Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Character Interview: Gabi from Waterfall + Giveaway

Please Welcome Gabi Betarrini!

You're all probably familiar by now with how totally in love I am with Lisa T. Bergren's amazing book Waterfall  (first in the River of Time series), and so you can imagine how mind-blowingly honored I am to be able to welcome Gabi Beterrani, one of the She-Wolves of Siena, to my blog today!

 There are NO spoilers here!

What was the most striking difference between our time period and Marcello’s? What were you most surprised to discover hasn’t changed all that much between fourteenth century Italy and the modern world?

It was crazy--cuh.ray.zey--how different women are treated back in Marcello's time. Seriously. Women have it so much better in contemporary times. But, that said, life was a little more simple for girls back in time. It was, like, just get married and have kids. In 2011, you have to think about college, career, and if you want to get married/have kids at all. What hasn't changed, really? People are pretty much the same. Good and bad. Generous, greedy, compassionate, cold, friendly, distant...there are good and bad people, no matter what year it is.

I know it’s not the most original question, but I have to ask, if you could have brought any objects with you when you traveled back in time, what would you have brought and why?

I totally miss my computer. But it pretty much doesn't matter because it wouldn't do me a whole lotta good to have it without Internet and electricity. Oh, and same with cell phones. Do you know how much easier cell coverage makes life? Phones at all! To be able to pick up a phone and call 9-1-1, or your friends? Huge. But I wish I'd brought real underwear. Comfy ones, like Hanes. What they have here is, uh, well, lame. And scratchy. And I wish I'd brought a bunch of mousse and hair spray. Not to mention shampoo and conditioner. And soap. Soft, silky, good smelling soap. This stuff rakes your skin apart...

When you traveled through time, you didn’t know how it happened and if you would be able to return to your own time and family. How did you feel about this? If it turned out you were truly stuck in the 14th century, what would you have done with the rest of your life?

I was pretty much freaking out for a while. But I just got focused and concentrated on finding Lia. I was so scared I wasn't going to find her...that I would be all alone there. Forever. But then...well, there's more to the story, obviously. And in terms of having to stay in the 14th century forever? I don't know. That's just too big to think about. I can barely figure out where I want to go to college and what my major should be. But then, leaving Marcello forever...yeah, I'm a little conflicted. Okay, a lot conflicted.

I admired your drive to do things on your own, but you did discover that sometimes you needed help. Why was it difficult for you to accept help? Are you glad you finally did?

Yeah, I tend to go first and think later, sometimes. But even I reach a point where I know I'm hurting myself if I keep trying to do things on my own. And the people who jumped in with me? Seriously cool. That helped.

Traveling through time is an incredible experience! What impact did this have on you in terms of personal development? Are you a different person now than you were before your experiences?

Totally. For one thing, I get my parents' obsession with the historical. It's like discovering not just things about other people--but yourself too. It's kinda hard to explain. We're all woven together on this deeper level, impacting one another...And being there, when life is so fragile, when people die in all sorts of ways, it made me appreciate life itself more. I mean, since my dad died, I'd understood that, obviously. But I still felt like I was just existing, making it through each day rather than living-living, you know? Everyone in Marcello's time seems to get it. It's like they understand that life is precious, that it can be lost at any moment, so they put more into living. I decided, in my own time, I was living on a surface level, not on that deeper level. It was really moving. It changed me forever.

You were close with both of your parents and they taught you many things that proved useful in the 14th century. What was the most helpful thing your parents taught you? Was there anything about them that you used to roll your eyes about but now realize you’re actually thankful they taught you?

Well, if Dad hadn't insisted on the dorky fencing lessons, I would've been dead, many times over. I mean, fencing is way easier than fighting with a sword, but at least I had a start. And Mom had taught us some things about herbal medicines that came in handy, but I couldn't remember as much as I wished, once I needed it. That was roll-the-eyeballs learning. You have to understand my life...when your parents hold three-and-a-half PhDs between them, they tend to think that life is a constant teaching moment. Lia and I always wished we could sit down and just play games with them, or watch a DVD. Or just talk. But it always had to be educational, with them. When they weren't working, that is. But I don't mean to sound whiny. Especially since my dad's gone and all. If I had even a half hour with him and I had to listen to him teach me the whole time, I'd take it. It's just who they are. And my dad was super-wise, and would say the same phrases over and over; I repeated a lot of them to myself to cope. If I hadn't had that piece of him in my mind and heart...I don't know. I think I probably would have dissolved.

