Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I saw The Dark Days Club title I was intrigued. That it was by Alison Goodman, who wrote Eon, probably the best damn YA fantasy book I’ve read in the past five years, I was over the moon excited.

Unfortunately I ended up being disappointed somewhat. First of all the setting, Regency London, is so t i r e d. Enjoyable still? Yes, but I have read so many books set in this time period and social sphere that even Goodman’s carefully researched 1812 fell flat. Not to mention she emulated the writing style of so many contemporary authors writing in this time period that I often forgot it was freaking Alison Goodman writing these characters, this plot. It read a lot like something Libba Bray wrote.

Don’t mistake me, the book is good. The plot is a bit thin and the characters a bit flat. Even the Reclaimer/Deceiver premise and the mention of alchemy didn’t draw me in. But I look forward to reading the sequel. If you start this book and hate it, I suggest the Gardella vampire series. Similar setting and plot, but much more complex and riveting.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Sci-fi vs. Reality and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series

Uglies (Uglies, #1)I don’t think I’m the only person who gets books stuck in their head like songs. I’ve had Scott Westerfeld’s YA series stuck in my brain for years, and I think a big part of that is because it is so prescient about modern society and the direction human nature is taking us.

The series is set in a future North America where at a certain age privileged teenagers undergo cosmetic surgery to erase all of their flaws. The books go more into the philosophical and ethical consequences of this, from the personal level to that of government, but I think even at the surface level it’s an interesting question to ask yourself. If you could become “perfect,” would you?

In Uglies, Tally Youngblood, the protagonist, spends her free time thinking about what her future face will look like, comparing the symmetry of either half of her face. When I read the books years ago I thought about it myself, but today as I was scrolling through a makeup group I follow on Facebook, a user had posted a set of photos of herself, one unedited, one retouched, side by side, and I was inspired to try it.

I picked a photo (left) from a day I thought my makeup looked really good.

img_2809 img_3350

Surprisingly, the right side of my face when doubled looks more like the original photo. I am right handed, so the features on the right side of my body are all slightly larger. I prefer the photo on the right, which is my left side doubled. You can tell because I have a freckle under the pupil on my left eye. My face is narrower and my forehead is smoother, but despite this I wouldn’t ever voluntarily have a symmetry surgery done, like in the books.

I made my face symmetrical using a free app called Square Instapic. It’s available on both Android and IOS img_3351platforms. I mostly use it for fitting an entire rectangular photo in a square for Instagram, but it makes nice collages too.

With so much emphasis on cosmetically and surgically changing the way we look these days, it’s no wonder Uglies  popped into my head. I’ve seen so much lip lining and contouring and general makeup brujeria recently. Not to mention actual surgery, and photo retouching; the premise of Westerfeld’s book isn’t far off.

I don’t see anything wrong with changing the way you look to feel like your most authentic self, but I think the underlying warning of both the book and my own opinion is that the single-minded focus on image can make humans blind to other, very important things.

Extras (Uglies, #4)However, in a society that is becoming much more like the last book in the series, Extras, image is everything, including livelihood, for a growing number of people. In Extras,  Aya lives in the same world as Tally, but in a different culture, where everything is filmed and broadcast, and social status and resources are allotted by popularity. Sound familiar?

Thousands of people have gained notoriety, sponsor-ships, and sometimes even fame and fortune from popular photos on social media, or viral videos. Some people come to it by chance, and some work very hard and almost single-minded-ly toward these goals. There are tons of marketing and traffic growth experts who have spent years developing know-how and web techniques to create viral content. Marketing is a cornerstone in the American economy and I can imagine it will only grow bigger and more essential as society and technology grow together. It’s exciting and a bit scary to think about, no?

Thanks for reading!

And, just in case you’re wondering, yes, Scott Westerfeld does have an Instagram.

ARC Review & Blog Tour for The Guardians by T. M. Franklin + Interview!

The Guardians (More, #2)The Guardians
by T.M. Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published November 7th 2013 by TWCS Publishing 

Ava’s life is . . . complicated.

