11 Following

Radiant Shadows


Grace - Elizabeth Scott Grace is a hard book to review. The extremely spare prose created an atmosphere that was both bleak and menacing, which worked with the ambiguous allusions to a world ruled by violent dictatorship, sexual favours and fear. But as a dystopian, Grace was riddled with plot holes and confusing world-building.Full review to come!


Spirit - Brigid Kemmerer (More like 3.5)Confident, sometimes arrogantly-so, Hunter was always the character in The Elemental Series that I could count on to be self-assured and in control. So to watch him begin fray at the edges, only to then unravel completely in Spirit was something that I couldn't possibly have prepared for. While his poor-decision making was often the result of the same repetitive behaviour, which got slightly exhausting towards the end, Spirit did deliver in intensity and unconventional plot, making it almost as addicting as its predecessors!Full review to come!


Breathless - Brigid Kemmerer Of all the things Brigid could have thrown at me with Breathless, Nick's secret was the one thing I was NOT expecting! A welcome, if short, peek into Nick's thoughts, Breathless gave me a great taste of what I can expect from his full book, Secret.Full review to come!

The Goddess Inheritance

The Goddess Inheritance - Aimee Carter The Goddess Inheritance was a complete and utter disappointment. After the cliffhanger ending in Goddess Interrupted, I was ready for an action-packed and suspenseful series conclusion. What I got was almost 3oo pages of poor decision making and professions of eternal love. Considering the same plot device from previous novels was carried forward and then used multiple times, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that absolutely nothing came as a surprise in The Goddess Inheritance.Full review to come!

Article 5

Article 5 - Article 5 has truly baffled me. While reading it, I sometimes found myself enjoying it. But as time passed, I mostly found myself growing more and more apathetic towards the characters, the lack of information and the lack of worldbuilding. But as I read the final pages, I wasn’t angry or disappointed with Article 5 for being so lacking, I was just completely underwhelmed. So much so, that I can’t say that I truly liked or disliked it!Full review to come!

Spark (Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental Series #2)

Spark - Brigid Kemmerer Surprisingly emotional, Spark stunned me by being so much more character-driven than its predecessor, Storm. Touching on Gabriel’s feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, his angst that I found frustrating in Storm, became relatable in Spark. The addition of Layne, both equal and opposite to Gabriel in every way, created deliciously thick sexual tension and showed us a person that could finally balance out Gabriel’s unpredictable temperament. Passionate and heartbreaking and raw, Spark was an absolute treat to read!I wasn’t Gabriel’s biggest fan in Storm. While I wouldn’t say that I disliked him, his seemingly misplaced anger was something that I struggled to understand for most of the book. Fortunately, with Spark Gabriel has become an open book. Embarrassed by his role as the black sheep, the brother who can’t seem to do anything right or without making everything worse, Gabriel is slowing distancing himself from his family. He feels betrayed by their willingness to believe the worst of him, and an aching loneliness at being so emotionally unavailable. This causes him to act out, to inflict harm on them before they can harm him, using his words as weapons. There were so many times when I just wanted to give Gabriel a hug, to hold him close and whisper that everything would be ok and that it wasn’t his fault. When he was vulnerable, he had my heart in his hands. When he was purposely vindictive, I wanted to reprimand him for not trusting his family to have his best interests at heart. Kemmerer did a fantastic job at making Gabriel tortured and angst-filled, without making him pathetic or a mockery.Actually, Kemmerer did a fantastic job with all of her characters in Spark. It took me a little while to warm up to Layne (I couldn’t be sure of her motivations!), but she has this innocence and subtlety that sneaks up on you. While I wouldn’t call her naive, she has this…goodness about her that makes you want to be a better person; she tried her hardest to see only the best in other people, despite constantly being shown them at their worst. I loved that she had the same defence mechanisms as Gabriel, and that they were able to call each other out on using them. I loved that she challenged Gabriel at every step, and that he was so worried about scaring her away, that she was able to speak openly to him and he had to stick around to listen. I loved that she made Gabriel insecure!He’d never given a girl his number and walked off. At the time, it seemed like a great idea – put the ball in her court, leave her with a line and ten digits scrawled in her notebook.Now it was like water torture, knowing she had it, knowing she was making the deliberate decision not to call.Christ, was this how girls felt?I loved her insecurities, and I loved that she didn’t let them define her. I love that she spoke up for herself, and that she was quick to forgive. And I loved her steamier moments with Gabriel.She’d always imagined he would be rough, but he wasn’t. He was gentle, cautious, drawing at her lips in a way that pulled a sound from her throat and made her want to press up against him.Oh. This was what all the fuss was about.There’s absolutely no competition in my mind; I ship Gabriel and Layne wayyy more than I ship Chris and Becca.Spark’s plot was fast-paced and suspenseful, even though it definitely took a backseat to the character development for me. I enjoyed watching Gabriel open up to Hunter, watching him learn how to better control his element, and learning about how all-consuming his affinity for fire could be. I loved the threat the Guides and Becca’s father posed, though I do wish that they had had a bit more of a presence; for an organization that’s supposed to be in charge of removing rogue Elementals, they’re pretty slack about it. Then again, it might have taken away from my Laybriel time, which would have just been a travesty!If you haven’t already figured it out, I loved Spark. I loved watching Gabriel open up and begin to trust someone with his secrets, I loved falling in love with Layne and I loved falling in love with Layne and Gabriel. The Elementals stuff provided a nice, suspenseful backdrop, and Gabriel’s affinity for fire added a sense of reckless abandon that I found addictive and powerful to watch. A certain betrayal towards the end cut deep, and the damaged relationship between Gabriel and Nick pulled at my heartstrings. An emotional read, Spark is a wonderful addition to the series!


