Saturday, April 30, 2011

Review: Mistwood

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.




Isabel doesn't have any memories before her prince came for her.  And she doesn't get a happily ever after, because she's not a princess.  She's the Shifter, a powerfully and dangerously magical being.  Prince Rokan needs her gift, a gift she can't give him.  Isabel needs the truth, and she knows Rokan is lying to her.  Everybody knows about the Shifter's dark past - except for Isabel herself.  And oh, yeah, there's one other problem: Isabel can't shape shift.

Entertainment: ★★★


I liked this book okay... but it never really sucked me in, never really got me emotionally involved.


Plot: ★★


I thought Isabel's emotional struggles and choices were very interesting and realistic; however, the rest of the plot didn't really catch my interest.  The romance was quite slow and really underexplored, I felt - Isabel was just in love without much explanation.  Personally I thought Mistwood was worth reading just for Isabel's internal conflict, but the rest of the plot just wasn't that great.


Characters: ★★


As I mentioned above, Isabel was pretty cool - but none of the other characters really shone.  They were just sort of lackluster, and some of them just didn't make sense.


Writing: ★★★★

Issues with characterization aside, I thought Mistwood was quite well-written.

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog Hop/Follow Friday

Hi, blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop


Follow Friday Question: 

 If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?


Wow, tough question.  Of course, I'd have to bring my all-time favorite series, Uglies (that's three.)  I also like the Hungry City Chronicles (which brings me to eight).  My final two would have to be The Book Thief and Alice in Wonderland (I have the edition which has both Alice and Through the Looking Glass in one book - is that cheating?).  I chose these books firstly because they're fabulous books for staying entertained in a bomb shelter, and secondly because they're the books I would want to survive the apocalypse.

Blog Hop Question: 
what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?

Two hard questions in a row!  I'm probably going to have to go with The Near Witch, though.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Virals



Tory Brennan is a science nerd, whose mother's recent death sent her to Morris Island to live with her scientist father.  There she quickly bonded with the island's three resident teenagers, boys named Ben, Shelton, and Hi.  Their peaceful existence is disturbed, however, when they attempt to rescue a puppy from animal experimentation.  The dog is carrying a mutated disease... and it's contagious.

Entertainment: ★★★★

I found it a little on the cheesy side but I loved Tory, I loved the occasional Bones tie-ins, and overall I enjoyed this book a lot.

Plot: ★★★★★

I saw the Big Bad Villain reveal coming,  but there were a few unexpected twists.  I thought the pacing was excellent, the scientific information was somewhat plausible and not at all overbearing or confusing, and I liked the ending.

Characters: ★★★★

I loved Tory to death, but I thought "the boys," as she collectively referred to her friends, just seemed to hang out as props and minions for Tory's crazy schemes instead of becoming people in and of themselves.  And I thought the villain was a little cliche and dumb.  So Tory gets five stars from me, I just wish the rest of the cast had been as cool.

Writing: ★★★★★

Well-paced, interesting, descriptive, enjoyable, exciting.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday





The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.


These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. -Goodreads

Deliciously creepy, intriguingly original - I can't wait until August to get my hands on this book!  What do you think - will you be reading The Near Witch when it comes out?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trailer Tuesday



I didn't have a clue what this book was about when I stumbled on the trailer.  But the music - and the eerie trickling water - got me hooked.  Now I really, really want to read Beautiful Malice.


What do you think of this trailer?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Tiger's Curse

This book counts towards the Debut Author challenge and the Shifter challenge.




When Kelsey got a summer job cleaning up at a small circus, she didn't expect to meet a gorgeous, mysterious white tiger with mesmerizing blue eyes.  She didn't expect to travel to India with said tiger.  She didn't expect to discover that the tiger was actually a centuries-old cursed Indian prince.  She didn't expect to be chosen to break the curse.



But most of all, she didn't expect to fall in love...


Entertainment: ★★★★


I liked it - sort of a "female Indiana Jones in India with a shapeshifting tiger" premise.  I thought it was well-executed, well-written, entertaining, and unique.  I also thought the romance was tasteful and well-done.


Plot: ★★★★


I loved the adventure aspect of the plot - I thought it was quite unusual and interesting.  I also loved the romance side of the story; there was an undeniable attraction between the two main characters, but Kelsey didn't go swooning into anybody's arms.  


Characters: ★★★★


Kelsey was awesome, I'm just going to establish that and move on.  Ren was kind of a unique challenge, since he was stuck in a mute tiger form for much of the story.  Still, Houck did a great job with nonverbal characterization.  And overall, I thought Ren was cool.  The side characters - well, really, there weren't many, and most of them had only bit parts - were a little marginalized and not as well characterized, but still pretty interesting.


