From the Notebook: Top Ten Series I Won’t Be Finishing

From the Notebook is back with some potentially unpopular opinions! I have the top ten series that I have cleared out of my Goodreads because I won’t be finishing them, from reasons ranging from outgrowing the writing to actual dislike. Be forewarned that I might say something not so nice about a book series you like! I’m sorry about that! However, I would love to have a conversation about why you think I’m wrong–or if you agree, of course! Let me know if I’m about to miss something at all, or if I’ve made the right call!

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Waiting on Wednesday: “Perfect Ruin” by Lauren DeStefano

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Perfect RuinTitle: Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1)

Author: Lauren DeStefano

ETA: October 1st, 2013

Summary from Goodreads: On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

Why: Curious why I find Lauren so amazing? See my reviews of Wither and Fever! Also, just look at her she’s freaking fantastic and this looks amazing and thank goodness October is coming up soon.

Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Fever

 by Lauren DeStefano

Four stars

“Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion but haven’t outrun the danger. One the outside, they encounter a landscape as mysterious and threatening as the one they left behind. Despite the perils, the two are determined to get to Manhattan and to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men to age twenty-five, time is precious. Even worse, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion … by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is with the price–now that she has more to lose than ever.”

(This book review is from an Advanced Review Copy, won from Goodreads)

First off, let me just extend a thank you to Goodreads, Simona & Schuster and–of course–Lauren DeStefano for getting this book into the world and then gifting it to me early. This is the first ARC I’ve ever gotten and the first early review I’ve ever done, so I’m just going to do my best and also try not to spoil anything. It is going to be freaking hard, because I want to squeal SO MUCH. Where to start…

The beginning is always a good place to start! Let me tell you, Fever is aptly titled. The first part of this book–until about Chapter 9 or so (out of 27 chapters)–reads like a haze. DeStefano has a very lyrical way of writing, and its infused with a sort of haze all throughout the beginning that gives the book a sense of surrealism. Usually, I hate that kind of thing. Hey, have you seen my review of Shatter Me? Usually lyrical writing–overdone like that–really turns me off. But it works rather well with the surrealism of Rhine’s current situation, somehow. It still doesn’t completely jive with my particular taste in style (part of the reason this isn’t a five star review), but I found myself stuck reading…and reading…and reading. After Chapter 9, the book falls into the saner rhythm, with the lyrical phrasing and such more interspersed–the way Wither was written, basically. There is still a tinge of the “fever,” though, which helps to connect the switch.

Another thing found in those first few chapters? DeStefano’s other magical ability, to take on a situation that has such a bad stigma to it and make it work for her story. It was polygamy in Wither, and it’s prostitution in Fever–neither of which are small change! You clearly don’t get the feelings of approval or anything, but… Well, it’s hard to describe. Anyone who’s read Wither knows what I mean. (Wait a sec. If you haven’t read Wither, what exactly are you doing here? Go check out my review of the first book and check back in here later! :P)

The pace of the entirety of the book is FAST. There are a few moments of peace for the characters, but even then there is hectic undertone that makes you keep reading and reading until the book is all gone and you go WAIT GIVE ME MORE. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Fever was also great about answering a few questions but then opening up a hundred more. (Read “great” with AGH I WANT TO KNOW accents.) I, for one, prefer fast paced books where things are just hitting me one after the other because it’s the only way I can keep my interest in it, and this book delivered.

I wish I could go into my other reasons for docking a star from this review, but in my efforts to stay spoiler free I must say rather little. Actually, they are a lot like the issues I had with the first book. Most of them came from character development, nominally Rhine and Gabriel, whom I’ve had issues with since Wither. There is an aspect of falseness to their relationship still, though events in Fever suggest this might be intentional. (Though I am still completely befuddled by the whole Rhine-Linden dynamic.) Also, the tempo. Despite being fast paced, I was never utterly and completely invested in characters such as Rhine, yet I found myself liking the characters of Lilac and Maddie (don’t worry, you’ll meet them soon) right away. Thus, when things happened to Rhine, my heart wasn’t pulsing like it should have been. As I said in my review of the first book, perhaps DeStefano’s way with words is one reason the plot never got to my heart rate, but I refuse to put too much blame there because she has a way with words.