You met so many gorgeous guys with equally winning personalities. What was it about Marcello in particular that called to you?

If there's one thing that Italy should export, it's seriously hot guys who are into girls like you and me. But Marcello...it was like, internal. I've never experienced anything like it. Like we were pulled together from inside. Not that he's tough to look at. He's hot. But his hotness goes more than skin-deep. Which makes him totally impossible to leave forever. But there's this other girl he's kinda promised to marry. And it makes me wonder how I'm going to encounter anything but a crushed heart...but I'm in deep, Small. Way deep. Which is horrible and fantastic, all at the same time, you know?

Oh I hear you Gabi! Thank you so much for stopping by!

Now for all of you readers who haven't read Waterfall yet, what are you waiting for?!?! I'm totally book pushering this one on you. Here:

For those of you who have wisely already read Waterfall, you can get excited with me over the release of Cascade! It's coming out TOMORROW!!

But in case you don't want to wait even one more day, you can enter here for a chance to win a copy of Cascade from the author! I've already read Cascade and it is FANTASTIC! If you loved Waterfall, then you are going to love Cascade! Don't believe me? Check out this free sneak peek! I'll have my review up on Thursday.

Info for the giveaway:
  • You do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US mailing address (per author's request)
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • If an address is not provided, the winner will have 24 hours to reply to my email with their address before a new winner is chosen
  •  I will not keep your information, and only the winner's information will be shared with the author
  • The giveaway will close June 28th. The winner will be announced July 1st in the Recap post

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Cover Review: Starcrossed

    Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by Tawni at The Book Worms where a beautiful cover is featured each week for all of us to admire. I am going to use my Cover Crazy posts as an opportunity to review a book cover I love or review any cover (even the ones I don't love) from a book I've read. This week's Cover Crazy is for:  

    Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

    I’m a terrible photographer. If I take a picture of a person, odds are their head will either be cut off or the entire picture will be out of focus. So who am I to talk, right?

    Ha, you think hypocrisy will stop me? No, no it won’t.


    There, I said it. I’ll concede that there are artistic ways to crop a face to leave the exact features up to the viewer’s imagination, but you just don’t do it like this. Enough of her features are still shown that I get a pretty clear idea of what this girl looks like (and it’s nothing like how I picture Helen). So the whole point of cropping the face is undermined. It also just looks unbalanced, like a mistake instead of a purposeful crop.

    That’s really the only thing I can complain about though. The rest of the cover is beautiful and creates such atmosphere. Everything just screams “IMPENDING STORM!” The cover makes me feel tumultuous, like I’m at the cusp of something big happening. Even the colors hint toward water, storms, and electricity—all things that are important features of the story.

    Between those dark storm clouds and the choppy water, I know that girl is in for some dangerous weather. I live right by the ocean, but the water only looks that way when the weather is BAD. Having read the book, I know that this weather is both literal and figurative. The setting takes place in the middle of some significant storms, but the turbulent weather is also indicative of the tension and struggles the characters go through.

    I’m pretty much neutral on the font and title/author placement. They’re nothing special, but they don’t really bother me much either. The author’s name at the top helps draw my eye to the dark storm clouds and the title helps bring my eye back down to the center to take in everything else. The blurb helps balance out the seriously unbalanced placement of the girl, but this wouldn’t be necessary if they had just centered the picture properly and not cut off her face. I think white was a great choice, though it looks like the finished version goes with red. White stands out well without overpowering or distracting from the other colors but the red is a little difficult for me to read.What do you think?

    Click here for the book blurb
    What do you think about this cover?
    Do you like it? Dislike it? 
    Does it make you want to read the book? 

    Click here to see the rest of my Small Special Week including reviews, interviews, and giveaways!