After all, it’s not every day a girl learns she’s not entirely human, or unlocks hidden powers strong enough to make even the First Race sit up and take notice. After surviving an attempted kidnapping and standing up to the Race’s Ruling Council, Ava Michaels returns to college and what she hopes is a normal life. But Ava quickly realizes that for her, normal may not even exist anymore.

In fact, the Council wants her under their control, and they’re not the only ones. The mysterious Rogues have a plan of their own, and it turns out Ava’s a big part of it, whether she wants to be or not.

On top of that, her new relationship is tested in ways she never expected. Her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, has disappeared—accused of betraying the Race—and Ava herself stands implicated in a crime she didn’t commit.

Clearing their names will mean uncovering a web of deceit and intrigue with Ava woven right in the center. To unravel the strands, she joins forces with some unlikely allies; a Protector who once haunted her nightmares, a young girl with secrets as unexpected as Ava’s, and a group of rebel Guardians who have their own fight against the Council.

Together they stand in a battle to find the truth, bring Caleb home, and secure Ava’s freedom—not to mention save her life.

More Information | Goodreads | The Guardians Book Trailer


After racing through More, I was really excited to start The Guardians. Ava is a likeable character, and I really enjoyed how her relationship with Caleb developed in the first book; no insta-love, a not-super obvious attraction (aside from Ava’s roommate being a little pushy), and totally self-aware semi-creepy stalking.

One of my FAVORITE things about this book, and the series in particular, is the idea that this superhuman race are separate but entwined with humanity throughout history. The powers that the First Race have reminded me a bit of the movie “Push” actually, if only in the way they are named. They’re powerful, but Franklin keeps the narrative on course, without exploding it into a Bruckheimer-esque overdone too-big situation.

In The Guardians readers find out more about Ava, her background i.e. being adopted, and why/how, and get to see more of Caleb, but more importantly, TIERNAN.

Why am I so partial to him? He’s kind of unlikeable in the first book. In fact, he’s the BAD GUY for the greater part of it. I think I have a soft spot for meanies who get softened down by the protagonist. Like cats, once you win them over.

Will he be a love interest? Won’t he? (see my interview with T.M. Franklin below, where I ask her this question.)

To be honest, I won’t be too sad if he isn’t, the love triangle is kinda tired in YA, in my opinion. Tired, but somehow still engrossing enough that I yearn for it?

All in all, this book is a very good follow-up to the first in an excellent series. A fast-paced, quick read, with a sort of fantasy-meets-science-fiction premise that is accessible to fans of both genres. It’s blended enough that science nerds won’t be tripped up by technobabble, and fantasy fans get kick-ass characters with fantastical powers.

View all my reviews | buy at TWCS | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Author Bio:
T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, More, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.
In addition to More and The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, “A Piece of Cake,” which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology.

