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Review: The Prophecy by Erin Albert

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book came highly recommended by some of my best blogger friends so I was really concerned when I hated the first 40 pages or so. Really. Concerned. The good news is that things do pick up, and I went from hating the beginning to really enjoying the middle and the end, and I'm even looking forward to reading what happens next.

Let's start off with what made me enjoy this book. In a word, the characters. The Prophecy has a decently large primary cast, lots of people to keep up with (which is pretty typical for a fantasy), but each character was an individual and had his or her own unique voice, and I grew to care about them. Layla, Nash, Wil, Vespa, Grant, Samson, Mars, Sansolena, Rex... I wanted all of these characters to be successful in their various endeavors. I also like that Erin lapsed time a few chapters in, which allowed the characters to bond over weeks instead of a more immediate connection (there was that too, but time passing always helps to strengthen those initial relationships).

I also really like the setup of the world, once it is introduced (it takes a while). The idea of two warring nations, one with physical strength, one with mental, is really intriguing. I also like that Erin did not ignore the concept that very easily, either side could become overloaded if they were to train themselves in the art of the other nation.

As for my complaints, first, I hated that there was very little exposition. I don't want an info dump, but with fantasy, some introduction is necessary. Instead, we're shoved into the middle of a celebration that goes quickly awry, and then BAM! all the things happen at once. My head was spinning in a distinctly unpleasant manner. After about page 60, things settled with plenty of action and also plenty of explanation. I'm glad I kept reading. In my experience, you can't always judge a book by the first few chapters. My second major complaint is that although the story is interesting and the characters sympathetic, Erin went a little wild with the clichéd "twists." As another reviewer here has stated, it gets to be too predictable, and the solutions are far too convenient. There was just too much going on at once. If some of these elements had been left out or at least spread out over the course of the entire series, as opposed to including all of them in book one, I could have given this a much more favorable rating.

Is this a favorite book? No. Too many aspects of this book bothered me for it to be a favorite. Will I read future books in the Fulfillment Series? Yes. The story is pretty cool, and I do love the characters. I think Erin has some strong, unique concepts going on here, and I think her writing will strengthen as she continues to work on the series. Do I recommend this? Eh...sure, I guess. This is a quick read, and it's a fun new fantasy. You should give it a shot to see if it's to your liking.

Review: Phoenix Overture by Jodi Meadows

Full review here

I think the best part of Phoenix Overture really is the added depth to Sam's character. Sam has, to put it lightly, serious daddy issues. Also some mommy issues, but we'll call it 84-16 dad-to-mom issue ratio. He has a lot of baggage. Sam is so open, so kind, so loving in Incarnate and Asunder. To see what he overcame to become that way is really inspiring. It's so weird because he's a timid boy and not the musical virtuoso in Phoenix, but we get to witness his evolution into a more confident man. Plus, we get to see lots of adorable scenes with his big brother Fayden (dibsity dibs!) and the moment he becomes friends with Stef.

The other great part of Phoenix Overture really is the origin story. Janan being a macho and mucho pain in the butt? Check. Other characters from Incarnate and Asunder being directly involved in the events that caused the tilogy? Check. The creation of the epic Sam-vs-the-dragons battle across the millenia? CHECK.

While this novella doesn't showcase the amazing Jodi Meadows patent romance, it does show off Jodi's awesome epic fantasy-writing skills. There's adventure and danger and so. many. feels. I sobbed openly during the last two and a half chapters and yelled at my tablet for the last one. So...yeah. Prepare to have your heart ripped out and drooled on by an acid-spitting dragon. You know what? Worth it. I am now more excited for Infinite than ever!

REVIEW: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

One of the most unique aspects of Incarnate is that it is actually a
utopian novel, rather than dystopian. I have to give all credit to
Meadows. I think in the current state of ya fiction, it's incredibly
easy to write about a broken and corrupt society, but Meadows chose to
feature a society that really is very well-run. If it weren't for Ana
(and the events that led to her birth and the people that created those
circumstances), the citizens of Heart would stay in a state of happiness
and peace forever. There aren't a lot of cracks to this society, which
is definitely a unique point of view in the face of dystopian giants
like The Hunger Games, Delirium,Divergent, Under the Never Sky, etc.