    Interested in covers?
    Be sure to check out another Cover Crazy post by Gina from My Precious.
        Click here for more of my cover reviews!

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Book Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

    Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
    Release Date: May 31, 2011
    Publisher: HarperTeen
    Pages: 496
    Received: ARC through blog tour
    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Goodreads Page 


    From Goodreads:

    How do you defy destiny?

    Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

    As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.


    Writing issues

    I've read some...not very nice reviews about this book. Is there a lot to complain about? Yeah, I guess. The two main complaints I've heard is that a lot of the basics are reminiscent of Twilight and the writing isn't flawless. Ok, I can see that to an extent.

    Except, I don't care. I was wrapped up in the book and I finished this gigantic near-500 page tome in just three days. For me, this was one of those books that I just wanted to read. Whenever I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I was reading it, the world disappeared. By the end of those near-500 pages all I wanted was 500 more!

    The only thing that did give me pause was the narration style. Most of the book is told in the third person with a subjective focus on Helen, but every rare once in a while the view shifts for a scene or two to another character. This almost always happened when Helen wasn't present, so I get why the author did it, but it did feel a little bit like "one of these things doesn't belong." I'm not really sure what the solution would be (maybe include more chapters from other characters' points of view so it doesn't stand out and feel so random?), but something should be done with that.

    There was also some room for improvement with the pacing. Objectively, I think Starcrossed was hit with a major case of Twilight Pacing Syndrome and should have been more tightly edited. There's a huge info-dump toward the end that can be a little overwhelming. Still, as with when I read Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, I wasn't really bothered. I liked the characters and even if they weren't doing much, I was still content to follow along with whatever it was they were doing.

    Love is in the air

    What started out as MEGA insta-hate rapidly turned into insta-love. Unlike most YA insta-love books, at least we're given an explanation for their quick feelings...sort of. I'll buy it and go with it for now to see where Josie takes things, but it's still just a little *too* insta-love for my tastes. Circumstances keep our star-crossed lovers separated for most of the book though, so at least I wasn't bored with extended soul-gazing scenes. Plus, no love triangle in sight, so yay for that!

    As far as Helen and Lucas go, I like Helen and I'm cool with Lucas. Helen is the girl who didn't know she was special, but now realizes she's super-girl. Helen is almost a Mary Sue, but what saves her is how "normal girl" she is. She reminded me a lot of Clara from Unearthly. Yes, she's special, but at the end of the day she's a teenage girl with all of the insecurities, hopes, and fears that normal teenage girls have. I would invite her to my sleepover party. Plus, she's not weak and useless, so major points for saving me from that annoying plot device.

    Lucas is nice and I'm very happy for Helen because he seems like a great catch, but I'm not jealous. She can have him. I want Hector (Lucas's cousin and NOT a romantic interest for Helen. He's more cocky alpha male). Don't get me wrong though, Lucas is totally swoon-worthy in both looks and personality.

    Twilight 2 + Greek

    Yes, there are numerous Twilight similarities here and I know I'll be handing a copy of Starcrossed to all my library people who loved Twilight. But so what if there are similarities? It's a totally different story and I think even people who disliked Twilight could get on board with Starcrossed (Helen is like the anti-Bella and Lucas isn't weird). There were two things I really liked about Twilight, and those two things are present here: Family and history.

    I absolutely loved the big family feeling we got from the Cullens in Twilight, and we get that same feeling here with the Delos clan. I don't care if I'm reading scenes about the Delos clan ordering a pizza or some other mundane and otherwise boring event. I just want to vicariously be a part of their family.

    The history in Starcrossed takes its inspiration from Greek mythology, but Josephine Angelini really made it her own. Yes, I'm sure Greek myth sticklers will have a field day with this, but whatever. Bottom line is, Josephine Angelini has created an epic story with likable characters, an engrossing history, edge of your seat fights, star-crossed love, and super high stakes. I thought it was pretty awesome. 

    Enough of the history is explained here that I feel grounded and satisfied, but there's still so much more yet to uncover. The peeling back of these layers and learning all about the history really kept me turning the pages. Josephine Angelini sweetens the pot even more by adding a few really duplicitous characters. Not only do you have a ton of history, but unraveling it all is complicated by the lies spun by these sly characters. The final 1/4 had me at the edge of my seat and gasping at what was going on. I cannot wait for the next book to come out so I can find out more!

