Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mixed Bag New Adult Mini-Reviews: Contemporary, Fantasy & Classics

While not all of these books have been explicitly labeled as New Adult, I feel comfortable throwing all four into this category as the age group of the characters perfectly fits this mold. Secret Society Girl and This Love are perhaps more traditionally New Adult, but Moth & Spark features young protagonists on the cusp of adulthood and Joyce's classic focuses largely on self-discovery prior to adulthood, covering a time span from Young Adult to New Adult.

Title: Secret Society Girl (Secret Society Girl, #1)
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Rating: 2 Stars

It seems Diana Peterfreund and I are truly meant to go our separate ways. For Darkness Shows the Stars underwhelmed me when it released, but I attributed my distaste of it to my love for Jane Austen's Persuasion, the novel Peterfreund attempted to pay homage to through her re-imagined futuristic setting. It - evidently - didn't work for me but, surely, Secret Society Girl should have. Of all my trusted reviewers, not one has found true fault with this novel. Thus, I must warn readers to take this review with a grain of salt. I am not of the majority opinion. Not at all.

While the premises of Secret Society Girl is intriguing enough - a young girl welcomed into an elite, previously boys-only, secret society - its execution falls flat. I found myself alternately bored while reading this, unable to connect with the main character or any of her friends. Although certain sections held my interest, for the most part, I found myself unimpressed - and unmoved by - the "witty" dialogue, "complex" relationships, and "secret" society happenings. But, as I've mentioned before, the fault clearly lies with me. I picked up Secret Society Girl hoping to discover a new series to label as a favorite but, it seems, we are just not meant to be.

Title: This Love (University of Branton, #1)
Author: Nazarea Andrews
Rating: 3 Stars

A quick read, but not one that makes any remarkable strides in the New Adult Genre. This Love deals with a forbidden student-teacher relationship, but this aspect of the romance is largely ignored by both love interests until the last quarter of the novel. In some ways, I can see the logistics behind this - a summer fling that wasn't supposed to come with emotional attachments - but I felt oddly distanced from the romance at hand, likely because of it. Andrews fails to play up the forbidden element which forced This Love from a unique category to a rather predictable one. I found the plot line to be reminiscent of typical romance novels, complete with two leads whose past troubles force them to seek solace in one another, only to find love instead. Unlike Unteachable, where the student-teacher romance only adds to the plot, This Love isn't a novel I'd recommend for those looking for a slightly different flavor of love story. Andrews's prose isn't anything spectacular and, I'm afraid, neither are her characters. In conclusion: not a bad novel, just one I feel remarkably indifferent towards.

Title: Moth & Spark
Author: Anne Leonard
Rating: 3 Stars

Moth and Spark is fantasy-lite. While it contains a plethora of intriguing ideas, the world-building, dragons, and magical elements aren't as deeply explored as the romance is. Quite simply put, though this could have easily been molded into an intense, political fantasy novel, it remains focused on the love story at hand. For an adult novel to push aside the intriguing political machinations of its universe, keeping its best qualities - dragons and magic - at bay, only compels it to dim in light of other fantasy novels. Leonard's writing and characterization are rich, but not rich enough to warrant remembrance. Not a bad debut, just a little different from what I expected...

Title: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Author: James Joyce
Rating: 2 Stars

It took my class a lot longer to finish this book than it took us to finish Crime and Punishment. Joyce is - by no means - a bad writer. If anything, his attention to detail, the clever symbols he incorporates into his work, and the motifs that recur again and again to create a larger meaning are all deftly woven together. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a wonderful piece of work in the sense that its subject matter is intriguing - a moral, internal struggle reconciling religion, lust, and identity - and, moreover, it remains a testament to more than just artistry, but history as well, drawing heavily upon its time period. Yet, that being said, Joyce's "stream of consciousness" prose did not sit well with me. I was unable to appreciate Stephen's character, feeling constantly distanced from the narrative throughout, and this novel's tediousness is its downfall. For modern readers, at any rate. Within my class itself, I struggle to name a single individual - with the exception of my enthusiastic teacher - who truly enjoyed this. Now, having finished the book, I am able to appreciate its significance but the experience of getting through this was far from entertaining. It's the way of classics, I suppose - you love some, you loathe others.


  1. well not really a lot of wonderful books... And I know only about one, well it's a start. I know Moth & Spark but I heard great things about it, I'm sorry it wasn't for you.

  2. It looks like you had a very 50/50ish way with these, you didn't love any of them but some were way better than others.

    Hopefully your next read will blow you away. ;)

  3. I had a similar reaction to Moth & Spark Keertana! I liked it overall, I just wanted a bit more from it. I've been on such a fantasy kick lately, and it was definitely on the lighter side with the fantasy elements until the very end with the dragons. More dragons please!

