Graceling by Kristin Cashore >> Readdicted Review by Katie

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Graceling young adult fantasy book

Title: Graceling

(Graceling Realm #1)

Author: Kristin Cashore

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Goodreads Book Summary:  In the Seven Kingdoms, people born with an extreme skill, “Grace”, are feared and exploited. Katsa herself despises hers, killing. Her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, commands her to punish and torture his enemies. Prince Po, with combat skills, becomes her friend, and she learns terrible truths about her Grace and a secret hidden far away that could destroy the realm.

Rating: 4 Stars

MY REVIEW:

This book was quite the switch-up from the Under the Never Sky series. I have to say that Kristin Cashore is an incredibly talented writer. I was pulled into this story, despite it’s zoomed out point of view, and couldn’t put it down. The plot-line is intriguing and complex. I loved not knowing exactly what would happen. The characters are rich and well-thought out and they stay true to themselves, even in their growth.

I would recommend this book to readers ages 15+. There are a few things, violent and sexual, that is inappropriate for younger readers, and it surprises me how much this book is marketed as a children’s book because of that. Well, that and I don’t really see children enjoying it much.

Also, there’s a map, and I love maps in books! LOVE them!

Our main character is quite different from most, she isn’t relatable.  She’s hard on herself, but not emotional.  She is highly skilled, and it takes a long time for us to see her true character.  I like that she changed as the book went along, she grew and matured, but at the same time, she never broke character.  She never acted outside herself.  She was Katsa, through and through.  The adventures she goes through keep you reading from page one through the end.

Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure you’ll love Po.  He’s the kind of male character I find myself drooling over, and then wiping the book clean.  Oops.

This book is the first in a trilogy of sorts.  It’s thrilling and the world Kristin Cashore creates is believable and real.  It kind of reminds me of a middle-earth type world, like something that could possibly be very far in our past, if you let yourself pretend.

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Readdicted Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

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Title: Article 5

Author: Kristen Simmons

Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction

Goodreads Book Summary:

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Rating:  4 Stars

REVIEW

This is yet another dystopian fiction young adult book, destined to be a series.  Probably a trilogy.  But you know what?  I am TOTALLY okay with that.  The world the author creates is not the same, despite definitely following the rules for a dystopian society.  Ember and Chase are the two main characters.  The story is told from Ember’s point of view.  The story gets going right away, without giving the reader a chance to get to know the characters.  Because of this, I didn’t feel like I understood what was going on with Chase in this opening scene, and why it was important.  There were other characters that seemed like they might come up again, but too many to keep track of because I still didn’t know my main characters yet.  However, I loved how the author unfolded the love story between the two, going between their past and the present.  She started the series right in the middle of their story.

The layout of the book is different, both in how and when action occurs, and how often.  What happens is a surprise and you end up having no idea what will happen next because of this.  Also, the author jumps right in to the story, as though she is skipping a lot of boring stuff that she can detail later throughout the book.  I liked that a lot.  It takes place all over the eastern part of a future U.S. right after a World War III.

Mostly I really liked this book.  But I never became emotionally connected with it, unlike Connie (read her review here), and so for me the book was just okay.  I’m not sure how much I love the characters or what happens.  It all just seemed to go by in a blur.  It is a quick paced book, which is really good.  The setting changed so much that the reader doesn’t really get that stability.  Which is ok, because they characters are traveling.  While the backstory is wonderful and the characters did seem real to me, I still felt like they could have used more work and that the dialogue could have drawn me in better.  All in all, this is a great read and I definitely recommend it.  Especially for lovers of: The Matched Trilogy; The Hunger Games Trilogy; and Delirium and Pandemonium.

COVER

I really like this cover.  Totally head over heals in like with it.  It’s not pretty, but it’s not supposed to be.  So it works.  And HELLO FLANNEL!  I love flannel.  That’s seriously the first thing that drew me to this book.  And at least 72% of why I read it.  The other 28% was Connie not leaving me alone until I read it because she loved it oh so much.