    Please don't leave me like this!!

    The bane of YA books: The CLIFFHANGER!!! Yep, it's here. I tried making notes, but even writing down the family tree was a complicated mess with a bizillion annotations and asides (I'm in heaven!). A TON of stuff happens here, and it's all twisty like a soap opera. I'm so going to have to reread Starcrossed before I read book 2 if I want to understand anything. But I will SO DO THAT because I am 100% definitely and with no reservations going to be continuing on with this series (Book 2: Dreamless, published sometime in 2012).

    Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

    Do you have any questions about Starcrossed that I haven't addressed? 
    Feel free to ask in the comments!

    If Starcrossed sounds like a book you might enjoy, then be sure to stop by on Wednesday when I post up my part of Lucas's letter to Helen as part of the blog tour! 

    Check out the previous stops HERE.

    Not only will you get a chance to win Starcrossed, but you can also enter for a chance to win a Kindle 3WiFi, a personalized letter from the author, and a Gelaskin of Starcrossed's cover art!

    Looking for another book like this? 
    You might like: 

    Click on the cover to go to my review.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    A Small Special (2)

    Two books I absolutely adore--Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini and Cascade (the sequel to Waterfall) by Lisa T. Bergren--will be released this week and to celebrate I've decided to dedicate a full week on my blog to them! You'll have reviews, interviews, and three totally awesome giveaways. Here's what's coming up:

    Wednesday: Mega giveaways!
    Thursday: Book review of Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

    Get ready for an overload of Italian hotties, Greek hotties, totally kick butt women, action, romance, adventure, and prizes! I hope you like it!

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Recap 5/21 to 5/27

    In case you missed anything, here's a recap of what was posted Saturday, May 21st through Friday, May 27th. 

    + This is the last week to enter my giveaways
    + This is also the last week to fill out my survey please
    + Announcement for next week's special

    (Click on the links to go to my reviews)


    Discussion: DNF-ing Books
    Features that make you stop reading a book

    Spotlight List: Alternating POV Narration

    What's Your Status?

    A meme created by Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life where we recap our reading week. Feel free to visit her site and link up your own What's Your Status Posts. Here's how my week went:


    Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer
    The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
    Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl

     (Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

    Reviews to come on all of these

    Currently Reading

    (Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

    Next Week

    Next week is going to go a little different than the usual schedule. Two books I loved are being released, and to celebrate that I am going to run another special week with reviews, interviews, and a bunch of giveaways. I hope you enjoy!


    Miss anything last week? Click here to read a Recap

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Spotlight List: Alternating POV Narration

    Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme.

    Alternating POV Narration

    Perhaps it's my short attention span, or maybe my preference for "More is more" but I am a big fan of alternating narratives. The romantic in me especially swoons when I see a relationship grow through both perspectives (especially when they start out hating each other). The psychology-background in me loves seeing how differently two people can view the same situation. Either way, I'm a sucker for alternating perspectives.

    Added bonus: If you can squeeze in any of these by the end of the month you can use it to enter the All Male Review challenge hosted by Missie from The Unread Reader and Logan E. Turner!

    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Release Date: October 18, 2007
    Publisher: Razorbill
    Pages: 288
    Goodreads Page

    I LOVE this book. The alternating perspectives here is a little unconventional. One side of the narration is told by Hannah through audiotapes she recorded before she killed herself. The other side follows Clay as he listens to those tapes after Hannah has already died. Hannah slowly reveals why she killed herself, and her reasons are as surprising as they are polarizing. This has proven to be a controversial book, but for me it was touching and heartbreaking. Clay's frustration at not being able to affect Hannah's decision mirrored my own as a reader. Regardless of what you personally feel about Hannah's actions, the narrative choice is executed perfectly and allows the author to tell a story that could not have been accomplished as well with a different narrative choice.

    Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
    Release Date: May 13, 2003
    Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 224
    Goodreads Page

    Bryce hates Juli from the moment he meets her. Juli loves Bryce from the instant she sets eyes on him. Of course this is when they're both in elementary school. As the years go by, Bryce slowly begins to see something in Juli he hadn't seen before...and Juli starts to realize that maybe Bryce isn't as great as she had thought. An amusing spin on love/hate relationships, Flipped is filled with scenes that underscore how important perspective can be. Instead of the story moving in a completely linear direction, Wendelin writes each scene first through the eyes of one character and then rewinds things to show how the same scene played out in the other character's perspective. That might seem boring and repetitive, but it truly isn't. It's fascinating. And bawl-your-eyes-out heartbreaking. And adorably perfect. Ultimately, Wendelin shows how the way we see ourselves is not necessarily the way others see us...for better or worse.

    As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
    Release Date: September 1, 2009
    Publisher: HarperTeen
    Pages: 304
    Goodreads Page

    Viola is the lucky recepient of three wishes, doled out by an exasperated genie named Jinn...who also happens to be pretty cute. Viola's sections let the reader connect with her as she struggles to make the perfect wishes that will bring her happiness. Meanwhile Jinn's chapters show him starting out frustrated and just wanting to get home, but slowly coming around to care for Viola. This book is mostly about Viola gaining confidence in herself, but Jinn's perspective adds that super-sweet dose of romance I love to read about.

    Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
    Release Date: February 1, 2009
    Publisher: Harcourt
    Pages: 351
    Goodreads Page

    Most of this book is told through Jessica's point of view, though we are treated to Lucius's perspective through letters to his uncle. I loved how Lucius seemed like a total jerk in Jessica's chapters, but then we get to see another side of him through his letters. He's kind of an arrogant jerk there too, but we're given a glimpse at the kind of pressure his uncle is placing on him and this gives us an explanation for his behavior. While Jessica seethes, I felt sorry for him because I understood. I wish I could have reached into the book to help explain things to Jessica when she gets confused by Lucius's mixed signals, but luckily they don't need my intervention.

    A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
    Release Date: May 1, 2009
    Publisher: HarperTeen
    Pages: 371
    Goodreads Page

    This is another hate-turned-love relationship. Each character sees the other in a negative light, but we the reader get to see their softer sides. The dual narration helps the reader see depth in characters who might have otherwise come across as flat or not very nice. One of the reasons I dislike insta-love is because the author rarely gives a reason WHY the characters fall in love. Through the alternating perspectives in A Kiss in Time, Alex Flinn shows what exactly the characters see in one another that leads them to fall in love. I appreciated the slow realization and the cumulative observations of goodness in one another.

    What are some of your favorite books with alternating POV narration? Have you read any of these books? Feel free to add links to your reviews!

    Want to see more Spotlight Lists? 
    Click HERE to see more of my lists
    Click to see some from Splash of Our Worlds

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Waiting on Wednesday (23) + Giveaways

    Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we all feature upcoming books we're eagerly anticipating.

    I've altered things a little to include one book that hasn't come out yet and one that has already been published but I still haven't gotten around to reading yet.

    Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    We Hear the Dead by Dianne Salerni

    Goodreads description of Half-Blood (September 15, 2011):

    The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure-bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

    Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

    Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

    Why I want to read it:

    I read the free download of Daimon and was hooked! After downloading the file, I opened it up to make sure everything downloaded properly and I ended up reading the whole thing! Daimon is billed as a prequel, but really it seems more to read like the opening of Half-Blood. The events of Daimon end on a huge cliffhanger that is immediately picked up in the beginning of Half-Blood. How do I know this? The first chapter of Half-Blood is included in the free prequel. Of course that chapter also ends on a cliffhanger, and so now I'm dying to find out what happens next!

    Sound good? Want to win a copy? Click over to Jennifer's site to enter to win a signed ARC.

    Goodreads description of We Hear the Dead (May 1, 2010):

    It started out as a harmless prank. But soon enough, spiritualism was the fastest growing movement of the nineteenth century, and Maggie Fox was trapped in a life of deceit.

    Meticulously researched by the author, We Hear the Dead reveals the secret of how the Fox sisters faked their rapping sounds and their motives for inventing the séance and founding spiritualism.

