Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Title: Teeth 

Author: Hannah Moskowitz 

Rating: 5 Stars

Can you hear that? It's the sound of tiny shards of glass blowing away in the wind. You know what those shards of glass used to be before I picked up this book? My heart. Yes, this book destroyed my heart and didn't patch it up, but I would give my heart to Hannah Moskowitz all over again to have it thus broken if it meant I got to read such beautiful books. I am a masochist at times, I know.

Teeth is unlike anything I've read before or am ever likely to read in the future - and I'm glad. I doubt any other author could tackle this story with the amount of beauty and finesse that Moskowitz has.

Our breath-taking tale starts out on an imaginary island. An island with magic fish who can cure sick humans. Rudy and his family move to the island in the hopes that the fish can cure his youngest brother - and slowly, they do. Yet, for an island so devoid of life, it harbors a dark secret: Teeth. Rudy meets Teeth, an ugly fish-boy, soon after moving and before long, the two have struck an unlikely friendship. When Teeth begins to seek Rudy's help to free the magic fish that are captured every day - fish who are the only family that Teeth has - Rudy risks losing his younger brother to his sickness. Suddenly, the lines of friendships between Rudy and Teeth are no longer so clear. Even worse, Rudy meets Diana, the only other teenager on the island with him and a girl who stays locked up in her house all day. A girl whose mother sobs in the bathroom every Tuesday. A girl with a connection to Teeth. In the midst of all these separate, but broken, pieces, Teeth is the only link and with his ever-changing relationship with Rudy, it seems impossible to save the secret that the island so vehemently despises.

Hannah Moskowitz has always been one for the original story lines and Teeth is no different. In fact, it might just be the strangest of all her works, but perhaps it is also the most heart-felt. You see, if I could, I would run onto the tallest building in the world and chuck this book at everyone passing by. It wouldn't hurt so much, especially as it's such a slender volume, but the words and story inside will rip you up and leave you sobbing in a curled up mess for days afterwards. This is the magic of Teeth. It has the ability to suck you into its world, its strange island and its even stranger inhabitants and before you know it, you're no longer sitting in a comfortable chair with a blanket and coffee. You're tasting the salty spray of the sea, you're falling in love with Teeth despite his ugly demeanor, and your heart is breaking, again and again and again.

What stands out to me about Teeth is, first and foremost, the prose. It's beautiful. In fact, I went more than a little highlighter crazy with this novel and I can't say I'm ashamed about it at all. Once you get past the beautiful writing, however, is the characterization. If there's one thing you can expect from a Moskowitz novel, it's for the characters to come alive for you and wedge their way into your heart. Rudy is an instantly likable narrator, bitter about leaving his friends at home and living on a remote island, all because his younger brother is sick. Yet, at the same time, he shares an immense amount of love for his brother, expressing it the only way he knows how. For someone with a younger brother myself, I can already vouch for the genuineness and authenticity of the familial bond portrayed in this novel, one that touches your heart in more ways than one.

With such a strong family bond and attachment to Rudy, his parents, and his younger brother, we now have the dilemma that Teeth brings with him. At first, Teeth is a rather strange character, one that, as the reader, it is impossible to know what to think of. With the progression of the novel, however, Teeth becomes every bit as real to us as Rudy and his bond of friendship - or something a little more - with Rudy is just as compelling as Rudy's bond with his younger brother. With each chapter that we read, layers of Teeth's past and his difficult life are slowly revealed to us, beginning the progression of heart-break throughout the novel. Teeth is such a deep, devastating, and depressed being that it is impossible not to love him, to want to help him and be there for him always. Even better, it is him who is willing to sacrifice his family of magical fish if push comes to shove. For Teeth, who has no family and whose existence itself is a mystery, it is the magical fish of the island that he is related to who make up his life.

Teeth is a story of friendship and courage, of love and bravery, of heart-break and wonder. It is the story of Rudy and Teeth, of their developing relationship and of the obstacles that stand in their way. Of Rudy's unrelentless loyalty to his brother and Teeth's unrelentless loyalty to his brothers. Of the blurred lines in their friendship. Of fishermen who torture Teeth - of an island who hates their secret. Of a girl who knows more about Teeth than anyone else. Of a quest to prolong the lives of magical fish, of sick human beings, and find a place - or a person - to belong to. It is truly impossible for me to express what this book is, what this book means, or the feelings it evokes. I struggle to put my feelings for this book into words, but it's incredible. it, okay? Read it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan

Title: Underground Time

Author: Delphine de Vigan 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Underground Time is a difficult book to read. I found myself setting it down, time and time again, telling myself I wouldn’t pick it back up because there was enough depression in life without needing to read about it in a book too. When I did, inevitably, pick it up, I found myself reciting, “It’s just a book, it’s just a book, it’s not real life, don’t let it get to you, their story isn’t your own,” over and over again. Delphine de Vigan, however, makes her character’s stories my own; makes their pain so palpable and sharp that it aches my heart. And, after finishing this book, it is all I can do to not bury myself under the covers and lay there, warm and satisfied, unwilling to face the harsh realities of life. I owe it to this book and these characters, which have become so real to me, to persevere on, at least for a little while more.

What makes de Vigan such a brilliant author is her prose. Even in the first novel I read of hers, No and Me, I was blown away by the subtle beauty of her writing, the manner in which her phrases were thought-provoking and contemplative, all while retaining an ethereal loveliness about them. Thus, when I heard that de Vigan had written just one other adult book that had been translated into English, I rushed to my library to make them order it, just for me. Underground Time, though, is far different than No and Me was. Where her young adult story is a coming of age story full of silver linings despite the fact that it acknowledges that certain aspects of life simply cannot be changed, Underground Time is a story of two depressed adults for whom life has simply pressed down upon, much like the sky pressed down upon Atlas, the Titan.