FUN STUFF

Book #2, Breaking Point, will be released on Feb. 2, 2013.  Check out the synopsis on Goodreads here, and make sure you check out Connie’s review which links to the Moral Statutes from the book.  And of course, here’s a link to a book trailer.  Gotta love those!

Readdicted Review: The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

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Title:  The Goddess Test

Authors:  Aimée Carter

Genre: YA Fiction/Mythology

Goodreads Book Summary:

EVERY GIRL WHO HAS TAKEN THE TEST HAS DIED.

NOW IT’S KATE’S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she suceeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

REVIEW

I always find it strange when authors pick a place, such as Michigan, for the home of a god (or other larger than life type of character).  A tethered spot for the underworld.  I guess it has to be somewhere, but it just strikes me strange when that kind of thing happens.  Kate’s whole life prior to chapter one takes place in New York City and I wish we got to see more of that, since it does have a place in her dreams and in her memories.  All we really see is Central Park though.  I also love wide open country, and I wish she would have described it more, and how it made the character feel.  The house, Eden Manor, I just couldn’t picture it.  The author only really describes it in detail when Kate first goes there.  And I couldn’t get over the sense of gaudy, ornate, over-done-ness that some rich person would do to their house to make people really really KNOW that they are super rich.  I didn’t get a sense of tasteful decor, and it influenced my opinion of the other characters before I had even met them.  Kate is the main character.  She comes to find out that she has a choice to make, and it is a selfish one if you ask me, but she makes it and I’m not sure if I would’ve done differently.

I did like this book, so I gave it 3.5 stars, because I wasn’t completely neutral about it.  The problem was in the writing.  It just needed more work.  It kind of reminded me of when I write something, and then go over it once or twice.  A fantastic piece of fiction should be worked on, really thought about.  So even though the story is interesting enough, even if it is far-fetched (hey, it’s supernatural YA fiction and I love it), I had a hard time getting past the sketchy writing.  It isn’t horrible, it is cliché.  It is derivative.  It is not original, and a lot of times the author does this thing that in my mind I call a cop-out.  Where she zooms out and just tells us what happens, instead of taking us into moments.  She skips long periods of time and just gives an overview.  Maybe the book just wouldn’t have been interesting, and maybe it would have slowed it way down to give more detail, but a good author wouldn’t have had that problem.  Still, I will read the next book.  I will not read this one again, although if you like mythology, I would recommend.  If you are just a fan of YA fiction, I would say read at your own risk.  Whether or not you will like it depends on how much you pay attention to the writing and tiny annoying things that don’t really make sense but are completely ignorable.  I got hung up in the middle, but after I passed the swell of kind of boring things in the middle, I got back into it and finished the last, oh I don’t know half to third, in one sitting.

COVER

The cover is beautiful, although the expression of the model is really strange.  She is so beautiful, but it looks like she fell down, and just. can’t. get. up.  And doesn’t really care about anything.  I love the earthiness and all the green around her.  Makes me long for summer.  One thing that drove me the heck crazy was the Conflicting Ornate Things.  The embellishments on the font are beautiful.  The cover has a texture on it that is really cool, almost like Victorian wallpaper, but subtle.  The chapter headings have little designs that, by themselves, would be interesting and pretty.  My problem is that they all clash with each other.  Drove me nuts every time I picked up the book.  It would have been better if I had read this as an ebook.

FOR FUN

Here’s a link to the author’s twitter.  She’s pretty active on there, so follow her and while you’re at it, follow us too!

Readdicted Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

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Title: Pure

Author: Julianna Baggott

Genre: Dystopian/Apocalyptic YA Fiction

Goodreads Book Summary: 

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Rating:  5 Stars

REVIEW

There are two main characters who seem to have equal weight of importance in the story.  Pressia…she has a doll head fused to her hand.  Hello awesome!  Such a flawed character!  And Partridge.  He is perfect, but imperfect in his perfection.  There were plenty of peripheral characters, and they all have unique qualities and compliment the story.

This book was a such a great contrast to what I have been reading.  It is set in the future, after major world-wide destruction leaves everyone deformed and fused.  Fused with other people, objects, buildings, even the ground.  The only people that were saved live in a giant dome that was created to protect mankind from the onslaught of the many super viruses.