Writing: ★★★


Very nicely written, and I liked the little bits of Indian culture sprinkled here and there in the story.

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: Nevermore



Isobel is the cheerleader, the blonde queen bee, a happy and normal teenager.  Of course, she's horrified when she's paired with Varen Nethers for a school project.  Varen is gothic, weird, scary, and cold.  But slowly, Isobel begins to wonder if there's something more to Varen.  There's strange writing in his journal, and he's showing up in her dreams where he has no business being.  As she grows closer to Varen she is slowly sucked into his dreamworld, where Poe's poetry is reality.  Isobel must rescue Varen from his own nightmares... if she ever wants to wake up again.

Entertainment: ★★★

Confession: I started this book rather biased against it, expecting it to be cliche and boring.  The first third or so proved my prejudices valid.  It got a bit better and a bit more interesting as the story went on, and by maybe two-thirds of the way through I was actually curious to see what would happen.  I ended the book with conflicted feelings, as you can see from the rest of the review.

Plot: ★★★★★

It started off slow but it got really good.  True, it's a little freaky in the dreamworld, but it's freaky in a cool way. 

Characters: 

Honestly I disliked all of the characters.  I'm just going to say that point-blank, because really there's no nice way to go about it.  Isobel was so vapid and stupid and cliche, Varen was so cheesy and cliche, and all the side characters were just bland, stupid, confusing, and cliche.  I really tried to think of something nice to say here, and I couldn't.

Writing: ★★

It had potential, but it was veeeeery elaborate and overwrought.  Flowery, and not in a good way.  For example, when Isobel has the realization that Varen is special, the scene is described: She’d peered through the curtain of that cool calmness, through the death stare and the vampire sentiments and the angst and, behind it all, had found true beauty.  I just couldn't take a sentence like that seriously, and Nevermore is full of them.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: Stray

This book counts towards the Shifter challenge.




Faythe has had enough of being protected.  She finally - finally - managed to escape her overbearing werecat family to attend grad school.  And now she's been called back to the family ranch, because she is in 'danger.'  Yeah, right; she can handle herself.  But the Pride is as determined to protect Faythe as Faythe is determined to escape them...


Entertainment: ★★★★


Faythe was pretty awesome.  Although the story was pretty action-packed, I'd describe Stray as really more of a character-driven story, since Faythe was the best part of the book.  Anyways, it was exciting, unique, and just plain fun.


Plot: ★★★


I gave it three stars because I felt like it disappeared, at times - put aside in favor of Faythe's relationships and things like that.  But when it did surface, it was excellent.


Characters: ★★★★★


Faythe is in a category of her own... a character I can only describe as princess-badass.  If I could give out ten stars, she would get every one of them.  She was awesome.  She was petty, bitchy, kind, tough, and basically amazing.   The villain(s) were seriously creepy - downright scary at times.  Vincent had some pretty cool characters.


Writing: ★★★


Overall, I liked Vincent's style, but some scenes just didn't flow well for me.  I can't really put it into words but every now and then the writing seemed to sort of stall out.  But overall, it was pretty good.

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

Follow Friday Blog Hop!

Hi, fellow blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop


Follow Friday Question: 

What is on your current playlist right now?



My playlist tends to change hourly, but currently I'm listening to:

MBLAQ
Reik
Cobra Starship
My Chemical Romance
The Academy Is...
All Time Low
Motion City Soundtrack
New Found Glory
Owl City
The Cab
The Beatles

Blog Hop Question: 
If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?

Yes!  Or at least, I try to.  Since my book budget is perpetually underfunded, I usually have to rely on my local library - which doesn't exactly have an extensive collection.  So yes, I will try to hunt down other books, but I may or may not be successful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist



Nick and his band have just finished playing when he sees his ex walk in with another boy.  The last thing he wants is for her to see him still single.  Norah's lonely and bored, while her friend makes out with boys and her not-quite-friend has just walked in with a new boyfriend.

So when Nick asks her to be his girlfriend for five minutes, she kisses him.  And they're launched into the adventure, the love, and the night of a lifetime.

Entertainment: ★★★★

I liked this book. A lot. I don't know why, exactly, but something about it really connected with me.  I'd guess that everybody can see a little of themselves reflected in Nick, Norah, or both, and that's the kind of thing that makes a great book.

