Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn DolamoreMagic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Magic Under #1
Published by Bloomsbury on 2010-08-28
Pages: 256
Genres: Fantasy YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.Look out for the follow-up to this book, Magic Under Stone, out next year!

Thoughts: I was really disappointed with Magic Under Glass. It had been on my wishlist for so long, and when I got a copy I was really eager to dive in.

There was just so much I wanted to love – an interesting, fantastical world filled with magic, faeries and complex social divisions.   Unfortunately, there is nothing here that is all that special.  The universe is basically Regency England with faery foreigners and a bit of magic thrown in for the hell of it.

And the characters? Extremely one-dimensional.  Leading lady Nimira felt more like a plot tool than an actual character – moving from scene to scene for the sake of it.  Her love interest, Erris, was as mechanical as his automaton exterior – and needless to say their “tragic” love felt forced and unrealistic.

Magic Under Glass was supposed to be a lovely wholewheat-brown-bread guaranteed good read.  But it was the literary equivalent of white bread.  Very disappointing.

Bottom line? Magic Under Glass is an old-school faery tale – lots of plot, no character.  I didn’t think it was a bad book, it was a bland book.

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. Jenkins

Review: Beating Heart by A.M. JenkinsBeating Heart by A. M. Jenkins
Published by HarperTeen on 2009-08-25
Pages: 256
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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She is a ghost: a figure glimpsed from the corner of your eye, a momentary chill, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is 17 years old: Evan Calhoun, warm and alive, and ever since moving to this big abandoned house, he has dreamt of her. Ghost and boy fascinate each other–until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both.

Combining verse fragments with chiseled prose, A. M. Jenkins captures the compelling voice of a long–dead ghost and the perspective of a modern teen, twining mystery and romance in this evocative, sensual, and unrelentingly engrossing novel.

Thoughts: Beating Heart is a short, haunting novel with left me equal parts disturbed and impressed. This is not your average YA novel: there is no garunteed happily ever after, and no love-conquers-all message. This might look like a book about love, but it is not.

Beating Heart is all about sex. The lies we tell to have it, the lies we tell ourselves to keep having it, and the serious damage it can do to a person’s life. Not pregnancy or STDs, but the psycological consequences of sex. And it is not a pretty picture.

Honestly, although I was vaguely disturbed by this book – I’d give it to a teen in a heartbeat. Because, honestly, life is not simple and love doesn’t last forever. It is far too easy to hurt people you’ve cared for, especially the ones you are sleeping with.

Even if this somewhat ominous review has turned you off, give this book a shot. It will take a regular reader only an hour or so to finish, and will put the other novels on your shelves into perspective.

Bottom line? A unique twist on the YA fantasy on the market, Beating Heart is a haunting novel which will change how you read YA.

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie RyanThe Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Published by Gollancz
Pages: 310
Genres: Dystopian YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future - between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Thoughts: The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a beautiful, terrifying book. I completely understand why people are so enamoured with Carrie Ryan’s writing!  It is elegant, poetic and well, frankly, gorgeous. This book swallowed me whole and didn’t let go until I’d finished the whole thing.

The world Ryan creates is simply terrifying. Actually, the entire book is one long nightmare.  It is a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale (by Margaret Atwood) and The Village (film by M. Night Shyamalan) – only with zombies. Scary stuff, especially for a wimp like me!

Unfortunately I was unable to relate to any of the main characters in this book. I didn’t actively dislike any of them, but I did often felt their personal dramas were an annoying distraction from the action. The romantic triangle in the book had a lot of tell-no-show aspects – referencing feelings from before the book began. It was disappointing, but probably for the best – true love can’t last long during a zombie apocalypse!

Bottom Line?  The Forest of Hands and Teeth haunting book. I’d recommend it to older teens and adults – especially those who don’t pick up “genre” books. Ryan has a way of making a book about zombies into a book about everything but zombies.

Review: Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Review: Tempted by P.C. and Kristin CastTempted by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Series: House of Night #6
Published by ATOM, St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Marked, Betrayed, Chosen

Zoey needs a break after some serious excitement. Sadly, the House of Night school for vampyres doesn't feature breaks on its curriculum - even for a High Priestess in training and her gang. Plus juggling three guys is no stress reliever, especially when one is a sexy Warrior so into protecting Zoey that he's sensing her emotions. Wider stresses lurk too, and the dark force in Tulsa's tunnels is spreading. Could Stevie Rae be responsible for more than a group of misfit fledglings? And Aphrodite's visions warn Zoey to stay away from the immortal Kalona and his dark allure - but they also show that only Zoey can stop him. She's not exactly keen to meet up, but if Zoey doesn't go to Kalona he'll exact a fiery vengeance on those closest to her. She just has to find the courage to do what's necessary, or everything that's important to her will be destroyed.

