Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: City of Ashes

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

Clary is trying to cope with her new life.  Her mother is in a coma, her father, Valentine, might be a homicidal and sadistic killer, her best friend Simon is in love with her, her father-figure is a werewolf, and she might or might not be in love with her brother Jace.

At the same time, a mysterious killer is draining children of their blood, and Clary and Jace suspect Valentine may be up to something...

Entertainment: ★★★

It just felt like kind of a placeholder to me.  Like Clare needed something to put between books one and three, in order to set up a few plot points, but didn't have enough material to make a real novel.  It was much slower and less climatic and even less funny than the first, which was disappointing.

Plot: ★★★

Again, it seemed like Clare needed to reveal some information before book three, but there just wasn't enough happening for an exciting, fulfilling plot.  First of all, it was much more predictable than the first book, even cliche.  There were no real surprises for me.  Also, the Clary-Jace thing is just a little icky to me, and the Simon-Clary thing seems awkward and fake, and as a result I'm not emotionally invested in the love triangle.  I just had a hard time staying interested in the plot.

Characters: ★★★

The romance is a little awkward.  Jace's quips get a little stale.  And there's a character called the Inquisitor who is absolutely awful.  Her lines are cliche, her actions bizarre and erratic, and her characterization really, really lacking.

That said, the other characters aren't bad.  Clary and Jace are alright, Simon is actually pretty sweet, and some of the side characters are pretty cool.  Magnus Bane, in particular, really shines.  The man deserves his own series.

Writing: ★★★★

Although I feel like the book itself didn't have as much to offer, plot- or character-wise, I remain a fan of Clare's style and enjoy her writing.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: City of Bones

Clary was an ordinary girl – mildly geeky, good at sketching, perfectly normal. Until she witnesses a murder at a nightclub, sees the body vanish into thin air, and discovers that she is the only one who can see the teenaged killers. These killers are Shadowhunters, not-quite-humans dedicated to destroying demons and other supernatural creatures and keeping humanity safe from them, and they are startled to have been seen by a normal human.

After Clary’s home is ransacked, her mother is kidnapped, and a vicious demon called a Ravener attacks, the Shadowhunters take Clary into their home to protect her. With the Shadowhunters – Jace, Isabelle, and Alec – and her best friend Simon, Clary is launched into a quest. A quest to figure out how Clary got the Sight, how the name of a powerful warlock was signed into her memories, where Clary’s mother has gone… and the quest to find a powerful magical artifact which could mean the destruction of the Shadowhunter world, or its salvation.

Entertainment: ★★★★★

Sorry for the awful summary, there’s just so much happening here that it was nearly impossible to condense it. Anyways, I enjoyed this book immensely, from the clever bantering to the exciting plot to the Downworlders.

Although, I must say I don't like the cover much at all.

Plot: ★★★★★

There are some really excellent twists (and one that weirded me out a little). I couldn’t predict where the plot would go next or what would happen, and yet it was all cohesive and flowed smoothly. It was exciting and funny and intense all at once and in the best ways.

Characters: ★★★★

Honestly, I would have given them five stars – Simon and Jace in particular were phenomenal – except that their dialogue was a little too clever and witty. No sixteen-year-old is that consistently cynical and intelligent, sorry; it just doesn’t read right. Also I wish I could’ve read more about the villain, who seemed really cool but was only mentioned in passing for much of the story. Anyways, overall, I really liked nearly all of the characters, and really got attached to the main characters. Side note, Magnus Bane is awesome.

Writing: ★★★★★

I really, really like Clare’s style. It’s funny and beautiful (which I know doesn’t sound like a good combination, but it is) and I really enjoy reading her work.

End Result: five stars.  A really excellent book.  Read it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Character Interview: Eva from My Invented Life

My review of My Invented Life


What is your favorite childhood memory?

I had a ballet recital, a pas de deux with a friend. We were both totally nervous right before. Then it got worse. The teacher played the wrong song on the piano, and didn’t notice. After we started a second time, I made a lot of mistakes. I just wanted to run out of the room when the song ended. Instead, I curtsied and stared at the floor, and my little sister Roz began hooting like crazy. I looked up to glare at her, and saw that everyone was clapping. My parents looked so proud, as if I’d given a perfect performance. I’ll never forget the look on their faces.

If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?

I’d wish for all the usual things—the end of all war and famine, Arctic ice for the polar bears, and that I could grow taller than my little sister, Roz. The last one’s a joke (pretty much).

My biggest wish, though? That everyone could be themselves without worrying what others think. To thine ownself be true!