Connect with T.M. Franklin: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

MORE  was a NaNoWriMo novel, right? I love to see NaNo novels in print. What kept you in Ava’s world during those 30 days?
NaNo was so good for me. I really needed the daily accountability to keep myself writing. NaNo really emphasizes that you should just keep writing – and not go back and try to edit at all. That was really hard for me to do. In the end, though, it helped a lot. I was able to get about 2/3 of the book done during the month of November. They key, for me, was my outline. It allowed me to keep writing and avoid those times when you just don’t feel inspired. Since I knew where I was going, I just focused on getting the words down and going in the right direction. I went back later to clean it up and make it better.
Do you have any tips for WriMos getting bored with their stories (coughmecough) or having trouble with discipline and writing every day?
Ugh. I’m one of you this year! It’s really difficult to focus on writing when I’m so deep in promoting my new release. I don’t have any great tips other than the old Nike adage – just do it. Even if you put your novel aside and are writing something else. Just write something.
I creeped on your NaNo profile a little bit, and I noticed your working title for book 3 of the MORE trilogy is Twelve. Will readers get to meet all of the Twelve?
Yes, to a certain extent. Some you’ll get to know more than others.
You’ve mentioned before that you get to know some of your characters as you write them. I love Tiernan, his character, his internal conflict between being a loyal Protector and his loyalty to his friends. How was getting to know Tiernan for you? Did anything surprise you? (I laughed out loud when Ava said that under his Veil he looks like Michael Cera/Jesse Eisenberg, I did NOT see that coming, but I loved “Zombieland”)
I’m so glad you enjoyed him, because I loved expanding on Tiernan’s character in The Guardians. That was probably the most fun I had writing the story, along with developing the relationship between him and Ava. I always knew he’d play a bigger role in the second book, and that there was more to him than initially met the eye in MORE, so I don’t know if I’d say anything about him was surprising to me. I would say that I smiled a lot while writing his scenes, however. I like him a lot.
Speaking of Tiernan, in the first part of MORE, Ava mentions to her roommate Lucy that she finds Tiernan attractive, even though she was terrified of him at the time. You’ve decided to avoid the love triangle route (thank you), but is the book completely closed between them, or is it possible the attraction will resurface later on?
Ava knows who she’s meant to be with. As for Tiernan, well, he’s a bit broken from a past relationship, so we’ll just have to wait and see how he deals with that and what his romantic future looks like.
You wrote Ava’s heartache with Caleb so well! I haven’t felt a YA rocky relationship so deeply since (don’t laugh) Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon. Ava’s situation in The Guardians is so much less…pathetic because she empowers herself to find him. Did you write the situation with that in mind?
One of the things I like about Ava is the way she deals with all the craziness that’s thrown at her. Instead of whining or falling apart or relying on others, she keeps pushing forward. She may not always make the right decisions, but she really tries to do what she thinks is right. An important aspect of the whole trilogy is that it’s not all about Caleb rescuing Ava – sometimes (to quote Pretty Woman) she rescues him right back. 
I’m a mythology nerd, and I love the idea that mythological figures like the Titans of Greek mythology and the biblical Nephilim were actually members of the First Race. Can you talk a little bit about your inspiration for that? Will readers get to see any historical or mythological connections in the final book of the trilogy?
I had all of this backstory in mind about the Race when I was writing the first book – all of these characters in myth and history that either were Race or Rogues or Half-Breeds. For example, maybe Attilla the Hun was a Rogue who was trying to seize power for himself, but was taken down by the Council. Or that Jonas Salk’s assistant was Race and he was the one who actually pushed him in the right direction to develop the polio vaccine. Maybe Medusa was a Half-Breed whose power was uncontrollable, so she had to be stopped – that kind of thing. A lot of it has fallen to the wayside because it just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. There’s a possibility some of it may come up in the final book, though – perhaps the true history of Merlin and King Arthur. 
What inspired the characteristics and abilities of the First Race, and how did you decide which abilities (such as tele- and pyrokinesis) to give them?
I sat down and thought of all of the cool powers I could think of (and then Googled some more!) Then I sat down and connected powers to characters. Protectors, like Tiernan, Katherine, and Caleb needed to have gifts that would aid them in their jobs, of course, so tracking and shifting made sense for them. Same for the Council, which I talked about more in The Guardians.

The powers for the Twelve were even more of a challenge. I don’t want to say too much about that yet, but it should be fun to see some of those revealed.

Will readers see more variety of abilities in the next book, such as, I don’t know, flight, or underwater breathing?
Maybe not those particular gifts, but yes, you’ll see a lot more.
Could the First Race be responsible for mythological creatures like angels and mermaids?
Yes, that was kind of my thought process behind the Race in the first place – that maybe these mythological creatures weren’t really what you think. I hinted at that a little in MORE in describing some of the Race who couldn’t leave New Elysia because they were just too beautiful. People could easily mistake them for angels. Maybe mermaids didn’t really have fish tails but could swim really fast and breathe underwater – and the storytellers added the fish tails along the way.
Ok, last question: if you could cast a TV series for the trilogy, who would you cast, and would you go cable or primetime network, say, the CW vs. HBO?
Oh wow – this is a hard question! I mean, this is so far beyond what I could hope for, but if we’re dreaming, let’s dream big, right? Lol!
I think the most important thing to me would be that whoever made it had the budget for the special effects – in particular, the Veil would be a concern for me – the rest shouldn’t be too difficult. So whoever could do that I’d be happy with.
Odette Annable
Sarah Roemer

As for a cast, I think I’d prefer an unknown for Ava – someone who could make the character her own. But Sarah Roemer has a good look for her. Or one of my readers suggested Odette Annable, who is beautiful and would also be a good choice.

