Monday, August 15, 2011

novapsych is going on hiatus

Followers, readers, you've been fabulous.  Blogging has been great, I've had fun, and hopefully you've enjoyed reading novapsych!

I'll be heading off to college in a few days, and I'm really excited.  Unfortunately, with all the chaos of moving, getting settled in, taking a full course load my first semester, and hopefully meeting some fun people.... I'm just not going to be able to put in the time and effort that you, the readers, deserve.

I'll be leaving the website up, so all my past reviews and posts will still be available.  In the spring, after surviving my first semester, I'll make the final decision about whether novapsych will keep going or will have to say a permanent goodbye.  In the meantime, I'd like to thank you all for being so fabulous!  If you want to un-follow, I completely understand; and if not, I appreciate the loyalty.

Hopefully, I'll be back in the spring; but for now, adieu ~

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: In the Coils of the Snake

Miranda was raised by her human family, but she always knew she was destined for greater things.  The goblin King, Marak, spent her childhood grooming her to be the next queen, the perfect wife for his son Catspaw.  But everything goes wrong when, inexplicably, the enemies of the goblins reappear in their traditional lands.  The elves, long thought extinct, have returned under the leadership of a mysterious and powerful man called Nir.

Caught up in events that spiral out of their control, Catspaw finds himself forced to trade Miranda for an elf bride and Miranda finds herself a captive of Nir.  The new arrangements upset everyone involved, and tensions quickly rise between the two races...

Entertainment: ★★★

I loved the first book and liked the second, so I had high standards for this book.  Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I did the first two, and so I was a little disappointed.

Plot: ★

I'll be frank: I didn't understand the romance.  In the first two books, yes, there was imprisonment and coldly calculated reproductive interests involved in the romance.  Here, though, the "romance" just reads as very misguided Stockholm syndrome.  While the Catspaw-Arianna romance was understandable, at least, maybe even a little sweet, the Nir-Miranda romance was just outright weird.  I didn't like it.  Also the plot itself, romances aside, was a little predictable.

Characters: ★★★

Previously in the series, the heroines were strong and vibrant and interesting.  In this book, though, things changed a lot.  Miranda goes all starry-eyed, mushy, and helpless around Nir, even though by all rights she really should resent him at least a little for imprisoning her.  Arianna was slightly better but still so timid and mousy that I really couldn't connect with her either.  Nir I was completely lost on.  Catspaw, though, was nice.  He was the only character I really liked.

Writing: ★★★★

Issues with the plot and characters aside, Dunkle delivers another beautifully written installment with lovely descriptions that really bring the story to life.  I really do enjoy her writing.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Haroun is the child of a famous storyteller, known far and wide as the Ocean of Notions and the Shah of Blah.  Although they live in a sad, nameless city, blanketed by smog and fed with glumfish, Haroun is happy with the crazy stories his father produces.

Until the day his mother runs off with the neighbor, and Haroun's father is unable to tell any more stories.  He has simply run out of words.  It is up to Haroun to restore his father's gifts and write his own happy ending...

Entertainment: ★★★★★

This story is short but so cute.  I have a feeling that the story will appeal to all ages - easily understandable for kids, but also satirical and whimsical for adults.

Plot: ★★★

The plot is simplistic and easy to predict, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Characters: ★★★★

The characters were so much fun to read about!  They spanned all sorts of imaginary races with a creativity and originality rare in much longer and more complex stories.  Also, they were funny.

Writing: ★★★★★

Rushdie is absolutely amazing.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Likely Story: Red Carpet Riot

Mallory is the star writer of a hit soap opera, Likely Story.  She's also sixteen.  Likely Story is getting rave reviews and has gotten several Emmy nominations, but Mallory isn't as happy as she should be.  First there's the fact that she's in love with Dallas, the star of her show, when she should be in love with her boyfriend Keith.  Then there's her mother, whose latest antics are forcing Mallory to take drastic action.  Then there's the fact that Likely Story seems to be getting more and more out of hand.  Then there's the new website,, which seemed dedicated to ruining Mallory's life.  And oh yeah, there's gym class.  The Emmys are approaching quickly and Mallory's going to have to act fast if she wants to keep her show, her friends, and her sanity...

Entertainment: ★★★

It started off okay, and then went downhill about halfway through.  Likely Story was clever and funny, and although Red Carpet Riot had some of the same satirical humor overall it was just less enjoyable.

Plot: ★★

This actually read a lot like a soap opera plot, in that it was fairly unoriginal and fairly predictable.  I think I've read nearly every scenario in this book before.  Honestly, it just wasn't that interesting.  And the ending was just fake

Characters: ★★★★

I will say that most of the characters in this series are actually very interesting to me, because even most of the bad guys are part good and even the good guys get bad sometimes.  There's a lot of grey areas, which makes for some entertaining characters.

Writing: ★★★

Fairly well-written.

End result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Nomansland

Keller has grown up on Foundland, or Nomansland as it is also called.  It's an island populated entirely by women, all trying to rebuilt society after a nuclear apocalypse.  They live their lives governed by strict rules, always aware of the ever-present threat of mutants - and worse, men - from outside the island.