Underground Time charts the story of Mathilde, a single mother of three children who is the victim of corporate bullying. After gently disagreeing with a minor point her boss made, Mathilde has found herself slowly spiraling away from all she loved about her job. Over the past eight months, her boss finds every reason to criticize her and turn her co-workers against her, all while lying about receiving important documents until, finally, on May 20th, Mathilde is replaced. Thibault, who shares the dual third-person narration in this story, is a doctor who is caught in a relationship of unrequited love. Finally, he finds it within himself to end his relationship for giving love and receiving none in return is every bit as painful as it sounds. Underground Time is a story that takes place over one day, filled with contemplation, longing, and flashbacks, detailing the joint story of Thibault and Mathilde, strangers who don’t know each other, but whose lives contain similar threads of depression and loneliness.

Underground Time takes place over the span of just one day, which is why it tends to drag a little after the half-way point, Mathilde and Thibault having the same depressing thoughts, only expressing them in a slightly different manner. Yet, despite this, the novel is surprisingly readable. Mathilde and Thibault both have their own individual voices which only complement each other. Although both our main characters do not know one another, it is evident from their narration that they should know each other for both of them want similar things from life. For me, the story of Mathilde and her heart-wrenching corporate discrimination seemed to be the overarching story arc that the tale of Thibault only enhanced. As a doctor, Thibault travels the city of Paris, meeting dozens of people with their own problems and depressions.

In many ways, Underground Time is equally a story of the city as it is of Mathilde and Thibault. It seems as if everyone in the city, despite being so occupied with their own lives, are eventually going to reach that point of exhaustion in their life, in some way or the other. With Thibault, we can see so clearly the multi-faceted side to this city, one teeming with life and death in equal parts. Furthermore, an advantage of having the narration of Thibault told side-by-side with that of Mathilde is that we can see so clearly the cruel game that fate plays with them both.

As with any dual narration, one always expects the characters to meet and while that standard is no different with this novel, it is a patient process. It seems as if, many times, Thibault and Mathilde are just about to meet one another, purely by coincidence, when, at the last instant, they just miss one another. Underground Time, unlike what I expected when I cracked open the spine of this novel, is not a romance. Instead, it is a story of two people who are forced to make tough decisions in their life, whether it is ending a relationship that isn’t working out or coming to the end of an unhappy time in an office building. Yet, what I love about this is that these actions are neither good nor bad decisions. Instead, they are inevitable. At times, life backs us into a corner where we have no choice but one left before us. Furthermore, this is a story not of the hope of a new and better life, but rather of the forlorn and hopeless period in-between; before one feels that life can better, they must first feel as if it cannot.

All in all, Underground Time is a novel that I know many of my friends will enjoy but it is, in equal parts, a novel I know many of my friends will despise. It is achingly real, to the point where one is compelled only to read stories of happiness afterwards, but it’s worth it. Delphine de Vigan has, yet again, managed to write a novel that is unique, thought-provoking, and shockingly realistic. While I do believe the ending is conclusive enough, I know many readers who have felt otherwise for, truly, it is open and ambiguous like few things in this world are. Yet, I found it was the perfect ending, both for this novel and its characters. It was fitting, in a way only life, which continues to go on despite everything it throws at is, manages to be. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

Title: A Face Like Glass

Author: Frances Hardinge

Rating: 4.5 Stars

A Face Like Glass tells the tale of Caverna, an underground city, much like Alice's Wonderland. In Caverna, babies are born with the inability to show their emotions on their face and, as such, are taught how to mold their faces into expressions by wearing masks. If that wasn't strange enough, Caverna is a land of magic - although it is never seen as magical - for the wines can erase your memories, cheeses can help you see the future, and perfumes can command your thoughts. Into this world is thrown Neverfell, a girl whose every thought is shown visibly on her face. As such, she is a threat to those in Caverna who fear the honesty of her gaze but also seek to exploit her innocence. Neverfell is first apprenticed to Master Grandible, a renowned cheese-maker who hides away in tunnels to escape the ruthless politics of the Court. When Neverfell chases a white rabbit, with the original intent of bringing it back to her master, she stumbles into the world of Cavera and from there, her journey is every bit as crazy as can be imagined.

I hardly know where to start when it comes to Hardinge's spectacular novel. For one, let me assure you that it blew me away and, despite being a Middle Grade Fantasy novel, I found that it was every bit as thought-provoking and intelligent as YA and Adult reads, if not better because of its subtleties, cleverness, and surprising plot twists. Caverna is a city with secrets, a cavernous tunnel that changes ever-so-slowly and calmly watches over the people in her kingdom, all of whom are pawns in a giant game of politics. Whether it be the powerful families who make the delicacies of Caverna and battle amongst each other in a quest for power or the Grand Steward, the ruler himself who has transformed himself in such a way that one eye is always open, always watching for betrayal, Caverna is a land where no one is safe.

Into this world is thrown Neverfell, a naive and innocent child after having been sheltered by Master Grandible, away from the deceitful society of Caverna, all her life. At first, the people of Caverna are unsure whether to be terrified of the raw honesty in Neverfell's face or simply use her to exploit their own malicious intent. As such, as she passed around in this game of Court from powerful families to powerful leaders to powerful enemies. Although Neverfell is initially very trusting of everyone, including strangers she meets, her resolve, good will, and resilient nature make her an engaging heroine, not an irritating one. Furthermore, as the novel wears on, her growth is gradual, both as a person and as a player in the game she has been unwillingly thrown into.

While Neverfell remains the most fleshed-out of all the characters in this novel, nearly every character in this tale becomes well-developed with the progression of this tale and, best of all, the villains aren't all black-and-white, but rather multiple entities of grey. In fact, seeing this world through the eyes of Neverfell, it is difficult to be sure, at times, if friends are truly enemies and enemies are truly friends. In the midst of this political intrigue, Neverfell slowly comes to realize who she is. It is evident that she is not a citizen of Caverna but rather of the outside world where, rumor has it, the sun burns off your skin. As Neverfell has no memory of her childhood, of how she came to be in Caverna, this intriguing tale of political mystery is in equal parts a gentle story of growing up, of becoming the person you can be when circumstance forces you into dark corners. It seems like a very dark tale at times, but rest assured that Hardinge always keeps the silver lining just within reach.

