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Lizreader's Blog

Also known as Liz on GR. I am here, but really just planting the seed. I am a student who likes all kinds of books, and I'll be honest about what I think about them.

Currently reading

The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1) - Sarah Rees Brennan This book is full of contradictions. It was good. It was bad. It was well plotted. It was cheaply plotted. The characters were good. The characters were bad. All and all, it's a really hard book to review so I'll write this review the best way I can.First off the positives:-Kami is actually a respectable heroine. She isn't all "ga-ga" for the male lead, but still cares enough about him. She is practical and pragmatic when she needs to be, but she doesn't sit around when things need to get done. She's not moody or insipid, and is actually quite intelligent. In the YA genre she is a refreshing read where she is not only strong, but she actually has a soft side. [Bonus: she's in the minority, which you don't see a lot of in novels in the YA genre.]-Jared is a multidimensional character you can't quite figure out...even at the end of the book. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Now the negatives:If I hadn't read "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl I think I would have had a different perspective of this book but there were TOO MANY SIMILARITIES.Kami- the female version of Ethan Wate with her telepathic ability with JaredJared- the male version of Lena DuchennesUncle Rob- the Uncle Macon character except more of Uncle Macon's brother--Hunter to be precise The whole "source" thing sounds too familiar to the wayfinder in Beautiful Creatures. I mean now that I think about it, they don't have a lot of similarities in print. However, if you have read it you will see what I mean. The writing: Now I will say as a slight positive the humor is quite good at times, but a lot of the times it isn't realistic at all. The conversations people have would never happen in real life. Who says "floozy"? Let's be honest or canoodling? Parents might say that, but not teenagers. The humor was funny, but it would never be said in real life conversations and that is where this book fails. There's no real sense of the characters having actual conversations, but more forced dialogue. GOOD WRITERS can achieve a sense of reality through their writing by knowing how people talk, and I don't think the author has a good understanding. The descriptions: this is supposed to be a Gothic book and it takes place in England! However, the setting is quite disappointing. The one thing I liked about Beautiful Creatures was the setting (even with all the cliches) it's why I gave the book a higher rating (that and the supporting characters). The setting in this book is VERY MINIMAL. It leaves nothing to the imagination and I can't even really visualize the town or the manor that well. It is a bit annoying since I love England, yet it didn't feel like a small quaint village or town one might find in England outside of London. It lacked in that particular department. The supporting characters: were either stale, inconsistent, and entirely too predicable. I called the bad guy earlier on in the story. It really wasn't that hard to figure out. The mystery: it wasn't that well integrated into the novel. There were some parts that were rushed others were it was too long, and I don't think I've ever read a mystery novel that felt less...well mysterious. Also, my biggest pet peeve: THE MAGIC SYSTEM!AHHHHHH! I love sorcerers so I thought I would like this book, BUT NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO! There is ABSOLUTELY NO EXPLANATION AT ALL BESIDES THE BARE MINIMUM. AUTHORS: EXPLAIN YOUR MAGICAL SYSTEM! The best magical writers have a well explained system that makes sense! M.K Hobson, Brandon Sanderson, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman (in some of his novels), and others. I love magical systems, but well thought out magical systems. Come on, even J.K Rowling has a semblance of a magical system even though it is not all that wholly imaginative. It's the least magical novel I have ever read when it comes to wizards/sorcerers/warlocks I didn't think that was possible. Overall:This book was too inconsistent in regards to supporting characters, dialogue, setting, plotting, magical system, but it does have a strong female lead and a good male lead too. It's why it gets two stars, at least it has a decent female lead who can be pragmatic as well as intelligent (when she wants to be). It needed more editing and a better plotter. Beautiful Creatures at least had a pretty awesome lineup of supporting characters and well devised setting (the magical system was explained throughout the series), but I don't have high hopes for this book. There are a lot better paranormal books out there (CHECK OUT KELLY CREAGH'S NEVERMORE! The BEST PR in YA I have EVER READ!)
The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles, #2) - Cassandra Clare I didn't think it was possible that I would dislike something with Magnus Bane in it, but this short story had nothing redeemable about my favorite character. The humor was forced, and wasn't natural at all with Magnus' character. The story wasn't that compelling. Really? A rescue mission without a bit of humor? This is Magnus we are talking about, he always has some humor. He can be serious too, but it didn't seem to fit him in this short story. I didn't laugh once, not even with naming the monkey "Ragnor." I am glad this wasn't long, but it's time I wish I had back. I am not so sure if I am going to read any more of the Bane Chronicles because the first was okay to good, but this was really, really disappointing. I think this story shouldn't have been published at all. This is the kind of story where I can see what people are saying about Cassandra Clare milking everything she has for its worth. I don't like TMI that much, but I adore TID. I just wish she would make Magnus...well Magnus. Normally, that hasn't been a problem. Now it is. What's the world coming to?
