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Review: The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine (The Morganville Vampires, #2)

Friday, March 28, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Claire Danvers has her share of challenges - like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm, and above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with vampires. On the up side, she has a great roommate (who tends to disappear at sunup) and a new boyfriend named Shane, whose vampire-hunting dad has called in backup: cycle punks who like the idea of killing just about anything.

Now a fraternity is throwing its annual Dead Girls' Dance and - surprise! - Claire and her equally outcast best friend, Eve, have been invited. When they find out why, all hell is going to break loose. Because this time both the living and the dead are coming out - and everybody's hungry for blood.
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The Dead Girl's Dance follows straight on from the cliffhanger left by Glass Houses where Claire and Eve are in hysterics at Michael being killed and buried. Shane's Bikie Dad is in town and he's out to hunt vampires! Things turn for the worse when the Morganville Police are after him to catch him as an accused murderer and halt his further plans. Poor Shane gets caught in the middle of it all! This book had an interesting battle between Bikies and Vampires which was a bit wacky but I liked it.

It was a bit unrealistic how everyone trusted and expected Claire to do everything in order to save Shane. Granted everyone was helpless and confined to do nothing due to their circumstances, it still felt silly with everything riding on Claire's shoulders as she had to confront the vampires Oliver and Amelie, who are in a battle for power. Claire's supposedly smart but she made some painfully stupid decisions along the way. I was mostly pissed at her inability to get angry and her saint-like ways (Eves' words). It's like she didn't mind being a ragdoll, pulled this way and that. Hopefully the decision she made at the end was the better one...and she grows stronger and unleash her emotions (which I hope has been bottled up somewhere in her all this time)!

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Monday, March 17, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want — and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages — until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
I had no knowledge of the French Revolution going into the novel and I only recognised the names Napoleon and Marie from spin-off media (Yes, shame on me..). I don't know how much real history was incorporated into the novel but I learnt a lot (google searches to discover whether certain events actually transpired XD) and Alex's story really piqued my interest in French History! I often didn't know the music terminology and people Andi referred to, so I felt a bit out of the loop and didn't connect with her there. Her grief and the way in which she coped by twisting everything to become negative was understandable and relatable though.

I have to say I enjoyed Alex's story slightly more. I get so engrossed in her story, I forget what Andi is doing (usually lining up somewhere reading Alex's diary and Andi too forgets where she is because she is so entranced by Alex's writing!). I really loved the direction the novel took toward the end with it's surrealism. Revolution was a gripping and beautifully written story!

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
The Iron King started out intriguing and reminded me a bit of those scary movies in which innocent kids have hyperactive imaginations and call out 'mommy!'. Meghan's life seems normal. She attends high school like any other teenager. When her sixteenth birthday comes round, she begins to notice things that other people can't see and she discovers her brother Ethan has been replaced by a changeling. It is up to her to venture into the Nevernever and bring him back. The lead up to her 'quest' was a promising start.

However once we enter Nevernever, things go wacko. I felt a complete change in the pacing. There was not a single moment where Meghan stopped to take a breath. Strange and stranger things are thrown her way and we are given bucket and bucket loads of descriptions. It was a lot to take in!

I found Meghan to be idiotic and less likeable as I continued reading. Meghan was frequently a damsel in distress and her knight in shiny armour (figuratively speaking because of the iron allergy thing) happened to be Ash, an Unseelie/Winter Fey. Ooh, so forbidden! Unfortunately I found their development to be lacking.

I liked the concept of the Iron Fey. It was a cool idea and that part felt original among the the other things which brought Alice in Wonderland and Narnia to mind. Overall, an okay read.

Review: Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2) by Kiersten White

Sunday, March 9, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.
Evie finds out that being in school isn't all it's cracked up to be. When she gets contacted by Raquel about IPCA business, she can't help but accept small tasks to feel more accomplished since her grades aren't looking too good. Lend was really passive in this book and out of the loop on everything. Despite being a sweet and supportive boyfriend, he was missing his charm of unpredictability which he possessed in the first book.