Fearless - Brigid Kemmerer While Fearless didn’t provide me with much more insight into Hunter’s past than I had already gleaned from Storm, it was interesting to see a less confident side of Hunter and the dynamic between him and his father.Part of Hunter’s appeal, and his simultaneous untrustworthiness, in Storm was his mysteriousness and his confidence; he always seemed to know exactly what to say, or when to say nothing at all. So imagine my delight to see a younger, clueless Hunter, one who has yet to learn that unshakeableness that’s such a staple of his characterization in both Storm and Spark.Bleeding? He touched a hand to his nose and felt wetness. Crimson drops clung to his fingers.Clare was fishing through her backpack. “Here.”Tissues. He held one to his face. This was just great. Maybe he could pee his pants next.This is Hunter during his formative years, when the gravity of his role as a fifth hadn’t truly sunk in. It’s why I appreciated the few scenes with his father so much, as it was in Fearless that the dangers of being an Elemental was truly driven home for me. While Hunter’s father teaches him many things, he also works to let Hunter learn his own lessons which is why when he learns of Hunter’s new friendship with Clare, the only advice he had was: use them before they use you. It was a defining moment for Hunter, a moment where he began to question the relationships in his father’s life, and how his own powers will ultimately affect his relationships in the future.But for the first time, Hunter started to wonder if what looked like doting was really … tolerance. Indulgence. As soon as he had the thought, Hunter shoved it out of his head. They’d been together for seventeen years. They never fought. He’d never questioned their love for each other, because their love for him was an unwavering constant. But now that he’d considered it, he couldn’t stop thinking it.When your emotions effect those of the people around you, how can you ever be sure they truly like you for who you are, and not for who you want them to think you are? Unfortunately for Hunter, he mostly ignores his father’s advice and Fearless works to show him just how far people are willing to go, just how deceptive they can be, in order to further their own agendas.Slightly darker than both Elemental and Storm, Fearless was a really interesting look into Hunter’s past. I do wish that he would have been a little more suspicious of Clare’s sudden interest in him and his father’s rather impressive gun collection, and I would have liked to see more interaction between Hunter and his father, the man who helped shaped him into such an enigma.

Zenn Scarlett (Strange Chemistry)

