Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rejects of 2011 (nine months late)

I think I actually read more awesomeness and less suckiness in 2011 than in previous years.  Or perhaps it’s because I simply wouldn’t finish the truly bad books and forgot to write them down.  I also decided to be an adult and read a lot more non-YA books.   But I digress, here’s a quick rundown of my Rejects of 2011 (Picks of 2011 to come later).
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles.  Have you ever read a book and thought it to be awesome, then read a sequel and think, Was this written by a ghost writer?   That’s how I felt here.  RtP was the follow-up to Leaving Paradise, which I dug.  LP was nicely written, entertaining and all-in-all a pretty darn good read.  RtP was…not.  Filled with overused and lame clich├ęs, the writing style left something to be desired.  Like interest.  Plot.  Character development.  So needless to say, it sucked.  A lot.
Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri.  Maybe I’m just not too bright.  Or maybe because when I’m bored with a book, I tend to skim a lot.  But I didn’t understand what was going on half the time.  I believe me, I reread parts more than once just trying to figure out what the heck was happening.  I found this book to be confusing and boring.  I’m not sure if it was confusing and thus I lost interest and was bored.  Or if I was bored so I wasn’t reading carefully and thus became confused.  Chicken or the egg.   You can read it and decide, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Crossed by Ally Condie.  This was another sequel to a decent book that fell short.  Really short.  The book’s predecessor, Matched, created an engaging dystopian universe in which society and governing figures dictate what you will do and who you will marry.  And of course the heroine doesn't want to marry the perfect boy society has deemed for her.  She wants the bad boy.  While slow at times, the interaction between the characters was enough to keep you going.  This was not the case for Crossed.  Ever seen those Comcast commercials with the tortoises?  They’d like this book because it was simply that slow.  I eventually gave up after the heroine had been traipsing after her love in a desert for half the book.  Because you know what happens when you’re reading about someone walking through a desert for days on end?  Nothing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

JaReview: Divergent

Divergent (Book 1)

Dystopian society segregated into five factions in which Knowledge brainwashes Fearlessness which trounces Selflessness who turns to Kindness, whilst Truth just kinda sits there and makes inappropriate and unsolicated remarks. 

Dude, that was so not ten words.  The whole ten words or less sounded so good in my head.  Unfortunately I tend to ramble, even in my thoughts.

Divergent was ruthless and exciting, quite like the Hunger Games.  It hit the trifecta of intrigue, love and betrayal.  The only disappointing thing - loverboy's real name.   But overall, it was bloody brilliant.  Even if I did occassionally have to use Kindle's dictionary to keep all the factions straight.


Monday, August 27, 2012

{NIN} Review: COFA & COLS

City of Fallen Angels + City of Lost Souls = She should've stopped at City of Glass.

No disrespect to the fabulous Cassandra Clare.  But seriously, while I was initially excited to continue the TMI saga, I was rather disappointed with the whole Jace-Clary I'll-Love-You-Till-the-End-of-Time-and-to-My-Possible-Detriment-and-Demise.  It's getting kind of annoying.

I loved the first three TMI books.  I love The Infernal Devices series.  But I am just not diggin' COFA and COLS.  I didn't even buy COLS (whereas I have the first 4 books).  That should tell you how much I just didn't care for it after COFA.  And let me tell you, I loathe not completing ownership of a series.

I rate this as "Didn't Suffer Too Terribly" out of sheer nostalgia for the Shadowhunter World.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Ja had the idea of reviewing books in 10 words or less as this would allow us not to worry about trying to write clever (or snarky) book reviews.  I thought, "What a great idea!" And then I tried to come up with a 10-word book review.

So did not happen.

The problem is, with 10 words or less, you have to work even harder to sound clever in your reviews because you have to choose the exact words that convey your thoughts to a T...and that is dang hard.  Even though the original purpose is to not have to sound clever, I'm vain and want to be funny.

So anyways, here's my attempt to reactivated NinJa Reads.

Fancy-named geek-chick awarded devilishly awesome internship at Chicago’s upper-crust hotel, only to discover it truly is “devilish”…and she’s an angel-in-training that they are trying to corrupt.

