July 31, 2015

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Deerskin by Robin McKinley
Source: gifted paperback
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: July 1, 1994
Age Genre: Adult

As Princess Lissar reaches womanhood, it is clear to all the kingdom that in her breathtaking beauty she is the mirror image of her mother, the queen. But this seeming blessing forces her to flee for safety from her father's wrath. With her loyal dog Ash at her side, Lissar unlocks a door to a world of magic, where she finds the key to her survival - and an adventure beyond her wildest dreams...

Surprisingly, considering this was a birthday present and I have never heard of this book before, I really liked this book, and recommend you read it if you're looking for something different than you're used to, because this book is different than most everything I read before.

Deerskin is written in a matter which includes very few dialogues. Most of the story is told through a storyteller, who describes the surrounding, lore, and thoughts of our main characters. In fact, it takes about 170 pages, maybe even longer, until we meet a character for Lissar to speak to, and even then - Lissar is a woman of few words.

I expected this to really hinder my reading process, as the first time I tried this book, it did feel a bit oppressing. But this time around? I gulped it up, in one sitting, stopping pretty much only to eat. And when I reached the end of part one, I felt like the writing style was a smart choice.

Why? Because the writing style, especially at first, really distance you emotionally from what was happening. Now, you must be thinking - wait, what? How is that a good thing? But in this particular book, it was. I don't think I would've managed to go past the horrific events of part one if this story was written any differently.

And then, slowly, as Lissar began to interact, so did we as readers, right in time for the PUPPIES and OSSIN. So we were able to go through the horror, and still connect with the good. I think that is a wonderful thing; because this book is about overcoming and finding the good. Finding a will to go on.

And as I said, Ossin and the puppies. I mean, those effing puppies, man! Soooo cute.

And Ossin... Okay, let's talk for a minute about this guy. He's a prince, yeah? But his favorite place is the kennel, where he take cares of dogs... even dying puppies (two words that should never be said together!). And he is not handsome. At all. Like... nope. But he is sweet, and kind, and loyal and real, and I dig it!

Especially when he were together with Lissar. It wasn't the mushy, hands-on, I'll-die-for-you-or-without you type of romance, but it was real and sweet and sneaked up on both characters. <3

The reason this is not a four star is that the events at the end really confused me... Like, wtf happened to Lissar? Her mother?... and the blood?... like, what even? And what actually became of Lissar, and her powers? Were those just a loan from the Moonwoman?...


July 24, 2015

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Series: The Body Finder #1
Source: Kindle copy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
Age Genre: YA
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.
Okay, I'm a little angry too...
This book just might be the biggest disappointment of my year. Seriously, I expected this really interesting mystery with a paranormal twist, a race against time to find a killer, with a side-dish of awesome friends-to-lovers romance.

What I got?

The exact opposite; a bland romance with the whole awesome body finding bit being just an after thought, just something the author throws in to make things a little bit more exciting and unique.

BUT IF THE WHOLE THING IS MENTIONED ONCE IN FOUR CHAPTERS BETWEEN moans and groans about Jay and their relationship and his turning hot, and how she's worried about ruining them, and gasp other girls are noticing him too, the vain, stupid imbeciles! look at them fawning over him--oh, hello Jay *fawns* then IT'S NOT REALLY GOING TO WORK.

Seriously! You can see how unimportant Derting found the whole murdering girls thing by how the murderer has no identity whatsoever. She didn't ever design to give him a name. Seriously, at all times, even after being caught, the characters in the books refer to him as the killer/the murderer/insert other title.

And he has no background, no added information to his character aside for the whole "I like killing girls" bit. Where are the motives, how he came to do it, the little things that make his brain tick, all the things real, exciting murder mysteries have?

And the romance itself? There was nothing to it! I love the friends-to-lovers theme, it's my favorite, but here, I didn't feel it was well done at all. First of all, it seems like Violet only woke up to Jay's romantic appeal when... well, when he became hot.