The introduction of new character Jack was refreshing as he made the book more fun and entertaining while Lend was busy studying and going about his human life. The witty and hilarious jokes and comebacks are still present in this book which was a relief.

I wasn't as hooked on this book as I was with Paranormalcy. I felt something missing. It may have been the lack of interesting and exciting events (which came with her previous role at IPCA) or the lack of quality time Evie spent with Lend (she did a tonne of lying!). I felt a little underwhelmed.

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
The book had a slow pacing with a slice of life quality, an aspect which I quite enjoyed for a realistic genre book such as this. Lou became unemployed after the cafe she worked at shut down and finds herself a new job as a carer, providing companionship to Will, who was left quadriplegic after crossing a road and getting into a motorcycle accident. Will used to be active in sports, successful in business, did lots of travelling and engaged in the pleasures of life but the accident left him confined to a wheelchair, susceptible to sickness and requiring help for even the most basic activities of daily living.

The blurb made the book out to be largely focused on romance. I liked the development of Lou and Will's relationship from strangers to friendship to something more. It was more than romance though. The book was thought-provoking, putting me into the shoes of Will (why could he possibly want to end his life through assisted suicide when he would be causing emotional pain to people he left behind who loved him? Did he not want to continue living because every day he woke up feeling helpless and a burden to those taking care of him?).

Lou was easy to identify with. She was put into position where she had to be what everyone wanted/needed her to be. Her family leaned on her for income and her boyfriend of 7 years wanted her to be someone who took up his interests. I really disliked the character of Lou's boyfriend, Patrick. He was obsessed with himself and his own interests and didn't provide support when Lou needed it. His actions and behaviours were so one-dimensional I couldn't take the scenes he were in seriously. His presence kind of brought the seriousness of the story down.

It was predictable how the book would conclude but it left a deep impression on me. I didn't like the hollow feeling that came with it but Me Before You was a worthwhile, moving read. (The book wasn't all sad and depressing though, there were a few laughs and light-hearted moments.)

Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Monday, March 3, 2014
Summary from Goodreads:
In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories - behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant - an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.
It was hard not to get swept up in the atmosphere and the setting of this book. Paris is explained in a good amount of detail and rather than just focusing on the iconic Eiffel Tower, the book also explores the little nooks and crannies of Paris; cafes and museums. It was enchanting to read about it all!

Kate is coping with the grief of losing her parents not too long ago and she does this by immersing herself in books and art. At first, Kate gives the impression that she is smart but as the story progresses, this image seems to wither away because school becomes so unimportant she can just skip whenever she wants to. If school is mentioned at all, it was just to say that her day was boring. I found it a shame this Amercian School of Paris wasn't explored and the story wasn't expanded to include some newly formed friendships for Kate.

Kate is drawn to Vincent the first time she laid eyes on him at a cafe. Vincent appears mysterious and dangerous but once Kate got to know him and his 'true' self as not-so-human is revealed, it was charming to see how he was so caring and honest. I kind of expected the bad-boy route but that was not the case and it was refreshing. The revenants was an interesting concept. As I got reading about what they were and how they functioned, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to popular paranormal creatures. In a nutshell, I would say the revenant is a cousin of the vampires and zombies except they have one fate, which is to sacrifice their life over and over again for others.

Much of the book was focused on the difficulties of Kate and Vincent's relationship so it felt that the plot of evil revenants (the Numa, the enemies who kill to remain immortal) trying to kill Vincent's kind, was just a roadblock for Kate and Vincent's relationship. I found my predictions coming true as this plot unraveled but with a few surprises which was good. The climax was over really quickly and the violence was quite jarring since the rest of the book was at the very bottom of the gore meter. Once Kate and Vincent navigated this roadblock, their scenes were definitely very romantic but I just couldn't understand why Kate was picked out of obscurity to be the special and unique one who captivated Vincent when she was quite ordinary and in a constant state of sorrow when he first met her. I love me some good development so their start wasn't satisfying.

Overall, the book was easy to read. I'm hoping the next books focus a bit more on plot because it seems like there's so much more that could be done with the revenants concept.