Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday[22]: Matched (Matched, #1) by Ally Condie

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Finals are coming… Lots of tests and big projects due, plus reviews to write and books to read; it’s way too much work. But, ah, whatever. I’m doing alright (as far as I know, at least). Been doing quite a bit of homework, plus I got several reviews written up and some books read over the weekend. Makes me feel productive, which is nice. Still have quite a bit of work, though, and I will till next week is over. I’m hoping to get several books finished, though, but I just don’t have enough time.
Here’s what I’m reading right now (which, I know, the last book in the series just came out, and I’ve had this book since it came out, so I am so slow, but whatever):

Matched (Matched, #1) by Ally Condie
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Publisher: Penguin (Dutton)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


“‘They’re not the same,’ I tell him. ‘They don’t connect like yours do. I’ve seen your kind of writing before, but I don’t know what it’s called.’
‘Cursive,’ he says softly. ‘It’s harder to read, but it’s beautiful. It’s one of the old ways of writing.’” (Hardback, pg. 173)

What are you reading right now?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Manga Review: Black Butler, Volume 10, by Yana Toboso

               Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Yen Press
Spoilers?: Somewhat minor, with the big reveals kept secret.
Volumes: 15+

Goodreads Synopsis:

With his royally sanctioned dinner party a shambles and a murderer on the loose, Earl Ciel Phantomhive is a veritable prisoner in his own home, alongside those of his guests who still live. And in the most shocking of turns, the young earl now finds himself without his indispensible manservant, Sebastian. But as the mystery deepens, there arrives upon the young earl's doorstep an odd vicar, wearing an insolent smile and an Inverness cape that flaps and splashes behind him... Is this mysterious thirteenth guest the perpetrator of the crimes that have bloodied the halls of Phantomhive Manor?

Available on Amazon.


This volume continued the murder mystery from the last, and I’m a bit upset about this, but my enthusiasm for this series has lessened a little bit. I still like it, but I really want to like it more. I just hope that it kicks back up.
So, (Sir) Arther (Conan Doyle) is still trying to solve the mystery, with Ciel and others pushing him and each other, and some of the others are freaking out over not knowing who it is. They’ve got three, including Sebastian, dead, and none of the clues are adding up to one person. The servants (aww, I love them, and they’re crying…) are freaking out a bit, wanting to help but not sure what to do without Sebastian’s guidance, but Tanaka is doing fantastic by taking over his spot for the moment.
And then, oh no!, someone new shows up and he’s suspicious, but Ciel knows him and his name is Jeremy, and it turns out that Sebastian called for him with the bird from the last volume. He’s here to help. He looks over the crime scenes and the dead bodies, and all of the guests look through each other’s suitcases, thinking maybe someone is hiding a clue, but nothing really helpful is found. One of the guests (who works for the queen) has to sneak back to look at Sebastian’s body, thinking that maybe he’s not dead, but he is. And then they set Ciel up, thinking that the killer is out for him.
And then we find out who the killer is, and, while I will not spoil this, it was not as exciting as I’d been hoping. Not bad, but not as thrilling a scene as I wanted, although the ending of the volume is very nice. All of the guests leave, but Arthur is suspicious of Jeremy, because of something he said, so he rushes back to the manor, barges inside, and speaks of his suspicions. And then we (Arthur) see that Jeremy is actually not Jeremy but---! And while I know who Jeremy actually is, I will not spoil who he actually is, leaving some questions for those who have not yet read the book. But it’s actually rather exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Arthur. Is he going to be sticking around for a bit longer? I hope so, as I do rather like him.
Also, is Jeremy an actual person that Ciel knows, then, or is he just a character that someone pretends to be every once in a while? I’m curious.
I’m sure some new story line will be started in the new volume, and I look forward to that. I do not have the next book yet, as I am slow, and it might be a while, but I’m sure it’ll be good.

Novel Review: The Fury and Dark Reunion (The Vampire Diaries, #3-4) by L. J. Smith

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Rating (Out of 5): ~2.5
Publisher: HarperCollins/Teen
Spoilers?: Very Minor/Yes for the previous book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Elena: transformed, the golden girl has become what she once feared and desired.

Stefan: tormented by losing Elena, he's determined to end his feud with Damon once and for all--whatever the cost. But slowly he begins to realize that his brother is not his only enemy.

Damon: at last, he possesses Elena. But will his thirst for revenge against Stefan poison his triumph? Or can they come together to face one final battle?

Collected here in one edition are the third and fourth volumes of The Vampire Diaries, a riveting conclusion to the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

Available on Amazon.


