Tuesday, December 11, 2012

READING: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Publication date: May 1st, 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Historical Romance
Rating: 2/5
It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been…even as their carefully constructed faƇade rapidly comes undone.  Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one…the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.  When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.
Um…you guys! Where is the rest of the book?? You know, the one with all the character development and the not ridiculous plot line? Because I can't seem to find it anywhere and what I read just didn't cut it.

Wentworth Hall is a YA historical fiction, so it was only natural that as soon as I got my hands on it I would read it immediately, no question. I have read so few YA historical, that I immediately jump at the chance when one comes out and I really thought Wentworth Hall would be the one. It wasn't, though. It didn't even come close.

Grahame did an OK job as far as the writing goes (just OK though), but unfortunately failed at everything else. The characters were not likable at all, not even one, and in 276 pages they had no time to change being busy doing whatever mundane stuff they were doing throughout the whole book. I found it impossible to relate to any of the characters and I didn't believe their relationships for a second. For example, the great romance between the stable boy and the Lord's daughter was laughable, at best. There was no background story to back it up, nor could the reader detect the character's feelings at all. It was like they were actors pushed into a role they hated and they played it badly. Also, why have Maggie's mother help with the baby situation only to have Maggie describe her as a cold and detached parent later? It doesn't make any sense!

As for the plot, it had enormous gaps. What happened with Therese and Wes? What happened to the twins? What went on with Ian and Lila? And most importantly what happened to Wentworth Hall?? I kept thinking there has got to be a book 2 but it turns out there isn't and I don't think there will be one in the future (shocking!).

Granted, Wentworth Hall is readable and a really quick read, if you're interested in something like that. Even if you only want to pass the time though, I suggest you look elsewhere. This is only gonna bring you pain, suffering and frustration!
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

READING: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Publication date: December 11, 2012
Published by: Razorbill
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy YA
Rating: 5/5
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:    Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.   Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.   Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.   Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...   The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
I know it took me over a month to finish Falling Kingdoms but that has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book. I was going through some personal stuff, moving overseas, blah blah. But even when I wasn't reading, weirdly enough I always had Falling Kingdoms in the back of mind wandering what happens next. And even after such a long period, when I finally got back to it, I realised that I was still hooked and excited to get into it again. If that's not an indicator of Falling Kingdoms being an amazing book, I don't know what is!

First and foremost I would like to address the George Martin issue. I fully acknowledge and respect the fact that Rhodes (aka Michelle Rowen) has been inspired, if you will, by Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's pretty apparent, no need to deny it. I have come across myriads of books that were really similar to others or that their authors have "borrowed" (by no means stole) bits and pieces from other books. I usually don't like that in a book, because readers in general want to always read original material and not something they have read again and again.
That being said, I have come to eat my words as far as some of these books are concerned, because I ended up liking them and I feel that the real struggle for their authors is not just to utilise similar stories or characters from other books, but to make them their own and give them their own significant voice and style, and eventually produce an amazing result that is, in its own way, unique. I think that's what happened with Falling Kingdoms and I am really really glad I did not take bad reviews into account and decided to read it after all.

I haven't read any books by Michelle Rowen so I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing, which was amazing, as I am fully aware how difficult it is to write a fantasy novel. I loved the descriptions of the different kingdoms and in general her edgy and clever style of writing. The story was exciting, kept you on your toes the whole time. There was romance, sword fighting, magic, what's not to like?

What made Falling Kingdoms so special for me were the characters. I notice a lot of readers struggled with the characters and I honestly have no idea why. For instance, I don't think Cleo come across as a selfish brat but for argument's sake, let's say she did. Isn't it understandable? She is the princess of a very wealthy kingdom. She has led a sheltered life with servants at her beg and call so yeah, she may be a little spoiled (which again, I did not get from her). I have seen alleged "heroines" in YA acting way worse than Cleo. The majority of them, actually. So even if she was acting like a brat at the beginning, in the end I think everyone will agree that she grows by leaps and bounds while trying to save herself, the people she loves and her land. I think Cleo is a very misunderstood character and it really upsets me when people bash her. I would have liked to see the romance between her and Theon (thank you Martin for totally ruining that name for me, by the way!) showcased a little bit better. I didn't quite get where all this undying love came from and that made me not care for their romantic relationship as much as I would have wanted to. Now Magnus I fell in love with. He was my ultimate favorite. Jonas was right there with him at some point, but Magnus won in the end. I loved everything about Magnus. He was the most well written character in my opinion. I liked how his mind worked, how he had so many issues it's not even funny, how he alternated between having a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time, how he was so emotionally confused, how he was a total wreck. What can I say? I love a tortured soul! And especially one that doesn't have or even deserve a happy ending, one that not only didn't learn from his mistakes but drowned in them, put simply, a fantastically flawed, freaking awesome character! I just loved every word coming out of his mouth and I just couldn't wait for a Limeros chapter just so that I could read about Magnus.
What I would have liked though was maybe Lucia appearing more in the book. Rhodes made us believe she is a very important character who plays a crucial part in the story, only to keep her in hiding, so to speak. Hopefully we get to see more of her in the sequel.