Plot: ★★★

Let's be honest, it's a little cheesy.  Or even a lot cheesy.  But it's cheesy in that addictive way, the junk food that you shouldn't love but can't help loving.  You can't help but wish you were going on Nick and Norah's adventure.

Characters: ★★★★★

Like I said earlier, you can't help but see yourself in these characters.  They're unhappy, weird, bittersweet, and so incredibly loveable.  They were amazing, but not too-good-to-be-true.  They were real.

Writing: ★★★★

Although a few scenes came off as a little more awkward than romantic, overall I thought this book was quite well written.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday




Description (courtesy of Amazon): When her free-spirited mother dies in a tragic accident, sixteen-year-old Alexandria Lee is forced to leave her West Coast home and move in with a wealthy grandmother she's never known in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful if unwilling member of the Magnolia League-Savannah's long-standing debutante society. But white gloves and silk gowns are a far cry from the vintage t-shirts and torn jeans shorts she's used to. 

Alex is the first in decades to question the Magnolia League's intentions, yet even she becomes entangled in their seductive world. The members enjoy youth, beauty and power...but at what cost? As Alex discovers a pact between the Magnolias and the Buzzards, a legendary hoodoo family, she discovers secrets-some deadly-hidden beneath the glossy Southern veneer. 


As a Southern girl, I love stories about the South - and I adore stories about debutante society.  Debutantes and magic?  Well, what's not to love?  Plus, that cover - beautiful!  The Magnolia League is set to come out May 3rd, and I can't wait!  What do you think - will you be reading The Magnolia League?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Manga: 'Real' Books?

I was reading manga the other day, when a friend asked what I was reading.  I told her, and she said something along the lines of, "Oh, never mind, I thought it was a real book."

I know several people that consider manga to be sort of a comic book - much different, and dumber, than a 'real' book.  I don't really think of them as different, and I like them both equally.  I don't think either format is less 'real' than the other - they're just different formats.  Sure, there's dumb manga, but there's also dumb books; and there are some really great mangas out there.

So I was curious what my readers thought: Manga - 'real' literature, or childish comic books?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Author Interview: Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is the author of debut novel Broken - check out my review here.

What inspired your dystopian world?

There are a few answers. The first is that I wrote it directly after the 2004 election, and I'd been a big supporter of the guy who lost. I was feeling down, and wanted to put all that political energy into a writing project. The political overtones in the book are partly a result of that. 
Another answer is that I wanted to write about a very dark moment in the history of this world, which is something I've been building for a long time, and these characters fit very well in that space. 
A third answer might be that I've studied totalitarianism quite a bit, and reading all that history (and current events) informed the shape of this world.
Your characters have various superpowers - if you could have any power, what would you pick?  Would you use it for good or evil?
Oh, I'd want to fly, no question! Sadly, I'm pretty sure I'd mostly use it to beat the traffic. Maybe I'd save kittens from trees, if I saw any.
That's kind of a flip answer, I know! I do think I'd try to use whatever powers I had for good, whenever the opportunity arose. 

Do you play favorites with your characters?  If so, who is your favorite and why?

My favorite character is Janeane, who has a minor role in this book. I love it when she shows up. She's amazingly mysterious, very powerful, and utterly self-assured.

If your novel were to become a movie, who would be in your dream cast?

Ack, I have no idea! I know next to nothing about who might star in movies, sadly. Um. How about David Boreanez as Sky Ranger? He could grow a beard? 
What writers would you say have inspired you?

Robin McKinley, Judy Blume, Lois McMaster Bujold and many, many others.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan!  Great answers!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: An Abundance of Katherines



When it comes to girls, every guy has a type.  Colin's type is girls named Katherine.  He's been dated by - and dumped by - nineteen Katherines.  When Katherine XIX breaks his heart, Colin's best friend Hassan decides he needs a break.  He needs a break from the pressures of being a child prodigy and more importantly he needs a break from Katherines and something to distract him.  After a spontaneous roadtrip, the two end up spending a crazy summer in the nowheresville of Gutshot, TN.

Meanwhile, Colin is working on his great project: a theorem for love.  Surely, if he can only find the right combination of variables, he can graph every relationship mathematically...

Entertainment: ★★★★★

I finished it in 3 hours... and I loved it.  End of story.

Plot: ★★★★★

It was wacky, fun, original, and okay, weird.  But in an amazing way.  It grabbed me and didn't let go until I finished the book, and even then left me wanting more.

Characters: ★★★★

I thought Colin was kind of an obnoxious prat.  That said, I loved Hassan and Lindsey and the various Katherines, as well as the side characters like TOC.  They were all bizarre but cool, clever, and realistic.