Now, how else can I possibly express my love for this story? It does lag a bit in the middle as the climax of the story approaches, but either than that small flaw, it is very nearly perfect in every way. Once immersed into the world Hardinge has created, you won't want to come out and, when you do, you'll most likely realize that you've gone just a little mad while in Caverna yourself. A Face Like Glass is such a multi-faceted tale, forcing you, as the reader, to not only join in on a world full of lies, but also to question the lies in our own every-day lives. Even more than that, though, it is a tale of revolution and of flying free from control and power, whether it be in terms of social class or just escaping from the tight web of lies that this underground city runs on. Either way, you can read A Face Like Glass with one surefire thought - you will emerge from it changed, reflective, and itching for more of Hardinge's writing, even if it means walking into the children's section of your library.

Reviewer's Note: It should be known that I am absolutely terrible at writing reviews for books I love. I hardly know if what I've written here makes sense, so allow me to direct you to the review of one who constantly humbles me with her prose. Catie, at the Readventurer, convinced me to pick this up with her review and, without a doubt, she will convince the rest of you as well. I cannot recommend her review enough.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

ARC Mini-Review: The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Title: The Cadet of Tildor 

Author: Alex Lidell

Rating: DNF/2 Stars

I suppose, in many ways, I didn't give The Cadet of Tildor much of a chance. I painstakingly read through the first quarter of this book before giving into my desire to skim the pages until I was nearly half-way through the novel and began to realize I was well and truly wasting my time. The Cadet of Tildor is not a bad novel, but it just wasn't one for me. As a high fantasy junkie who has grown up reading Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Megan Whalen Turner, Alex Lidell falls seriously short of other fantasy writers of this age.

The Cadet of Tildor starts out strongly enough, introducing us to a fierce and strong-willed protagonist, Renee. While I instantly admired her for standing up to her father and willing to follow her dreams of completing her training as a Cadet, despite the fact that she was up against stronger men, I was unable to feel much of a connection with her as the novel wore on. From the onset, her friends were flat and two-dimensional and the revered trainer seemed to lack personality as well. Or, perhaps, they didn't lack personality and it was just the fact that they were so like every other fantasy character out there that I was unimpressed. The Cadet of Tildor is excruciatingly unoriginal and, upon skipping to the end, I can already inform you that its last line is the exact same last line from Turner's King of Attolia, only without a complex situation and three novels to back it up.

In addition to my lack of feeling for the characters, I simply felt very underwhelmed. Nothing much happens during the beginning and neither are the characters or world set up in a manner I found to be interesting. In fact, I virtually have no grasp of this world or its politics whatsoever. Ultimately, Lidell's debut is a disappointment for me simply because I go into fantasy expecting more from it and this one just didn't live up. Unlike the contemporary genre, which often lets me down and I've come to accept as a hit-or-miss genre for me, fantasy usually never fails to amaze me, but the recent revival of YA Fantasy certainly has.

For newcomers into fantasy or those of you who are unfamiliar with the works of Megan Whalen Turner or Tamora Pierce, The Cadet of Tildor is likely to take your breath away. It is extremely well-written and the words flow smoothly from the page, proving that Lidell can, indeed, write. Yet, when compared to other fantasy works, it falls short of a masterpiece by far. Of course, the novel may drastically improve, but as I already feel nothing for the characters, I sincerely doubt I'll enjoy this one too much more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend 

Author: Marie Lu 

Rating: 2 Stars/DNF

Legend is one of those books that simply demands to be read, not so much because of its original premises, intriguing characters, or fast-paced plot, but rather because everyone seems to have such a varied opinion about it. I always make it a point to read the reviews of my most trusted reviewers - those whose opinions are similar to my own - but when it came to this book, the ratings ranged from amazement, to indifference, to like, to hate. Thus, I knew I had to read this and give it a shot for myself to see what the hype really is all about. Well, if you're anything like me and if you've read your fair share of dystopians, I can tell you now thatLegend offers nothing new to this over-wrought genre and, frankly speaking, you aren't missing much if you skip it. If, however, you're nothing like me (or you're just wondering why I couldn't finish one of your favorite books), you might as well stick around. I doubt it'll be a long haul anyway.

See, the thing about Legend is that it is exactly like every other post-apocalyptic novel out there. We have our utopian-like society, we have two vastly different characters, we have the slow uncovering of betrayal, that all is not as perfect as it seems. Very, very typical. Now, it isn't that I have an aversion to typical plots - because everyone knows I read more than just a few dystopian series - but the qualities that I needed to make this novel interesting, engaging, and something worth reading were simply lacking. Well, that and I suspect I'm growing tired of this there really anything new left to explore?

One of the first things that stands out about Legend is the unique formatting of the book itself. It is told from the dual narration of June, a prodigy in her society, and Day, a thief who is accused of murdering June's brother. As such, you can imagine that June sets out to find and kill him. Well, another unique aspect of this formatting is that Day's perspective is told in gold lettering while June's is in regular black. At first, I was a little annoyed by this - the gold is, I warn you, hard on the eyes. As the story progressed though, I found myself relying on the font to help me distinguish who was speaking. Yes, the two perspectives in this are really thatinterchangeable. Not only are June and Day similar individuals, both being extremely smart, calculating, and tough, but their thoughts mirror each other almost exactly. So, really, Legend is about one character named Jay or Dune whose thoughts are shown in two different colors. =.=

In addition to the utter lack of characterization, the world-building in this novel was nothing new and I was unable to form much of a connection with the characters. Day, to some extent, is an easier person to get to know, merely because he has feeling. June, however, is distant from everyone but her older brother, who, once dead, makes her just plain unfeeling. So, really, can you blame me for not wanting to continue this? Unoriginal plot lines, characters that lacked distinct personalities, and an attachment that failed to occur. By the time I passed the half-way point of this story, I was done. I can't even say that Marie Lu is a good writer because, really, her writing was nothing special either.Legend is a tiny bit better than Article 5, but not a whole lot much. In fact, Enclave, another DNF for me, is far better, so maybe check that out instead? Or, you know, just give this a shot, because even if it's not for you, it's a quick read and you won't feel as if you wasted your time. At least, not too much.