But when Keller and some other girls discover a secret place from the Time Before, full of magazines and makeup and forbidden objects like mirrors, they start to question the truth of everything they've ever learned...


First of all, I loved the worldbuilding.  Honestly, it didn't sound good on the book jacket flap.  It sounded cheesy.  But it turned out to be unique and interesting.  The dystopian society is militant about avoiding the Pitfalls: sins like Decoration, Coquetry, Reflection, and Triviality.  They dismiss beauty as weakness and relationships as full of flaws.  Although that's not exactly a new concept, in Nomansland it was done in a new way.  I did have a few issues with the story, but overall I thought it was an interesting read.


I will say the plot was a little lacking - in that there isn't really much of a plot for the first half of the book.  It does pick up a little in time for a good finish, but overall it wasn't exactly action-packed or thrilling.

And I'm a little confused why these girls, upon discovering a house essentially full of treasures, decide to hold a beauty pageant and play dress-up.  I get that they've lived hard lives without beauty so they're excited about this new perspective and blah blah blah but really, if you're raised as a warrior from a young age you don't just melt into a puddle of overly feminine goo the first time you see makeup. You should be a little tougher than that.  So I really didn't understand that part.

Oh, and the reproductive system on the island?  A little icky.


I liked Keller, who I thought was both strong and interesting to read about.  I really like Ms. Windsor, the somewhat-tyrannical leader.  She was an interesting mix of psychotic and rationally intelligent.  At one point, she describes her rise to power, which was fascinating, and really gave her some unexpected depth.

Most of the side characters, though, I just didn't get.  I don't even know what to write here... I just didn't get them.


Aside from the world building, the writing didn't appeal to me all that much.  It wasn't actually flawed or anything, I think it's just an issue of personal preference.

(I apologize if this review is a little contradictory and confusing; it was a complex book and I still have mixed feelings about many parts of it.)

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Dash has tricked his divorced parents and is spending Christmas alone in New York City.  When he's browsing through the spectacular second-hand bookstore, the Strand, he comes across a red notebook.  A girl named Lily challenges him to a series of dares.  Of course, Dash accepts - and he writes back.  In the days before Christmas, they swap dreams and dares in the notebook.  They seem to be perfect for each other, but could their real-life selves possibly match up?

Entertainment: ★★★★

At times I felt the story dragged a bit, but at others I was literally laughing out loud, so overall I felt it averaged out to an above-average read.  Also, the cover is lovely.

Plot: ★★★★

The premise was cute, the execution excellent, and the ending not nearly as cliche as you would expect from the summary.

Characters: ★★★★★

Lily was a little obnoxious; I felt she was a little too starry-eyed and childish.  But the others made up for her easily.  Her extended family was hilarious.  Dash was actually pretty appealing, for a long-word-using book nerd that is consistently described as "snarly."  And of course, the militant mommies.  An excellent cast.

Writing: ★★★★

I liked the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between the two authors' styles; it made the book fun to read.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Truancy

Track lived an average life in the City, being brainwashed and oppressed every day in school.  His world changes the day his little sister is accidentally killed in a terrorist attack.

Wanting revenge, Track joins the terrorist kids that are calling themselves the Truancy.  He's determined to kill their leader, Zyid, his sister's killer, but instead finds himself Zyid's second in command.  As he learns to fight and kill, he starts to wonder whose side he's really on...

Entertainment: ★★★

The premise sounded very cool - a school system systematically devoted to turning children into faceless, obedient cattle, and a rebel group with the fabulous name of the Truancy.  And in many ways it was interesting and exciting and fun.  However.  By the end of the book, I was finding it more than a little cheesy.  And it started to turn into this weird martial-arts movie, complete with a wise, pacifistic sage and lots of sword fights.  I was seriously expecting Jackie Chan to do a cameo or something, it was that strong a resemblance.  So I finished the book with mixed feelings - it was exciting, but frankly a little weird.

Plot: ★★

Honestly it took itself a little too seriously.  And it was hard to take the mercy/pacifism message it supposedly had seriously when everybody's slicing and bombing and gunning each other to bits.  And frankly having a teen as the 'wise sage' character was just bizarre.  He's spouting all this philosophical stuff you'd expect to come from the bearded man on the mountain but instead he's, well, a kid.  Oh, and I  still don't understand why everybody was taking the time to learn samurai skills when they all clearly had access to guns and bombs.  So the only way I can describe this plot is as anime meets dystopia, and I didn't think Truancy combined the two well.

Characters: ★★★

As mentioned above, the whole wise sage kid thing was weird.  And Zyid was equally weird.  Both of them talk like adults, not dropout kids.  And I just didn't get a lot of the side characters (most of whom also talked like college-educated world-weary forty-year-olds, not children).  I did like Tack, though, and I thought his growth and change was fairly plausible.  So for him, I'll give the Characters three stars.

Writing: ★★★

Props for good fighting scenes, at least at the beginning of the book.  I do have to take away points, however, for a severe lack of slow scenes and the fact that 429 pages of fight scenes just gets old fast.  Plus towards the end the fight scenes were getting a little deja vu and repetitive.  Overall fairly well written with plausible action.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.