Review for Dream Dark (Caster Chronicles #2.5) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Dream Dark by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

TITLE: Dream Dark
SERIES: Caster Chronicles #2.5
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2, 2011
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
PAGES: 75 pages
FORMAT: Audiobook
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 4 stars

This novella follows Link in during his realization that he was bitten by a supernatural being and is now an incubus. This includes running around the Caster tunnels and lots of facetime with Macon.

It’s an interesting way to tell Link’s tale because it’s still told via Ethan’s voice, even in scenes where Link is alone. Link has been a favorite character of mine since book one, as has Macon, so the fact that we get lots of time with both here made overjoyed me. This is also the first thing from this series I’ve read since I’ve seen the film and I’m delighted to inform everyone that this still holds as much appeal as before. I was scared that the film may have ruined the books for me because they changed so much. Also because, since it’s been a long time since I’ve read the first two books, I get some of the details confused or I just plain forget them. This little novella brings it all back with startling clarity.

Not only does it tell a new story from a new “perspective” but it also reminded me of the fact that I loved the first two novels. Really, if you loved the first two novels, than this will be right up your alley. I can’t wait to dive into Beautiful Chaos, which I happen to already have a hardback edition of as well as the audiobook. :))

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Review for Always a Witch (Witch #2) by Carolyn MacCullough

Always A Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

TITLE: Always A Witch
SERIES: Witch #2
AUTHOR: Carolyn MacCullough
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2011
PUBLISHER: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
PAGES: 276 pages
SOURCE: Borrowed
RATING: 5 stars

Whoa. Just wow, I really wasn’t expecting that ending. It came flying up out of nowhere and hit me smack in the face. It was completely brilliant though. Since I adored everything about Once A Witch, it really is not surprise that I loved this one as well. Carolyn MacCullough took everything I loved about Once A Witch and managed to improve upon it when writing this book. It’s witty, it’s funny, it still has that great Tamsin/Gabriel relationship. The sarcasm is cut down a bit, but it is still great.

This novel pics up not too far after the last one left off and it follows Tamsin in an adventure in the past. Her grandmother can no longer see a future for their family, so her only real option is to follow Alistair into the past and prevent him from warning the Knights. Deciding it is best to do this alone, she uses the Domani to travel back 1887 with no real plan beyond warning her ancestors and finding Alistair. She ends up taking a position as a lady’s maid for the Knight family to watch for Alistair since she can’t find anyone with knowledge of the Greene family. Complications arise, ensue, and are overcome.

I really loved this novel. Love, love LOVE it.

I loved Tamsin going off on her own (though it was stupid) and blindly charging off to save her family. I love that it doesn’t turn out perfect when she arrives. Too many novels have the heroine arrive and it just all magically falls into place, like the first person she asks knows where to find her family and they believe her and fix it and then cue the happily ever after. No, Tamsin arrives and cannot find anyone that has even heard of her family. She wonders around cluelessly until a man offers her a job as a lady’s maid for the Knight family. Then when she finally finds her family, they don’t believe her. I truly loved that. Call me cruel, but I like seeing the heroine (or hero) struggle to get what they want/need.

I was a bit sad when she left without Gabriel because I love him and I want as much of him in the novel as possible. He finally shows up in 1887 a little over halfway through the book, so those of you fearing (like me), that you won’t get enough of him here, let me put your mind at easy. You get plenty of the signature Tamsin/Gabriel banter.

I have to give it to Carolyn for catching me off guard because I didn’t see that ending coming at all. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but it certainly wasn’t****SPOILER****Tamsin giving up her powers to protect the Domani.****END SPOILER**** Even though I didn’t expect it, it was perfect. It seamlessly tied the whole story together. It makes it completely understandable why Grandma forced everyone to hide Tam’s powers from her. It really left me speechless.