Hmm…is it 32 words, or does the hyphenated words make it only 28 words?  *gAlso, I guess it’s not really a review but a summary.  Drat. Ok, review:

Drags a bit with detailed daily hotel doings and Haven’s angel-self-discovery, but then demon-vs-angel battle POWS into the book.  Credit to the author for no Love-POW with the dude she ends up with.

Bah…see, this is hard.

Well, I've done my part.  Now it's {JA}'s turn!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

JaReview: Anna and the French Kiss

After reading The Lost Hero back in October, I went on YA-hiatus and started reading romnovs again. Yes, you read it correctly. I read trashy romance novels. So sue me. It started with Nora Roberts, actually it started with J.D. Robb. Then she started to scare me (I’m really chickenshit when it comes to scary books). So I started Nora Roberts (same author, different pen name, different genres). Then she started to scare me, so I moved on to regular romnovs.

Let me point out, I rarely read the historical ones. Its rot with your quintessential damsel in distress, who’s annoying dialogue consists of “but I simply can’t” or “I shan’t” or “I’ll be the laughing stock of the ton”. Who bloody cares? They end up doing it anyway. Well not it it. Well, okay, that too. But I was talking more of whatever lame crisis the author fabricates to befall the damsel, which creates her distress, thus leading to her needing to be saved by the aloof, yet secretively caring hero.


When I considered researching English nobility rankings (is a Duke higher than a Count?), I decided enough was enough. I needed get back into YA because apparently these romnovs were rotting my brain.

Then along comes Stephanie Perkins with her freshman novel, Anna and the French Kiss. Le sigh.

Anna’s father has been catapulted into fame and fortune and decides his daughter needs some culture. And what better way to culturize her (yes, quite like yogurt) than to send her to a chic boarding school in Paris. Of course her father doesn't even bother to think about how she’d feel about it, rich and famous father knows best after all. And so, Anna finds herself alone in a foreign country.

Well as alone as one can be in a boarding school where all your classmates speak English anyway.

Enter Etienne St. Clair, resident hot boy, an American with an English accent to boot. And everyone knows us American girls love boys with accents. Especially English ones. Especially ones that say wanker, tosser, and right git. Oh wait…sorry, I was thinking of Draco Malfoy*.

Not unlike the hottie, bad boy blondie, St. Clair is charismatic, charming and, most importantly, devastatingly good looking. (Yeah I know I’m shallow.) Anna is immediately smitten with him, despite the fact that she tries not to be. So really it sounds like this book is going to be one of those annoying Love-Pow books right? Well Perkins proves to the masses that you can indeed have love/lust at first sight but still create a swoon worthy relationship that isn’t reduced to the Bellard variety*.

The story follows Anna’s progression from feelings of isolation and loneliness to slowly adjusting in a foreign country and school. I’m sure the distraction of the St. Clair form help ease the situation. We all know nothing can distract a girl and make her life exciting like a good ole crush. Even if he’s supposed to just be your best friend and already has a girlfriend.

One of the things I loved most about St. Clair was his faults. He was shorter than Anna (which is usually a no-no in writing relationships). He bit his nails. And he was deathly afraid of heights. St. Clair was flawed and yet so completely perfect.

Anna and St. Clair form a bond slightly reminiscent of Macy and Wes*, so you actually understand why they feel the way they do. This relationship isn’t some unexplicable, otherworldly romance. Its two people, who support, defend and understand each other. And of course they do it all with some major sparkage factor. I’m talking “fry your bones to a crisp” sparkles. It’s the little interactions here and there that just hook you. And before you realize it, you’ve been at the bookstore for three hours and your boy, who’s already read four different comics, wants to go home.

My only complaint - well, okay I have three. The first is that the story went a little too teenage drama mama for me near the end. But it’s forgivable because I dislike the too tidy happy endings. The second complaint is that I desperately wanted a French pastry after reading it. And the third, I have to wait nearly seven months for her next book.

Anna and the French Kiss will take you back in time to sitting in the movie theater next to your first crush. Where his arm brushes yours and all you feel is sparkles.

I digs. So much.