Thoughts: Tempted was terrible.

Okay, so I don’t usually expect all that much from the HoN series.  As a general rule, I find the writing pretty terrible, the characters kinda one-dimensional, and some of the plot ideas seemingly written by somebody high on E.  So why do I keep reading?  Well, I like the universe and – prior to this book – I used to like some of the characters.  Now I’m down to the universe.

Tempted was just all over the place.  We hear from 4 POVs, an unfortunate first for the series.  The Casts jump back and forth from character to character with no discernible pattern.  For example, we get a single chapter from Aphrodite (which was probably the best in the book) about half way through, and then… nothing.  That’s it!  Just the one chapter.

Huh?

The Casts also successfully destroyed two of the characters I liked: Stark and Stevie Ray.  I hate it when characters lose their character because of some insane plot point.  If you have to make a character do a complete 180 to move the story along, try something else!  *shakes fist*

I’ll be reading on the next book – which comes out tomorrow in the USA. But I’m definitely going to wait for the paperback.

Bottom line?  Do the world a favour, and don’t let a teenager within a 100 feet of this book.  The last thing we need is for actual teens to be more like HoN!teens.

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. CrowStrange Angels by Lilith St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels #1
Published by Quercus Books, Razorbill
Pages: 293
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Gifted from someone with/without taste, Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Betrayals

Dru knows that The Real World - peopled with ghosts, suckers and zombies - is a frightening place. She's ready to kill first and ask questions later, so it's going to take her a while to work out just who she can trust.

Dru Anderson has been 'strange' for as long as she can remember, travelling from town to town with her father to hunt down things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one - until in an icy, broken-down town, a hungry zombie bursts through her kitchen door. Dru is going to have to use every inch of her wit and training. Can she stay alive long enough to fall for one - or both - of the guys hungry for her affections?

The summary above sucks. It is the least spoilery one I could find (most give away the first half of the book). But it paints Dru in completely the wrong light. I mean, sure, she is capable of kicking ass – but she is not kick-ass. They made Dru sound like Rose from Vampire Academy – and she is so NOT ROSE.

A better summary? You know the show Supernatural? Well, imagine a less-cocky, teenage, girl!Dean – without the baby brother – hunting evil around the US with his Dad. There you have (at least the start) of Strange Angels.

Thoughts: Strange Angels is a really great addition to the YA Paranormal scene. Lili St. Crow paints a much more realistic picture of a teen living in an unreal world. Although absent, Dru’s parents play a big role in her life – and both they (and her safety) trump whatever guy she is supposed to mooning after. Strange Angels is violent, tragic, and really enjoyable – although it does go downhill towards the end.

I loved the first half of this book.  But in it, Dru is miserable – I mean, I’m-almost-an-alcoholic-teenager!miserable – and her world thoroughly sucks. Despite the temptation to just curl up and die, she is trying desperately to plough through the misery. It was amazing to read, even though it was utterly tragic. Really made me appreciate her strength. I also loved her inner Dad!voice. She would constantly think of what her Dad would say or do in a particular situation (which often involved killing things).  It made me love the guy without ever spending that much time with him.

Graves, the first boy she meets in this book – well, he’s ok. I haven’t quite worked out if I really like him, but I do appreciate how much he helps Dru. Graves has had a really hard-knock life – hell, the guy is practically homeless – but has amazingly managed to keep his head above water. I’d like to find out even more about his background in Betrayals.

Mid-way through the book, we are introduced to Christophe. He is tough, scary and not-so-human… and yeah, I really liked him! But as soon as Christophe came into the picture, Dru started to edge into the too-stupid-to-live category. There was one particular scene where Dru refused to do something for no apparent reason. I mean, it shouldn’t even have been an issue, but Dru decides it is the perfect reason to pitch a fit – and it completely blows up in her face. It was really frustrating, and I wanted to just reach through the book and shake her! (Although Graves I wanted to smack, as he agreed with her insanity.)

The last half? – maybe 3 stars. But the first half was just so great (well, actually it was miserable, but a great read) that I had to keep the rating up. I am looking forward to Betrayals and have a feeling Dru will straighten her head out a bit in that book… I am also looking forward to more Christophe!

Bottom Line? A great addition to the YA Paranormal Scene.  If you are a fan of the Morganville series then this will be up your alley!

I read this for the Battle Royale New Author Mini-ChallengeTeam Deadline Dames!

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