Zenn Scarlett - Christian Schoon Vastly imaginative and ambitious in scope, Zenn Scarlett was a treat for my inner sci-fi fan. With exotic alien species, the colonization of Mars and a feud between Earth and the rest of the universe, there was a lot to learn, which was slightly overwhelming at first, but also fascinating. As Zenn Scarlett progressed however, I found that most information was given through info-dumped filled conversations between Zenn and the cloister’s Sexton, Hamish, and that the mystery surrounding the freak accidents was quite predictable.Easily one of the most thorough and imaginative science-fiction/dystopian reads I’ve read this year, Zenn Scarlett didn’t hold back! From day-to-day life on Mars, to the creation of The Rift between Earth and the rest of the Universe, to the descriptions of the various alien animals, to the veterinary procedures Zenn was tasked with completing, not a detail was left untouched! There were pieces that were reminiscent of our current Earth, enough to give everything a sense of familiarity, but there was so much that was new and exciting that I read vigorously for the first few chapters in order to soak it all in. On the other hand though, there was so much information presented so quickly, that I did find myself struggling to keep up with the various terms and history being thrown my way. So while I appreciated this new, futuristic world that Zenn Scarlett presented, it did take me about half of the book to become comfortable with the new terminology and for me to get a good grasp on the history of Mars and its colonization, space travel, and the role of exovets.Zenn was an incredibly naive protagonist. Having been sheltered her whole life, confined to within the cloister’s walls unless she was with her uncle or father, and having grown up without the companionship of anyone her own age, she was inexperienced with almost everything that didn’t involve being an exovet. Having grown up surrounded by alien animals, she was extremely passionate and opinionated about their place in the universe, using every and any opportunity to try and enlighten the towners.But you see what I mean, don’t you? Human beings get this idea in their heads that they’re the special ones – the only ones who get to say who’s normal and who’s…just a thing. Think about if the show was on the other foot. And someone decides you’re the thing.But, sometimes her passion was overwhelming, turning a completely valid point into something I struggled not to skim as she became quite self-righteous, or holier-than-thou. While I often found myself agreeing with her, she didn’t always when to know when to let the argument drop, when to just back down and accept that she wasn’t going to be able to change a lifetime of intolerance with a few persuasive remarks.Zenn Scarlett’s plot was one I sometimes struggled with. As I said earlier, I was completely caught up by the world-building at first, struggling yet eager to come to terms with this new Universe unravelling itself before my eyes. I was excited to learn about each new animal species, and rooting for Zenn’s success with passing her various exovet tests. As the plot progressed, however, I noticed a disturbing trend when it came to gleaning new information about the world Zenn inhabited. Hamish, the cloister’s new alien sexton, took up the habit of asking Zenn questions about the towner’s reaction to the alien animals, or the reasons for their animosity towards alien species in general, which opened up convenient doors for Zenn to drop a bunch of info into their conversations. So, instead of having that information arise organically, we were put through Zenn’s history book-like regurgitation of the events. I also found that because of Zenn’s naiveté, the plot was extremely predictable. I had my hunches about a certain culprit, and was not the least surprised to find that my hunch was dead-on.Despite its few flaws, I still really enjoyed Zenn Scarlett. It did read more like a middle-grade novel at times, probably due to Zenn’s lack of world experience, which helped me to suspend a certain level of disbelief that that category generally requires. With a twist ending that left us with a rather large cliffhanger, not to mention several unresolved issues, Zenn Scarlett is most definitely only the first of a series that I hope to continue with!

The S-Word

The S-Word - Chelsea Pitcher The S-Word was an interesting read that won’t sit well with many readers. Covering issues like slut-shaming, gender inequality and suicide, among others, it’s not always an easy read. While I appreciated what The S-Word tried to accomplish by covering such heavy topics, in many ways, but especially thanks to its apathetic narrator and disjointed dialogue, it failed. Fortunately I appreciated the suspense surrounding the mystery of the leaked diary pages and found the narrator’s voice, while distant at times, to resonante nonetheless.With the amount of novels that include some version of slut-shaming, whereby females are made to feel ashamed by exploring their sexuality for having any kind of sexual experience outside of what’s deemed to be an appropriate female encounter, I was really interested to see how The S-Word reversed that mentality by uncovering the truth behind Lizzie’s betrayal. Having been deemed a “slut” for sleeping with her best friends’ boyfriend, Lizzie was systematically dehumanized by her peers and eventually defined by who she had been (rumoured-to-be) intimate with, making her peers feel like they could treat her as something less than human. The reason I think The S-Word struggled to accomplish this reversal of Lizzie’s dehumanization by leaking out the truth using pages of her diary as clues, was, in part, thanks to it’s disjointed dialogue. Sentences were often poorly constructed, interrupting the flow of the story. At times, it read like a stereotypical portrayal of teen speak, while at other times, it read like a scholarly journal on gender issues and female sexuality. I was constantly being told, by Angie, how something was unfair or biased against women, in a way that made it feel like the author was merely using The S-Word as her soapbox to express her commentary on the issues at hand. While I wouldn’t necessarily use the word preachy, it definitely walked that line.This telling versus showing style of writing is not one I overly enjoy, nor do I find it successful at demonstrating the issues in a clear and authentic light. But what further complicated The S-Word’s style was Angie’s detachedness as a narrator. For someone who has just lost her childhood best friend, to a suicide she is feeling more and more guilty about, after the deepest kind of betrayal one can experience from a best friend, I expected Angie to be a dynamic character who showed us the full range of grief, anger and despair. Instead, she was cold and calculating. Had she shown growth as a character, and moved past the detached numb stage, I could have understood her a bit better. Instead, her narration read merely as someone interested in solving a mystery, which took away from the overall impact of The S-Word’s story. This cold detachedness is also the reason I found myself surprised when she confessed to having feelings for a certain boy, who, even now, remains an enigma to me. The way in which she let the reader know that she had developed romantic feelings was much like the way in which someone might comment on the weather: in passing, without much fanfare. It was quite strange, further adding to the distance I felt between Angie and her story.However, I did find myself truly enjoy The S-Word’s plot. It read as a fantastic mystery novel, with decent pacing and slowly leaked clues that kept me gripped to the pages. While I did guess at one of the plot twists, much of what happened, especially towards the ending, was a welcome surprise. And while I found myself distanced from Angie, I also found that much of what she was preaching saying, still resonated with me as a reader.I actually kind of wish they would stop. Even whispered quietly, that word has the power to turn your stomach. But maybe that’s why it’s important to say it out loud. Maybe we can’t be afraid of talking about it if we ever want it to stop.I appreciated her honesty, if nothing else, and that was always something you could count to be told rather bluntly.His arms go around me in that soft way of theirs, but they’re not wings this time. They’re just arms. He’s just a boy. And love isn’t the answer to all my problems because this isn’t a fucking fairy tale.And while I didn’t always connect with her on an emotional level, a part of me did feel the pain of her boyfriends’ betrayal when she was able to show moments of weakness.You don’t fall out of love with someone just because he betrays you. That love stays inside you, battling against the hate. Right now my love is battling my hate so hard I can barely breathe, and all I want to do is get away from him.Or fall into him.While I won’t argue that the execution wasn’t flawed, I will argue that many of Angie’s messages are ones that YA needs to focus on: words are powerful and should be treated as such; sexuality is fluid and can’t be contained by generic labels; hate breeds hate; and so on.If you haven’t already figured it out, The S-Word was quite a confusingly enjoyable read. On the one hand, the plot pulled me long relentlessly, and I got so caught up in the mystery elements that most of the issues I’ve mentioned, fell to the wayside. On the other, when I was pulled out of the suspenseful plot, I was quickly reminded of how many issues The S-Word had, and how miserably it was failing at overcoming them. Like I said, The S-Word won’t be for every reader, but I do think that there will be a niche group of readers who adore it for what it does succeed at.