I was expecting to dislike this book more than I did, so that’s good, I guess.
So, I’ve had this book on my shelf for years. I read the first two books years ago, before the TV series started, and really liked it (but, you know, I was in, like, middle school), and I specifically remembered the cliffhanger. I wanted to read this one, but for some reason never really got around to it. The last couple weeks, though, I caught up with the last season (as I was so behind), and got in the mood to read this.
As I said, I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. Not that I enjoyed it very much, but still.
Now, just to forewarn you, I will surely be comparing this book to the television series, no doubt. Because I love the TV show, and don’t love this so much.
At the end of the last book, Elena had been turned into a vampire, which is exactly where this one started. Elena, having been turned by Damon, has special feelings toward him, but still loves Stefan. And, in this book, it wasn’t much of a struggle to decide which one she would be with, and which one I wanted her with, even if I wasn’t really a huge fan of either.
Briefly what happened in this book: Elena has feelings for both boys and doesn’t know which one she wants, even while leaning toward Stefan. Damon and Stefan fight a lot. They find out some greater power is coming after them. They fight one big enemy in the first book, something huge and rather unexpected happens to Elena, and they fight another big enemy in the second book. There’s more focus on Bonnie in the second book, and she has a rather big attraction to all the boys. There’s some squabbling with their classmates and townspeople, who kind of know there are supernatural things but are ignoring them.
I was trying to be very vague there, because I don’t want to spoil the thing that happens to Elena, because it is rather big and surprising.
The writing was not very good. It’s not technically bad, as it can be pretty and it’s not droning or boring, but it just didn’t really keep me interested. I’m not really sure why, but it just didn’t make me want to read more. Also, there was practically no information given about what happened in the previous books. Now, if I had just finished the other books, I wouldn't have minded or really noticed. But I read the other two books several years ago, so I did not remember the little details, and the differences between the show and book. It didn't bother me too much, partly because I just didn't care enough, but it really would have helped.
Now: Elena. In the first couple books, I remember her being much more of a kind of, almost bitch. She was a bit selfish and forceful and superficial and spoiled. I didn’t really care for her too much. In this book, though, she wasn’t that bad. Still a little forceful, demanding, but not as bad as I thought she’d be. (In the TV show, she’s very selfless and nice and whatever, but overall a better person.) I kind of liked her as a vampire in this book, aside from her unhealthy feelings toward Damon at the beginning. And I really don’t understand how what happened to Elena, happened. She was just exposed to a little bit of sun, I didn’t think it should have been that bad, but whatever.
I really wasn’t expecting that to happen to Elena, nor was I expecting to see so much of Bonnie in the last book. I kind of liked Bonnie, though. She has a tiny fire inside her, is a bit timid and scared, but she’s nice and I didn’t mind her. (Very different from the Bonnie in the TV show, who can be a bit of an aggravating bitch sometimes.) Caroline is a bit of a whiny, superficial jerk on here, and is so much more awesome on the TV show.
I didn’t really care for all the romantic angst, though. First Elena is unsure about Stefan and Damon, which I knew was going to happen, and which actually wasn’t that bad. But then, in the last book, Bonnie is admiring and getting all fired up about all of the boys, and I just did not like that. It was just too much, and while not really forced, I just wanted her to choose one boy to fawn over, and I’m not even sure which guy I’d prefer.
Stefan is nicer and more calm in this, and I liked him more. Damon I remember as being much more of a jerk, maybe a douche, but to me it was obvious that he was only hiding all the good inside. I kind of liked him more than I was expecting, but the Damon on the TV show is still better. Now, Matt. In the TV show, I really quite love Matt. The actor is fantastic, and I just kind of love him. And he deserves so much more! I don’t like him with any of the options he has, and I don’t like that. In this, I still liked him, but not quite as much. He’s better in the TV show. As is Alaric, who has a much bigger part and personality in the show.
Now, the enemies: Tyler. In the TV show, he’s not really an enemy, but I’m not a huge fan of him there, and he’s just a big jerk here. There are also two big enemies here, and they both kind of just suck. Not as in badly made characters so much as that they’re just not as likable. They are both in the TV show, and they have so much more personality, and are done so well on there.
I was a bit surprised by how much of the books had been put into the show. I thought that it mainly only had the same basic plot, but there are a lot of smaller elements used in both. There are still a lot of differences, thought, like with how much more expanded everything is on the show than in the books. Also, a lot of the characters were changed, which I was surprised by. Elena’s aunt is a completely different person, Alaric, Tyler, Bonnie, and Caroline have different personalities, Bonnie and Tyler’s last names are different, Matt and Vickie aren’t related, there’s an extra best friend to Elena who’s not in the show. So many small differences that make such a huge change, that I was surprised.
So, really, my point is that: you should go watch the TV show. It’s better. (Well, that’s not actually the point, but…) And that, while this wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be, I’m still done with the books. I do not have any plans to be picking up any of the spin-offs. I am very content with sticking to the show.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Novel Review: Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1) by Patricia Briggs

              Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Penguin (Ace)
Spoilers?: No/Very Minor.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mercy Thompson's life is not exactly normal. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a VW bus for a vampire. But then, Mercy isn't exactly normal herself.

Available on Amazon.