For Caleb, I’m kind of torn between Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty, Covert Affairs) and model Mark Ricketson, who was suggested by another reader. (Although who knows if he can act? LoL!)

Christopher Gorham
Mark Ricketson

 I’d love Charlize Theron for Madeleine and Billy Burke for Gideon. A bald and scarred Colin Egglesfield for Tiernan, Asli Tandogan for Katherine, and there’s a Japanese actress named Maki Horikita who has the right look for Emma.

But a lot of that’s based on looks alone – to be honest, I’d be happy with a cast of new actors to try and bring the story to life. Actually, I’d be thrilled if anybody anywhere ever wanted to actually see it as a TV show! Lol!

Thanks for reading!

And thank you to The Writer’s Coffee Shop for the ARCs, and to T.M. Franklin for being generally awesome!

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy #1) by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1)The Nightmare Affair
by Mindee Arnett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Published March 5th 2013 by Tor Teen
ISBN 0765333333

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

The blurb for this book really did it for me. Personifying nightmares? Awkward chest sitting? A magical academy? Sign me up!

No, really, sign me up—I never got a Hogwarts letter.

After reading the blurb and receiving the ARC from Tor Teen via NetGalley, I wish I had better news to report. I did like a lot of things about the book—I just wish I had liked them more.

Dusty is an outcast at Arkwell Academy, thus you get some unpopular-girl vs. The Cool Kids dynamics, which I didn’t find 100% convincing, mostly because I’ve never witnessed such blatant bullying before in school. The Draco-Malfoy-loudly-mocking-Harry-at-mealtimes thing never seemed plausible to me, because I’ve never witnessed a bully so secure at the top of the food chain that someone wouldn’t call them out, eventually. I’m no authority on bullies, though, despite my extensive public school resume (10 different occasions of being the new kid). Maybe it’s a private school thing?

Speaking of schools, Arkwell Academy is such a great draw toward this book. The idea of a Nightmare personified is way cool, and when you add in her magical secret high school that teaches witches, fairies, sirens, demons, and, yes, Nightmares, to do magic had me really excited. I found myself feeling a little deprived mid-book—I wish Arnett had gone into a bit more detail about the different students and their magic, maybe a couple more characters, and more depth to the cast we got to meet. The characters all seem to be smart and intrepid, but disproportionally emotionally immature. I think getting to see more of them, dialogue and action, in future books could definitely even this out.

In addition, the political structure of the magical world is referenced several times, and the reader isn’t ever given a first hand perspective into how it operates and how Dusty understands it. Give me more! Politics send a lot of people to sleep, but throw in some fantasy characters and history and they can be made really compelling.

All-in-all, The Nightmare Affair is a fast read with enough fresh spin on a collection of tropes to make it palatable. I could criticize it some more, but I think it’s a book a younger teen (12-14) might really enjoy. A fresh pair of eyes could really get stuck on elements that seem tired and over-done to a reader like me. And it’s got that little bit of boarding school story appeal that never seems to get old.

View all my reviews | Buy this book on

Reviewed: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2) by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)The Madness Underneath
 by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published February 26th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
ISBN 1101607831

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades–the city’s secret ghost-fighting police–are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.
In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
—from Goodreads

I honestly feel there is no way to write a review on this book without referring to THE THING which is very spoiler-y, but I am going to try.

The Madness Underneath is the sequel to Johnson’s 2011 The Name of the Star, which was very good! The Madness Underneath was good, but not quite as good as the first, which was about a copycat Jack the Ripper murderer in present-day London — lots of history, mystery, and thrills. And ghosts!