Storm (Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental Series #1)

Storm - Brigid Kemmerer With a certain addictive quality to it, Storm grabbed my attention from the first few lines, keeping me glued to its fast-paced and intense plot until I had turned the last page. While it wasn’t without its issues, I was able to mostly forget that they existed thanks to Storm’s great characterization and humorous dialogue.I loved Storm’s characters. I can’t even fully express how much I adored each one of the Merrick brothers. Brigid managed to give each one of them a distinctive enough voice that I was able to easily keep them distinguished from each other, while simultaneously making them similar enough for me to fully believe that they were siblings. The sarcastic banter and witty jabs had me literally laughing out loud, often, while some of their tenser moments had me wanting to play mediator: can’t we all just get along boys? Don’t you see that you’re hurting Michael with your awfulness? Somehow, Storm made me fall in love with this broken family while also making me want to give a few of them a good shake – why don’t boys just talk about their feelings instead of building up all of this aggression towards one another!? I loved how their familiarity made me feel like I was a part of the family, and that their teasing of Chris and his feelings for Becca became something that I blushed about.And I loved Becca. She was so kick-ass sometimes, running of some guys with her car in order to rescue Chris, but also so vulnerable at the same time; it made her such a relatable protagonist! I loved watching her struggle to figure out Chris and Hunters’ motivations and her big secret kept me in suspense for much of Storm’s 300+ pages. Her relationship with Quinn reminded me a lot of my relationship with my girlfriends in high school; it was the type of friendship where you could royally mess up and then reunite over something ridiculous, never concerning yourself with if you would be friends again, only when.Shockingly, I loved the love triangle. While I was always suspicious of Hunter, he was such a gentlemen I found it hard to keep being so guarded with him. His honesty with Becca was refreshing for a YA love interest, as was his chivalry despite the fact that that’s the reason I suspected him of foul play. Not shocking then, was the fact that I was cheering for Chris the whole time. He’s just so broken and I wanted to see him happy! I thought Storm did a really good job of making both guys huge sweethearts, in their own ways, but giving them both a slightly dangerous and addictive edge that I found insanely attractive.I loved so much of Storm, but as I said, it wasn’t without its issues. While the idea of Elementals was one I loved, and we learned a lot about their history, I was still hoping for more answers: is this something that has always happened? Why don’t more people know about them? I also had a hard time understanding Gabriel’s aggression, and the younger Merrick boys’ anger towards Michael; I would have appreciated some answers a little earlier. I hated how Becca’s issue (avoiding spoilers) was handled towards the end of the book, how unaffected she seemed by it in what I would consider triggering situations, and it’s use as a plot device was NOT COOL. I also found the plot, while action-packed and suspenseful, to be quite predictable. I was disappointed when a lot of my theories were proven right.Sidenote: I loved learning, piece-by-piece, what had happened with Michael and Emma. It tied in so smoothly with Elemental, and it kept my curiosity piqued for so long, that I had to take a moment to appreciate how well thought-out this series obviously was!Despite my few reservations, one of which really bothered me but I’m choosing to overlook because of how much I enjoyed everything else, I loved Storm. The characters were fantastic, the dialogue was witty and fun, and the plot kept my attention despite being slightly predictable.