And, now that my best friend and I are fighting, I wish I had someone to confide in. It could never be Roz. Her mouth is too big.

That’s more than three. Sorry! 

What do you consider to be the best thing about you?  What do you consider to be the worst?

I look out for my friends, you know? Have their back. On the flip side, I worry too much what everyone thinks about me. The course of true friendship never did run smooth.

What's your favorite thing about your sister?  Your least favorite?

She makes me laugh with her crazy stories and online ouija advice. Even her insults are funny. And if you don’t agree with me, you’re a boil-brained clotpole. I love it when she’s on my side.

But it’s not so fun when we’re on opposite sides. I wish she could be sweeter and more understanding.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Her Own Words: Jess C. Scott

BOOK SUMMARY (The Other Side of Life): A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a megacorporation.

Since Jess does character profiles for many of her characters, here is a profile of herself (in the style of the basic profiling she does for her characters).

Name: Jess C Scott / Nickname: Jess. (24.5 years old)
Zodiac: Virgo Sun, Pisces Moon
Debut Book: EyeLeash: A Blog Novel (2009; a coming-of-age story set in the digital era)
Occupation / Credits: 
1) Author/Artist/Non-Conformist
2) Set up jessINK in February 2011 (her “indie publishing division”)
3) True passion is, and always has been, writing. Continues to develop multiple skills from a wide array of disciplines including drawing, Sudoku, web design, and yoga, to name a few.
Eye/Hair Color: Dark brown eyes, and dark (medium-length) hair
Heritage: Mixed (Singaporean-Chinese + Eurasian)
Biggest Inspirations: Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, many more…
Favorite Food & Drink: Oatmeal (with brown sugar + maple syrup). All sorts of good food. Water. Smirnoff.
Favorite Sport: Dance fitness. Yoga. Swimming.
In 5 Words: jess c scott dot com
Quotes: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
— Jess C Scott (1: The Intern)
“The human body is the best work of art.”
— Jess C Scott (1: The Intern)
“That’s sad. How plastic and artificial life has become. It gets harder and harder to find something…real.” Nin interlocked his fingers, and stretched out his arms. “Real love, real friends, real body parts…”
— Jess C Scott (The Other Side of Life) 
“Friends are the family you choose (~ Nin/Ithilnin, Elven rogue).”
— Jess C Scott (The Other Side of Life)
EXCERPT of Jess’s work (random page from The Other Side of Life):
Nin seemed to know just what she had on her mind. But he decided to let her wait. He cracked his knuckles and relaxed the tension from his neck muscles. 
“All right,” he remarked, pointing to the glass cabinet at the end of the room. It was the one circled on the third map Anya had studied.
Anya folded her arms in front of her, as Nin took a daring backbend over the first red sensor line, balancing on one arm before he flipped over onto his feet. Anya covered her eyes when he reached the center, and came within a hair’s breadth of one of the sensor lines at his chin level. Acrobatic, slinky Ithilnin made an art form out of getting through the sensor obstacle course successfully, jumping over, sliding under, and bending (contorting, almost) with equal dexterity, graceful as a cat.
Author Bio:

Jess identifies herself as an author/artist/non-conformist. Her literary work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, such as
Word Riot, ITCH Magazine, and The Battered Suitcase. She is currently working on several multiple-genre-crossing projects, including her trilogy featuring cyberpunk elves.


Music Monday

Mr. Brightside - The Killers

I stumbled on this song entirely by chance, and it's the only Killers song I've ever heard.  But it's been stuck in my head for days now and really, I think I'm in love.  It's a great song.

The music video is very interesting too, although I'm not quite sure what to make of it...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: Candor

Oscar Banks is a perfect teenager in a town of perfect people.  In Candor, everybody is happy, healthy, polite, and perfect.  Teenagers love their vegetables and their homework, they're friends with everybody, and they never fight or have sex.  They don't even get piercings or wear makeup or dark colored clothes.

Only Oscar knows the town's secret.  The soft music playing everywhere is layered with subliminal messages.  The residents of Candor aren't perfect because they want to be, they're perfect because they have no choice.  Do you have a problem kid?  Just move to Candor.  In days, your child will be cooking you breakfast and dreaming of Yale.

Oscar has figured out how to subvert the system.  He's made his own messages, messages that help him stay sane.  And for a price, he'll help new kids escape Candor.  But when a new girl arrives in Candor one day, Oscar falls for her - and falls hard...


I devoured this book and frankly I thought it was brilliant.