Monday, January 21, 2013

ARC Review: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Title: The Mad Scientist's Daughter

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Rating: 2 Stars

Release Date: January 29th, 2013

Looking back, I think I can acknowledge that The Mad Scientist's Daughter is more of a tragic love story than anything else. Although it's been marketed as sci-fi, focusing on robots and a dystopian future that seems eerily similar to something our own children may experience, at the core, it is all romance and not much else. Let me clarify - all dramatic and angst-riddenromance. Unfortunately, I didn't even feel much for this main romance since I was too preoccupied coming up with ways to murder the main character, Cat. I feel like an anomaly, simply because everyone seems to have at least liked this story, if not loved it, but I was literally crying tears of happiness as I neared the end. I suppose, though, that at the end of the day, some books aren't for everyone and this one just wasn't for me. 

I will say, however, that Clarke has some of the worst synopsis writers ever. Seriously, the synopsis for The Assassin's Curse gave away the entire plot and the synopsis for this one gives away too little. Ultimately, however, the novel is about, as its title suggests, Cat, the daughter of famed scientist Daniel Novak. When Dr. Novak brings Finn, a robot who looks and seems human in every way, to their home when Cat is only five, her entire life is changed. At first, their relationship is one of tender friendship. Cat is tutored by Finn, but as she grows, so do her feelings for him. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Finn isn't human, he's only a robot, so he can't possibly feel anything for her too...can he?

I found the premises of this novel to be fascinating and was quickly drawn into the story of Cat as her life unfolds, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Yet, as I finished the first part of this novel, for it is split into three parts, I couldn't help but lose my former enthusiasm for the story. For one, the novel justdrags. It covers nearly half of the total lifespan that Cat lives and as such, it is a long book, one with lots of extraneous details and under-developed secondary characters that it is impossible to feel much for because of their fleeting presence, giving way to more than a little skipping.

More important, however, Cat is an unlikable character like no other; unlikable to the point where she's quite literally a badperson, not someone who is good and has their flaws. As Cat grows and continues to deny her feelings for Finn, treating him as a robot while seeing him as a man, she uses him in more ways than one; uses him as an object, never bothering to care for his feelings and exploiting him for her own gain, despite her care for him. Later, in an effort to escape her attachment to him, she uses other men in her life, for instance her rich husband whose love she never returns. It's all just one disaster after another; death followed by a loveless marriage followed by more sorrow.

If all that desolation wasn't enough to turn me away, I never felt as if Cat was truly redeemed by the end - I still hated her with a passion. Now, books, as John Green would say, are not in the business of creating likable characters, which I totally understand, but I do believe that they are in the business of creating bonds with a reader and that was sadly missing. Of all the characters in this tale, the only one I came to feel for was Finn; sweet, kind Finn who seemed to be utterly manipulated by everyone in his life, from Cat's kind father to Cat, who loved him, herself. Furthermore, more than a lack of emotion or feeling when it came to this book, there were so many aspects of Cat's life that we found out about, but that played no larger role overall; I guess that the plot outline was generally very sloppy for this, introducing elements that were completely unnecessary and leaving me detached even from the story itself.

Yet, even more than the characters and my dislike of the romance, this book sorely disappointed me with all its wasted potential. At times, the novel would veer towards political debates on the humanity of these robots, whether or not they should have been granted rights, etc., but none of this was further explored. Furthermore, Cat never undergoes any doubt or lingering qualms before entering into a relationship - or whatever you want to call it - with Finn. Of course, she realizes that it isn't normal or evenright to be in love with a computer, but she doesn't seem to care or worry. In fact, the only character who ever calls out Cat on her relationship with Finn is her mother, who is conveniently killed off in the first third of the novel.

While The Mad Scientist's Daughter was not a book for me, I'm sure it will move many other readers. I'm not one for angsty romances that remind me of the majority of adult romances that I so painstakingly avoid and especially not with hints of politics and sci-fi thrown in thrown in for the sake of it; I'm especially not one to condone heroines who use men in a twisted love triangle fashion, giving the type of love that is seen as practically obsessive for they are a mere shell of themselves without their loved one. I cannot deny that Clarke is a phenomenal writer and her versatility has definitely shown through in her quick - and successful - venture into adult novels. Still, I think I'll just stick with her YA books - God knows I can't wait for The Pirate's Wish to release!

Thank you to NetGalley and Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Showcase Sunday (#21)

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

For Review: 
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I actually tore into this one the moment I got it since I couldn't wait to start and I loved it! Very highly recommended, although with a few review is coming closer to the release date, in May, but until then, definitely put this on your TBR-Shelves! :)
Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz
No, this is no dream. Yes, I really did get approved for this on NetGalley. I KNOW! I was screaming when I saw my approval e-mail because GUYS I LOVE HANNAH MOSKOWITZ WITH A BURNING PASSION! :D
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
I love the cover for this one and the premises is so original, so I'm really excited to read this. I'm hoping Arnett can pull off such an intriguing debut, so I hope this lives up to all my expectations! 
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The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
I was originally really excited to be offered a physical ARC of this, but as it took its time coming to me, so did the negative reviews of this one. I still hope I enjoy it, perhaps with some altered expectations, so we'll see how this one goes. 
Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye by Shari A. Brady 
Another one I already read since I'm on a blog tour for this next month and I rather enjoyed it. Especially the romance - it was the cutest thing EVER.
I know a lot of readers who are familiar with this author's novels, although I am not, but the synopsis and genre of this are right up my alley, so I'm looking forward to checking it out soon. 

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Just One Day by Gayle Forman
I read this the day it released in about...six hours, with homework and essays written in the middle. I literally could not put it down and now I just NEED the next book! It was incredible though, so Gayle Forman, hats off you to!
Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield
I'd heard SO much about this one, so when it finally arrived, I got down to reading it. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I really am looking forward to Wakefield's debut now, when I get around to it. 
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
MOSKOWITZ! :D Gosh, guys, what do I say about Teeth? It was...incredible. Poignant. Moving. Unbelievable. Gripping. Heart-Wrenching. Beautiful. Read it. NOW. 