Wave Runners (Jim and Erica Winters Adventure #2)

Wave Runners (Jim and Erica Winters Adventure #2) - Peter Anthony Kelley Modern-day pirates, political intrigue, a cooking contest, a reality show, great characters and exotic locations – Wave Runners has got it all! And while a big part of me loved Jim and Erica’s latest adventure, an almost equally large part was distracted by some plausibility issues and the slightly drawn out plot.Jim has grown up a little since Paraglide, and his new-found maturity was a welcome change in Wave Runners. While we still got to see moments where he showed his younger age by making rash decisions, we also got to see him struggle with teenage angst – will he carve his own path and follow his dreams of attending Le Cordon Bleu, or will he make his father proud by joining the Agency? Does Reeno still care for him, or has she moved on to an attractive local Italian boy? His relationship with Erica was also a little different, with Jim being able to appreciate her unique skill set instead of only seeing her as his slightly-annoying younger sister. As for Erica, she was as adorable as ever, constantly thinking up new Crossword clues and badgering Jim with her encyclopedia-like memory that always seemed to prove why she was right!I really enjoyed the concept behind the plot – Jim’s cruise is overtaken by pirates and held hostage for ransom during an international cooking competition – but I found the execution lagged in places. While Jim and Erica were constantly getting themselves into sticky situations, by the halfway mark I was ready for the conclusion. Instead, Wave Runners introduced plot twist after plot twist after plot twist, further convoluting an already convoluted plot. While it wasn’t hard to keep up with, since I did find most of it quite predictable, it did become slightly tedious; there were several points where I thought the ending must be within reach, only for another twist to emerge.There were also certain plot elements in Wave Runners that I had a hard time believing in. After being overrun by pirates, the cruise ship and it’s occupants were allowed to resume their normal activities, as long as everyone adhered to the 9PM curfew; Jim even mentions that he rarely saw a pirate on board. How did they keep control of the ship? Jim’s mother didn’t seem overly concerned about her young son, and even younger daughter, looking into the identities of the pirates – even though it possibly landed her in the hospital! Once the pirates were gone from the cruise ship, it continued along it’s course – including the taping of the cooking contest – like nothing had happened. Wouldn’t there have been an investigation, with the cruise ships’ occupants needed for questioning in the hopes of identifying the pirates? The situation with Reeno…I can’t say a lot (spoilers) but I found that highly implausible.That being said, I was able to suspend a certain level of disbelief, considering this is centered around two youths who are able to outsmart every adult they encounter! And I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy Wave Runners, because I did. There were moments where I was on the edge of my seat, worried that Jim and Erica had gotten themselves in too deep and wouldn’t be able to find their way back out. As with Paraglide, I loved the cooking elements that were often referenced, and the reality show bits reminded me a lot of Master Chef – which I’m a big fan of!For anyone who’s looking for a fun, slightly MG read, with a great sibling relationship, I would give Wave Runners (after reading Paraglide, of course) a shot! While there were certain things that I found slightly tedious or implausible, for the most part, I very much enjoyed Jim and Erica’s latest adventure. And that twist at the end? Didn’t see that one coming!

Elemental (Elemental, #0.5)

Elemental (Elemental, #0.5) - Brigid Kemmerer I don't have the best track records with novellas, so imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed Elemental, BUT found it peaked my interest in picking up the rest of the series!So much of what's touched on in Elemental - the small group of people who have extraordinary control over an element and are disliked enough for it that people want them dead, the guild in charge of regulating those with powers, the fear behind becoming a rogue elemental, a shady deal that's supposed to guarantee Michael's safety in town - are all things I am eager to learn more about! It's also the reason Elemental is losing a star; while I can appreciate that Elemental is a novella and won't be providing all the answers, a little morsel to sate my hunger would have been appreciated!I really enjoyed reading from both Michael and Emily's PoVs, as it gave some insight into how they were both feeling about the other. That being said, I did find their leap from outright antagonism, to shaky friendship, to romance happened a little quickly - even for novella standards. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy their moments together though!Her cheeks were faintly pink, her breathing rapid. The blond hair and fair complexion made her brother look like a freak, but it suited her. He'd say she looked like a china doll, but then she'd swung a putter at his head on Wednesday. A contradiction in terms: strong and fragile, all at the same time. Like she might cry, but she'd slug him first.They shared a similar humour, and I found myself grinning more often than not.She'd never stood this close to him before, to where she could see the flecks of gold in his brown eyes, could count each individual strand of hair that the sun had lightened. He still smelled like summer, cut grass and sunscreen with a hint of something woodsy.The chain-link fence between them somehow made this more intimate instead of less.Don't be stupid. Even serial killers can be hot.I was surprised by how quick to anger Michael was, but quickly realized that he was constantly having to defend the most innocent of actions - like visiting the batting cages - because someone was always looking to force him into using his powers - which is a big reason I NEED to continue with this series. Why does this town care so much about people with stronger powers? Why are there so few people who are born stronger than most? What happened in the past to make them so ostracized? Elemental hinted at so many secrets to unfold, I'm tempted to throw my reading schedule out the window and pick up Storm immediately!

Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1)

Sketchy (Bea Catcher Chronicles, #1) - Olivia Samms Sketchy should have been a thrilling and exciting read, with dynamic characters and a unique supernatural twist on a protagonist with powers. Unfortunately, extremely poor characterization and weak plot development destroyed any chance Sketchy had at engaging me as a reader.With a plot that contained rape, murder and drug/alcohol addiction, to say that Sketchy was ambitious in scope is an understatement – and I think that is why it failed. With it’s large focus on numerous topics, Sketchy was unable to properly give each subject the appropriate care and attention it deserved, in order to make it feel authentic. Bea was confusing as a recovering addict, as it seemed like the only reason she wasn’t using was because she had gotten caught once and didn’t want to get sent back to rehab. It rarely felt like her struggle with using was something that affected her daily, even though she often commented on how it was a struggle each day not to fall back on old habits. Rape was something that was almost made a mockery of, with one scene in particular making me put the book down in disgust. Being attacked, Bea plays like she’s enjoying it, in order to distract her assailant from noticing that she’s reaching for a knife. I was never made to feel like she was in genuine danger of being raped – or killed – because I was so caught up on her ridiculous reaction to the situation.He pulls at my jeans, and I look over his right shoulder and see the keys on the floor near my left foot.I hook the heel of my boot around the ring and slowly bend my knee, dragging the keys up the left side of my body, cradling [name's] legs, and fake a sexy sigh.[...] “That’s more like it,” he moans. “You might as well enjoy it.”“I know. You’re right. Here, let me help you with my pants,” I whisper.If it hadn’t been within the last few pages of the book, I would have DNF’d it right there.I might have been better able to understand Bea’s motivations, or empathize with her struggles as a recovering addict, if I had better understood her as a protagonist. Unfortunately, her characterization in Sketchy was so poorly done that certain character traits that we’re told are pivotal to her being are completely at odds with her behaviour. For example, we’re told on several occasions that Bea’s style is retro and thrifty, that she’s a misfit who wears lots of vintage items purchased from her local thrift shop. So why are her descriptions name-dropping designer brands like they’re going out of style? (Emphasis mine).I put on a large fleece sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, a drab ecru down parka with a hood, and my UGG boots.I lock my bedroom door, strap on a green leather Coach backpack, and walk over to the window.[...] thank goodness for the ugly Isotoner leather gloves I found tucked in the pockets of the parka.Willa digs around [Bea's bag] and finds a pair of oversized, round Dior shades.What thrift store is she shopping at that carries UGG, Coach and Dior? Another big detractor from Bea’s characterization in Sketchy was the abundance of dialogue infiltrating every scene. Very little was said about how Bea was feeling, what anyone looked like or how those around her were reacting, during any conversation; everything read flat, and straight to the point.“How typical. They hate me already, and I haven’t even done anything yet. It’s my hair.”“Your hair is fierce, Bea! Rule number two: don’t speak to the cheerleaders unless you are spoken to first.”“Excuse me?”“They’re harmless. Besides, they’re in mourning.”“What do they have to be sad about?”“Oh my god! You didn’t hear about the rape?” Chris whispers.And it goes on. Nothing to indicate how Bea feels about this conversation. Nothing to indicate what tone of voice Chris is using – is he being sarcastic? Energetic? Empathetic? I’m not even going to get into how Chris was characterized – think of every stereotypical portrayal of any gay boy in high school, and you’ve got Chris down to a T.But, despite all of my criticisms, I did enjoy Sketchy’s potential, if that makes any sense. The idea of drawing the truth out of someone was really interesting, though it would have been nice to get some more details on what it felt like for Bea when she was compelled by the need to draw the truth. I also really enjoyed watching Bea battle some demons in order to help Willa, though Willa was another character who was a complete enigma.Were Samms to sit down and flesh out her characters a little more, if she were to show the reader her characters’ motivations versus telling the reader why they did things the way they did, I think Sketchy could easily have been a 3-star read for me; it did have a certain draw to it that made it (at times) a page-turner. Unfortunately, the execution of this potential filled idea fell flat.