Honestly, the only reason it didn't get five stars was a few implausible bits that I couldn't quite suspend disbelief for.  Otherwise it was original, unique, interesting, well-paced, enjoyable, exciting, and oh, I loved/hated the ending.  But it's been a while since I've had such a strong emotional reaction to any plot, so I thought it was worth reading just for that.


Oscar is awful.  He only works in exchange for money or sex, he's selfish and hypocritical and egotistical, and just downright arrogant.  I loved him to death.

I also, surprisingly, came to like some of the side characters which I disliked at first - Mandi and Nia, specifically.  I even developed an intense disgust with Sherman.  I ended up connecting with all of the characters emotionally and it was all too easy to think of them as real people.  Even Oscar's dad, who I will only describe as a nasty little worm.


Oscar made a fabulous narrator.  The writing was interesting, exciting, enjoyable, and well done.  Bachorz is quite talented.

End Result: five stars.  An excellent book.  Read it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Drowned Wednesday

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.

On the first day, there was mystery.
On the second day, there was darkness.
On the third day, there were pirates.

Arthur is resigned to another showdown in the world of the House, despite his broken leg and reluctance to have anything to do with the other Days.  He's been expecting to have to defeat Lady Wednesday and take the third key... he didn't expect to be invited to lunch.

Turns out, Lady Wednesday - or Drowned Wednesday, as she has become - needs his help to break the curse laid on her by the Morrow Days.  But first Arthur will have to survive pirates, seafaring clerks, Rats, storms, and the Border Seas.  And of course, he'll have to avoid being eaten by Wednesday, who shape shifts into a gigantic, starving white whale that devours everything in her path...


The third installment in the series was just as witty, fun, and enjoyable as the first two.


Nix does a good job of staying true to the general format of the series (Arthur must overcome trials to obtain another Key and therefore dominion over another portion of the house) - while still mixing it up and keeping the story new, exciting, and interesting.


The third portion of the Will is particularly enjoyable, and in addition all of the old favorites are back.  There are a few new characters, like Lady Wednesday, who were only so-so, but the strong main characters made up for that.


As always, I loved Nix's writing.

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday (11)

This week, I can't wait to read Luminous by Dawn Metcalf!  It was the cover that caught my eye - it's gorgeous! And then I read the description (courtesy of Goodreads):

When sixteen-year-old Consuela discovers she can remove her skin, revealing a lustrous mother-of-pearl skeleton, she slips into a parallel world known as the Flow, a place inhabited by archetypal teens with extraordinary abilities. Crafting skins out of anything – air, water, feathers, fire – she is compelled to save ordinary people from dying before their time. Yet now someone is murdering them, one by one, and Consuela finds herself the focus of an intricate plot to end the Flow forever when all she really wants is to get back home, alive.  (More information: Goodreads)

I don't think I've ever read a story about a person with the superpower to remove their skin.  To be honest, it creeps me out a little.  But it also makes me want to read Luminous even more!

What do you think?  Will you be reading Luminous when it comes out?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Music Monday

Pas de Cheval - Panic! at the Disco

"It's the greatest thing you'd ever imagine - imagine knowing me."  Need I say more?  It's utterly self-absorbed, completely egotistical, and one of the greatest songs ever.  It's just plain fun to listen to.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: Grim Tuesday

Arthur survived Monday - barely.  He's ready to get back to a normal existence in his normal world.

But Tuesday isn't about to let him rest.  Grim Tuesday, the second ruler of the mysterious House, is determined not to let Arthur inherit the second Key...


Although I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Mister Monday, I still thought it was a fabulous read.


I took away points because, honestly, it was a little predictable.  But it was still entertaining and interesting.


I love Nix's characters - both the ones that carried over from Mister Monday and the new ones introduced in Grim Tuesday.  I like Arthur, both as a protagonist and as a person.  The clever references to the Mariner poem made me laugh, and I am still fascinated with the Will - both parts of it.


I thought the action was written well, the narration was interesting and nicely paced... really I have nothing negative to say.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blog Hop/Follow Friday

Hi, fellow blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday Question: 

What is your favorite hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like the strong silent type or the brute macho man?

I'm a huge fan of the clever thief stereotype, actually.  Gen from The Thief, Artemis Fowl, Neal Caffrey... 

Blog Hop Question: 

 Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it (review or otherwise)!

How about I go a step further and tell you about multiple posts from this week?

-I reviewed two books: My Invented Life and Mister Monday
I enjoyed both, although I must say Mister Monday was my favorite.

-I also posted an opinion post on old books
Weigh in, if you'd like, I'd love to know other readers' opinions.

-And there was a meme: Music Monday

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Long Weekend Winner

And the winner of their very own copy of The Long Weekend is... drumroll please...