I also loved that this series is just a 2 part set. It is very refreshing to see a short series in a world where it seems like every story is continued to like 15 volumes. Oh and for those of you wondering, this series had no love triangle. 🙂

Review for Remembrance (Transcend Time Saga #1) by Michelle Madow

Remembrance by Michelle Madow

TITLE: Remembrance
SERIES: Transcend Time #1
AUTHOR: Michelle Madow
PUBLISHER: Dreamscape Publishing
PAGES: 314 pages
SOURCE: Won from Michelle Chew Writes
RATING: 4 stars

This novel was a rollercoaster ride for me from the very beginning. I saw the amazing cover and read the blurb and was dying to read it. Then I won an ebook copy of it from a blog and was ecstatic because I could finally read this amazing looking novel. Yesterday morning I started it and became just a bit weary. It didn’t have anything to do with the writing or the characters, it was all in the acknowledgements. “Taylor Swift, for writing a beautiful song, Love Story, and for creating a gorgeous video to go with it that helped inspire this book.”

That made me instantly nervous. I abhor Taylor Swift and that very song is a big reason why. The song is all rainbows and ponies and happily ever after and it references Romeo and Juliet and that just burns my ass. Every time I hear it, I just want to find Taylor and smack her. If you don’t already know (and there is a surprising number of people who don’t), Romeo & Juliet was a tragedy. They do not get their happily ever after. THEY DIE. So an uber peppy, lovey song about getting your very own happily ever after Romeo & Juliet style tells me that you are an illiterate bastard who never bothered to finish the story. Not to mention, you are perpetuating the image that R&J really is this epic romance when (in my opinion) it isn’t. Seriously people, wake up and smell the roses. Everything more I learn about that horrid tale makes me believe that they weren’t really in love, just lust. The very basic fact that they meet, fall in “love”, get married, and die all within a 5 day period should be proof enough. Add to that the fact that at the beginning of the play, Romeo is bragging about being all in love with another girl (Rosalind is her name, *I think*) and then he sees Juliet and is all love struck. Even when they die, they know practically nothing about each other….::breathes deeply::

Okay, bitter diatribe over. Sorry about that folks, now back to our regularly scheduled program. I was nervous because if the book was inspired by the song and the song was inspired by Romeo & Juliet, then it has the potential to end very badly. The entire novel followed in a similar fashion. I’d find something I really liked and then something I wasn’t so fond of. The story follows Elizabeth Davenport on her journey to discover the truth about her past life. It all starts when a new boy (Drew Carmichael) moves to town. For the moment their eyes meet in first period, she can’t shake the feeling that she knows him somehow. When he starts dating her best friend, she tries to forget whatever she is feeling for him and concentrate on Jeremy, her boyfriend. Circumstances push them together and though Drew seems to play hot and cold, she is still so drawn to him. When they share a dance at the Halloween ball, she gets a strange vision of herself and Drew dancing in formal wear at a ball in the 1800s. From there, things spiral out of control.

Things I liked:
-I liked the basic idea for the story. Reincarnation isn’t something that a lot of YA books are going into right now. I also liked that within the reincarnation, they were given a chance to correct their mistakes. I loved that it implies that though a large number of people are reincarnated, most don’t realize it because nothing triggers the memories. It makes me feel like she isn’t the special “one” girl that every YA story is about but rather one of many who just happens to be lucky enough to find something/someone to trigger the memories.
-I like that the book Elizabeth has to read for class is Pride & Prejudice. This is just a small personal thing, but every YA novel these days has the heroine reading Wuthering Heights and adoring it and I am sick to death of that. If you think I hate Romeo & Juliet, well let’s just say Wuthering Heights is worse. Anyway, this novel seemed much more reminiscent of P&P than R&J. Drew’s hot and cold play was a bit Darcy-esque.
-I LOVED Alistair and Keelie. Two completely unrelated characters, but I adored them both. Alistair is this cool old guy who runs a mask/antiques shop. He is a little strange and really helpful and I just loved him. Keelie is the “normal” one out of the main Varsity soccer player’s girlfriends. When Elizabeth tries to hang out with them to appease Jeremy, Keelie is actually nice to her and doesn’t play the part of a snobby bitch.
-I loved the historical aspects of the story. The flashbacks from 1815 were amazing and I wish I could have seen a little more of them (which I think we will in the next book, so YAY).
-Another small thing, but I loved how they didn’t kiss until both of them had broken up with their respective partners. I liked seeing a heroine know that just because you have found “true love” doesn’t give you carte blanche to do whatever you want and damn the consequences. Elizabeth is extremely aware that even though Drew broke up with Chelsea, this will still be difficult for them to get passed.