And then... well, it's just... there wasn't very much of them here. Big parts of this book showed them fighting, tying to make each other jealous, or Jay kind of being the really overbearing boyfriend (without him actually being a boyfriend...)

Which is the main problem, really. Before all the drama started, they were already acting like a couple. Why couldn't it be just a natural progression, without all the BS and drama? Because they were really cute and sweet without all that..

And then, there is the matter of Violet's powers. We don't explore them, at all. There is no real background to them, nor even a curiousness about them from our characters. Violet has powers, and that's it. And everyone freakin' accepts this. No one but the killer even wonders what the f the police captain doing bringing a 16 year old to a crime scene!

There were a lot of interesting concepts in this book, but the execution, or lack of thereof, made this book so very meh

Sadly, the only way I'll be reading the next books, is if they're at bargain price, like this one was...


July 21, 2015

Do You Read Books You Know You're Going to Hate?

This question is brought on by the publication of E.L James's Grey.

When Grey came out a short while ago (or at least, it was a short while ago when I drafted this), the internet raged. How dare E.L James try to milk this cow any farther? How dare she attempt to make readers sympathize with Christian? Etc etc.. 

(Not disagreeing/agreeing, I'm steering clear of this argument as I've never read any of the books)

And... Grey became a best-seller almost overnight. Not necessarily surprising, that.

The surprising part is that people who absolutely detested the first three books or people who knew without a doubt that they were going to hate this book.... bought Grey. Just so they could... hate on it? assure themselves it was really as bad as they thought it was and they were not missing anything? not entirely sure about the logistics...
But that got me thinking... do you ever read books you know you're going to hate? Do you waste money or time on something you are certain is going to be bad? 

This doesn't make any sense to me, and I am a total ranter! I mean, this might sound bad to people but I love writing rant reviews. Somehow, it makes hating a book a fun experience, and I'm for that (but I am never offensive to the author). I'm all for making a bad experience fun, and funny, and to just kind of... squeeze all the bad out of it. 

But I never set out to hate a book

In fact, I go so far as to avoid popular books, even the BIGGEST THINGS EVER, if I see indication in other reviews/the summary that it's not going to be my cup of tea (insta love, love triangle, douche love interest, etc) just because I really don't want to hate the book - and I don't want to waste my time/money on something I'm not likely to really enjoy.

Do some books slip through the crack? OF COURSE! Do you sometimes buy a book before you realize you might not like it and end up reading it out of guilt? It happens. And when it does, viola - ranting!

But... do you do that on purpose? 


July 17, 2015

Doing it For Love by Cassie Mae

Doing It For Love by Cassie Mae
Series: All About Love #1
Source: E-Arc from Netgalley
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: Sep 29, 2015
Age Genre: New Adult
Elizabeth Fanning’s life looks pretty perfect, judging by the diamond ring on her finger. Her fiancĂ©, Landon, is sweet, handsome, and hilarious. The trouble is, before they’ve even tied the knot, their sex life has gone from mind-blowing to “meh”—and Liz isn’t ready to be part of an old married couple. After a cathartic call to her best friend, Liz comes up with a brilliant idea. She and Landon may never be able to re-create the magic of their first time, but how amazing would their wedding night be if everything below the neck was off-limits until then?
Liz thinks it’ll bring them closer together. Landon’s convinced she’ll cave first. So they raise the stakes: Whoever lasts longer gets to pick their honeymoon destination. With her heart set on the Bahamas and Landon fighting for snowbound Utah, Liz simply has to win. But pretty soon, her body is screaming for attention, and Landon’s never seemed so far away. Has Liz’s experiment backfired? Losing their little competition would be frustrating—but the one thing she can’t afford to lose is him.
Before I start this review, I'd like to thank Cassie, Loveswept and Netgalley for giving me an e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion! 
This review is going to be slightly different than my usual thing, because this book just inspires this type of feedback.

I honestly want more stories just like this in literature; 

Stories that make you smile so widely and so often your cheeks hurt, but in the best way possible. The kind of way you don't care because dammit, I really needed this. The kind of smiles that linger for entire scenes. That make your entire face scrunch up.