    Why I want to read it:

    I love reading about spiritualism in historical fiction! Apparently the Fox sisters were real people and the story here, while fiction, does deal with a good bit of truth as well. I had no idea about any of this, so I'm now really looking forward to finding out all about this slice of history. Plus, look at that cover!

    Have any of you read either of these books? Would you recommend them? 

    Don't forget to check out my Adele Griffin giveaways if you haven't already entered! 

    Click HERE and scroll to the bottom.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Book Review: Dragonfly by Julia Golding

    Dragonfly by Julia Golding
    Release Date: October 20, 2009
    Publisher: Marshall Cavendish 

    Pages: 390
    Received: Library
    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 
    Goodreads Page


    From Goodreads:

    Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal. And he's not too pleased, either. She is used to a life of discipline, ritual, and splendor. He is used to hunting and carousing. They hate each other on sight. But both of their countries are under threat from a fearsome warlord, and the only chance of peace is to form an alliance.

    When Tashi and Ram are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape--from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure--including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of spies, and the best female fighter they have ever seen--help them or betray them to the enemy?


    Dragonfly held so much promise: A hate-turned-love romance, fantasy, questing, culture clash, battles. Oh gosh, the blurb sounded like a recipe for success, but unfortunately the actual story fell flat for me.

    I’m a character girl

    I need to love my characters, especially in a book like this. The hate-turned-love romantic device relies completely on the strength of the characters. They need to be interesting as individuals and there needs to be a spark between them. For me, neither of those factors was met with Tashi and Ramil.

    Tashi was nice, but part of her personality was that she was very closed off and removed. This makes sense for her culture, and it was fascinating, but it also served to close her off to me. I felt like I was never able to get around her walls and know her on a deeper level. The glimpses I did see were likable. She began the book as a very timid girl, but she grew considerably through the book becoming a woman I would have loved if only she would let me.

    Ramil pretty much killed the book for me. He irritated me so much with his bravado, impulsiveness, and stubborn inability to see beyond his own perspective. He’s supposed to be at least somewhat off-putting in the beginning, but I don’t think I was supposed to dislike him as much as I did. His growth was less apparent than Tashi’s, making him seem even more childish in comparison. Since I disliked Ramil so much, I had a hard time getting on board with their romance and I didn’t really feel that happy spark when they got together.

    For fantasy lovers

    The world Julia Golding described was both familiar and creative. The competing cultures were detailed and extremely interesting to learn about. Ramil’s culture is a lot more standard, but Tashi’s was unique. I loved learning all about the various customs and aspects of her culture. It was also interesting to see the clash of cultures. Julia Golding superbly highlighted the truly alien feelings that occur when two distinctly different cultures meet.

    The plot itself was pretty standard fare for the high fantasy genre. The whole thing was very predictable and offered nothing new to the fantasy genre. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a complaint though. I don’t mind predictable plots like this because it’s a storyline I enjoy reading. If the characters had captured my heart, I probably would have made this a five star book regardless of the predictable plot.

    One thing I didn’t like about the plot was that I found it a plodding in places. Again, if I had loved the characters I probably wouldn’t have minded, but as it was I frequently found myself bored. The action parts were good, but even they needed that little boost that is usually filled in by the charisma of the characters.

    Should you read it?

    That’s really up to you. If the plot sounds interesting to you, then I think you should give it a try for sure. If you click with the characters then you’ll probably love Dragonfly. I’m glad I read this book and if I find it for cheap then I would buy a copy. I’m just disappointed I didn’t love the book as much as I was expecting.

    FYI: Authors Julia Golding and Eve Edwards are apparently the same person! So if you like Eve Edwards' historical fiction books, then you might want to give Dragonfly a try.

     Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

    Do you have any questions about Dragonfly that I haven't addressed? 
    Feel free to ask in the comments!

    Looking for another book like this? 
    You might like: 

    Click on the covers to go to my reviews

    This was reviewed as part of The All Male Review Challenge

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Discussion: DNF-ing Books

    It's OVER between us!