The Eternity Cure

The Eternity Cure - Julie Kagawa With an opening scene that promised blood, violence and death, I started The Eternity Cure with anticipation, having been really impressed by its predecessor, The Immortal Rules. I quickly realized that The Eternity Cure would be much more focused on Allie’s character development and relationships, and the odd brush with death, than with her struggles with bloodlust and the suspense of having so many humans within reach should she slip that I found so exciting in The Immortal Rules. So while I did enjoy The Eternity Cure, due to its slightly different focus I did find myself struggling with some sections thanks to less than stellar pacing.While the plot does center around Allie’s quest to find and save Kanin, most of the The Eternity Cure’s focus was actually on her personal development since The Immortal Rules, and the relationships she built with the people she picked up along the way. With The Eternity Cure, we get to see an Allie that is much more comfortable in her vampire skin. She’s accepted that feeding off of humans will always be a part of her life, but she realizes that she can still choose whether or not that makes her a monster; whether or not that means she can forget about her humanity. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice though, or that keeping her humanity is the choice that always makes the most sense.It was interesting to watch Allie’s internal struggle between her demon and her humanity, as they waged war over her actions, but the cynic in me began to question why she bothered: why not just give in to the demon inside, survival of the fittest and all that jazz? While I could appreciate the side of Allie that didn’t want to forget her humanity, a larger part of me was hoping for a little more action, a little more ferocious vampireness. And it was that side of me that found much of Allie’s internal struggles to tamp down her inner demon dull, stagnated the plot in favour of character development. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate character development – because I do – I was just hoping for a little more action from a dark and gritty post-apocalyptic tale such as The Eternity Cure.Fortunately, Jackal was able to break up a lot of Allie’s constant back-and-forth with herself with a little comedic relief.Now we’re going to save a bunch of dirty meatsacks from a bunch of dirty cannibals? Why don’t we rescue some orphaned kittens and put food out for stray puppies while we’re at it?His banter, which constantly hinted at slightly sinister intentions, provided a small amount of suspense as you never really knew whether you could trust him. Add in Zeke’s promise to kill Jackal for what he had done to his friends and father, and the tension was sometimes palpable. As for Zeke, I found myself wondering why I had liked him so much in The Immortal Rules. He kept trying to tell Allie things, only to be interrupted or for him to back out at the last second, and by the end of the book I was ready to strangle him! Just say it already! I also found that his presence in The Eternity Cure worked mostly as a tool of convenience; he always seemed to show up at the last minute, in the nick of time, to save Allie from certain death.The actual plot was one that fascinated me, but that failed to live up to my expectations. I was really hoping for more insight into Sarren’s twisted mind and his true reasons behind Kanin’s lavish torture, I expected a lot of bloodlust and violence (which, to be fair, there was a lot of violence but it was of the necessary kind, the, in order to survive we must be violent, kind) and the promise of a cure kept me in suspense for much of their round-about journey. By the time the “cure” presented itself, I again found it all too convenient and the way the happily-ever-after ending was shaping up, I was prepared to be extremely disappointed. Fortunately, Kagawa still had a few tricks up her sleeve and left us with a cliffhanger that guaranteed I’ll be picking up the next book in the series!