*Draco Malfoy - Yeah, I loves Draco. My perception of him might be slightly irrational and noncanon, but I dont particularly care. Like other Dramione shippers, I don't let silly little things, like the epilogue, his wimpy canon nature and her subsequent marriage to Ron, deter me.

*Bellard variety – Relationships like those of Bella and Edward in which the couple becomes annoyingly co-dependent on each other, prone to bouts of weepiness when separated from their most beloved. And their constant whining and pathetic cow eyes make you sort of want to punch them in the head.

*Macy and Wes - characters from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever. Their fabulously swoon-worthy and perfect love story trounces Bellard any day. Seriously. Bring it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Picks (and Rejects) of 2010

Amist the holiday madness, I haven't had much time, or inclination, to read. However I thought I'd countdown my Top Fives of 2010. Originally I thought of doing a top ten, but that list quickly became a tribute to all things Dessen and Marchetta. There weren’t as many totally fan-tastic standouts like there was in 2009, but with the help of new authors (like Dessen) there was considerably less “Never Again!” books. Though now that I think about it, perhaps my standards for Awesome-rankings have been raised because the calibre of writing I've been reading. Hm....

Ooh! And Nin culls out a bunch of Never Again books so I dont waste my time reading them.

In no particular order, because I just can’t decide which was my favorite of 2010, the Faves…

  1. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – I finished the Percy Jackson series well before this blog was started so I never got to gush about how totally awesome it was. And Riordan’s sequel series does not disappoint. I know I’ll be a spoiler if I go on about how fantastic this book was. So I’ll just say it was an awesome adventure with great new kick-butt characters (I’m a Piper-fangirl all the way).
  2. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – I actually reviewed this book here and obviously I thought it was awesome. I might even like it better than The Mortal Instrument series. Will definitely gives Jace a run for his money. And the English accents are just brilliant.
  3. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen – Flat out loved this book. What’s not to love? Swoon-worthy male character. Great build-up to an uber fabulous and rabid fangirl worthy relationship. Interesting dialogue and side characters. And not a whiff of stinky Love-Pow. Sarah Dessen, where have you been all my life???
  4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – This book made me a diehard Melina-fangirl. War. Tragedy. Mystery. And of course the best star-crossed couple ever written. Romeo’s got nothing on Jonah Griggs.
  5. Book Thief by Mark Zusak – To be honest, this book didn’t quite grip me like Dessen or Marchetta’s books, but mostly because it was way too smart and brutal to swoon over. It was a bit harder to read, because Zusak’s got a totally different style of writing. But the story is like “rip your heart out and stomp on it” good. Totally intense and not for someone looking for an easy, light read. I used to read a lot of World War II stories. But Book Thief was the first one I can remember from the Nazi side, a very different and interesting perspective. And the ending…well you should read it for youself.

And of course a year-end wrap up can’t be complete without the Never Agains. There were quite a few I wanted to put on here, but I narrowed it down (reluctantly) to five.

Again in no particular order, though I did loath them in varying degrees, here are the Top Five Never (Ever) Agains -

  1. Torment by Lauren Kate – Really the name just says it all. I could go off about what I did not like in this book, but I already did here. And rehashing boring couples and their mundane, angst-ridden plot lines is bad for my zen.
  2. Time of the Witches by Anna Myers – For such a short book, it was insanely slow. The only redeeming quality (but not enough to redeem it out of the Never Again category) was that it was a rather interesting take on the Salem witch trials. But not interesting enough to recommend. Or read again.
  3. Immortal by Gillian Shields – I don't remember too much about this book but it was the only one in about eighty books I noted as “Stupid.” Predictable plot with too much of idiot and oblivious girl. But not the endearing kind of obliviousness like Elizabeth Scott’s characters.
  4. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar – GG is a super popular tv show and it’s got a cult following for the huge book series. So I figured it was probably a good series to start. Boy was I wrong. If you’re interesting in reading about overindulgent, whiny rich kid’s lives, then this is the series for you. But overall I thought it was a bunch of stupid teens with absolutely zero plot. And there was no Veronica Mars voice-overs. How lame is that?
  5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – If it was a standalone book, then it probably doesn't deserve to be in this category. But honestly, this was an extremely disappointing end to such a promising series. Perhaps I’m biased b/c I’m an ill-fated Gale shipper and I don't think he deserved to go out the way he did. However, the book seemed rushed. Did anyone else think it seemed way too convenient that Katniss would fall unconscious while critical parts of the storyline developed? And her constant emo-ness and poor me attitude grated on my nerves within the first few chapters. Katniss of Mockingjay just didn’t hit that level of awesomeness that she did in Hunger Games. It was almost like she was body snatched and replaced with an inferior model. But I suppose that’s what dating down will do to a girl.