I have had this book on my shelf for way too long, and I even started it a while ago and then paused it. Finally, though, I decided to actually read it, and really quite enjoyed it. I was even a bit surprised by how much.
Moon Called is the first in the series, and it’s about Mercedes Thompson, a coyote shapeshifter who lives next door to a werewolf alpha, works with a gremlin, works for vampires (as well as humans), and is involved with many other supernatural creatures.
Mercedes, a.k.a. Mercy, is a mechanic, and she knows what she’s doing. Having mostly grown up with werewolves, she knows how to handle them well, when to push and when not to. She knows when to ask questions, and how to deal with creatures, and even when she should back off and concede. She doesn’t seem to just barge into things without actually thinking about it, while still having a spark inside her, which I very much like. She also dislikes when women are put down, are thought of as less, because of their gender, which I also liked about her. And she’s humorous; fun to be inside the head of.
I just really liked her, and look forward to getting to know her even better in the next books.
In this book, we not only get to know the other characters in Mercy’s life, but her past. She goes back home and sees her kind-of-adopted-father, we get some information about her mother, and an old flame comes into the picture. Quite a bit happened in this book, what with her past relations and her new ones having problems.
I really liked the plot movement, the characters, the interactions between them all. I was surprised by this, and very glad, as it caused me to get through this book rather quickly (although longer than I wanted to, as I really just wanted to finish the book, but I had all this homework that took precedence, as well as sleep that I needed to do…).
Now, the romance. For some reason (perhaps because of the other books I have read in this genre), I was expecting a lot more romance. There was very little, though. We’re set up with two guys, both very good and interesting, but nothing actual physical happened (aside from a tiny bit of kissing), nor did much talking about it happen. There was a lot more action-based stuff happening that Mercy needed to focus on, which she knew, and she did.
And it says quite a bit that there was almost no romance in the majority of the book, and yet I still really liked it.
I hope to read the next one really soon, because this was a really good start, and I hope it only gets better from here.

Novel Review: The Royal Pain (Alaskan Royal Family, #2) by MaryJanice Davidson

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp. (Brava Books)
Spoilers?: No/Very Minor.

Goodreads Synopsis:

 In a world nearly identical to ours, the North won the Civil War, Ben and JLo got married, and everyone dresses well to attend the Grammys. Oh, and Russia never sold Alaska to the U.S. Instead, Alaska is a rough, beautiful country ruled by a famously eccentric royal family, including oldest daughter, Princess Alexandria, whose acid wit and bad case of insomnia have turned her into a tabloid darling, a palace problem, and overall...

The Royal Pain
PMarine biologist Dr. Shel ("Never Sheldon") Rivers has a problem. Some princess expects him to wait on her, hand and dimpled foot. His boss is taken with the royal redhead -- brunette, whatever, it's not like he keeps track of that stuff -- and nobody realizes that he just wants to be left alone in his lab. All alone. All the time. Weekends, holidays -- it's all good.

Now here's Miss Royalpants, insisting that he escort her around the marine institute, explain what he s doing, kiss her until her toes curl -- no, wait, that was his idea. She's not even apologetic about being born into a royal family! Says it's his problem to overcome, not hers. Which leaves him with one option: to kiss her again. And again. And...

So she's nothing like he expected. In fact, Dr. Rivers can see that this fantastic, exasperating woman has problems no princess should ever have to deal with. And he has an idea to help her get some much-needed sleep. Of course, it involves getting very, very tired beforehand, but if she's up to it, then so is he...

In this delightfully madcap sequel to The Royal Treatment, the Baranov family is back and as unpredictable as ever, and a prickly princess and cranky Ph.D. are about to discover that love conquers attitude every time!

Available on Amazon.


The third book in this series was my favorite (so far), but this one was still very good. Same Davidson style, different couple, great romance. Pretty much the same things I like about all of the Davidson books I’ve read so far.
The Royal Pain is about Alex, one of the daughters in the royal family, going to the U.S. and meeting a biologist, Dr. Shel Rivers.
This book had a bit more serious emotional stuff than most of Davidson’s books, and I think I would have liked more focus on it. Alex has insomnia, caused by her part in an attack on her family, and she’s not dealing with it very well. And, while there is some focus as well as the resolving of the issue, I would have liked more. There isn’t usually so much depth, or trauma, or anything very serious in Davidson’s books, which is okay, but I would actually kind of like more.
Alex takes the same route as Davidson’s other characters, hiding her feelings behind humor, and I guess my problem in this case, was that it didn’t seem all that honest or believable. I mean, I enjoyed the book, and I liked Alex, and I like humor and understood why and when a person is using it to hide other things, but sometimes there should be actual serious talk, and there wasn’t enough of that in this book. Alex is a bit more cynical and sarcastic, I think, because of what she’s gone through, and I would have liked more focus on that, as opposed to Davidson’s typical humor-focused style.
But, again, I did like this book. It’s fun, funny, easy to get through, I really enjoyed the romance between Alex and Shel. I liked seeing the other characters, and am interested in finding out how her brother met his wife in the first book. One character that I really enjoy all of the interactions with is Edmund, the King’s, um, assistant, secretary, or whatever. He’s very straightfaced, keeps his expression and his words unemotional, even when you can tell that he’s being sarcastic or is annoyed, and he knows just about everything. He was in the last book as well, and I just kind of love him. Also, the youngest brother, Nicholas, I find really interesting, and want to know more about. Well, and the brother Alex. I want to know their stories, as well.
So, while this one was not my favorite, I still really enjoyed it, and look forward to reading Davidson’s other books.