January 24, 2011

Book Review: Awakened

Title: Awakened
Author: PC & Kristin Cast
Series: House of Night
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
On-Sale Date: January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This review contains spoilers.  If you have not read the other House of Night novels you might not wish to read this.

Awakened is the eighth book in The House of Night series.
Awakened takes place after Zoey Redbird and her Guardian James Stark return from the Otherworld.  Saddened, and scarred by the loss of her consort, Zoey chooses to remain on the Isle of Skye with Stark … indefinitely.
Kalona, having failed to kill Zoey in the Otherworld now has his immortal soul bound to serve Neferet.
Publically, Neferet banishes Kalona from her side, but of course, away from prying eyes he is still hers to use and command.
Once Kalona returns to Tulsa it is that much harder for his favourite son, Rephiam.  He cannot hurt Stevie Rae, but he also cannot deny his father his allegiance.  Which side will Rephiam choose?
Meanwhile, Stevie Rae must face the Darkness that looms in Tulsa, and somehow manage her imprint with Rephiam.

What will it take for Zoey to come home?
Is Zoey strong enough to face what awaits her?
Will Zoey finally beat Darkness?

Opening a new House of Night novel is like visiting an old friend.  As soon as I started reading Awakened I remembered why I first loved these books.
However, that feeling did not last very long.  Throughout the novel I wanted to strangle Zoey Redbird.  I found her actions frustrating.  She was coping as best she could, but it just felt as if she was hiding.  The plot goes nowhere when the main character isn’t functioning properly.
It took another tragedy to get Zoey off her butt and back home.  I finally saw some of the old Zoey towards the end.  When Z’s friends are in danger and in need she can still be counted on to be right there protecting them.  However, she’s not the same Zoey, and after the very last evil act in the book she will never be the same.  I do not look forward to more mourning in the next installment.
I used to find that the relationship between Stevie Rae and Rephiam dragged, but this time around, it was probably my favourite plot line.
I haven’t cried this much while reading a book in a long while.  Awakened made me ball.  There’s death in this book.  I will not tell you which characters do not make it, but I will say that it’ll affect the rest of the series.  There was one death that really got to me.  I cried whenever it was mentioned.  It was so unfair, and so undeserved.  Of course, the perpetrator got away with it, and that really pushed my buttons.
I’m just going to come out with it:  I want Neferet to get what she deserves.  I want the Vampire High Council to see her for what she is.  I want her to be banned from every House of Night.  I want her to be shunned.  I want Zoey to send every element after her.  I want Stark to pick her for a target.  I want her gone already!  Yes, the Neferet plot was made a heck of lot more interesting at the end, but how long can the characters continue to be blind to her darkness?  (Insert scream of frustration here).
Seriously now, the ending was worth struggling through The Book That Never Ends.  Yes, that was what I dubbed Awakened while reading it.  There was a lot of action in the fourth quarter of the book.  I couldn’t quite believe what happened.
I definitely didn’t enjoy this House of Night novel as much as I had enjoyed others, but I still liked the book overall.  The last couple of books were lacking the initial action I’ve been used to.  I hope the Destined plot picks up a little quicker than Awakened did.

Personally, I will stick with Zoey Redbird until the end.

Premise: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 3/5

January 16, 2011

Early Book Review: Wither

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy
Length: 358 pages
On-Sale Date: March 22, 2011
Format: ARC paperback

Wither takes place in a dystopian future.  It’s a world where man has finally found a cure for every disease … A perfect utopia.  Unfortunately,  the side effects that the perfect first generation face are causing their children  to die.  Every birth is a death sentence.  In Wither, men die at age 25 and women don’t live past age 20.  Somehow, this “cure” could turn into the end of the human race.   To keep mankind alive girls are stolen, captured, and sold to wealthy men for the sole purpose of reproducing.  Groups of girls are taken and the ones that become wives are the lucky ones, because all the rest are thrown away.

Rhine is sixteen when she is snatched from her New York home.  She knows what this means.  If she survives she will be forced to enter in a polygamous marriage.  It’s a good thing that Rhine had the memory of her twin brother and ivy covered home, because it was too easy to forget where she came from, once she became Governor Linden’s wife.