Jonas was great also, with an amazing back story: who doesn't like a scorned poor guy seeking revenge? Again though, it is not that simple with Rhodes. Jonas is not the great guy who has been treated unfairly and wants to right the wrongs done to him. Well on paper he does, but he is going at it the wrong way, even making him the bad guy at some point, destroying every hero stereotype along the way. That's what makes Rhodes' characters so intriguing and different, in my opinion: their twisted sense of right and wrong.

All in all, Falling Kingdoms hit it out of the park for me. It was dark and captivating-just the way I like them. Some say that a lot of the stuff in there are inappropriate for Young Adults. I can't argue with that, to each its own. I read Stephen King when I was a Young Adult so I wouldn't mind reading Falling Kingdoms at that age. Also, it's a fantasy novel, so let's just take it down a notch with the overreacting, shall we?

Bottom line is this: Falling Kingdoms is awesome, go buy it! That's all you need to know!
Book 2 in the series "Rebel Spring" coming out 2013. Sign me up!

*This book has been given to me by Penguin Australia via NetGalley
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

READING: Thoughtless by S.C.Stephens

Thoughtless by S.C.Stephens

Publication date: June 11th, 2010
Published by: Feedbooks
Genre: College, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 2/5

For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source – a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same.

I just can't believe I made it through this book, I really can't. It was wrong, so wrong. And not the "Oh it feels so good" wrong, the "I want to gouge my eyes out" wrong. I wanted to trust in it, though, and because I'm extremely naive, I stuck with it, thinking that it can't possibly be that bad, that anytime now it's gonna get better. Let me tell you now, don't be as naive as me, because it doesn't get better. Not at all.

To be honest, I kinda struggled with it from the start. Not so much with the story and the characters, that came later, but with its tormentingly slow pace. We just had to know every little move Kiera made, every little step, it felt like watching a movie in slow motion. There was a small oasis somewhere in the middle, which was unfortunately overshadowed by all the crap that was going on around it.

And that brings us to the story and the people in it. Story is this: a girl named Kiera and her boyfriend named Denny move in with said boyfriend's best friend, Kellan, who happens to be a very hot singer in a band and Kiera falls head over heels with him and they start an affair. I won't go into details about what happens in case you want to read it (I beg of you, don't!) but I will tell you this: I have never hated a girl in a book as much as I hated Kiera. I mean I haaaated her! I loathed her. Everything that I despise in a person, was Kiera personified. She was someone I could not relate to at all, someone who I could not invest in, I could not give a crap about what happened to her or who she ended up with because in my mind she deserved to be completely alone. Or rather, she kinda deserved Kellan because in my eyes, he too was a spineless coward.
The girl was so selfish and manipulative, it was almost a crime. She said it herself at one point, how good it'd be if she could keep it going on with both guys. Without her boyfriend knowing, of course. That poor guy changed his whole life because of her and treated her like she was his everything and what did she do? She had sex with his best friend while her boyfriend was sleeping right across the hall! Wait, it gets better! She then went to her boyfriend's room and had sex with him because, get this, she felt guilty.
Ah, and they say romance is dead!

