but nope, it’s open to all! Thanks JLG! Several books are dystopian! My current fav!

Dark Life – Kat Falls
The Other Side of the Island – Allegra Goodman
Girlfriend Material – Melissa Kantor
Once a Witch – Carolyn MacCullough
The Rules for Hearts – Sara Ryan
Creature of the Night – Kate Thompson

Whew! So many books, so little time! What books did you get this week?! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reveiw: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

John Matthew has come a long way since he was found living among humans, his vampire nature unknown to himself and to those around him. After he was taken in by the Brotherhood, no one could guess what his true history was- or his true identity. Indeed, the fallen Brother Darius has returned, but with a different face and a very different destiny. As a vicious personal vendetta takes John into the heart of the war, he will need to call up on both who he is now and who he once was in order to face off against evil incarnate.

Xhex, a symphath assassin, has long steeled herself against the attraction between her and John Matthew. Having already lost one lover to madness, she will not allow the male of worth to fall prey to the darkness of her twisted life. When fate intervenes, however, the two discover that love, like destiny, is inevitable between soul mates.
Before I begin this review I want to take just a minute to talk about reader expectations. I know I've mentioned this in previous reviews. Sometimes, as readers, we start a novel having certain expectations. Sometimes you have low expectations and then are pleasantly surprised by a book. Other times you have such high expectations that no book could possibly live up to and, every once in a blue moon, your exceedingly high expectations are met. Lover Mine is one of these books.

Fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood have been waiting for this book since we met John Matthew as a lonely, scared "pretrans" in Dark Lover. We watched him grow, mature, change, fall in love, and get his heart broken. In Lover Mine, John and Xhex finally get their HEA but, as per usual with the BDB series, not without heartache and pain.

At the end of Lover Avenged, Xhex disappears having been kidnapped by Lash and is now being held prisoner. The Brotherhood, John specifically, is losing hope of finding her alive. However, as we all know, Xhex is a fighter and is not about to sit around and wait to be rescued. Xhex busts through the invisible barrier Lash has erected around her thanks to his waning strength. The rest of the novel is basically John, Xhex, and the rest of the brotherhood hunting down Lash. After a few twists and turns and a road block or two our beloved, John Matthew gets his female. I know this isn't much of a summary but those of you who read the series know the plot, those that don't well, all those details would just be overwhelming!

I was really nervous about reading Lover Mine. This was John Matthew's story and I wanted it to be perfect. But how often does that happen? Like I mentioned, it seems I had such high expectations that I didn't know how Ward would be able to live up to them. But she did. Not only did I love John Matthew and Xhex's storyline but we finally got some more Qhuinn/Blay face time.

One thing I'm really sad about going forward from Lover Mine is, what I assume will be, the lack of John Matthew's point of view. Since Dark Lover, we've always had a glimpse into John Matthew's head. However, Ward usually doesn't revisit previous hero/heroine's POV after she's given them their HEA. One huge exception was the return of Wrath's POV in Lover Avenged as his sight continued to deteriorate. It's just so sad, for me, to think about not having John Matthew's POV anymore. I am looking forward to more from Qhuinn and Blay and I really hope we get their story!

Anyway, I've fallen, like many before me, into a post-Lover Mine funk. I'm not ready to move on from the Brothers just yet. So I started The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide, that's right I hadn't read that yet either. And reading through it I'm half tempted to re-read the entire series. However, I have sooo many books in my TBR pile the idea of re-reading so many books makes me feel guilty! But I'm seriously not ready to move on from the Brotherhood just yet. I am feeling another intesnse read though. I was thinking I might acutally tackle An Echo in the Bone, the newest Outlander book. But I'm not sure...

Lover Mine is vying with Lover Awakened as my favorite BDB novel!

Those of you that read Lover Mine did it live up to your expectations? Also, are there folks out there that STILL haven't read this series? If so, what are you waiting for? (No seriously, that's not a rhetorical question, I really wanna know!)


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reading Recap: September 2010

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - 5 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  2. A Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  3. Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  4. One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  5. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  6. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  7. Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  8. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost - 3 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  9. Jane by April Lindner - 2 Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Nine books this month and I really enjoyed the majority of what I read, as you can tell by the abundance of 4 chocolate covered strawberry ratings!

I wasn't a huge fan of Cat, the heroine in Halfway to the Grave, but she redeemed herself in the second book. I'm finally glad I got around to reading her story, if for no other reason than... BONES!  As for Jane, well yeah,  didn't care for it so much!
How was your September? Favorite/least favorite reads?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Review: Jane by April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
So, I have to start off with a confession: I have never read Jane Eyre. I know,  know #englishmajorfail #librarianfail, but I'm not unfamiliar with the story of Jane Eyre. I've...seen the movie?! Ok, I know, you're rolling your eyes! Does it help that it was the newest Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Erye? No? Well fine. But keep in mind that, although I haven't read Jane Eyre, I do know the story and I LOVED the version I saw.

With that confession out of the way I have to admit, this book did not work for me. At all. Lindner stuck close to the storyline, however I felt this modern translation failed for the following reasons:

Jane. Our heroine did not translate well into the modern world. Whereas in the original story Jane is this stead fast, level headed heroine, our Jane, who also had these same traits was just so...flat. I found her boring and uninteresting, I wanted to admire her and her strong will to survive anything but mostly, she bored me. It wasn't until she left Thornfield Park and she moves in with the St. John family, around page 286 that I really got interested.

No chemistry. I did not buy Jane's feelings for Nico, nor his for her. The whole romance felt flat. That makes it difficult when this is supposed to be such a romantic story. Also the whole younger girl with the older guy,  felt a little pervy, whereas the original felt realistic and appropriate for the time period.

Nico. I felt he was a poor substitute for Edward Rochester who was a surly, mysterious, tormented individual. Nico Rathburn, on the other hand, came off as hot headed, controlling, and devious. I also did not buy into his feelings or interest in Jane.

Long. Now, I don't have anything against long novels. But there were huge chunks of text that I felt were just Jane droning on. There was a lot of telling going on and not enough showing or doing. By the last 50 pages or so I just wanted it to be over.

I used this adjective several times in this review and I feel it pretty much sums up how I felt about the book: flat. I think this attempt to modernize the story failed. Read the original, hell rent the Masterpiece Theater version, but I'd skip this one.


This is the lowest rating I've given thus far on this blog. I'll make it easy for you to locate some other opinions on this novel:

Disclosure: I received this ARC from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
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