Meadows
portrayal of love is absolutely one of my favorite facets of Incarnate.
In a world where there are only 5,000 citizens who reincarnate after
death, genetics has to be carefully studied. Couples are torn apart by
untimely deaths, uncertain birth (you must wait for a couple to become
pregnant to be reincarnated or perhaps a couple cannot become pregnant
until there is a need--chicken or the egg argument is definitely
applicable here), and age. Meadows addresses the issues of suicide--when
one couple dies, occasionally the partner chooses to die as well;
age--when one does not choose suicide, how long should they wait while
their partner is born and grows before they may restart a romantic
relationship; and homosexuality--each soul is not able to choose his or
her body upon reincarnation. Meadows's depiction of love and marriage
does not match up with my personal beliefs, but that's what makes her
portrayal so intriguing to me. And anyway, who said you have to agree
with everything in a novel to like it?!

I do hope that Asunder
delves deeper into characterization because I don't find the characters
as well-rounded as I would like. I have great hope that the events
during the climax and end of Incarnate will help achieve this because,
as the saying goes, everything has changed going into Asunder.

All
in all, Incarnate gets three stars from me for being fresh and unique. I
greatly anticipate the sequel, though I'll definitely have to re-read
Incarnate to refresh.

Why I love young adult literature

This year alone, I have read over 200 books. Of those, 90% are young adult novels. To some people, the idea of reading is strange enough, but the fact that I spend so much of my time on young adult is completely baffling considering I'm 24. So I'll tell you what it is about young adult literature that makes me love it so much.

It's the authors. Young adult is the format that brought us JK Rowling (well, sorta middle grade at first). Young adult brought Cassandra Clare. Suzanne Collins. Veronicas Roth and Rossi. Laurens Oliver and DeStefano. Ally Condie. John Green. Laini Taylor. David Levithan. Laurie Halse Anderson. Scott Westerfeld. Sarah Dessen. Jay Asher. Shannon Hale. YA claims writers like Meg Cabot, Ally Carter, and Richelle Mead who didn't start out in YA, but wandered over and have stayed and given us amazing series like The Princess Diaries, The Gallagher Girls and Vampire Academy/Bloodlines. One of the best things about YA is that there are always new stories to read, new characters to meet, new writers to love. Sure, I have old favorites like Jennifer Echols, Claudia Gray, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Christopher Paolini, but this year, because of all the books I've read, I've discovered some amazing new books and new favorite writers like Kady Cross, Miranda Kenneally, Carrie Jones, Tera Lynn Childs, Beth Revis, Jackson Pearce, Brodi Ashton, Jo Meadows, Sarah Ockler, Kody Keplinger, Michelle Hodkin, Tahereh Mafi, Cynthia Hand, Gabrielle Zevin, Josephine Angelini, Marie Lu, Kristin Cashore, Kiersten White, Jennifer E. Smith, Kiera Cass, Julia Karr, Lauren Barnholdt, Amy Huntley, and Stephanie Perkins. These people are amazing. They give pieces of themselves every time they release another novel or anthology or short story or extra.

It's the stories. I love that there is so much creativity in young adult lit and also so much commonality. You can take an idea, put it in several authors' heads and see how that idea changes and evolves into completely different conclusions. Vampires: Stephenie Meyer, Richelle Mead, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray and PC Cast all took one creature and morphed it into something new and exciting. Yeah, vampire books flooded the market after the release of Twilight, but I never got bored. Right now it's dystopian, thanks to a little-known series called The Hunger Games, but I love the approaches taken in Across the Universe, Shatter Me, Divergent, Delirium, The Selection, etc. As far as contemporary goes, there will always be divorce, death, eating disorders, loss, physical and sexual abuse, illness, confusion about identity, racial issues and other major conflicts. I'm not trying to flippant, here, but these are conflicts that I don't think will ever go away, especially for teens and young adults. That's why it's so important for so many authors to write about these things and approach them so differently. Jennifer Echols' approach to divorce in Forget You was different from her approach in The One That I Want, which was different from Sarah Dessen's in Along for the Ride, which was different from Nicholas Sparks in The Last Song, yet all these novels helped me deal with my parents' separation. Everyone deals with conflict in his or her own life differently, but it's helpful if an author includes a similar experience. These stories help me feel like I'm not alone.

It's the characters. YA is known for several kinds of characters: the badass heroine, the sexy bad boy, the sweet boy-next-door, the spirited and wise best friend, the comedic relief, etc, and I wouldn't trade any of them. I love how badass Rose Hathaway is so different from badass Katniss Everdeen who is different from badass Hermione Grainger and so on and so forth. Like with content, YA authors approach characters in similar but startlingly opposite ways, and I love it. There are role models and bad guys, ambiguous characters on both sides (Severus Snape and Peter Petrigrew, anyone?). There are guys like Zachary Goode, Lucas Ross and Archer Cross, who are scary similar if you look at setting and character background, but they have such different worlds, different conflicts, different enemies, different perspectives, that it turns out, they're not the same at all.