Things I didn’t like:
-The way Drew was downright mean to her sometimes. I understand that he is trying to keep his distance and avoid the pain they felt in the previous life, but being mean makes him just like the others. There were times when I loved him and times when he sounded just like Daniel from Fallen. If you really want to avoid her, transfer out of her classes and date someone who isn’t her best friend! Just ignore her completely instead of being nice and then mean and then nice again. I rather liked him when he was behaving, but not so much when he was being a dick. In fact, I think the asshat bits outweigh the good ones. Hopefully he will redeem himself (in my eyes, at least) in the next book.
-The way that is sometimes felt like I was reading scenes straight out of Twilight/Fallen. There is a scene where Drew drives Liz home after she gets stuck at school in the rain that felt so Twilight-esque that it was unbearable. They reach for the heater vent at the same time. They discuss how he is “bad” for her and that she should stay away. ::bangs head against desk::. There isn’t a specific scene that I can pick out that was like Fallen, but just the general feel of Drew reminded me of Daniel. You know, anguished guy trying to keep the past from repeating itself ****SPOILER****so the girl doesn’t die.****END SPOILER****
-****SPOILER****I hated the way the Chelsea and Jeremy team up against Elizabeth to prove that her and Drew were cheating on them. I get that Chelsea was upset when Shannon informed her that she saw Elizabeth and Drew together, but for a “best friend” that is a bit extreme. Yes, I understand that Elizabeth is a boyfriend stealer and all that nonsense, but you’d think Chelsea would at least have the fucking balls to just confront Elizabeth instead of just coming up with a scheme to “prove” something was going on.****END SPOILER****
-After everything that happens, when Elizabeth goes to try and talk things out with Chelsea, the only thing that really matters to her was that Drew didn’t cheat on her. That was only that really stuck in her mind. Not that her best friend hated her, not that she had truly done wrong, just that Drew hadn’t cheated in this lifetime. These two are a pretty fucked up a pair and I think they are better off not being friends, but still, it isn’t like caring about their feelings is instantly going to disappear when a boy becomes involved.

I actually went and watched the video for Love Story after I finished the novel and can definitely see how the video could inspire this story. All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and cannot wait to read the sequel.

Review for The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

The Implosion Of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

TITLE: The Implosion Of Aggie Winchester
AUTHOR: Lara Zielin
PUBLICATION DATE: August 4, 2011
PUBLISHER: G P Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group
PAGES: 278 pages
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Library
RATING: 5 stars

When I first started this novel, I stayed annoyed at Aggie. She was a bitch and though I understand why she started acting that way, it didn’t give her the right to berate her mom when she was going through cancer treatment. But the further into the novel I got, the more I identified with Aggie, the mom who doesn’t really listen, the best friend getting pregnant and wrapped up in the baby’s dad who is clearly an asshole, and the whole school drama. I think everyone has been in a situation where all we want to do is help and yet somehow we keep making the wrong decision over and over and fucking everything up.

I loved how the narrative felt real and true to life and how at the end, it’s not all perfect and tied into a neat little bow. I also love how Aggie stands up to her ex, Neil, and doesn’t end up crawling back to him in the end. You go girl! All in all, it’s a pretty good read about finding yourself after you have buried who you really are behind a lot of lies for protection.