I definitely recommend you pick up a copy of the first book! Though, having read the sequel so long after reading The Name of the Star, I was a little fuzzy on the details, and I was too impatient to re-read before starting this book, so I can say with relative certainty that it can stand alone.

Overall the story was decent, though the characterization was a bit weaker than the first book, which is odd, because the focus was placed more so on the characters’ inner struggles than the actual crime/mystery. I think this is the only aspect of the story that was lacking. Maureen Johnson did a really very excellent job writing Rory’s PTSD (if it was that) and anxiety. Having gone through a similar bout of anxieties about school (without any paranormal fatal injury), I was able to connect with the character very well, almost to the point where it was painful to read. This was personal, but I think any reader will be able to really get in her head.

So if you like ghosts and a really strong sense of setting (way to make me want to move to London, MJ, the weather is HORRIBLE there), I definitely recommend this series. Hopefully Book 3 will be even better!

View all my reviews | Buy The Madness Underneath on Amazon

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Emilie and the Hollow WorldEmilie and the Hollow World
by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication: April 2nd 2013 by Strange Chemistry
ISBN 1908844493

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure. Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father. With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.  —from Goodreads.

I’ve never read a book by Martha Wells before, and generally Journey to the Center of the Earth-type novels aren’t my cup of tea, probably because mole-people don’t interest me and I have an aversion to the dark. Emilie and the Hollow World sounded just different enough to be intriguing.

That said, after I received the ARC from Angry Robot on NetGalley, it took me forever to start reading, which I regret, because I really liked it! However, I was a bit prejudiced, given the YA marketing & cover design, and I thought, going in, this book was probably going to be quite fluffy. Well, I overestimated the fluff (minimal) and underestimated (or misread) the age of the protagonist, Emilie. I read the first few pages assuming she was a plucky 11 or 12 year old — not so. Emilie is 16, and further, some of the elements of her backstory (and of the beginning of the sequel if there will be one) are more northward in the YA spectrum than an 11 year old character might have. But only slightly. One or two degrees northward. Still appropriate and not at all shocking for any middle-grade fiction reader. So despite being even older than the intended audience than I’d expected to be, I still enjoyed the story.

Very steampunk, great world-building (in an aquatic way, a personal favorite), and likeable characters, especially Emilie and Miss Marlende. Sort of like the child protégé of Gail Carriger’s Alexia Tarabotti, though much less prim and chatty. I also quite liked how Wells describes the non-human characters.

 I would recommend this book to middle-grade readers and older who like steampunk, The Swiss Family Robinson (do kids still read that?), Robinson Crusoe, Disney’s “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (this especially! A favorite of mine), and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.

 View all my reviews | Buy or pre-order on Amazon

p.s. I went back and read some reviews on The Swiss Family Robinson and I am completely unsurprised to find out how much many adults hate it. I’m glad I read it and saw the movie as a child. I remember really liking it, but given all the criticism about how much senseless animal shooting goes on, maybe it makes sense I grew up to be a vegetarian.

Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, # 1) Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Published December 1st 2009
 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316042676 
ISBN13: 9780316042673)

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. –from Goodreads

I just finished this book, and then promptly threw it across the room. I am not being hyperbolic. I THREW IT ACROSS THE ROOM.

Let me be clear, I love long books. 600 pages? BRING IT.

I love stories set in small southern towns. Probably because I’ve never been to one. My friend Ana says she has cousins in North Carolina and there is nothing to be obsessed about. I reserve the right to disbelieve this.

And lastly, I love fantasy. I love witches. Ahem, Casters. I love all of it. I even (and if you repeat this anywhere I will fervently deny it) love cliche teen paranormal romances. I am a fan of the Twilight series, for crying out loud.

So please, tell me, WHY didn’t I like this book? I really, really wanted to. I really want to go see the movie on Thursday and fangirl like there is no tomorrow.