    Why I will DNF a book
    (that's "Did Not Finish")

    Ok, so you've gotten the book you DO want to read, and then...ugh, it sucks. I know some people feel the burning need to finish every book they start, but I don't have that hangup. I understand though, really. I used to be the same way. But a little while ago I looked at my TBR, did a few calculations of page numbers/reading speed and came to this depressing conclusion:

    Even if I live to 100, I won't live long enough to read all the books I want to read

    ...and that's just the books I already know I want to read.

    Sad, right? So I've become a ruthless DNF-er. Here are a few things about a book that will nine times out of ten make me DNF.

    The main character is too stupid to live or so bad I don’t want her to live. 

    Yes, poking that sleeping lion seems like a great idea!

    I’m a character girl, and if the main character is just too stupid to live, then I’m going to have a problem here. Look, I know an author needs to create tension some way, but making tension by having your character do the dumbest things imaginable is not a good idea. Likewise, I shouldn’t be rooting for the main character to die because I hate her so much. I’ve actually DNF-ed books because I desperately wanted the main character to just die already, but of course I knew that was never going to happen.

    Man-hating MC

    No, thank you. I like guys.

    Ok, I’m all for girl power, you know? I like an empowered female MC-- in fact, I prefer one over a wimpy do-nothing damsel. But man haters? No thank you. Once the Rah-Rah Sisterhood “Men are the scourge of the earth and it is only through the wizened guidance of the Sisterhood that the world continues to turn on its axis” soundtrack starts winding up I am so gone. I like men and I like a MC who likes men. Otherwise how am I supposed to get my swoony kissing scenes? 

    Too easy kissing scenes

    Epic staring contest!

    Yeah, yeah, I know I just said I want smooching, but I don’t want it to be too easy. If there’s an instant attraction from page one, where’s the tension? Where’s the excitement? I’m a woman that needs some teasing. Give me scenes where they almost kiss, and then don’t. Give me some build up. Give me some conflict. That’s interesting. You know what’s not interesting? Reading about the two main characters longingly gazing into one another's eyes. That’s just boring. Hearing about his nutmeg colored eyes or bronze hair described fifty million times really doesn’t do it for me either. 

    Sloooow pacing 

    Patience is a virtue I don’t possess. I don’t want to sit there are read pages and pages of description that actually add very little to the plot. Stellar world building is just fine, but please don’t take four pages to describe a doily. I also don’t want to sit with a hand-wringing main character as they spend entire chapters vacillating between choices. If I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care what the character decides just so long as they decide something, then there’s something seriously wrong. And please, please, please don’t take over 100 pages just to get to the hook in the jacket description!

    The author kills a dog 

    Gordon's got the right idea

    (Ok, this is kind of a lie because I’ve actually finished a ton of books where a dog dies. But I hate it enough to put it on the list anyway).

    Ugh, seriously, just don't do it. Please?

    How about you? What features will make you DNF a book? Or are you the type to stick with it until the bitter end no matter what?

    Like this discussion post? Want more? 
    Click the button:

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Book Review: Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

    Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
    Release Date: June 7, 2011
    Publisher: Hyperion
    Pages: 288
    Received: ARC from publisher and NetGalley
    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Goodreads Page


    From Goodreads (may contain spoilers for the first book. Highlight to read):

    After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

    Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

    Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

    Packed with romance, lovable characters, and a killer cliffhanger, Queen of the Dead is the out-of-this-world sequel to The Ghost and the Goth.


    Last time on The Ghost and the Goth...

    I enjoyed the first book in the series (The Ghost and the Goth, review), so I was super excited when I found out there was going to be a sequel. The first book ends well as a standalone, but this second book relies enough on the events of the first that you shouldn't read the sequel until after you've read the first book.

    The Ghost and the Goth tackled serious issues with a good dose of levity, and that same winning combination is here as well. Alona provides mean-girl snark but still manages to be completely lovable. Will is a lot more sure of himself now and seems to be in the process of taking control of his life again. Both characters grow a lot throughout this book and it is their growth that adds a depth to the series that isn't really hinted at on the covers. It was nice to fall back into the swing of things with this pair. They work so well together; I could happily read many more books featuring them.