And now that I can practically hear Nin's screams of indignation, she was after all a Peeta shipper. Ick.

Til next year...

Friday, November 5, 2010

JaReview: Torment

Lauren Kate perpetuates her boring display of Love-Pow in this sequel to Fallen. Maybe if I was a tiny bit emotional invested in this couple, Luce and Daniel, I’d find Torment a little more entertaining. But the fact is Luce and Daniel bore me. It’s been two books, spanning 948 pages and I still don't see why Luce is so in love with Daniel. Or even what it was about her that made Daniel willing to fall. Luce says on occasion that Daniel makes her feel “like home,” but seriously, what does that even mean? Where’s the evidence, the basis for this epic relationship beyond a feeling she has deep within her…soul.

This book reminded me of New Moon. In order to keep the delicate damsel safe, the hero is absent most of the book, leaving the damsel wallowing in a pit of heartbreaking angst and despair. At least in this book, Edward, I mean Daniel, doesn't only appear in lame visions, he actually breaks the rules and shows up a couple times. But unlike the brief encounters of Bella and hallucination-Edward, most of what Luce and Daniel do in their precious, forbidden time is argue. She’s whiny and wants to know what’s going on, he’s secretive and remains annoyingly stoic. Then they fight and he flies off, leaving her in torn between annoyance at him and desperate longing (even though we’re still wondering what she sees in him).

In Torment, which really was a perfect title as that’s what I felt whilst reading this, we see brief glimpses of Luce’s past lives. Not enough to paint a cohesive picture or answer any questions, but more to further enforce that sense of – what the heck. These glimpses only seem to draw out the storyline, rather than enhance it. The short sequences of her past are conveniently cut off before we get to any substance. I suspect that it’s done on purpose, you know to promote anticipation. But if there isn’t anything else in the story to build on, it’s just the author toying with you, it becomes redundant and annoying.

Even if I was a Luce and Daniel shipper, which really is just a few carefully rearranged letters away from Dunce, this latest story would definitely tick me off. Assuming that you blindly buy into the fact that Luce and Daniels love just is, no particular reason other than they’re just meant to be, then why would you introduce a love triangle? Their relationship is shaky at best. How are we supposed to believe in this undeniable, defying centuries and past lives, love story, when she runs into the arms of the first decent, normal boy to bat his baby blues at her? Sure she says she feels conflicted but it’s just downright flighty. What happen to that epic love she feels deep down in her bones?

Oh wait. We need a love triangle because one, this book is part of a series and it just won’t do to have them live happily ever after in book one. And two, the mystery of her past isn’t enough to carry the series.

I will concede that Kate introduces interesting side characters. Luce has a new roommate, Shelby, who’s standoffish, rude and bitchy. She’s a lot like Arraine, which was a bit repetitive. And her initial abruptness and coldness towards Luce switches to accepting besty annoyingly fast. Then there’s Miles, a watered down Nephilim, who’s supposed to have weak powers, but is conveniently very helpful in critical parts of the book.

And of course we can’t forget the mysterious Outcast plot. Apparently there’s more baddies out to get Luce and one of them had access to her supposed safe haven. Even though the so-called angels couldn’t tell who the kid was, given the overly obvious descriptions of the perpetrator, the reader should spot it a mile away. It makes me seriously doubt the plausibility of these angels’ powers.

All in all, this sequel to Kate’s Fallen series has turned me off from the entire angel genre. The storyline had potential. But it falls short because of character inconsistencies, convenient plot holes and lots of poetic waxing without reason. Me thinks Sarah Dessen is spoiling me because now I actually require build-up, reason and experience before I root for a couple.
Never Again. Ever.