I loved this book.  It is dark, but not in a dark way.  It is grungy, the setting dusty and you feel like mankind has really gone down the drain.  But of course there is hope.  And hope is an amazing thing to read about, especially when the characters’ lives have become so desolate.  I found this book to be well-written, almost poetic at times.  Like an allegory…it seems almost metaphorical for what life can be like for many people today.  It is completely unreal and yet written in a way that makes you believe in it.  I didn’t get in to the book at first, it took a little work.  But then I just couldn’t stop.  It jarred me, made me cry, gave me hope, and kept me reading constantly until I finished it with a sense of anticipation for the next book in the series.  Pure was so different, and I love it when books are different and good and give me all the things I want.  This book was full of action, had fantastic bad guys, and is definitely worth your time.  It is hopeful, sad, and deep.

COVER

This cover is what drew me to the book, and the description of what the book was actually about made me hesitate for awhile before reading it.  But I kept coming back to the beautiful cover.  It drew me in at the bookstore, at the library, and even online.  If you don’t love this cover you are weird.

I’m probably just joking about that.

AWESOMESAUCE

Fox 2000 acquired rights for the movie…here’s a trailer, although I think this is just a book trailer and not for the actual movie that may or may not be made.

This is the author’s website.  The second book, Fuse, comes out February 2013, and I can’t wait!  The cover is just as beautiful as the cover of Pure.  Go here for news and lots of good stuff the author has put together.  I love it when authors are actually online.

Readdicted Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Readdicted Reviewers

Title: Beautiful Darkness

Authors:  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Genre: YA Supernatural Fiction

Goodreads Book Summary:

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Rating: 4 Stars

REVIEW

This book was a great read, a good second book in the series.  It left me wanting to read more, and glad I could dive right into the third.  It was fast paced and there was a lot to keep me interested and I had a hard time putting it down.  But at some points throughout the book, I was disappointed with the writers’ ability to explain.  My biggest complaint is that yet again, as with the first book Beautiful Creatures, I found myself making a lot of assumptions.  I was also realizing that some of the things I thought were described one way in Beautiful Creatures were described differently in Beautiful Darkness.  This may have been my perception, but it is the author’s job to give the reader an experience.  If I have to stop and question anything, I blame the author.  Usually, it’s not my fault this happens.

What is amazing about these books is the amount of detail for each character, and for the setting.  The people come alive, and the town of Gatlin is like another character.  It is clear that the authors have experienced the South and have done their research.  The mix of a little history in with it makes me very happy as well.  I loved the introduction of the new characters and the further development of Amma and Macon and Abraham.  Spending so much time in the Tunnels didn’t take away from the richness of the story.  In fact, I loved the Tunnels in the first book of this series and I really wanted to know more.  Many questions were answered as well, while giving me more information in the story, they also raised more questions.  The story is building, not repeating.  The darkness in this series doesn’t infiltrate Ethan, which is why I love him as the main character.  I found myself so frustrated with Lena, and yet sympathetic at the same time.  And the ending made me salivate for the next book.  Again I loved the casual first-person point of view.  Instead of just hearing Ethan’s thoughts, I felt like we were conversing, and he was telling me this compelling story.

I am still not sure if these are buy-worthy…meaning hard copy purchase.  There’s something wonderful about having your favorite books all sitting together on a bookshelf.  So far, I have the ebooks.  They make it easier for me to read wherever I find myself, but at the same time, I am so ready to read a real book again!

COVER

Again the cover is lame.  I do love the font, and the purpose of the cover is achieved.  Readable author names, the title stands out, and the covers all tie together while still having an individual message.  This one shows stairs surrounded in darkness, and most of the book takes place in the Tunnels.  Still, there’s something so blah about the picture behind the text that makes me want to puke.  I do like the different color choices for the text…although……just wait for my review of Beautiful Chaos…..

AWESOME FUNNESS

Here’s a link to the two trailers out for the movie that comes out early 2013.  When I rewatch them, I get all excited and goosebumpy. Hooray!