    Love and hate

    ...Which brings me to the biggest downside of Queen of the Dead: Alona and Will's relationship. The book opens with the two of them together, tentatively feeling out (literally, though maybe not so tentatively then) a romantic relationship. The first few chapters are absolutely perfect! Wow, who knew PG/PG-13 kissing could be so hot?? Even though they're together, they still maintain a love-hate relationship that sizzles.

    The honeymoon ends far too quickly though, and instead of getting a book full of Alona-Will goodness, most of the time they don't even share page time. Huge, teasing disappointment.

    Instead, Will spends a lot of time with Mina, a ghost-talker like Will. I understand why Will wants to spend time with Mina--she's a ghost-talker AND she has connections to his father, but, ugh, I so hated her. I bonded majorly with Alona over our shared dislike of Mina.

    The girl knows how to find trouble

    While Will is being a traitorous meanie (ok, so I'm biased), Alona spends her time getting into trouble. Alona is a strong personality and she can totally stand on her own without Will (can you tell how much I love Alona? She's a BFF character for sure), but boy does she know how to make a mess of things. These parts were fun because she just kept digging her hole deeper and deeper. I enjoyed her scenes a lot more than the Will/Mina scenes.

    I should probably mention that the book alternates chapters between Will's perspective and Alona's perspective. Both voices are completely distinct and the dual narration does a really good job in allowing the reader to connect with the characters when they're talking and also see another side of them through each other's eyes. It also helps events move along at a nice pace and teases you to keep reading ahead.

    The story itself is good, but I wanted a little more. The first book had more of a mystery than this one. Honestly though, this isn't a series that I read for the plot. I read it because I love the characters and the world of ghost-talkers. We do gain more insight into ghost-talkers in this book, but our understanding is still tantalizingly incomplete. We also learn that Will's dad had a whole lot of secrets that Will is only beginning to uncover.

    Of endings and new beginnings

    I'm not sure how I feel about the resolution. It's, well, I can't really say anything without giving away spoilers, but I'm not sure I like it. I trust Stacey, though, so I'm holding out judgement on that until after I see how she handles it in book three.

    This one is wrapped up pretty well, so I'm not sure what the blurb is talking about with a "killer cliffhanger." This isn't really a cliffhanger--killer or otherwise. I mean, there's definitely more to Will and Alona's story, but this main story arc is wrapped up just fine. That doesn't mean I'm not still impatiently awaiting the next book, because I so am! If you liked The Ghost and the Goth, then definitely check out Queen of the Dead.

    Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key

    Want to read about the first book?
    Book review: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

    Cover review: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

    Read as part of the All Male Review Challenge

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Recap 5/14 to 5/20

    In case you missed anything, here's a recap of what was posted Saturday, May14th through Friday, May 20th. 

    + Giveaways, review comparison submissions, and a survey


    I'm running a survey to try to improve Small Review. The survey looks long, but it should only take a few minutes to complete. Most of it is multiple choice, but I'm the kind of person who always has trouble with multiple choice because I always want to add a "but...." or some sort of explanation. So I've included the option for you to make comments with the multiple choice responses (you can skip those and just answer the multiple choice parts).

    None of the questions are required, so feel free to skip as many as you want. The form is anonymous, so please feel free to speak your mind. I'll leave the survey up until June 1st to give you time to fill it out at your convenience. Thank you so much and I hope I can use your responses to help make Small Review even better!

    Click here to fill out the form

    (Click on the links to go to my reviews)



    Giveaways for copies of Adele Griffin's books

    Guest Posting at Yearning to Read

    Review Comparison Submissions: Clarity by Kim Harrington
    Still open!

    How to Add a Signature

    What's Your Status?

    A meme created by Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life where we recap our reading week. Feel free to visit her site and link up your own What's Your Status Posts. Here's how my week went:


     Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
    Artemis the Brave (Goddess Girls #4) by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
    The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab 

    (Click on the titles to go to Goodreads)

    I liked Wrapped ok, but I was kind of disappointed with it.
    Artemis the Brave was cute just like all the other Goddess Girls books.
    I really liked The Near Witch.

    Currently Reading

    Miss anything last week? Click here to read a Recap

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