Fans of the first book, of course, just want to know one thing (besides the entire plot and all the spoilers that they can’t get til Fever hits shelves, but you know): Does Fever measure up to Wither? The answer is yes. Totally and absolutely yes. If you were having sequel anxiety, worry not! If you loved the first book, you’ll be heading head over heels for the second one. Your unbearable wait for February 21 will be worth it, I promise.

Now, Goodreads, you’ve got the expected release date for the third book set as April 1, 2013. How sweet do I have to be to get an early copy of that? 😀

Countdown to 2012: Books I Can’t Wait to Read (Part 1)

Does anyone else write down book release dates on their calendar? Because I do. The second I get a date, it’s scrawled on the calendar in a colored pen so fast the ink gets mussed. I got a calendar as a present and that was the first thing I did. Thank you, Goodreads. Here’s a list of books I’m waiting for and their release dates! If you see one that’s on yours too, SQUEE WITH ME. If there are ones that aren’t on here, and that fact BLOWS your MIND, tell me in the comments! You can never get too many books.

JESSICA RULES THE DARK SIDE by Beth Fantasky (Jessica #2)

Release Date: Jan 10

Why: Because I’m honestly curious what Fantasky is going to do, since I was so sure the first book–Jessica’s Guide to Dating the Dark Side–was a stand alone novel. It certainly didn’t leave any loose ends or anything. It was genuinely interesting and a new take on vampirism, so I enjoyed it. I may or may not be a sucker for “what happens after the fairytale ending” stories. Plus, Lucian was a hot vampire. Sign me up!

HALLOWED by Cynthia Hand (Unearthly #2)

Release Date: January 17

Why: I linked to my review of the first book, Unearthly, which will talk more about my feelings about the book, but I will say again that I am genuinely curious how Hallowed is going to unfold, not just plot-wise but also writing style-wise. Unearthly was good but slow, though I was too intrigued by Hand’s take on angelicism to put it down. I think without the time constraints that she was limited to by her own plot conventions in the first book, Hand can really do something special with this one. Or at least I’m hoping. You’ll certainly be the first to know when I figure it out! I’ve already got it pre-ordered.

EVERNEATH  by Brodi Ashton

Release date: Jan 24

Why: THIS BOOK SOUNDS SO COOL. Alright, blurbs can often be very misleading, but, come on. This book has a really, really neat concept as described here. It’s been advertised on inkpop and all over Goodreads, and I can’t help but cave. It probably won’t be on my instantly pre-ordered list because of all the series I’m excited to further and finish, but I most definitely want to pick it up when I get the chance.

WINGS OF THE WICKED by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire #2)

Release Date: Jan 31

Why: Angelfire made me go gaga, plain and simple. Just…gaga. The storyline is awesome, the mythology is awesome, the twists were awesome, the romance is awesome and the guy is one I would love to date. Need I say more? Because I will, actually. The end of book one left opened up twists that I sure as heck didn’t see coming and left more questions than answers, and I NEED ANSWERS. It’s already been preordered and I am counting down days.

FEVER by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #2)

Release Date: February 21st

Why: Alright, yes, my book review of the first bookWither–wasn’t completely complimentary, but I can’t help but be intrigued. DeStefano handled some really tough issues really well and wrote in some great relationship stuff (and some not great, but I hold onto hope)…and the blurb talks about Rhine and Gabriel ending up in a “twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls.” Maybe I’m a sucker. Maybe I’m a big sucker. But come on. This is crazy enough it just might work, and Wither was good enough that I’m not ready to give up on this world quite yet.

SPELL BOUND by Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall #3)

Release Date: March 13

Why: WHY DO I NEED TO TELL YOU? Ahem. Anyways. Have you read these? Because you need to read these. Yes, girl at magical boarding school has been tried and tried again, but I am in LOVE. LOVE. LOVE with this books. They are interesting, they are funny, they are will written and the love interest(s) are to die for. Oh, and it is SO NOT FAIR how Hawkins just leaves you hanging again and again. …I am very impatient when I just NEED to know what happens next, you may have noticed. I tend to pre-order by month, so you know what I’ll be doing March 1st instead of celebrating my father’s birthday.