Writing: ★★★★

It was kind of weird to have the occasional graph mixed in with the writing, especially since I only skimmed the formula and so I didn't completely understand the diagrams.  However, Green's actual writing was amazing.  It's light-hearted and funny and just a little satirical at times, but still manages to be realistically serious about the important stuff.  I enjoy reading his work very much.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Saving Francesca




One day, Francesca's mother doesn't get out of bed.  Crazy, hilarious, alive Mia sinks into a depression so deep she won't walk, talk, or eat.  Francesca was already lost, adrift in an almost all-boys Catholic school.  Her old "friends" have forgotten her, and the only girls that talk to her in her new school are psychotic feminists, nerds, and sluts.  After Mia's breakdown, Francesca's family starts to fall apart.

But sometimes you can find friendship - and love - where you least expect it...

Entertainment: 

This wasn't exactly a 'happy' book - in fact it was a bit depressing at times.  But it was powerful, and touching, and I loved it.  The romance seemed one hundred percent real - not at all scripted or cliche - and the characters were wonderful.  Saving Francesca is an excellent book.

Plot: 

I gave it only three stars because there wasn't a whole lot of plot, other than Francesca's struggles to survive.  But what plot there was was interesting and enjoyable.  Also, the romance was sweet and quite well done.

Characters: 

Francesca was incredibly relatable for me.  I don't know if everybody will sympathize with her as much as I did, but she was a very powerful character nonetheless.  Her growth and change over the course of the story was amazing.  The side characters as well were interesting, unique, and had depth to them.  All of the characters had their quirks and flaws, and all of them felt like real people.

Writing: 

Very, very powerful.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog Hop and Follow Friday!

Hi, fellow blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday Question: 

Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with IRL? Tell us about him/her.


Sadly, I don't; that's one of the main reasons I started novapsych.  Those of my friends and family that like to read have, in my humble opinion, abysmal taste in books.  So we rarely talk about books, since we rarely read the same books.

Blog Hop Question: 
Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her.

I just started Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.  So, let's see, there's a character named Dhiren (Ren for short) who is under a curse.  He was an Indian prince a few centuries ago, but now he is a white tiger with gorgeous blue eyes.  He can only return to his human form for twenty-four minutes every twenty-four hours.  Although I haven't gotten far enough in the book to really get to know him, so far, he's pretty cool.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's in a Name? Challenge: Complete!



I've just completed my first challenge: What's in a Name!

The challenge was to read one book in each category:
  1. A book with a number in the title: Academy 7
  2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title: City of Glass
  3. A book with a size in the title: The Long Weekend
  4. A book with travel or movement in the title: The Maze Runner
  5. A book with evil in the title: Scar Night
  6. A book with a life stage in the title: Mostly Good Girls
Ta-da!  A whole entire challenge completed!  I feel like celebrating!

Review: Mostly Good Girls

This book counts towards the What's in a Name? Challenge.



Violet and her best friend Katie attend an elite private girls' school.  Now in their junior year of high school, they're planning to meet boys, ace tests, and end up in the Ivies.  Violet expected a great year, but things aren't turning out that way at all.  Her long-time crush apparently isn't interested.  Her grades and test scores are below average for the cut-throat environment of her competitive school.  And Katie - perfect Katie with perfect PSAT scores and perfect grades and perfect everything - Katie's changing.  Violet can't understand why Katie, the girl with everything Violet wants, is throwing it all away...

Entertainment: ★★

I don't know, I just got bored.

Plot: ★★

So the plot was a cliche premise, with a cliche romance and a cliche climax and, well, it was cliche.  I don't know what else to say.  There was no real tension - it was pretty clear from the start how everything would work out.  I was disappointed at the lack of... anything.

Characters: ★

The main character was downright whiny.  Every few pages she was going on about how perfect her friend is and how unfair life is and blah blah blah.  If the character wants to angst, they should have something to angst about, and she didn't.  I don't usually actually dislike narrators, but in this case I did.  Completely.

The side characters were okay... nothing too impressive.  Or memorable.

Writing: ★★★

Sometimes well-done, sometimes forced.  The humor wasn't very funny to me.  I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy the style, somehow.

End Result: two stars.  I was not impressed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wishlist Wednesday








Braden Michaels wears his sunglasses at night. And at the movies. And in the shower. Raised by his warlock uncle and taught to use magic, he suffers from a deadly curse: the witch eyes. He sees everything that normal eyes filter out: history and memory; love and pain; magic and darkness. The mind was not meant to process so much information, though, and the power is killing him slowly. The only thing saving his sanity are the sunglasses he always wears. 