There isn’t anything wrong with the writing. The writing is not bad. Aside from some overusage of certain words and terms, characters calling out each other’s names too often, it was not bad.

The plot was dense. This is atypical of stories like this, but stuff happened. Lots of stuff. In fact, I am pretty sure some stuff happened that I am not even aware of. I like how much time the narrative covered, also atypical. My preference in books is to be taken along for the ride the entire way through, no time skippage. I want to know when the characters do the dishes and mow the lawn. I am very unusual in this. Beautiful Creatures doesn’t really do this. There is a lot of secondhand retelling being done, which brings me to the narration.

Ethan Wate seems like a nice kid, albeit dry of personality, and while I liked that his family problems and basketball playing and dreams of travel are a part of his background, once Lena shows up he becomes just another Bella Swan. He doesn’t spend a lot of time doing, thinking, or talking about anything that isn’t Lena. He is a male protagonist who could fail a reverse Bechdel test. I think this is the root of many of my problems with this book. I think it is a novel idea to write a romance from a male perspective, maybe to normalize sensitive male characters, but if anything this example shows how flat such characters can be.

I hate to keep drawing Twilight comparisons, but hoo boy does Lena Duchannes have some serious Edward Cullen parallels. Readers also don’t get a good reading of her personality either, possibly because of the lack of dialogue. And while I will agree that 15 year old girls really do get into poetry, it just seemed so hackneyed. I didn’t dislike Lena, I just didn’t feel anything toward her.

Let’s not even get me started with Ridley and the stereotypical slutty bad girl trope. I did like Macon and Boo Radley. Marian Ashcroft was, of course, my favorite character. Everyone else? Big blank.

I want to be clear that I didn’t hate this book. I just felt like it had all of the right parts and pieces to be something really great, and just, didn’t. It didn’t have any soul? No heart. Just lots of high stakes and doom and unexplained fantastical elements. If it were about 300 pages shorter it might have been a really engrossing read.

I’m giving it three stars because I feel any less would be uncharitable, and it’s not a bad book. Just one of which I will not be reading the sequels.

Edit: NOPE. Can’t do it. Two stars.

2/20: Saw the movie on Galentine’s Day with my gurls. I was that loud huffy girl in the back, completely outraged at how bad it was. PLEASE LET’S DISCUSS.

View all my reviews

Review: Devilish by Maureen Johnson

DevilishDevilish by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Jarvis and Allison Concord are desperate to get through senior year at St. Teresa’s Preparatory School for Girls, where barbed wire keeps the boys out and the ancient nuns keep the girls in.

Jane and Allison have always been too quirky and different to be popular, but at least they’ve had each other. Then, after a hideous, embarrassing disaster, Allison comes to school transformed. Suddenly she has cute hair and clothes. She’s fluent in Latin, she won’t even speak to Jane, and within days she’s stolen Jane’s ex-boyfriend, Elton.

A strangely wise freshman boy, Owen, helps Jane discover the outrageous truth–that Allison has sold her soul to the devil. At first Jane doesn’t quite buy it. She plays along with the weirdness–and even gambles her own soul in order to rescue Allison. But events take a turn for the real, and Jane will have to save Allison before the bizarrely exclusive Poodle Prom, a party of biblical proportions that just might blow apart the world as Jane knows it.

So, I love Maureen Johnson’s personality. I’ve only had a chance to read a few of her books but I’ve noticed a certain disparity between her ability to be the best writer ever and actual evidence of that. For instance, I loved The Name of the Star but was underwhelmed by 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I still liked it, sure, but the pacing and the characters were so very different from NoTS and MJ’s wonderful zany Twitter delightfulness. I figured that it could have just been a sort of chronological developing process. But then I read Devilish.

I really liked this book you guys. It’s a really great read, and actually reminded me a good deal of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Good Omens (w/ Terry Pratchett).

It wasn’t entirely perfect, but it has definitely shored up my opinion of MJ’s novels. I am not at all afraid to delve into her older works as I was before. Because like the song goes, I wanna keep on loving you, MJ. *pats*

View all my reviews