Angelica, comment #5!  Congrats, Angelica!  Hope you enjoy your book!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: My Invented Life

A high school's production of As You Like It turns out to have more drama and gender-bending backstage than on stage.  Roz, theater geek with an overactive imagination, has landed the lead in As You Like It.  But instead of being thrilled, she can't help but be worried: her older sister, Eva, has been acting weird.

Roz examines Eva's recent behaviour and concludes that Eva must be lesbian.  Furthermore, she decides that Eva needs some encouragement to come out of the closet.  So Roz decides that she'll pretend to come out herself, despite being heterosexual.  Roz launches the entire cast of As You Like It into a confused romantic adventure...

Entertainment: ★★★★

So this is basically not my usual genre, at all.  But I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to!  Roz's narration was clever and open, the theater-geek references were funny, and My Invented Life turned out to be a very memorable book.

Plot: ★★★★

I thought it was cool how As You Like It's cast mirrored, somewhat, the actual play.  I also thought Roz's explorations of orientation and sexuality were very realistic without being tacky.  Most of the romances were well done, although some were a little cheesy.  I felt that the ending was nice, in that it had closure but wasn't a dead-end Happily Ever After; there was room for the characters to continue to grow together.

Characters: ★★★

Although Roz was a good narrator, Roz as a character I'm not so sure about.  She's taunted horribly at school and yet none of it appears to bother her.  She acts really, really childish at times and says things that are just, well, stupid.  I just wasn't sure what to think about her.

That said, I liked the side characters immensely.  They were wacky, weird, and fun.  I loved how they would insult each other in Shakespearian.  The side characters really came to life for me, and made up for the somewhat-lackluster star.

Writing: ★★★

I was just honestly confused at some points.  There's no warning when the actual storyline segues into Roz's imaginary "improved" version of reality, leaving me wondering what actually happened.  Continuity issues aside, however, I did feel that My Invented Life was well-written overall, and reading it was a very enjoyable experience.

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Antique Books

I got a nice surprise today: a neighbor brought over some "donations," several old books she didn't have time or space for any more.  It was a wonderful medley, mostly from the 1930's, ranging from a Girl Scout Handbook to several lovely illustrated Dickens novels.

Personally, I love old books.  I love the way they look and feel and smell, I love the texture and the yellow tinge to the pages, I love the faded, embossed covers, I even like the fonts.  I adore the idea that each book has a story: a few words in pencil on the inside cover get my imagination racing, creating a whole life story for the first owner of the book.  I guess it's my mushy romantic side showing.

I also feel responsible when I hold old books - like if I so much as handle them roughly, their pages will fall out or their spines will crumble.  I take excellent care of my older novels, much better care, I admit, than I take of my newer editions.

While I'm all for new books - most books featured on this blog, of course, are very recent and modern - somehow they just don't have the charm of old books.  They're appealing in their own right, but they don't have the siren call of a gorgeous antique book for me.

I'm curious, now - what do my readers think of older books?  Do you love them as much as I do, or do you dismiss them as musty and dull?  Do you go out of your way to handle them, or do you avoid them?  Comment - or hey, write your own post and link back - and let me know!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Music Monday

This week's song:

Major Tom - Shiny Toy Guns

This song is interesting lyrically and I love the singer's voice, but what really makes this song amazing is the haunting, beautiful chorus.  I've been playing this song on repeat for days now, and I'm in love with it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: Mister Monday

Arthur Penhaligon was slated to die of an asthma attack at school.

But he was saved by a magical key shaped like a clock's minute hand.

Sort of saved, at least.  Because now he's being hunted by a mysterious man called Mister Monday, who will do anything to get the key back - including releasing a deadly plague into Arthur's world.  Arthur is forced to flee into Mister Monday's realm, the magical world of the House.  Under the guidance of a dubiously well-intentioned series of paragraphs called the Will, Arthur will have to solve the mystery of the key if he wants to save his world - or save himself...


I loved this book.  It was incredibly unique, new, and exciting.  I loved pretty much everything about this book and I'm already dying to read the next one in the series.


Now that I think about it, the basic outline's been done before.  Kid granted powers by mysterious object, must save the world, etc.  But honestly Nix did such a great job with it that I didn't even notice.  The plot was exciting and interesting and extremely enjoyable.