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2)

Release Date: May 1

Why: Divergent may or may not have been overhyped for a reason. It isn’t groundbreaking amazingness, but it is pretty darn near close. I’ve yet to read a dystopian that I’ve enjoyed this much. It was the realist, and the one I connected the most with. It had pretty much everything I look for in a book, plus I truly enjoy reading Roth’s writing. It’s easy but it sends a message clearly, which is really hard to do. It started a new wave of dystopian trends for a reason. If you haven’t read it yet, READ IT.

CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #5)

Release Date: May 8

Why: CASSANDRA CLARE. That should be enough for anybody. I’ll admit,  I was almost a little upset when Clare decided she was going to write 3 more books in this series instead of keeping it at a trilogy as planned, but that doesn’t stop me from being a freakish fan girl. Jace and Clary make me so amazingly happy–not to mention Alec and Magnus and Simon and–everybody. Let’s just go with everybody. The last book wasn’t great; it was almost like Clare was actually making stuff up to keep the series going. Now, half of the people I talk to are pretty sure she was actually doing that, but goodness don’t SHOW it. Either way, sign me up for this one and all the rest. I just can’t put these books down EVER.

There were just too many books for this post, so you can find part 2 here!

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

4 stars

“Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding the antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.”

Yes, another dystopian! What can I say? This stuff is in vogue right now and there’s only so much I can see or hear about a book before I snatch it off the shelves and go FINE ALRIGHT ALREADY. (It was also on sale, so that helped too.) I had researched this book on Goodreads once again, and found that several friends whose opinions I trust had loved this book, but some others had also disliked it. Once again, I came at it with lower expectations.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Despite DeStefano’s world seeming to be even less of a believable concept than that of Ally Condie’s Matched (whose world building issues were discussed at length here), I believed in it—which I hadn’t believed I would. How could anyone make both extremely short life spans and polygamous marriages work, right? Apparently, DeStefano—very well, I might add. But onto that in a minute…

Let’s get what I didn’t like out of the way first, shall we? There were two things that really got to me: 1) Rhine and Gabriel and 2) the “tempo” of the plot. The relationship between Rhine and Gabriel might have been more of an issue with my personal taste, but it just felt forced. First they’re friends and then they’re kissing and then they’re friends and then they’ve got their hands on each other and then they’re friends again. I was honestly quite baffled by their relationship. It felt like a sincere friendship, but the story seemed to be trying to force it into something more. Clearly these two have a relationship coming in the next book, but I would have preferred to see them as just honest friends in Wither (which was done well in the spots where they were just friends).

The tempo of the plot was a much bigger issue, though there’s really less to say on it. There was certainly things happening and I could barely stop reading, but the book never affected by heart rate if you know what I mean. There were certainly points where the plot got to me, but they were more flashes than anything else.

But you can bet your life I’ll be reading the second book in this trilogy, titled Fever and expected February 21, 2012. Why? Because of everything DeStefano did right, and her way with words. Perhaps her way with words is one reason the plot never got to my heart rate—sometimes short and succinct are better and more gripping, aspiring writers!—but I refuse to put too much blame there because she has a way with words. Descriptions, analogies, etc—I wanted to write them down and steal them.

Also, polygamy. No matter your feelings on the subject, that’s a tough thing to write about. DeStefano never blinks. You’re never given the feeling that the marriages are right, but they never feel contrived either. How she managed to make polygamy feel like a societal convention but wrong at the same time is beyond me and I like it.

All and all, I think dystopian fans should definitely give Wither a shot. Unlike Matched, which was very romance oriented, Wither felt much deeper and plot oriented, with just enough romance to keep romance lovers happy but not turn off people who think YA romance should be burnt. Relationships in the book—such as the friendship between Rhine and Gabriel and the camaraderie between the sister wives—are excellently written and feel decidedly real. It hints at moral questions but doesn’t get preachy. In a nutshell, I found Wither to be a fine addition to the dystopian titles exploding off the shelves right now. If you enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth and/or Matched, I totally recommend that you give it a shot.