Aquamarine - Alice Hoffman I read this in sixth grade for a book report (meaning? I was a tween when I read this), and I remember liking it. It wasn't my favorite book I ever read (at that point Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" or "Holes" "The Giver" "Ender's Game"), but it wasn't the worst either (I read some books for my Accelerated Reader program that were pretty bad but I do not remember the titles). If I was to read it now? However, I was still sort of in my "reluctant reader" phase (sort of...I was coming out of it). I also liked mermaids in that time of my life, not so much anymore. Do I recommend it? Probably library it if you are interested, otherwise not really.
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2) - Stephanie Perkins I do have to say that Stephanie Perkins is moving up the ladder in terms of writers that I enjoy, BUT that being said I still do have some problems with Lola and the Boy Next Door. Overall, I did like this book. It wasn't as good as Anna and the French Kiss, but I will get to that later. What did I like?Cricket, obviously. He was a sweet, kind, and generous guy who was way better suited for Lola than her previous boyfriend. (However, he was a tad bit unbelievable in some of his character traits...and a little too nice)Lola was a fun character. At first I didn't really like her, but she warmed up to me by the end. (Maybe because she finally got some sense?)Cameo appearances of Anna and Etienne and how Anna is Lola's friend and boss at the movie theater! It was nice to know we got to see them again. [The European shrug is mentioned, ah!]The setting! As a San Francisco Bay Area native I love it when I read about books taking place in my favorite city. However, there is one problem I do have with the setting that I will mention later on.Andy and Nathan Nolan--Lola's parents. I loved that Stephanie Perkins went a little different, but she also played to San Francisco's advantage. (I also like that they lived in the Castro District too). However, unlike Anna and the French Kiss I wasn't completely sold on Lola and the Boy Next Door.What I didn't like:Max--I know we are not supposed to like him, but how in the world did Lola even think he was into her or even liked her for that matter. It isn't just the age difference with Lola being 17 and Max being 22, but other things as well. [I also have major problems when authors write about these kinds of relationships because it goes back to my high school days of hearing about sixteen year olds having boyfriends who are 21 and how wrong that was, and they thought there were in love! Authors should recognize they are setting an example to their readers. This kind of relationship is NOT OKAY. In the beginning you think Max is good, but you find out he isn't--although it happened a little too quick for my own liking.]What I also didn't like was the last sentence Max says to Lola makes me think he wasn't as honest as he likes people to be. What a hypocrite! My major beef with the setting is that Stephanie Perkins and the characters kept referring to a "train" to take Lola from San Francisco to Berkeley. THERE IS NOT TRAIN! IT'S CALLED BART (BAY AREA RAPID TRANSIT)! EVERYONE IN THE SFBA (San Francisco Bay Area) KNOWS THIS! THEY WOULD NEVER EVER CALL BART A TRAIN! EVER! THEY WOULD LAUGH! Especially if they are longtime natives like Lola! I had a HUGE problem with this because it is less realistic (is it even less realistic than a guy knowing how to do a teenage girl's hair and letting her paint his nails). As a SFBA native (at one time) anyone I know would crack up if they heard BART referred to as a train. Train would imply AMTRAK. Not even Caltrains! People would call Caltrains--Caltrains (which takes people from the Silicon Valley to San Francisco). I think Stephanie Perkins knew this, since she did do some research of San Francisco and Berkeley, but my guess is that she probably had this in one of her drafts but her editor said to cut it so it will cut down confusion or something. It's not confusing, BART is a mass transit electronic rail not a train! The first half of the book was extremely slow, and I didn't really care much for the characters--but the character growth started to shine a little more than halfway through and my attention was peaked (only because Lola realized that one she wasn't really in love with Max, she wanted to be--but honestly Max was a jerk and it was an unhealthy relationship to begin with). Overall, Lola and the Boy Next Door was a cute read. Not as good as Anna and the French Kiss (but I think it was because the pacing was better and I liked all the characters and their actions made sense!). I would recommend this to fans of chick lit or romance, and it's cute but not as good as Anna and the French Kiss (if a bit on the annoying side sometimes with Lola!)Although, as a little bit unrealistic as Cricket seems...it's nice to wonder if there are really nice guys like that out there. However, I'm still on the Etienne train. :)
In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War - Tobias Wolff, Luann Walther This is a breathtaking account of Tobias Wolff and his time during the Vietnam War. It's a compilation of moments that one wouldn't really expect during the wartime, and in a lot of ways disturbing and sympathetic at the same time. It's wonderfully written and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes reading nonfiction, or wants to know more about the Vietnam War.