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Timekeeper by Alexandra Monir
I still don't know WHY I decided to read this when I didn't even enjoy the first book, Timeless, all that much, but I was curious. It isn't a bad series, just not one for me I think. 
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
I haven't read Middle Grade in forever, but this was SO GOOD! Seriously, the plot twists were remarkable and this just BLEW MY MIND!
Legend by Marie Lu
I've heard tonsssss of mixed feelings about this one, but with the sequel looming close, I figured I'd give it a shot. Let's see how it goes...
Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan
I just LOVE this author, so when I found out that she had written another book that was also translated in English (she's French), I jumped for joy. Thankfully, my librarian called a couple of other libraries to find this for me and now it is MINE! Or, you know, mine for three weeks! ;)
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
I've heard incredible things about this one, so I'm curious and a little nervous to start as it's not something I'd usually pick up. Kephart has written lots of novels, which I didn't know about since I thought she was a new author, so I'm curious to give this a shot.

Well, that's my haul for (most of) January! What new books have you received this week (or month!)?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Title: Stolen 

Author: Lucy Christopher 

Rating: 5 Stars

I literally just put down Stolen and my can't think. I just need to let this book sit and saturate into me, every part of me because it can and it will and I will let it.

I do want to say, however, that Stolen was not what I expected. When I went into it, I was almost expecting an eventual romance, but there is none and I'm glad there isn't. Stolen is a novel of abduction, but it is also a novel of hope and faith and beauty. I only really fell in love with Stolen seven pages from the end; until then, I was on the fence. I think, more than anything, I was confused while reading this, which is what you're supposed to feel... You see, this book is such a mind-fuck (excuse my language, but there is really no other better way to put it) because on one hand, you despise Ty for stealing Gemma, for taking her away from her home, for stalking her for so many years, for making her life miserable; but, at the same time, I despised Gemma whenever she destroyed Ty's art, when she hurt him with her words, when she mocked him and his love for his desert, when she failed to even try to understand him the way he so obviously understood her...

Stolen isn't a romance and for 90% of the novel, Gemma is constantly trying to run away from Ty, to escape her predicament. Yet, somewhere, she realizes that some of what Ty says is true; society is terrible and cruel and parents really don'tunderstand their children and sometimes even friends don't and terrible things do happen. But, that gene that tells you in your brain that you have to accept the bad things and move on, that you can't save everyone, that maybe even you can't save wasn't in Ty. Yes, Ty steals Gemma, but he steals her because he thinks he's doing the right thing. Unknowingly, Gemma saves him as a child and he wants to return the favor. It's so mind-boggling because Ty isn't a bad person; he's nice to Gemma, he never harms her or takes advantage of her in any way, he clothes her and feeds her and shows her the beauty of the desert; but he's wrong in his own right, too.

"I can't save you like that Ty.

What you did to me wasn't this brilliant thing, like you think it was. You took me away from everything - my parents, my friends, my life. You took me to the sand and the heat, the dirt and isolation. And you expected me to love you. And that's the hardest bit. Because I did, or at least, I loved something out there.

But I hated you too. I can't forget that."

Stolen, I felt, was a social commentary of sorts. It's difficult to understand and comprehend properly and it's painful because of that, because of the confusion we feel and the sudden desperation as we want to escape to a desert, see the sunset, and live alone, but happy, without the burdens of society and expectations of our parents and disappointments of our friends. In life, however, there are always two paths: the right one and the wrong one. From my experience, the wrong one is always the easiest, but leads to eventual downfall, just as the right one is full of hurdles, but ultimately leads to happiness. In Stolen, however, all the lines are blurred; just the way I like it in a truly fantastic novel.

I will warn you, reading this novel is a strange experience. I felt uncomfortable, not knowing where the plot was leading, not knowing what I wanted to happen, but I feel better now that it's over. In some ways, I feel like this novel is better for a re-read than anything else, an opportunity to understand what really happened and where Gemma started to feel something more than hatred for Ty. One of the things that did surprise me, however, was how un-original Ty's story wound up being. Now, I won't say that it isn't terrible and cruel and painful, but the path that Ty took seems so much more strange than most people in his situation. I think, however, that to become a stalker like Ty, to become obsessed with a person, to think that you're saving don't need to go through a unique traumatic experience for that. Anything, even something as small as six-year-old Gemma talking to him, a stranger, can alter the mind in such a way; after all, who are we to know the depths and recesses of our brains and how events can affect you?

"It sounded weird to hear you talk so much; normally you only said a few words at a time. I'd never imagined that you'd have a story, too. Until that moment, you were just the kidnapper. You didn't have reasons for anything. You were stupid and evil and mentally ill. That was all. When you started talking, you started changing." 

As for me, I don't know what to think. Yes, I do think Gemma suffered from a form of Stockholm Syndrome, I do think she makes the right decision, I do think Ty is slightly insane, I do think he is a good person, I do think his axis in life is just a little off...but I don't see Ty as a monster and neither do I see Gemma as a tortured abduction victim. If anything, there is too much of a silver lining to this tale. It's sad and depressing and unhappy, but it's also right and true and beautiful.

"And, let's face it, you did steal me. But you saved my life, too. And somewhere in the middle, you showed me a place so different and beautiful, I can never get it out of my mind. And I can't get you out of there, either. You're stuck in my brain like my own blood vessels." 

Lucy Christopher, I will read anything you write. Anything. Especially if it's a sequel to Stolen that I hope you will eventually write onto paper instead of keeping locked up in your head. I do have to admit, however, that the ending to this is perfect and it doesn't need a sequel at all. I wouldn't mind if a sequel was written, but I don't need one either. Just this gem of a novel is enough...

I realize this is long, but it's also not much of a review, for which I apologize. It doesn't even begin to touch upon the complexity of Ty's character; his passion for the stark Australian desert, his talent with animals, his love of art, his intelligence and resourcefulness... It barely even grazes the vastness of the backdrop this book is set against, a landscape so harsh, yet lovely, that it was a deeply enigmatic character in its own right. But, all this isn't something I can just write about or explain or even begin to understand; it's something you just have to experience on your own.