Wither grabbed me from the moment I opened the cover.  I was down with a horrible cold when I started it, and even in my semi-lucid state I was drawn into this story.  There was never a moment where I did not want to know what was going to happen.  I simply, could not get enough of Wither.  I’m still carrying it around with me.
There’s beauty in this writing.  True beauty.  It’s really the first time I’ve felt it with my whole heart.  The writing just completely captures you and you’re able to picture everything that Rhine is seeing.  I found it amazing that all this beauty can still be seen within the tragedy.
Rhine is one of the most inspiring heroines I have ever read.  From the beginning I found her spirit mirrored Katniss Everdeen’s (The Hunger Games).  If you are not a fan of The Hunger Games do not let that stop you from picking up Wither.  Rhine is a force all her own.  She has such a strong will and she knows who she is.  Having said that, she is not immune to the hardships she encounters.  She, like everyone, has limits, and can lose herself when faced with impossible tragedy.
I loved that Rhine found comfort in New York City.  I think it really showed something about her character that she felt safest in an industrial district.  That is merely one of the traits that makes Rhine so relatable.  Lauren DeStefano has created such complex characters with so many layers that I cannot wait to learn more about them.
There is immense pain written into this story, and you really feel for all the characters.  Sometimes the villains don’t even seem so villainous.
The world may be ready to give up, but Rhine would fight for her freedom until her dying breath.

Wither made me very thankful for everything I have, and everything I take for granted.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada. Receiving this ARC did not influence my review in any way.

Page number is tentative and subject to change.

January 8, 2011

Early Book Review: Red Glove

Title: Red Glove
Author: Holly Black
Series: Curseworkers
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
On-Sale Date: April 5, 2011
Format: ARC paperback

Red Glove is the sequel to Holly Black’s White Cat.  Before White Cat I had never read Holly Black.  Now, I wish that I had been following her career from the beginning.

The world that Holly creates is much like our own, except that magic exists and is something that is feared.  There are curse workers who can manipulate your emotions, luck and dreams, with just a touch of their hand.  Every person, worker or not, must wear gloves because even the slightest brush of bare skin can be fatal.  Cassel Sharpe grew up in a family of curse workers and con men, but he himself did not fit into the framework.  Cassel can con with the best of them, but he was not born with worker blood.  Years ago, Cassel committed an unspeakable crime that he had been trying to forget, but in White Cat it catches up to him. White Glove followed Cassel as he uncovered a mysterious plot that was surrounded by lies and betrayal, and Red Glove is no different, (although Cassel is).

Red Glove is the continuation of Cassel's journey for the truth and a better understanding of himself as a worker.  He grew a lot as a character in White Cat, and you can see the changes in his personality. At the end of White Cat we find out that Cassel`s mother has cursed Lila to love him, but in the sequel we get to see how Cassel deals with his feelings for Lila and the curse she is under.  I cannot begin to explain to you the roller coaster ride that you take. Cassel's emotions take so many twists and turns that he keeps caffeinated just to survive. He deals with much more family drama, and frankly, I have no clue how he manages it all.  There might not be a fictional character with more complex family dynamics than Cassel Sharpe.

The plot continued to intrigue me.  Cassel was asked to help solve the mystery of his brother's murder, and while I was reading there were so many theories popping into my head.  I couldn't wait to turn the page and find out whether I was right … or not.  I must admit, sometimes my hunches were spot on, but mostly I was caught off guard.  Red Glove will keep your brain working the entire way through.  You will be thinking one thing and then the end comes and you don't even realize how far off you were.

There are so many things about Cassel that I love, and I discovered even more while reading this sequel.  Despite all the awful, horrible, cringe-worthy things that Holly puts him through, his heart still shines through the facade the he puts up.  I love Cassel because even though his family betrayed him he still loves them, and at the same time, he’s learning how to balance his loyalty with self preservation.  He is one of those characters that is desperately trying to do the right thing, and the harder he tries the more he fails. Cassel is a character you cheer for.

I must mention Cassel's roommate Sam.  Sam is so good-hearted and such a perfect match for Cassel in the best friend category.  I wanted to hug Sam repeatedly while reading Red Glove.

Red Glove left me speechless.

Holly Black is a genius, and I cannot wait for Black Heart.
Red Glove will capture your heart; it captured mine.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from Simon & Schuster Canada. Receiving this ARC did not influence my review in any way.

Page number is tentative and subject to change.

January 7, 2011

Welcome to Read & Riot


A couple of months ago someone asked me if I had a blog. I said no, and they asked why not. I didn't have a good enough answer for them.

Now I'm here, and I have practically no idea what I'm doing. I hope you can bear with me long enough for me to put something worth seeing together.

Primarily, I wanted to make this blog so I could review the books that I've been reading. I used to only read books based on recommendations, so I know how important it is to receive honest opinions. I hope everyone that reads these reviews grows to trust them. Again, this will be my first shot at reviewing, so please go easy on me. I'd appreciate any constructive advice you could give.

I also wanted a place where I was free to rant and rave because ... Well, life isn't easy but it can still be fantastic, right?

So, now I have Read & Riot. I'm very happy to share it with you.