Stories that show established couple just... being happy, living their lives, dealing with silly couple-stuff - not epic misunderstandings/angst/pain. Things you can relate to. Things that make your heart occasionally ache because of how normal and real they are without being overly dramatic or nerve-wrecking.

Stories with couples who are fun, and funny, and teasing and you can't imagine them anymore apart than their friends can, because they are just that perfect for one another and you never once doubt their relationship. Their love. Their rightness.

Stories that make you so damned jealous, because my god, you want to be carrots and peas with someone too!

Stories with nerdy, sweet, messy, real guys that you can crush on and know you can also get in RL, if you look hard enough, because they're not made-up. They are not perfect. And in someway, that makes them perfect in it's own.

Stories that make you feel like part of the gang, a friend to the characters. And as a friend, you see their good and bad parts and you adore them anyway.

Stories that just... make you plain happy.  

So go get on it, authors. Cassie Mae can teach you a few things. 

And as for you, reader... if any of the above interest you - this a book you cannot miss out on.


July 10, 2015

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain (SPOILERS)

Moon Dance by J.R. Rain
Series: Vampire for Hire #1
Source: Free Kindle book
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: August 10th 2009
Age Genre: Adult
Mother, wife, private investigator...vampire. Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack that changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire.
Now the world at large thinks Samantha has developed a rare skin disease, a disease which forces her to quit her day job and stay out of the light of the sun. Now working the night shift as a private investigator, Samantha is hired by Kingsley Fulcrum to investigate the murder attempt on his life, a horrific scene captured on TV and seen around the country. But as the case unfolds, Samantha discovers Kingsley isn't exactly what he appears to be; after all, there is a reason why he survived five shots to the head.

July 9, 2015

Dark Lover by J.R Ward

So as you guys know, I wasn't always part of The Book Babe's Reads. I had my own personal blog before - which now lies abandoned... alongside all my old reviews. But because I feel like some of them don't deserve such an awful treatment, I'm going to slowly move my favorite reviews here! (though some editing may occur, as I'm a little OCD about my reviews, and the older they originally are, the more likely I am to have things I want to rephrase). 

Dark Lover by J.R Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Source: borrowed from library
Age Genre: Adult
Original Review: April 12, 2013

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.
The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world

I'm going to be completely honest and start by saying that originally, I gave this book three stars. But reading through my review, I kept thinking to myself... whhhy? So, there goes half a star. Bye! 

If we're already being honest with each other, I will also admit that while this review is mostly a rant - I have continued with this series, and I even loved some of the books in it. So... don't judge the series based on the first book!  

The first of this (currently) thirteen long series is, unfortunately, completely underwhelming. I had this nagging sense of deja vu the entire read, like... been there, read this, and considering this was way back when I'd just started with adult books and these type of romance-centered fantasies, I cannot imagine how I'd feel about this now. 

The characters were alright. I loved being inside Wrath's head, seeing the duality of his thoughts vs. words first hand, even though the guy got on my nerves sometimes. I loved seeing this really outwardly strong, big, tough guy turn out to be a sad, self doubting and loathing person who can't show his warmth to anyone. Call me sadistic. 

What I didn't like was how the realization he loved Beth did a 180 degrees turn on his personality, suddenly making him show his emotions easily and whatnot. It doesn't work like this. Love is not an immediate cure-all medicine, it just serves to be the catalyst and the support system you need to help you bring the change.  

As for Beth herself.. she was just a kind, strong, sweet girl, who is (for once, and thank god) aware of the fact she is beautiful but never uses it. 

But it wasn't really Beth or Wrath who shone in this book and made me read the next one. Nope, that honor lies within the side-characters, all of whom I adored (Butch, V, Z...) 

Then there were the villains, plural, because we have two types: The Lessers; soulless humans who kill without second thought and The "Righteous"; the vampires who think they're better than the brothers. 