Without a doubt, I am in love with this book. It is thoughtful, compelling, and mind-numbingly provocative. It is written in a beautiful and creeping manner, molding its way around your heart all while growing thorns. Best of all, however, it makes you think and question your own life and long for something inexplicable...and, really, isn't that the most we can ask of a book? For it to impart some of itself in us, for it to make us see an author's passion, and for it to make us attempt to define that which is undefinable?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Title: Hold Still 

Author: Nina LaCour

Rating: 4 Stars

If the breathtaking cover of Hold Still hasn’t already captured your attention, the beautiful writing inside certainly will. LaCour’s debut is an ambitious piece, taking on grief, confusion, and the swirling unknown of despair that leads to teenage suicide. While I can’t say that this is an easy read, because the sadness in it is practically overwhelming, it is a very well-written and powerful novel, one that every lover of moving prose, three-dimensional characters, and realistic approaches should invest their time in.

When our novel begins, Ingrid, Caitlin’s best friend, has just committed suicide. Needless to say, the entirety of this novel is Caitlin’s journey as she learns to move on and continue living, despite the gaping hole in her heart. Now, I’ve read my fair share of grief novels and, from my experience, they usually involve road trips, hot guys, or just escaping. As much as I enjoy and simply love those books, Hold Still is a far more real experience because, admit it, as a teen, what are the chances of you taking off in a truck across the country with a ridiculously hot guy, too? Zero. Thus, I found Caitlin’s journey, although far more depressing than I originally anticipated, being a much more realistic portrayal of teen grief.

In my eyes, the strength of this novel lies in Caitlin. LaCour gives Caitlin many tools; she allows her to find Ingrid’s journal, full of her deepest thoughts; she allows her to make a new friend in school, one who has also experienced loss; she gives her understanding parents who only want to see their daughter emerge from her numb stasis; and she even gives her a concerned classmate, one who wants the best for her. Yet, despite all these people willing to help Caitlin and the objects of Ingrid’s that she finds to help her understand her friend, they all somehow play a very minimal role in the novel. Instead, this book is all Caitlin, all her interpretations of Ingrid’s short journal entries, all her confused feelings and bad moods, all her slowly coping with this unexplainable grief.

Caitlin isn’t an easy character to like. For one, she’s closed off from others, her narration is deeply saddening, and she pushes away others. Yet, her growth throughout the novel is gradual and evident, which I loved. Perhaps best of all, for the reader at least, is that the grief that Caitlin feels, the same grief that seems to be pressing down upon us as we flip the pages, choking our words and enveloping us in darkness, recedes. LaCour is such a brilliant author that, truly, I was so very numb while reading the first half of this, but, like Caitlin herself, I slowly began to thaw. Even more than her prose, LaCour’s depiction of teens, the conversations Caitlin carries with her parents and her photography teacher, her blooming romance with the school’s most popular guy…it’s all so very believable.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend this novel enough. I am still blown away by the depth of some of the relationships in this story, the truly individual arc of growth, and just Caitlin herself. I feel like I’ve crawled into her skin since I know her so well, her passion for photography and to make a tree house, her parents, her friends, her worries, her aspirations, her heart… Hold Still is a contemporary that just cannot be missed. It is deep, lovely, and moving in all the right ways and will undoubtedly change your expectations about teenage contemporary novels for sure. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh

Title: Enshadowed (Nevermore, #2) 

Author: Kelly Creagh

Rating: 2 Stars

Enshadowed is a disaster; pure, terrifying, earth-shattering literary disaster, hurling your way at velocities too fast to imagine. Ever since I finished Nevermore, I've been dutifully stalking Kelly Creagh's website for any mention of a sequel; a release date, a cover, a summary. Thus, on August 28th when I finally heldEnshadowed in my hands, I was breathless, shaking, and oh-so-very excited. Well, talk about a slap back into reality because it took me nearly five months to read Enshadowed. Yes, you read that right - five months.

If you look up "frustrating" "slow" "dull" "meaningless" or just "Middle Book Syndrome" in the dictionary, this will be the book cover next to those words. In the future, if I ever say a novel suffered from MBS, slap me and direct me to this review, because there is not even one book in the world that suffers from it as much as this one does. Not. One. What I'm trying to say here is that nothing happens in Enshadowed. Absolutely. Nothing.

Creagh's sophomore novel picks up directly where her debut left off, which is possibly its first flaw. You see, this series is not meant to be a trilogy - there isn't enough material for that. Instead, it's really just a duo, but Creagh has a talent for writing long, beautiful and languid phrases, rich with description and detail - so much so that it takes up this entire novel. For 70% of the story we are treated to Isobel as she sees visions, wanders through life shell-shocked from the events of the past Halloween and grieves Varen. In the last 30%, we are treated to a sudden shift into action, into what we think is answers but we learn is just a solid dose of confusion. In fact, I can't even summon up enough emotion to feel irritated by yet another cliffhanger ending - I think I'm just too happy I finally finished this.

You see, the problem with Enshadowed is that there is too muchof the wrong thing and too little of the right thing. Over half of this novel is dedicated to character development, gradually building Isobel's relationship with her parents and charting its changes as Varen's disappearance is prolonged. Out of all the people in the world, I am most probably one of the strongest supporters for character development, but character development without plot is a tragic flaw. Isobel simply pushes aside her parents well-wishes, she does exactly what she wants and makes no effort to conceal her new sense of insanity from those around her. If I could have, I would gone in and just strangled Isobel. Not only was she extremely disappointing as a character, butnothing happened! If Enshadowed had started out from Isobel reaching Baltimore, as she vowed in the end of Nevermore, and giving us flashbacks, building up the familial relationships that Creagh so obviously found important, perhaps then this would have been a better novel. Perhaps.

If all of that didn't sound bad enough - no plot, frustrating characters, too much character development, confusing visions that did nothing for the story - then it all just gets worse with Isobel constantly moping. Nevermore perfectly captured the tense, tender, and enriching relationship that Isobel and Varen shared, but Enshadowed reduces that into an Isabella-Swan-eque pining. I kid you not. Sure, perhaps Isobel isn't running out to dive from cliffs to see visions of Varen, but she's not doing anything a whole lot safer either.