The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1) - Julie Kagawa Actual Rating: 2.5-3 Well, I'm always going to be a critique when it comes to faerie books (or anything dealing with the fey) because I'm just hard to please. Julie Kagawa promises much in the first installation of "The Iron King" series. Knowing ahead of time that this is going to be four books makes me question where she is going to take it. However, the premise seems interesting.The thing about faerie books is that they can start to feel recycled because everyone uses the Shakespeare references of Tatiana, Oberon, Puck, and then there is Mab the Queen of Ice and Darkness. It's hard in a genre that sticks to the norm to stick out, and that is why I liked the idea of the Iron Fey. It puts a new spin on an old tale. To get down to the grit of this book it starts out with the character of Meaghan Chase and how she doesn't think she is all that spectacular and finds out, among other things her best friend is a fairy (I called her friend long before the author told us who he really was. If anyone has read a Midsummer Night's Dream they will know too. It's pretty darn obvious). Moving on, her brother gets abducted by the faeries (of course). Then it turns into an adventure story where she finds out her true heritage and finds her brother, Ethan. To get down to the grit of the story--there really isn't anything new here till the Iron Fey is introduced. I mean Meaghan is an understandable heroine, but still she feels less dimensional than I would like her to be. Robbie (Puck) is quite likeable, but then again who doesn't like a jokester?Ash--the love interest--is an interesting character. Of course, he is the traditional brooding, dark haired, green-eyed, mysterious character that our heroine instantly gravitates to. Despite the fact that this book should feel flat because of the plot and some of the characters, it manages to avoid the pitfalls (somehow). Still, there is an error when it comes to a part of the book where the character of Meaghan can't believe she has to go to New Orleans, when she was just in Detroit (and she's originally from Louisiana to begin with). It was a little perplexing, since she already had gone through it once. One, the world seems pretty well realized with a good amount of descriptions that help the reader imagine the world that Meaghan is navigating. The action is pretty well written as well. The book is light fare, but I am wondering where this series will go. I am intrigued, but I hope it picks up as the series continues. A solid first book of a series.
The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2) - Julie Kagawa Yeah, this series started out promising, but I don't have the willpower to continue onward through this book.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America - Timothy Egan The Big Burn by Timothy Egan was a required text for my environmental politics class. What I liked about this book was that it gave an insight to the creation of the National Parks, and before I read this book I thought the National Parks were one of the easiest policies to put into place. Not at all, in fact it was a fight! A fight against the big businesses at the time, a fight against prosperity in the West, and a fight for conservation and what is important to all of us. This book gives a good insight into the companionship between Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pichot, and how they fought to bring the national parks to become a reality. As far as nonfiction goes, it reads like a novel with a story and good characters. I found the friendship between Gifford and Teddy to be dynamic as well as humorous when it came to their wrestling matches. What I also liked was that it showed various characters from different backgrounds from African Americans working in the forest service, who were once see as something besides who they were and were heroes. To Italian immigrants who worked for the forest service, and their story. This book gives a good amount of insight into one of America's greatest achievements...at the same time one of the largest wildfires that made it all possible and even then it still was a large problem. This was a really good read, but the reason I am giving it three stars is that it could lag at times otherwise I would give it four stars.