The ones that really pissed me off and brought emotions out of me is the second one (mainly, Marissa's brother). they are basically stuck up a-holes snobs who jump to their own (wrong) conclusions at the drop of the hat. As for the first group, the traditionally evil... I felt like they weren't well done, because ultimately, I didn't care a whit about them. They didn't generate any emotion out of me. 


The romance in this book is pretty much goddamn awful. 

Case in point: a humongous guy armed to the teeth breaks into your apartment in the middle of the night. You: 

a) Call the police.
B) Run the hell away.
C) Try to knock him out with something.
D) Have wild, unprotected sex with him.  

Do I really have to tell you which option Beth chooses? 
There is absolutely no process of falling in love, no feeling of love. It's just... lust. They're declaring being madly in love when they know nothing of one another, their only base for a relationship their physical attraction.

Once they settled into the relationship, they're adorably sweet, I won't deny that. But as much as I tried, I couldn't shut up the nagging voice that kept reminding me of all the above points. That asked where does this relationship even come from. That kept doubting it.

And the writing... it's good, don't get me wrong, but there were so many povs my head was spinning. I wish Ward would have just focused on a few and discarded of the rest. 


July 8, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Series: Not announced
Source: Bought
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Transforming rain into rock.
Destroying everyone who can hear it.
I'm avalanching the sky.

I'm going to start off by saying that Magonia is one of the more interesting books I've read this year. It had adventure. It had intrigue. It had a mythological background that was filled out with an interesting bunch of fantastical characters. It reminded me of one of my very favorite books, Stardust.

At first, I was scrolling through many theories in my head about our main character, Aza Ray. I just couldn't decide about her - was she a changeling? Did they take the girl that lived there and replace her with Aza Ray, or was she put there because the human child died? What's the deal here? Then I went from theories about how she got there to thinking about the character herself.

And as I was thinking about her, I realized that she was really quite an interesting character. She may be a slight bit lacking on the emotional front, but she was smart, sassy, and ready to kick some ass. She was hungry for some power, but who wouldn't be after living in her situation - knowing that they were dying each day? I'll give her one more thing - although she was lacking on the emotional bits, she really did have a good heart.

Now I'm gonna bring up her best friend, and my second favorite character after Aza Ray. Jason. I enjoyed him as a character, and while Aza was lacking in emotion, he was not. Some of his pages were so grief-stricken that it made me want to cry! He had so much behind his words, and on top of that he was cool as hell. Smart, full of wicked ideas, really he was Aza's twin in a guy form. I wanted them to get together so bad - which brings me to my next point.

Can we please get a young adult book where there is no alternate love interest. Yes, you heard me. There is in fact an alternate love interest in Magonia. And he was a dick. No doubt about it, jerky attitude all the way to the end. I didn't like him, and I didn't like Aza's interest in him. I much preferred Jason.

Jason, who researched all about Magonia because of something his best friend said to him. Jason, who searched for Aza Ray after she left - who was convinced that she wasn't really dead. (Funny thing about that...she wasn't really dead.) And through his research and his point of view, we learn so much about the history and backstory of Magonia.

It really was a beautifully thought out fantasy novel - I loved that the author took the time to really research the myth of Magonia. She took the time to really fill in all the empty spots with interesting stories and thoughts and theories. While we're on the subject, I found the world of Magonia to be absolutely fascinating!

When Aza Ray first steps on that ship, it's like a whirlwind of surreal and deep fantasy - like waking up in the middle of a crazy dream. It was a little hard for me to process at first, because I wasn't used to the world that she had filled in - but it was well worth the wait for my mind to kick in. I found the birds to be pretty hard to swallow at first, but the longer I read, the more normal it seemed.

Just like the idea of a flying ship of people living in the sky that steal crops and can drown in the air... it all just kind of fit together in an imaginative, interesting way.

Speaking of people that live in the sky - I didn't really care for their leader, Zal. AKA, Aza Ray's mom. I found her to be really kind of crazy. The power that she's hungry for is way more than any one entity should possess, and she's willing to do anything to get it. I couldn't trust her at all throughout the book, and towards the end I realized that she truly was a merciless cow.