Now, looking back, I can fully admit that the only reason this novel is getting two stars and not one - or zero - is because of Gwen, Isobel's best friend, Danny, Isobel's brother, and Isobel's parents herself. Considering that character development ruined this story, at least those characters shone and I enjoyed some parts of this tale, particularly Isobel's relationship with her parents, brother, and friend. While I do firmly believe that this could have all been condensed, at least into a novella if not just a final installment, at least Enshadowed has strong characters and beautiful writing to offer it some type of absolution.

I will, without a doubt, be reading the last novel. It is, after all, the last book; the one with all the answers that I wish this one had; the one where something will actually happen and not just drag on like a filler. Nevertheless, I won't be making the same mistake twice. I won't be checking Creagh's website anytime soon, I won't be pre-ordering the last novel, and I will keep my expectations so ridiculously low that there is no possible way I can be disappointed. If you haven't read Enshadowed yet, take my advice and skip to Chapter 25. Everything that is worth knowing about this book happens in the last ten chapters and if you want to know everything else, just go back and start from the beginning; it's too much of an effort to read this all the way through. Trust me, I know - I did, after all, struggle with this for five months.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Day (Just One Day, #1) 

Author: Gayle Forman 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Nearly a decade ago, someone once told me that books are like memories; within their pages, they store your emotions and thoughts, a document of sorts of your experience. I still don’t know how true that statement is, but I dearly hope it is – at least when it comes to Just One Day. Nothing better than this book itself can summon up the whirlwind of emotion I felt when I read it. Although I cracked open its spine with trepidation – there are, after all, a plethora of mixed reviews out there – my feelings quickly changed from that of anxiety to excitement as I was swept up alongside Allyson on her breathtaking journey. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was laughing or crying for I was so full of giddy happiness and bittersweet longing - those are the types of feelings a Gayle Forman novel inspires in you. I finished Just One Day with a smile on my face, my heart swelling with pride for Allyson, who felt as close to me as my own best friend, and although the pang I feel when I think of this novel is only an echo of what I feel for Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went duo, I still love it, albeit in an entirely different way.

Just One Day is a novel that will very easily either captivate or disappoint readers. It’s a New Adult novel that almost demands that you be a teenager to truly understand it, for Allyson’s journey is such a personal and nostalgic experience, one that everyone can definitely relate to. One of the best ways I can find to summarize it is a realistic rendition of Kristen Hubbard’s Wanderlove. Although Wanderlove is one of my favorite books of all time, I can’t deny that the chances of traveling to a new country and finding a hitchhiker to explore with are rather low. Thus, Allyson’s summer experience in Europe, a disappointing one full of touristy stops and not enough life is easier to relate to. When Willem, an enigmatic Dutch actor who Allyson sees performing Shakespeare in London, offers to take her around Paris – for just one day – she agrees, despite her goody-two-shoes attitude.

What follows is a day of whirlwind journey; it isn’t perfect, but it’s real and it’s far more rewarding than any other trip on Allyson’s summer vacation. Perhaps best of all, to Allyson at least, is that she is no longer Allyson, the girl who listens to her parents, studies hard, and never lives life the way so many other teens do; now, she’s “Lulu”, a nickname Willem gives her, and as “Lulu,” Allyson is finally free to let loose the person she truly is inside. Nevertheless, her exhilarating journey is abruptly halted when, the next morning, Willem is gone. Now, Allyson is distraught, both at thinking that Willem may have just used her and at contemplating her life in college as a pre-med student – a path that her mother, not her, wants to follow. As Allyson will learn, however, her day in Paris wasn’t about Willem at all – it was about her and finding out that she was more than she – or anyone else – ever quite imagined.

Just One Day, as I’m sure countless reviews have stated, is a journey of self-discovery. Although I will admit that it isn’t wholly original, it is certainly memorable. Allyson has a certain vulnerability about her that makes her impossible not to love. In Paris, she may have been pretending to be “Lulu”, but that was who she really was and she struggles to find a way to be that person again, all while continuing to please her parents and hold onto her childhood best friend, Melanie, who constantly reinvents herself. One of my favorite aspects of this tale was the subtle heartbreak that came not only with seeing Allyson and Melanie grow apart, but also Allyson and her parents. In their place, however, Allyson makes new friends, never replacing those from her past, but simply realizing that growing up also means leaving room for new people to join her life, such as Dee, the African American boy she meets in her “Shakespeare Out Loud” class; the person who shows her that although she has many personas – “Lulu”, pre-med student Allyson, reliable Allyson – who she really is is a mixture of all the roles she plays, and still so much more.

In my eyes, what makes Just One Day such a hit-or-miss novel is the mere fact that Allyson is a character trying to find her place in the world. After her trip to Paris, she comes to the stark realization that no one really sees her – not her parents, not her best friends, no one – except for Willem. Willem, who took a bargain in spending a day with her, unknowingly changed her entire life, not just because of who he was, but in what he brought out inside her. What I loved about this story was that Allyson found herself again - finds herself again – and this time, without Willem. It is this journey, this third journey almost; the first being her wake-up call, the second being her slow emergence from the typical life she leads that isn’t really hers, to this now final journey of finding who she is all through her own experience, her own friends, her own interests, and her own initiatives. It’s beautiful.

Nevertheless, I will admit that Just One Day is not a perfect story. For one, some secondary characters, such as Allyson’s father, are astonishingly underdeveloped, lacking personality when surrounded by such well-fleshed out characters. Furthermore, this novel failed to impact me on an emotional level equal to that of If I Stay or Where She Went. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that made this novel fall for me, but a certain aura or fully nuanced aspect of Allyson, perhaps, was missing. Unlike other readers, however, I was never bothered by the mysterious figure that Willem remained throughout the novel. If anything, I loved the way he was portrayed in this book – a traveler, a lonely young man, a player…or someone who we’ve all just judged too quickly, because, perhaps, there’s more to him and his story than what we see before our eyes. Yet, what I liked best was that he didn’t reappear in this story – once he left, he was gone and then it was all Allyson and the manner in which she came to terms with who he was and what he did for her, changing her life, was remarkable.