Lips Touch: Three Times - Jim Di Bartolo, Laini Taylor First off all, I'll admit I can see why Laini Taylor gets a lot of hoopla and that this is going to be a long review.Now, my first encounter with Ms. Taylor's work was Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which to be perfectly honest did not live up to the hype. The writing could be off at times, a little too purple prosy, and her metaphors sometimes didn't make a wink of sense. Her plotting was off, and the characterization rather poor. However, this book Lips Touch Three Times is completely different.Also, it was kind of hard to give this a star rating because the stories differed in quality. Overall, it's a four but I'll give the stories each an individual rating. However, her writing is gorgeous and in some places just absolutely breathtaking. Where to begin?This isn't technically a full fledged novel but a collection of three short stories that only intertwine because of...a kiss. Oh boy, right?WRONGThis collection of short stories isn't what one would expect at first glance. I'm going to break my review down into the three stories and what I thought about each one.Goblin FruitStar Rating: 3The collection starts off with solid story about a girl in modern times and how she runs into a new boy at school, who isn't what he seems to be. He's a goblin, and her grandmother has warned her about them. The story is about wanting. About wanting to be loved, kissed, cared for, and how those wants could ultimately lead to our demise in our own choices. What I liked? The character of Kizzy, and what she ultimately decided to do in the end. It might not have been right, but at least she was flawed. Her family was also intriguing as well since they came from the old country and their traditions were a bit peculiar. The mythology. If there is one thing I do like about Laini is her take on mythology and diving into different genres, which ultimately make this collection of short stories nothing short of amazing (in some aspects, but in others not so much).What I didn't like? Besides being too short for my own liking, nothing. Spicy Little Curses Such as TheseStar Rating: 2.5It's about an old Bitch, a demon, a young girl who is cursed and her love who she kills with her voice. What I liked:The Old Bitch was an interesting character as well as how she could make shadows disconnect from their owners. That's a bit creepy if you ask me. The mythology of hell and why the Old Bitch goes down into hell to save children is fairly interesting. What I didn't like:This story in the collection was the weakest in my mind. It suffered from a bad case of "insta-love." In the first story, you know that Kizzy wants to be wanted and that would lead her to cling to whoever at least shows a bit of interest in her. That makes sense, but a man who falls in love with a woman from just looking at her journal? Really? Doesn't work that way in my books. I also wanted the world building to be explained a bit more in depth. It wouldn't have taken a lot more time. I didn't feel as compelled with the characters, except the Old Bitch. She was interesting and my favorite character in the entire story. The setting in India didn't really flourish in my mind, which is surprising since the writing is rather prosaic. Still, the characterization felt rather shallow for me between the two love interests who do share a kiss.HatchlingStar Rating: 5 STARS!Esme wakes up one day to find that she has one brown eye and one blue, when the other day it was brown. This leads to some rather unexpected discoveries of her mother, her origins, and a strange young man with black hair and fang like teeth. What I liked:THIS IS THE BEST STORY I HAVE EVER READ BY LAINI TAYLOR! If she could write more stories just like this one then I will be completely on board with her and buy every book she ever writes if they are like this one. Oh Lord, where to begin? The characters are nicely sketched and flawed. I think because this story was longer than the other two there was time for more development. The mythology was breathtaking and the writing just seemed even more top notch than the other two stories. I would read this story over and over again. I also loved the themes in this story. They were the strongest themes of finding humanity, love, and what is in ourselves. Best of all, it's not forced on you at all! You can discern it for yourself. The ultimate "show, don't tell," which Laini does seem to have a good knack at. I liked her portrayal of magic and of the mythology surrounding the druj. It's fabulous and amazing. This is what I believe people see and her, and I honestly love it. AH! I'm jealous now. What I didn't like?This story doesn't have anything I dislike, but for scaring me for a moment! Overall ThoughtsI can see why people like Laini Taylor, but she's too uneven for me at times. Her last story was amazing, the first story good, and the second story was just okay for me. I know in short story collections the stories will vary in quality. It's just...I wish she wasn't so uneven with her storytelling capabilities. She's obliviously a talented writer when it comes to the craft. She does invoke a lot of sensory images that are compelling and fresh, which most writers should do. She has a good handle on integrating themes into her work for the most part. It's just her characterization is a bit spotty. Anyways, I can see why people are fangirling over Laini, but I definitely think Lips Touch Three Times is SO MUCH BETTER THAN DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE.Also, the illustrations are gorgeous with a capital G! They add another dimension to each story. What I also will say about this book in my concluding comments is that I like how Laini Taylor hearkens back to a more fairy-telling approach, but with not the outright "Once upon a time..." approach. She's a modern storyteller that I believe has the ability to be a female Neil Gaiman, but she's not there yet in my opinion. She could be though, she very well could be. Give me more stories like "Hatchling" and I'll be on board one hundred percent.Maybe I'll read her faerie books...and wait till she's done with Daughter of Smoke and Bone to return back to her. In the meantime, I'll just read Hatchling over and over again. *Sigh*
Leashing the Tempest (Arcadia Bell, #2.5) - Jenn Bennett This little novella turned out to be better than the second book in the series, which is quite funny when one thinks about it. The character development was good for the character of Jupe, which makes sense since this story revolves around him. We also get to see Kar-Yee and Lon and Arcadia too. It's a quick little read, and I enjoyed it. It will have to do in tying me over till the third book comes out. I needed the sequel yesterday, but oh well the wait continues...
Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell, #2) - Jenn Bennett For some reason I didn't like this book as much as the first. It's not to say it was bad because it wasn't, but I felt like it was a bit more crude than the first of the series and I also thought that the character growth was a bit lacking in two of the characters. However, there was more growth with the character of Jupe. I am going to continue this series, but I was a bit dissapointed with this book.