Arthur was amazing.  First of all, as the Will tells him point-blank, he was chosen randomly to be the hero.  He wasn't The Foretold One or The Chosen One or whatever, he just happened to by dying at a convenient point in time.  That's a nice change from a lot of cheesy YA novels where the hero is Super Special and Prophesied and whatever.  Second, Arthur's asthmatic.  I was amazed at how much that single aspect of him brought him to life for me.  He's not magically Better at Everything than most people in the story; in fact, he's slow and gets out of breath easily and things like that.  Finally, although Arthur gets fabulous powers from his key, he uses them exactly as you'd expect a kid his age to.  For example, confronted with an enemy, he doesn't give elaborate speeches or displays of skill.  He goes, "Freeze!  Double freeze!"

So basically Arthur was the anti-cliche hero of the year.

Oh, and I loved the Will.  I loved how it was just a little morally ambiguous - after all, in the end it's only out to see that its instructions are fulfilled, and it doesn't care too much who gets hurt in the process.  I thought it was funny and interesting and a great new idea for a character.

The rest of the cast were only so-so for me, but I was so in love with Arthur and the Will that I didn't really care.


This is my first Nix book, but it's definitely not going to be my last.

End Result: five stars.  An excellent book.  Read it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Follow Friday/Blog Hop

Hi, fellow blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!  Take a long around, read some reviews, and enter my contest!  Comment and follow if you like what you see!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday Question: 

What is the book you are currently 'pushing'? (Pushing mean trying to get people to read it)

I'm definitely pushing the Uglies trilogy, my favorite series of all time.  I've also just started Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, which is pretty cool, and I've been recommending that to friends too.  (Reviews of that series coming soon!)

Blog Hop Question: 
What are you reading now and why are you reading it?

Two books: Drowned Wednesday, the third book in the Keys series mentioned above, and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.  I'm reading the first because I love the series and want to know what happens to Arthur in the end, and I'm reading the second because I've been on a classics-reading spree lately.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: The Long Weekend

For a chance to win a copy of The Long Weekend, click here!

Sam and Lloyd messed up.  When they got in the man's car, they both thought the other boy's parents had sent him.  They didn't even realize that they'd been kidnapped until it was too late.

The stranger took them to a mansion in the country and locked them away... will either of them ever get out alive?

Entertainment: ★★★★

The Long Weekend went really fast - it's less than 200 pages - but in that short amount of time I was really caught up in the story, very emotionally invested, and very curious to see how it all turned out.

Plot: ★★★★

It was an interesting take on the kidnapping genre, and very suspenseful.  The ending was at least a little surprising.  I would have given it five stars except a few elements which were fairly implausible.

Characters: ★★★

The characters were basically Sam, Lloyd, and "the man."  The man I wish had been fleshed out a little more, although it was understandable that he was very vague given the story's point of view and timeframe.  Lloyd I really wish had been more... well... more.  He started off quite well but then sort of faded to the background for most of the book, and I really wish I could've read more about him.

That said, Sam was pretty cool.  His emotions were realistic and his voice came though loud and clear in the narration.  He wasn't an adult's voice disguised in a kid's body, like so many children in novels are; he read like an actual kid.  I liked him as a character and as a person.

Writing: ★★

The description was excellent, the characterization interesting, and Sam's narration was very enjoyable.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Contest: Win a Copy of The Long Weekend

Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn't know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night.

-Prize: one copy of The Long Weekend
-How to Enter: Comment on this post with your name, your e-mail, and why you want to read this book!
-Extra Entries (not required, but one extra entry each if you leave a link): Spread the word! Link to this contest on your blog sidebar, write a blog post, tweet about the book, Facebook it - get creative!
-Dates: Contest runs from February 2nd through February 9th at midnight EST.
-Winner will be picked randomly.

US addresses only (sorry, overseas readers).

For the rest of the tour (and some more chances to win!):

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Author Interview: Savita Kalhan, Top 10 TV Shows

I don’t watch tons of TV, but there are some series on TV that I hate to miss and if I’m going out I have to make sure I’ve set the recorder for them!
Here’s my top ten list from the last two decades:
  1. ER
  2. CSI (Vegas)
  3. Spooks
  4. The Wire
  5. Inspector Morse
  6. Homicide
  7. Law and Order: SVU
  8. X Files
  9. Six Feet Under
  10. My So-Called Life
I’m also going to give you a list of the TV programmes that I loved when I was growing up! These are some that I remember watching (some of it is embarrassing, and some, well, are a bit too revealing about my age!)
  1. Lost in Space
  2. Kung Fu (with David Carradine)
  3. Dr. Who
  4. Daktari
  5. Black Beauty
  6. The Persuaders
  7. Little House on the Prairie
  8. High Chaparral
  9. Wonderwoman
  10. Charlie’s Angels

Thanks so much for stopping by, Savita!