It's the community. I don't know what it is, maybe the technological age we now live in, but the YA community, although massive, is incredibly small. Everybody knows everybody from fans to reviewers to bloggers to authors. I've met several YA authors (all incredibly kind and so friendly) in person. These experiences have been priceless for me from Meg to Richelle to Elizabeth to Cassandra. And yet, there are so many other authors that I consider friends because of a relationship built through social media. And my fellow fans are all fantastic people as well. We have all bonded over these stories, no matter what the stories tell. We form teams (Team Peeta, Team Dimitri, Team Edward, Team Will, Team Emmett, Team Adam, Team Tucker, Team Griffin, Team Jace thankyouverymuch!), then change and form new teams because we find new characters and form new opinions (Team DimitriANDAdrian, Team I-can't-choose-between-Will-and-Jem-to-save-my-own-life, Team Julian, etc, etc). There are competitions and tournaments and contests all in the name of young adult literature.

That brings me to my last point. One of my most favorite facets of young adult lit is how giving the authors and the publishers are. We, the fans, buy the books and tell the authors and publishers what we want. The authors and publishers give us what we want (to a certain degree because that many threesomes in ya lit because we can't choose when faced with a love triangle would just be ridiculous). Then we buy more books and tell them what we want more of (forgive my dangling preposition, but of what we want more just sounded pretentious and stupid for a blog). Because we're all so closely knit in the YA community, the authors have a chance to put faces and names to the people who buy their books. In return, authors and publisher love to say thank you. Hence, arcs, free signed copies, book tours where authors spend hours signing for hundreds of people or hours signing for twenty (I've been to both!), and massive blowout giveaways. Veronica Rossi just had a contest for an arc of Through the Ever Night. The reader response was so massive that she convinced her publisher to give her 20 arcs instead of just one and wished she could give more. That's true love from the fans responding to Rossi's work to Rossi going above the initial parameters to Harper Collins granting the request for more. When one side wins, all sides win. YA is teamwork.

So, one of my new favorite authors, Beth Revis (whose Across the Universe trilogy is amazing and fantastic and I need Shades of Earth like yesterday!) is doing a massive blowout kind of giveaway for the fans. She's including nearly FIFTY young adult titles, including many of the authors I've already mentioned and several more like Libba Bray, Aimee Carter, Carrie Ryan, Kami Garcia, and more. You can check it out at her website http://bethrevis.blogspot.com. I hope you enter because as she says, this would totally change anyone's library. And finally (because it's required for all such situations): May the odds be ever in your favor!

ya giveaway

#TeamJace!

Okay, friends! Do me a huuuuuge favor! Join the cool kids aka Team Jace and vote for our very own Jace Wayland/Herondale/Lightwood to win in the YA Sisterhood's Summer Crush Tournament. Go here: ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com/2011/08/grande-finale-jace-vs-zachary-match-24.html to cast your vote for the best[sometimes] half-naked, tattooed, moody, snarky golden-boy Shadowhunter there ever was. :D

Vampire Academy/Bloodlines contest

Thanks to the awesome vampireacademy-france.blogspot.com/ and the fantastic arcanevault.com/ there's an amazing contest going on celebrating Richelle Mead's new Vampire Academy spinoff series Bloodlines. Check out @VampireAcademyF on Twitter, Vampire Academy France on Facebook, the St. Vlad forum or Shadowkissed.net for more details on how to enter to win tons of cool VA/Bloodlines goodies like a copy of Bloodlines or the VA graphic novel, jewelry and a bunch of freebies from the Arcane Vault. :D

When it all becomes too much

Things in life rarely go the way you plan. You don't get the job you wanted. The dress you've been lusting after sells out in your size. You gain 5 pounds. The class you need to take to graduate is maxed out. Well, I've rolled with the punches. I dealt with a difficult breakup while I was intensely sick for 3 months. I've transferred schools so many times, I have a record that would probably look similar to the scholastic backgrounds of the Cullen siblings. I've remained almost consistently, steadfastly single while all of my siblings have married themselves off and started families of their own. As happy as I am for them,  when is it going to be my turn?Collapse )

What's a girl to do?

Well, what IS a girl to do on a Thursday night with a big house all to herself? I'll tell you what she does: she eats chicken nachos and a hot fudge sundae, watches an old romcom and writes a little bit. Fetch-freakin'-yes!  Because nothing will make you happier than cheese, nachos, and a revamped version of Cinderella.

The Olympics

Like I said in my original post: I live for the Olympics. I had been looking forward to 8/8/08 for YEARS. And then the day arrived...Collapse )

*dies*

Not really, but whatever. I did have some serious heart palpitations/problems breathing when I first watched this... The new Twilight trailer is amazingCollapse )

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