What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1) - Cassandra Clare Although too short for my own liking, wickedly humorous and you get to know Magnus's relationship with his fellow warlocks. You get to see Magnus pull his warlock friends into his shenanigans. I would have liked to see a bit more of a serious note, considering not only Magnus can be funny but serious too. It's hinted at, but not the best that it can be done. Still, for a short read it was fun and I look forward to the next e-book installment. However, you still don't know why Magnus isn't allowed in Peru after all the adventures he had!
Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1) - Jenn Bennett First off, I am glad I found an adult urban fantasy that does not deal with detectives. I love Harry Dresden, but he's the definite. No one else will even come close. That being said, I wanted to find another adult urban fantasy because let's be honest: YA can get a bit dull and honestly cliche. Anyways, I am glad I found Jenn Bennet's "Kindling of the Moon."What I liked:-Magic systemI liked how inventive her magical system was. It's sometimes hard to find a magical system that I like. This one is rather interesting.-The characters! Arcadia, Lon, and can't forget Jupe (Jupiter). I mean really? Well conceived with real flaws and sympathetic. They are also interesting with their own back stories and quirks. -Great villains! Meaning you don't know who the real villain is till the end (and when I found out I wanted to punch them so badly. I'm not a violent person either so that is saying something)-Plotting was tight and rather quick. What I didn't like:-The age difference between Lon and Arcadia. I'm willing to give some difference, but it's a bit more than I can take. I'll see how it pans out in the upcoming books. Although, then again I like books where the age difference is astronomical by a few hundred years so in comparison this isn't too bad. It's actually more...normal? Still...-Although I like Jupe, I sometimes think he's just in their for comic relief and for plot development. I don't want to think that, but it's hard not too at times in this book. Still, I hope to see his character grow in the upcoming books. Conclusion: This is a well concocted adult urban fantasy novel and I recommend it to fans of adult urban fantasy. Also, the one song that came to mind when reading this book: Tegan and Sara's "Walking with a Ghost"

The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene - C. Patrick O'Donnell, Thomas P. Roche, Edmund Spenser This is probably one of the hardest books (well epic verse poems) I have ever read, but it is one of my favorites! I had to read this book in my English literature class, and I ended up writing my final essay on the Red Crossed Knight. I absolutely adored the language in this book, and even though the metaphors could get a bit tiresome it is an amazing work of fiction. **Although it did keep me frustrated from time to time...**

Moonset (Legacy of Moonset Series #1)

Moonset - Scott Tracey Well this was a particularly refreshing read.For one, a well written first person male point of view (however given the author is male it should be a given). Second off, a book I had hoped to find a Jim Butcheresque book for young adults. In this book "Moonset" it revolves around a group of "siblings" Justin, Jenna, Bailey, Cole, and Malcom. However, only two of them Justin and Jenna share a parent and are half-siblings. The others are siblings because they grew up together as the children of Moonset, the coven their parent's were in. A coven that went from the light to the dark, and the children have to answer to their parent's wrongs.In a lot of ways this is a story about legacies and to pave ones own path given a history that they will never run away from. I really enjoyed this story, however it felt a bit slow for awhile. However, it picked up at the end of the novel. In terms of technical parts of this book the main antagonist in this book was rather easy to identify after awhile, but the rest of the story wasn't. In the way of characters it was refreshing to have individual voices of the characters. You knew who was speaking and the mannerisms they would have as individuals hard to find among YA fiction sometimes. I also thought the magic was fun in this book too, and I liked how he related it to language. He knows me well as a reader and how I am a sucker for grimoires and spell words.Overall, this was a pleasant experience and I very much recommend it if someone likes Jim Butcher and good urban fantasy stories that are a bit different than the usual bunch.
That Time I Joined the Circus - J.J. Howard Updated review 4/11/13I had pretty high expectations going into this book, but what I got was less than developed characters, questionable plot points, and a love interest that was rather dull and unexplained. There wasn't much to this book that felt as fresh as the synopsis promises. The circus wasn't really that fleshed out, and it didn't have any "WOW" factor either. All the characters felt like they were put there to move the plot along, rather than to be there to create more depth to the overall work. The music in the book, which although I like in some books, didn't really feel well integrated into the novel to make it work. All and all, I do not recommend this novel because it does not bring anything new to the table. Not only could this book used some more drafting, but rather some more richness in the atmosphere and a better back story for the mother leaving and the father dying.