Switched: Trylle Trilogy Book 1

Switched  - Amanda Hocking Switched was an interesting read because I was constantly flip-flopping over how I felt about it. While it was a quick and easy read that I found hard to put down, it was also filled with shallow characters, lacklustre villains and an abundance of plot holes. So while I enjoyed it for it’s mindless entertainment value, it definitely wasn’t without its issues.A good chunk of my problems with Switched had to do with the way in which Hocking described her characters. If I wasn’t offended, then I was completely put-off by how awful her characters came across. She was thin, the way she had always been, in a beautifully elegant borderline-anorexic way.I’m sorry, but I don’t think that anyone who is described as “borderline anorexic” should ever be described as elegant or beautiful – not in something that is marketed to such a young and impressionable demographic. I also had a hard time warming up to Wendy, because of her self-admitted and unapologetic brattiness, and Finn, because of his constant secretiveness; it wasn’t alluring and mysterious, it was annoying and frustrating.Fortunately I was able to mostly forgive Wendy for her quick temper and childish ways when it was revealed that, even though she looked human, she was actually a troll princess, and a heated temperament was a characteristic of all trolls. Unfortunately, when it was explained that Wendy was a Changeling, a troll switched with a human child at birth, and that she had been raised by humans in order to help fund Forening, a troll community, so that they could live their lives without having to put in a days work, I lost all respect for anything Switched was trying to accomplish.And so we leave our children with the most sophisticated, wealthiest human families. The changelings live a childhood that is the best this world has to offer, and then return with an inheritance from their host families that infuses our society with wealth.So not only are these trolls lazy, they’re stupid. With this kind of wealth at their fingertips, why wouldn’t they invest it and remove their dependency on humans, not to mention alleviating any risk to their children’s lives should their host family suspect that something wasn’t right? Considering their numbers are dwindling, keeping their children safe should be a priority. It might also reduce the chance that a troll would mate with a human, further diluting their lineages.Also, with this kind of wealth, how is it that they are subject to attacks from a rival troll community? How is it that a large group of trolls are all able to sneak past the large gate fencing in the community, sneak onto the palace’s property and smash through the skylights without attracting anyone’s attention or setting off some kind of alarm? What is all of this wealth buying them if it isn’t security?Oh right, this is where Switched’s superficial plot comes in to play. We’re expected to believe that Wendy’s real mother, the Queen Elora, is trying to stave off having her rule overthrown by hosting dinner parties where the guests are forced to dress like they’re attending a lavish ball. Amidst threats of mutiny and enemy attack, we’re also meant to believe that she is more preoccupied with planning Wendy’s debut than actually teaching her how to be a princess that could defend herself from these kind of attacks. Oh, and that trolls with magical powers would cower in fear while a bunch of trolls relying on brute force tried to steal their princess.But, like I said before, despite its numerous flaws, Switched is also immensely readable – it’s a quick read that I found hard to put down. So that’s gotta count for something, right?

The Archived

The Archived - Victoria Schwab With one of the most unique premises that I’ve read in YA fiction, The Archived’s biggest strength came from having such fleshed out and convoluted world-building. With a cast of enjoyable, if not overly memorable, characters and a little mystery to keep me intrigued, I flew through The Archived in my quest to unravel the mysteries of this secret world!Easily the biggest reason I loved The Archived was its fantasy-esque world, where people become Histories in death, shelved in a place called the Archives, cared for by Librarians. But, as with every system, there are flaws and sometimes, Histories wake up, finding themselves in the Narrows – the place in-between the Outer (real world) and the Archives. And this is where MacKenzie comes in – she’s a Keeper, garnered with the responsibility of tracking down Histories who have made it into the Narrows and showing them the way to the Return, so they made be shelved again. Schwab was able to articulate this world so clearly and so fluidly, that I was never lost about how it worked and any questions I was able to think of, were answered by the end. I loved learning about how the Archives functioned, and why they existed, so much that I was kept turning the pages in the hopes of being given another glimpse into such an interesting and complex system. Every time I thought I had a handle on why things were done, Schwab threw in another detail that left me scrambling to re-envision the world in light of this new information.There was one thing that I found confusing in The Archived though: Mac’s flashbacks to the time spent with Da. For the longest time, we’re not told who Da is, so I couldn’t figure out if he was supposed to be a neighbour, some random creepy stranger, some relation or someone who just happened to choose Mac as his replacement. Once we found out that Da was her grandfather, I found the flashback scenes much more useful, as I wasn’t focusing on who he was as much as what he was trying to teach Mac about being a Keeper.Mac was a wonderful protagonist! Extremely proactive, she wasn’t afraid of finding the answers on her own, even when that put her into uncomfortable or dangerous situations. I loved watching her internal struggle with lying to her family, since being a Keeper meant a lifetime of lies as no one is allowed to know about the Archives, and I found most of her reactions to be realistic, though I did question her judgment when it came to Owen; am I the only one who found their relationship kind of icky? That being said though, I understood Owen’s attractiveness, as he was able to quiet the noise that came with her responsibilities and grief over losing her little brother. Her easy and light friendship with Wes was a nice break from the darker tones of her life as a Keeper and he brought out a side of Mac that we otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. But, even though I enjoyed the characters – even rooted for them – I never truly connected with any of them; I don’t want to suggest in any way that The Archived’s characters were static or undeveloped, they just weren’t overly memorable.Fortunately, The Archived’s plot moves at such a great pace, that I wasn’t really focused on my lack of connection to the characters. With the dawning realization that a Librarian is responsible for wiping certain memories from certain Histories, and that those memories all happen to correspond to a string of suspicious deaths at Mac’s new apartment complex, I was completely caught up in playing who-done-it. While I found the direction the plot took to be a bit predictable, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment. If anything, it made me even more curious to see how Schwab was going to tie up all the loose ends.With several mysteries that were seemingly unconnected, only to come together to form one large conspiracy toward the end, The Archived’s plot kept me guessing for most of its duration. Add in some great characters and even better world-building, and the Archived succeeded at trapping me in its fantasy world until I had uncovered all of its secrets!