Just One Day is a novel that just must be read. It is beautifully written and to see Forman take on something different – the idea of living truly and happily instead of the idea of choosing between life and death – was refreshing. Of course, there are many authors who have written self-discovery novels in the past, and I have liked some of them more than this one, but Forman’s tales just never leave my head. I was thinking about this the whole day, ever since I finished it last night (at 11:54, which means I actually read Just One Day in exactly a day!), and I am still convinced that I have not extracted the full depth and meaning that this story has to offer. It’s a universal tale, one that will transport you to other countries, make you feel emotions you thought you could never feel, and ultimately, just as it changed Allyson, it will change a small particle of you too. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Provex City by Michael Pierce (Excerpt & Giveaway)

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Michael Pierce's latest novel, Provex City! A huge thank you to Candace from Candace's Book Blog for allowing me to be a part of this tour! :) On my stop today, I am showcasing an excerpt from this novel as well as hosting a giveaway both for US and International Readers, so be sure to enter! Good Luck! :D

You can check out the other tour stops HERE!

Title: Provex City (The Lorne Family Vault Series, #1) 

Author: Michael Pierce 

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls? Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.
       The bass coming from the living room rattled my stomach every time the beat hit. I slowly lurched forward, growing more apprehensive of entering the living room with each step. I didn’t want to walk out onto the makeshift dance floor. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself with my first attempt at dancing with a girl in front of all these people. Everyone was focused on their own affairs, but as soon as my awkwardness on the dance floor was noticed, all eyes would be on me. The thought was terrifying.
       I turned the corner and looked out at the sea of bodies moving rhythmically to the music bellowing from the stereo. Most of the dancers enjoying the music were girls, but there were a number of guys making their moves on the increased odds. I noticed my girl, Anna, in the middle of the crowd, swaying with all those around her and holding her drink high in the air where it seemed just as likely to spill. She didn’t seem to be dancing with anyone in particular. Girls and guys surrounded her, and she was dancing with all of them, all moving in a trance-like ecstasy.
I stood there, finishing my drink, gathering my courage, and biding my time for the appropriate moment. But what would be the appropriate moment? In between songs? For her to notice me? For a clear path to emerge? There was no path through the sea of bodies. Everyone seemed to be in some way connected, holding the outsiders at bay. Or were they just obstacles, obstacles I was meant to overcome…
I finished my safety drink and no longer had a way to just stand around without looking awkward. I had to do something. Looking back to the kitchen, I thought of refilling my cup. And then I looked toward the dance floor and thought of moving forward. Finally setting my empty cup down on a small table by the stairs, I dove headfirst into the dance floor.
I did my best to move with the music and squeeze past the entranced, oblivious dancers. I kept my eyes on Anna as I maneuvered forward, deeper into the ocean and realized I had no easy exit. I stumbled, bumped, and shoved my way to the center and no one seemed to care. The close proximity was natural here, and we were all connected. I broke through the final barrier and stood dumbfounded in the presence of Anna grooving and grinding to the music. She had one hand in the air and one hand on some guy’s shoulder, moving seductively. She gracefully twirled 180° and rubbed her body fervently against his, lost in the pulsating beat and feral rhythm of the music.
Anna finally looked ahead and released a surprising burst of excitement at the sight of me standing before her. She pounced on me in jubilation and wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, unknowingly spraying our surrounding guests with what was left of her drink. Everyone around us took a step back with caution and groans of irritation, leaving us separated, yet trapped in the middle of the sea of undulating bodies.
“There you are!” she yelled in my ear. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Are you having fun? Are you happy? Are you here to see me?” she said and stumbled backward when she let go of me. She steadied herself, extending her cup-holding hand to regain her balance. Then she brought the plastic cup up to her lips and attempted to take a thirst-quenching gulp, but got less than a drip. “Aww—it’s all gone.” She dropped the cup on the floor.
Anna got herself back into the swing of the music and moved into me. She grabbed my hands at my sides and placed them on her gyrating hips. She threw her arms around the back of my neck, and we moved to the music as one person. I had no technique and tried not to think about what I was doing, except to follow Anna’s lead into an uninhibited state of consciousness. Anna had help, and I had Anna.
“Do you want to get another drink?” she asked after a few songs. I nodded, and she grabbed my hand and led me out of the water.

Michael Pierce lives in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two ultra-protective Chiweenies. Provex City is his debut novel and the first book in the young adult fantasy Lorne Family Vault Series.

International Giveaway!
  • 3 winners will receive a paperback of Provex City and a $15 Amazon Gift Card (INT.)
  • 5 additional winners will win a paperback copy of Provex City (INT.)
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mini-Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Title: Plain Kate 

Author: Erin Bow

Rating: 2.5 Stars 

Plain Kate is, quite honestly, just not the book for me. I know a countless number of my friends and most trusted reviewers have absolutely adored this tale, but despite being an ardent fantasy lover, I somehow could not get into it. Bow's debut follows the tale of Plain Kate, a tale of woe for every time something bad happens to her, something worse is waiting just around the corner. Kate is orphaned at a young age and after her father's age, she struggles to survive in their town where everyone believes she is a witch. When Linay, an evil albino wizard, comes to town, he offers her a wish and whatever provisions she may want in exchange for her shadow. Kate, not knowing the seriousness of this bargain, agrees, only to have her life take a turn for the worse - yet again.

While many readers found this story to be vastly intriguing, I thought it was rather boring. In fact, the first hundred or so pages can probably be skimmed entirely since nothing much happens. Furthermore, the writing that so captivated others rendered me unable to connect with any of the characters. It made me feel aloof and distant from the story itself and while beautiful to be sure, I didn't enjoy it and felt it didn't work well with the novel. Perhaps my biggest qualm, however, is Kate herself. Throughout the novel, Kate only becomes tougher and stronger, but her experiences never truly change her or make her orient herself and her life in different directions. In addition, as I mentioned before, I was unable to connect with her and feel much but sympathy for her life.

Overall, Plain Kate isn't a novel I can recommend, but it is one I advise any fantasy reader to give a chance. I am in the minority when it comes to this piece and can only hope that other readers love it unlike I have. Nevertheless, I will admit that if Erin Bow decides to write a young adult fantasy novel next, one that is a little more sophisticated and with older characters, I'll be itching to get my hands on it for sure. Bow is an author whose works I am bound to love - I can just feel it.