Then the visions reveal a dark threat on the horizon. Braden runs away to Belle Dam, the city where the threat originated, and is immediately swept up into the town’s mysterious feud. Two rival magical families have divided the town into a personal chessboard of scheming and machinations, and Braden is their latest pawn. As he tries to avoid their manipulations, and see the truth behind his return to Belle Dam, he has a choice to make. One side, or the other. Ignite the feud, or end it. Sacrifice himself, or someone else. Live, or die.


I'm already in love with this book, and I haven't read a word of it.  First, the powers sound awesome - awesome-cool, not awesome-to-have - and very original.  Second, I love chessmaster stories - scheming and plotting and machinations are so much fun!  Finally, the cover redefines amazing.  I seriously want to read this book, like, now.  What do you think - will you be reading Witch Eyes when it comes out?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: The Eyre Affair



Thursday Next lives in an alternate 1980's Great Britain, where time travel happens, cloned pets are all the rage, and the police state takes literature quite seriously.  Thursday is an officer in the LiteraTec devision of SpecOps, in charge of finding forgeries and stolen manuscripts.  Her job suddenly gets a lot more interesting when somebody starts killing off characters from some of the greatest novels of all time.  With her rogue time-traveling father, a devious man from the all-powerful Goliath corporation, a mad inventor, and Mr. Edward Rochester, Thursday will have to enter the world of one of the greatest novels of all time in order to rescue the one and only Jane Eyre.

Entertainment:  

Fabulous world building, but bland writing.  I loved Thursday's bizarre Great Britain, will all its quirks (pet dodos, a national obsession with Shakespeare's plays) and oddities.  But I had a hard time sticking with it because Fforde's writing style didn't really appeal to me.  So in the end I enjoyed the book but I wasn't in love with it.

Plot: 

It was weird - it sort of echoed Jane Eyre, but was different.  Parts of it were quite confusing.  Honestly I still haven't decided whether I liked it or not, but it was interesting and it was at times exciting.

Characters:  

Some of the characters had potential, but none of them were really ever fleshed out.  As a result, I never really connected with or cared about any of them.  Even the villain was unexciting, in addition to being near-ominpotent (his powers made no sense at all.)

Writing:  

As mentioned above, I never really got much of a sense as Thursday as a character - or as a narrator.  Her "voice" was bland at best.  And the writing style in general just did not appeal to me; it was very static, if that makes sense, not dynamic at all.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: Scar Night

This book counts towards the What's in a Name challenge



The city of Deepgate hangs suspended over an abyss, held up by a network of chains.  And all is not well in the dark city.  A psychotic angel, thousands of years old, stalks the night, killing innocents.  Rachel, an assassin of the church, hunts the crazy Carnival through the city's chains in the dark.  And Dill, the last of the Temple archons, waits for his destiny in the crumbling towers of Deepgate, afraid even to fly.  They couldn't be more different, and yet fate will throw them together in a fight against something darker than they ever expected...

Entertainment: 

This story has everything I usually look for - a new idea, a unique world, an interesting cast of characters - and yet for some reason it was really hard to start.  It took me several days of only reading about ten pages a day to actually get into the story.  Once I got into it, it was pretty good.  But for whatever reason, it didn't draw me in at. all., and that made it a little hard to enjoy.

Plot: 

Honestly, I would've given the plot five stars: it was action packed, entertaining, and pretty unique.  However, I didn't like the beginning - which was very slow and confusing - and I didn't like the end.  It ended at an odd place; I guess there was closure but... I'm not entirely sure.  But the middle of the plot?  The middle was fabulous.

Characters: 

Carnival was pretty cool.  It's hard to write a murderous psycho so that she's actually semi-sympathetic, as well as honestly interesting, but she was.   And Dill was sweet; I think if he were a real person I've have liked him a lot.  And Rachel, Rachel had guts.  The antagonist, Devon, was an excellent mix of maniacal, homicidal, egotistical, and a dash of oozing pus.

My only quibble was that the "dark god" was a little pathetic... I mean, he read as obese and stupid.  But since he's out of the picture for most of the story, that wasn't too much of a problem.

Writing: 

I wasn't a huge fan of the description, and had a hard time picturing some of the setting.  However, the dialogue was well done.

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Follow Friday!

Hi, blog hoppers, welcome to novapsych!  



Follow Friday Question: 

DO YOU JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?


Absolutely.  To me the cover is one of the best parts of the book!