  4. Diana Peterfreund and I went our separate ways a bit ago -- it's almost as if she tries too hard to be literary (maybe it's just my bias). The characters were my favorite part of Moth & Spark -- I really enjoyed the story overall, though I did want more dragons. More dragons is always good.

  5. Well NA is not my thing, but I must high five you because of Joyce. It took me months to finish that one. It's simply that stream of consciousness and I will never be on the same side. Still it's really a piece worth being called a classic. Others one your list sound interesting but I don't think they are for me. Great reviews, Keertana :)

  6. I've never read Joyce. I find I'm not entirely interested in most "classics" though there are some really good ones! Thanks for the thoughts on these. :)


  7. Keertana, don't give up on Peterfreund without trying her Killer Unicorns duology! I was underwhelmed by For Darkness Shows the Stars myself - so much so that I wasn't interested in trying anything else by her. And then suddenly I had the opportunity to read her Killer Unicorns duology and loved it.

    I was so excited for Moth and Spark until I started hearing how the romance takes precedence over everything else. Boo. I shall not be reading that one.
    I went through all sorts of English classes without having to read Joyce. I'm kind of glad, because I don't think that I'd enjoy his writing. At the same time, though, I feel like I should try some of his writing out just for the experience. Maybe someday.

  8. I honestly can't read books where I can't connect to the main character and so I don't think I would have any luck with Secret Society either. I am curious about the boys-only aspect though. It seems intriguing.

    I actually like and frustratingly enjoy forbidden romances. Too bad it doesn't work out in This Love. It seems lacking and dull. As for Moth and Spark, I actually like the premise for this one. However, I am hesitant to start it because of what it lacks with its interesting elements.

    I totally agree with you about classics, Keertana! I don't particularly enjoy them, with the exception of a select few. The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird are a few of my fav. I don't feel a natural draw to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, so I probably won't pick this up.

    Sorry you didn't have such good strong feelings for any of the books, Keertana. Great honest, reviews! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  9. I too was let down after reading Secret society Girl. Maybe you could try Rampant by Peterfreund someday? I was totally in love with that series. Haven't heard about Moth & Spark, sounds like the book I like.
    Haven't had a chance to read Joyce in my English classes, but I would like to try some of his works.

  10. I've found that Diana Peterfreund's books haven't worked for me besides FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS. To hear that she did a reimagined novel doesn't have me clamoring to read SECRET SOCIETY GIRL either. Too bad. Thanks for sharing these reviews, Keertana!

  11. I want to read Diana Peterfreund's other fantasy works. This one just doesn't appeal to me right now. With Moth and Spark... I do agree. In fact I had to go back to my review to remember. Talk about nailing that one on the head. LOL Oh and I do want to read Joyce's novel. I'm not sure I would enjoy his prose either and that is why I have put it off. Brilly reviews!

  12. I also was expecting more out of Moth & Spark - more dragons, more worldbuilding, more everything really. I still enjoyed it but it wasn't what I was expecting either. I haven't read Diana Peterfreund's Killer Unicorn series or Secret Society Girl but I did love For Darkness Shows the Stars (though I also love Persuasion, so that helped). I hear amazing things about the Unicorn books, but Secret Society Girl sounds like one I'd be fine skipping. Hope your next reads are more memorable than these. Lovely honest minis!

  13. This is truly a mixed bag, isn't it? And it doesn't sound like they're all remarkable reads. I love, love Persuasion and jumped at the chance to read For Darkness. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get through the first chapter.

    That's really disappointing about Moth and Spark. Everyone seems to be all over that book!

    Good luck on your next reads, Keertana. :)

  14. What a bummer to have several lackluster reads. I hope this didn't happen to you one right after the other because that can be depressing. I hope you're enjoying Sinner! Can't wait to see what you think. Great minis, Keertana! :)

  15. I haven't read FOR DARKNESS yet, but I loved ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA and the author's recent NA title ONE & ONLY, so...I'm hopeful I'll like SECRET SOCIETY GIRL, too! I'm sorry you only had a middling experience with it, though.

    I'm intrigued by M&S as well. I'm not a huge fantasy person anyway, so fantasy-lite doesn't necessarily bother me if there are elements that I like.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  16. Sorry none of these ended up wowing you. I was interested in Moth and Spark, but I'm not sure it's worth obtaining a copy as I've heard mediocre responses. Sad that Peterfreund doesn't work for you as an author :(. Did you read her NA book? I liked that one a lot. I actually haven't seen a lot of reviews of Secret Society Girl. But the cover looks a little too HS petty to me. I agree with your statement about Andrews' book. I thought their romance started way too quickly, and it doesn't offer anything remarkable to the genre. Also the second in the series I liked way less than this one. The third involves a triad - that stays that way. So obviously I am done with those books. Hope your next read is much more exciting than these.


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