I mean, I could go on and on about the ridiculously hurtful stuff she did to both guys, we could be here all day. And what ended up happening? Both guys stroking her hair and telling her everything's gonna be OK and please don't cry and don't be sorry. Seriously?? Nuh uh. Unacceptable. She didn't pay ANY consequences for her actions whatsoever and not only that but when it came to the nitty gritty and couldn't make a decision between the two guys offering stupid excuses, her boyfriend made it oh so easy for her by making it for her, practically giving her a get-out-of-jail-free card. Why? Because she is Keira and they both loved her so much that they forgave her for screwing around both of them. I'm sorry but I just can't fathom that, it made me angry as hell. Kiera for me was an immature, spoiled brat who always craved validation, which everyone seemed so eager to give her, and she was still never satisfied.
That being said, I must admit that I get it. Not her, not at all. The story, up until one point. I get that even though you're in a relationship you can meet someone else and fall in love. Yes, of course, that can happen. I have no objection to that. You end it with the person you are with at the moment and get together with the new guy. What you don't do is screw around like nothing is wrong because you're in love with both of them so it doesn't really matters, right? Your intentions are pure. Don't kid yourself. You're a slut. Plain and simple. Even if she truly loved both guys which I highly doubt Kiera did, she had to ultimately choose one of them. Yes, it's hard and it will hurt whoever is being dumbed, but screwing the other guy is hurting him even more. If you're a girl and you're reading this imagine if your boyfriend did this to you. "Hey babe, um, so, I slept with a girl the other night. But no worries. I'm in love with her". Would you go "Oh OK then. Good on you. That doesn't bother me in the least" ? Somehow I doubt it! Ultimately what bothered me more was that Kiera was completely fake, a person that doesn't and can't exist in reality, whom you cannot connect with in any way, and who eventually ruins the the whole book. I mean, she couldn't connect with two guys who adored her, how can the reader possibly connect with her, feel for her?

Don't let me get started on Kellan and his smoldering blue eyes, and sexy lopsided grin. Ugh! What a best friend he was, uh? And he supposedly owed Denny a lot, which of course he repaid by screwing the living hell out of Denny's girlfriend fist chance he got.
I can't even.

The writing was pretty bad. I don't know if it had to do with the ridiculous length of the book (550 freaking pages of torture!) but it was very repetitive and I don't think I've seen the word "blush" and "tear" written so many times in a book. All everybody did was blush or cry, I'm telling you.

The only small tiny redeeming quality in Thoughtless was the steaming hot make out/ sex scenes which in every other context would shine. In this one, they were just good.

Unless you wanna get really really really frustrated and angry, don't touch this book with a ten-foot pole. Consider yourselves warned.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

READING: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Publication date: October 23d, 2012
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Paranormal, Faeries
Rating: 4,5/5
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.

Pros Julie Kagawa's writing. I mean, you just can't go wrong. She constantly delivers since the Iron King and I have no doubt she will continue to do so. There is not a dull moment in The Lost Prince, the writing is rhythmic and fluid, which makes the book practically unputdownable.

I loved how we get to see characters from previous books, it's no secret that Meghan, Ash and Puck make an appearance (along with others...). What I liked most about it though, was that they didn't over-stage the new characters, the story was all theirs to tell and not the old timers'. That way we get to see what our favorite characters are up to, without them being tacky, as I've personally witnessed in other spin offs.

Speaking of characters, I really liked Ethan and his goofy style. I know "goofy" is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Ethan, but I think that beneath all that tough guy act, he's hopelessly goofy and dopey. I don't know, he just seems that way to me. If there was one character I really really loved (besides a certain faery queen who I'm not gonna name), is Keirran. I was terrified at the beginning thinking that this was gonna be yet another triangle. Kagawa is much more clever than that though, and I totally give her credit for not taking the easy way out. So yeah, Keirran, apart from being dreamy and all that, is a really complex character. You never know what he's thinking or what he'll do. His story is definitely not over and the ending of Lost Prince suggests so. Can't wait to read more about him. For those of you who are like "What is she talking about?", you probably haven't read The Iron Knight. Pick it up now!

Cons The name of the next book and me coming across it :( Granted, I would have found out some day but did it have to be so soon? Now a million things are going through my mind, and let me tell you, not one of them is good!

In all honestly, I still don't know what the bad guys were about. I really don't. I had an idea but then I see them killing their own kind so I'm like "Yeah. No." I mean, I get the Iron Fey, born of the modern age and the progress of technology, I get Winter and Summer Court, I get the fairies that are in the InBetween, but these guys? I have no clue. I probably come off like a real moron here, but I really don't know. If anyone would care to enlighten me, I'd be forever grateful.

I don't get Kenzie. I'm sorry but I don't get her. I don't see the chemistry between her and Ethan. Ethan is awesome and Kenzie is a great girl undoubtedly, but together, they just don't click for me. They could easily be brother and sister.

But I'm just nitpicking here. The book is great, pick it up, read it, you'll have a great time.

This ebook has been given to me by NetGalley free of charge in exchange for a posted review on my blog.
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