But it did make for a good ending battle. Lots of action and such. But I did have a problem with the ending of this book - although it was happy, there were lots of unanswered questions that I had, and quite a few loose ends that I wanted to see tied up - I was very invested in several subplots that I did not get to see resolved. Really, the only thing is that I wanted more. All in all, I'd say that Magonia was a pretty damn good book.

July 3, 2015

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Source: Bought signed Hardcover
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 21st 2014
Age Genre: Young Adult
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

"...But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another.
Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other."
.... I don't know where to start. Where does one begin when it comes to such a marvelous creation? All I want to do is gash and squeal and swoon. How do I arrange that into coherent thought. Should I even arrange that, if that is the genuine reaction I have to this book and I want my review to properly express that?

I guess I'll go by my status updates on GR to construct this review.

First, let me say this - so many otp moments to squee over, from practically the first page! Blue and Gansey are testing my sanity, I swear. My vocal cords are shot from squealing so loudly and so often while reading this. Touching fingertips in secret? Calling each other late at night? Going on drives? hugging?!?!?!!
And then there are... Adam and Ronan. I was not aboard this ship in the first book. I didn't even know this ship was a possibility. Then came book two, and I was shipping Ronan in love with Adam, but I wasn't there yet. And then came book three. RONAN, YOU LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT STOP BEING SO SECRETLY NICE TO ADAM I CAN'T TAKE IT *SOBS*

And then, and then, Adam! I mean, ADAM!

So, yes. I'm on this ship and enjoying the view immensely. And they were together so much in this book, or roundabout thinking about each other when they weren't, even if it wasn't in the romantic sense... it was just so adorable and sweet and I CAN'T TAKE IT!
Speaking of Adam... HE GREW SO MUCH from the Adam in book one! That is to say, he finally outgrew of his Dickface phase, and realized that his friends aren't pitying him or trying to make him owe them--they're just being his f*cking friends! So, finally, in the third book, I could fully love Adam, instead of occasionally cursing him/wanting to strangle him. 
"Don't tell the others," Gansey said.
"I'm dead," Noah replied. "Not Stupid".
Who hadn't we talked about yet? that's right--NOAH. Of all the raven boys, Noah is the one I've always wanted for myself. I feel like he doesn't get nearly as much love as he's supposed to, because he is a precious cinnamon roll. But what is going on with my baby in this book?! LEAVE NOAH ALONE, do you hear me, you evil possibly ghostly things?! 
This is your last warning. Leave my baby be. 
Okay, okay, I'm calming down. Give me a sec.

Aside for all these, every character was just astounding in this novel.

Blue and Mr Gray have developed this... kind of fatherly relationship that I adore and totally approve of. Maura, if you want to marry the guy, I ain't gonna stop you. Just saying.

And can we just talk about the fact Gansey woke them up with a word? (I'm playing the pronoun game. Go read the book). CAN WE? SOMEONE SPEAK TO ME ABOUT IT BECAUSE I'M FREAKING OUT.

Then there was the DEATH. Yes, this book contains a death. And it's shocking and unexpected and how exactly are we supposed to deal, eh!? Because I am not dealing.

And then the end? Folks, cliffhanger alert! of the delicious kind, though. The one that says:
And now I NEED the next book, ASAP. But I'm also SCARED SHITLESS of the sequel *cries*.

The one thing I'd like to close this review with, which will be slightly less fangirling in its nature, is Maggie Stiefvater's writing. It is one of the most beautiful of writings. Do you know those moments where you just read a line that is so gorgeous, so poetic, so thought-provoking that you have to close the book and stare at the wall for a few minutes just marveling at what you just read?

THIS is the type of writing Stiefvater employs. I stopped counting these little pauses somewhere around the twenty-three mark. Never before has a book made me want to mark things in it because it was so beautiful, and I did not want to forget.

(I didn't though, relax)