Thursday, January 30, 2014

Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin

Becoming Alpha by Aileen ErinReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 267 Pages
Release Date: December 17, 2013
Publisher: Ink Monster
Narration: First Person: Tessa
Genre: Paranormal/Werewolves
Challenge: None
Source: Bought

The Alpha Girl Series
Book One: Becoming Alpha
Book Two: Avoiding Alpha
Book Three: Unknown

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Goodreads Synopsis:
Tessa McCaide has a unique talent for getting into trouble. Then again, it isn’t easy for a girl with visions to ignore what she sees. Luckily Tessa and her family are leaving California and moving halfway across the country, giving her the perfect opportunity to leave her reputation as “Freaky Tessa” behind. 

But Tessa doesn’t realize that kissing the wrong guy in her new Texas town could land her in far more trouble than she ever imagined. Like being forced to attend St. Ailbe’s Academy, a secret boarding school for werewolves. 

Even if the wrong guy did accidentally turn her into one of “them” and doom her to attending the weirdest high school ever, Tessa can’t help her growing attraction to the mysterious Dastien Laurent.

When vampires attack St. Alibe’s and her visions pinpoint an enemy in their midst, Tessa realizes that boy drama and her newfound canine tendencies might just be the least of her problems.

My Review:
Your typical werewolf story, but entertaining nonetheless. 

In the beginning, I enjoyed reading about the main character and connected with her instantly, but as the novel progressed, I grew more and more irritated by her irrational behavior. She was still strong and brave, someone who fought back even when the odds were against her....but there was a point when it just became too much. It seemed like every single time there was a chance to beat someone, she just had to take it. Always, constantly having to one-up someone to show them who the boss was, even if they were far wiser than her. Once or twice, I have no problem with. In fact, I even cheered for her the first two times. But it happened countless times after, which annoyed me ceaselessly. Plus, she became a bitch after she turned into a werewolf. Some of her snappiness can be brushed off as heightened emotions, but not all of it. 

Another thing that bothered me was the lack of plausibility of the story. It seemed like everyone and their mother knew about the existence of werewolves in this certain community, but the rest of the world didn't. What's to keep the "norms," as the werewolves call them, from going to the press and exposing their kind to the rest of the world? Wouldn't it be a little suspicious to have a town infested with huge wolves? Don't you think the aforementioned problem, and the mysterious happenings around that town, would be enough to draw government attention to it? Plus, another thing I had a hard time believing was that Tessa was the first human to ever be unintentionally turned. 60 years in the same location and no other werewolf has ever accidentally lost control?

If you look at this novel from a distance, everything seems fine and dandy. It's only when you actually delve into the story, examining certain things, when you discover that everything isn't as perfect as it seems. Other than those two issues, I quite enjoyed this read. The supporting characters were awesome, especially Axel, and the writing was up to par. Will I be reading the sequel? Possibly.

Heroine- 3/5
Romance- 2.5/5
Action- 4/5
Writing- 4/5
Overall- 3.5/5

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow's Knot by Erin BowReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 368 Pages
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Narration: Third Person: Otter
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: Stand Alone
Challenge: None
Source: Library

Order On Amazon: Hardcover
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Hardcover & Nook

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Goodreads Synopsis:
In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.

My Review:

DNF. Gave up at page 183. My review only reflects the part of the novel that I read.

The story wasn't completely horrible. As most books do, Sorrow's Knot had its strengths and its weaknesses, However, I do put extra emphasis on the weakness part. On the up side, the theme was original and the writing flowed nicely. However, it's important to note that just because the writing style is poetic and seemingly profound, doesn't mean that it makes sense. On the contrary, it can sound like a whole lot of gibberish. 

Nothing was thoroughly explained in this novel. We were left with half-answers, grasping at straws, wondering what the hell we were supposed to know. Concrete ideas were withheld, and I felt like there were too many contradictions. Either that, or I subconsciously jumped to conclusions, because I wasn't quite sure what to believe. The characters were also very dry and emotionless. There comes a time in the book where one of the characters kills someone by accident. Even if it wasn't on purpose, don't you think the normal response would be to cry or show some outwardly sign of deep remorse? Perhaps, go into a state of shock or horror? Nope. Instead you can just stare blankly at the body while it's being dragged away. 

Another thing that didn't feel realistic was the overall atmosphere of the townspeople. Basically, all they did was stare and whisper to each other conspiratorially. Even when there was a crazy woman in their midst, a woman with the capability of ending all their lives, they just calmly questioned her on what she was doing. Despite the blatantly obvious information right in front of their faces POINTING TO HER UNSTABLE MIND. What kind of society is this? In fact, we don't even get to know anybody in this town, tribe, whatever you want to call it. Well, maybe with the exception of two or three people, but other than that, nothing more than a glimpse of their faces or outwardly appearances.

I never became immersed in this world. There was little action, at least from the portion I managed to get through. I've read from other reviews that it picks up towards the end when the love interest makes a sudden appearance, but sadly, I just can't find it in myself to care. 

This story seriously had a HUGE amount of potential, and it always saddens me to see that potential wasted. I, for one, am completely fascinated by Native American culture and their interactions with nature, which is why I started this with such high hopes. Unfortunately, Sorrow's Knot just....didn't do it for me.

Heroine- 2/5
Romance- N/A
Love interest doesn't enter 
until the latter portion of the book.
Action- 2/5
Dragged, and dragged, and dragged.
Writing- 4/5
Unique and well stylized. However, it does 
make the plot feel slower at times, 
especially in the climatic scenes.
Overall- 2/5

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (M)

Shadowfell by Juliet MarillierReading Level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 410 Pages
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books
for Young Readers
Narration: First Person: Neryn
Genre: Fantasy
Challenge: None
Source: Library

The Shadowfell Series:
Book One: Shadowfell
Book Two: Raven Flight
Book Three: The Caller

Order On Amazon: Paperback
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Hardcover & Nook

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Goodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec. 

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

My Review:
Started out strong, but failed to keep hold of my attention. Basically, 90% of the novel involved walking from one place to another. Running away from something life-threatening was considered an action scene. *Gasp* The protagonist, Neryn, was the type of strong, courageous lead I expected after reading the synopsis, but.....I couldn't seem to connect with her. On paper, she was my ideal heroine, yet in my head, she felt two dimensional and hollow. Intelligence wise, I'm proud to say that she doesn't suffer from TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) syndrome. Instead of letting a pair of dreamy eyes lower her inhibitions, she remained cautious and always inspected the evidence first, thinking logically instead of emotionally. The world building was really well done. I loved the different descriptions of the fey and the accents certain characters had. On the other hand, the plot was unoriginal. 

Evil king terrorizing the kingdom in his quest for power? Check. 
Protagonist with bad-ass skills who's destined to save the world? Check. 

Nothing new there. Although Shadowfell had decent world-building and a capable, but admittedly lacking, female lead, it didn't satisfy me. Throughout the book, I found myself skimming the pages, out of my mind with boredom. Honestly, I'm surprised I even had the tenacity to finish it. Won't be reading the sequel.

Overall- 2.5/5