Speed Reviews

I know, it’s been forever. No excuses here – or at least, I have them, but I won’t bore you with them.

I have officially reached the 1/5 mark in my resolution to read 50 books this year. I’ve been posting the books I read on facebook and a friend suggested I review them all so she knows which ones to borrow from me. Well, Lena, I don’t have the time to write long reviews on each book but I DO have the time to ‘speed review’ them. So here I go:

1. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie is the kind of writer that I want to be: her prose is absolutely beautiful. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good love story. I really loved Sam and Grace, the main characters, primarily because their strength was entirely individual. They were in love but you got the feeling they were each strong enough to survive without the other. I suppose my only disappointment was that we never got to see their love grow or develop – they entered the story in love, and while they faced challenges, I didn’t get the feeling that anything really changed over the course of the book. I kind of wish they weren’t already in love when the book began. This may say more about the kinds of stories I like rather than the quality of the book, however.

2. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

This book wasn’t my favourite of Dessen’s (that honor goes to Along for the Ride), probably because I didn’t identify with the character quite as much. This contemporary YA is about Halley and Scarlett, two teenage girls who are learning about love, sex, friendship and parents. I think I would have liked this book more if it was from Scarlett’s point of view. Scarlett has a lot more at stake and demonstrates much greater strength of character than Halley for most of the novel. This was a good, well-written book, but not particularly a favourite of mine.

3. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
My first piece of advice has to be: just soldier through the first 100 pages and you will be rewarded. Other than that first 100, this book was amazing. I read Marchetta’s earlier work when I was in primary/early highschool and it grabs me now just as much as it did back then. It is a complex, emotional book and I’m really wishing I wrote this review sooner so I could better explain its merits. Highly recommended.

4. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

This book has the freshest voice I’ve read in any adult novel. I LOVED Odd. I’m so glad I picked it up because the title turned me off a little and not having read any Koontz before, I didn’t really know what to expect. The strength of this novel is in its beautiful characterisations, but the plot will keep you reading just as well. The ending was spoiled for me, but it still made me cry. I love this novel so much. Warning: it is a thriller, not a character peice. If you don’t like paranormal or mysteries (both favourites of mine!) you may not like this book. But read it anyway.

5. Neptune Noir ed. by Rob Thomas

My first non-fic for the year. Read this if you love Veronica Mars and enjoy a good academic essay. I loved it, but unless you can tick both columns, I wouldn’t recommend it.

6. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

This was one of my second hand bookstore finds, if you remember. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. I’ve read interviews with the author before that made me wary, especially the parts where she says her character is based off herself (does this strike you as narcissistic at all?) but it turns out this particular personality type is much easier to handle in a character than in a real person. I really enjoyed this book, and it has definitely motivated me to read more mysteries. It’s a quick read, but a very enjoyable one and I’m looking forward to finding the second in the series.

7. Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

I started to realise, while reading this book, that I’m not a big lover of contemporary YA (books for teenagers set in the real world). I think this is because there seems to be less at stake. Give me some paranormal angst or a good mystery any day. I did liked this book for what it was, however. One qualm: There was one character (the MC’s dad) who really, really frustrated me, to the point that I would get irritable in the real world after reading, and I don’t think this was resolved well enough in the end. I don’t think I would recommend this book unless I knew it fit your specific tastes. MJ, you are a hilarious person and you brighten up Twitter for me, but I don’t think I’m a big fan of your books.

8. Skinned by Robin Wasserman

I found it really hard to get through this book. Lia’s life SUCKS. There never seems to be much forward momentum, except through the slow passage of time as Lia trudges through life. It might appeal to you if you are a big sci-fi fan, but  be warned, that once you get through the painfully depressing beginning-middle-and-end of this novel, there isn’t any payoff whatsoever at the end. It never really concludes. I suppose this is meant to keep you wanting more, but even in a trilogy, in which the plot never fully concludes until the final book, I think there should be a firm denoument for each title. If I were to recommend a book like this, I would turn your attention to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, which I liked a lot more. I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

9. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

I’ve had this problem with a lot of YA books recently –  they all have very intriguing premises but disappoint in the execution. With this book I had the opposite problem. Killer Unicorns. That premise either excites you or makes you cringe. I’ve never really been a unicorn or horse person so this made me cringe a little, I’ll admit. I ended up picking it up because I enjoy Peterfreunds blog, and I am SO GLAD I did. This book is the most exciting YA I’ve read in a long time. The world building is amazing. The characters strong. The structure satisfying. The payoff immense. I love, love, love this book. I’ve been getting really annoyed lately by how often reviewers compare any urban fantasy with a female MC with Buffy, this is one book that really deserves the comparison. I can see this series filling a hole that the end of Buffy left in my heart. I wish I had written this book. It’s not often that a book pulls me so deeply into its world as this has and I can’t wait for the next in the series. Diana, you are my idol!

10. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The premise of this book was pretty amazing: it’s a post-apocalyptic romance zombie novel. I’ve loved post-apocalyptic novels ever since I started reading Isabelle Carmody in primary school and I was so excited about this. I think I should start by saying this was a very well-written novel and I am planning to read the next in the series. But I did find myself a bit disappointed. Maybe it was the author’s intention, but the main character really grated on my nerves, especially at the end. She is incredibly selfish and despite the blurb I don’t think it should be called a romance novel. Maybe a novel about self discovery. A novel about self-involvement, even as the whole world crumbles around you. I am really looking forward to the companion novel because, having read its first chapter, the character seems to be an anti-Mary and I think I will like her a lot more. I do recommend it, just not as highly as I would were Mary someone I’d like to meet.

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Speed Reviews

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