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review 2014-04-21 11:14
Sponebob and Pikachu crossover
The Dark World - Cara Lynn Shultz

(I feel like I've written this review a thousand times. All of zem amalgamate into one.)

There was a turmoil watering down amongst us the day I realized there were too many bees in this world. I danced for the first time in a long while when I found this, experienced it first hand. Einstein lied, or whoever the fuck did saying there were too few. Not lied, per se, but subjectified it. Oh yes, they did. For there are people, and plants, amongst us for whom the bees stroll in orchards and gardens and whatever. For others like me, they pull the strings and make us dance like a marionette, stinging and inflating us with their acupressure of death. #trufax

There have been turmoils brewing in the readership for so long there have been books. For so long there have been books, some of the unrelenting cynicism- some of the jaded eyes that callously seek pattern, repetition, correlation- have been finding numerous others just like them. Historians and anthropologists debate over whether there is a causal link. This long standing debate begets much strife that compounds with each generation but one saying stands above all: if a story seems trite, should the reader continue suffering like a rat's fart? That remains for you, the reader, with varying and capricious demands, to decide. #sociallesson

Some call it infestation, others explain it in terms of demand and supply. I call it exploitation, but whatever floats *your* boat.

If I give off negatives vibes, will the Dark World ever get to shine?



If I am cryptic and no one understands, am I speaking hogwash or being cryptic?

If I keep asking rhetorical questions, not expecting answers, will you give a rat's fly? Will I give a rat's fly that you don't give a rat's fly?

YES, I will as well I should,
so without further ado,
scraping away the gobbledygook
here is my review for tu and vous
(but halt! behold a crappy rhyme
'cause you can't even with my psyche)

The Dark World, whence come monsters and predators, is not my choice of vacation but some creatures rage wars over it. Monsters v/s predators. It depends entirely on your perception who becomes the monster and what un-becomes these monsters. The ones on the other sides are the predators. For once, they don't want shit with human; nobody gives a shit about protecting humans; humans aren't fucking speshul snowflakes to be saved from the big, bad wolves. Partially, because good and evil are relatively used in this war.

Paige Kelly saves a kid's life and gets embroiled in this war: monsters hunt her and predators want to use her. No good deed goes unpunished, or so goes Faust. Actually, Faust says there are some waters humans shouldn't travel, but same thing, right? Good things are the domain of one deerLord. And let's not talk Pagan Gods, okay. They can be pretty scary and I'd rather not mess with them.



No offense, no one.

Demons after you, Paige Kelly runnnnnnn!

There are fights, creature in flames and blasts. Starndard stuff, you'd expect. *yawn*

Paige has a sarcastic, endearing(don't knock it till you've tried it) voice in the beginning but it's just one end of the spectrum. As she stars to grow and progress through the story(because character development, methinks), her narration becomes boring and soulful and messy. But mostly boring.

That's one word for the book: boring.

To ameliorate this, enters Logan Bradley. Logan Bradley is a teenage guy I could get behind. AT FIRST. But zen, character development, complexity and all the underlying crap. He's funny and faux-arrogant and sure, had he been limited to that, he wouldn't be a boring character. So of course, we have a tortured souls and haunted eyes and oh-so-sad past because war and death. This ruined him for me. RUINED!

Besides, my handwriting is awesome and everyone should be subjected to it at least once.



For sure he's not the wittiest cut of the veal, but these are funnies I could laugh at, because I am lame, but god no development. Not like that. Don't haunt your character unless you can convey it, unless your character has enough of a persona to handle it, make it look real. Don't use deaths to as a tool for your story or just for the sake of making characters more real. Two tortured souls as one, their passion and loyalty tested by one battle after another. Will their love triumph this war?

(If I make a face and no one sees it, are my emotions real?

Just in case:
)

The demons are vapid and the action scenes threadbare. You know you're in deep shit when magic swords that disappear(CARTER KANE) fail to rejuvenate you. You're in deeper, derpier shit when hai-yah! secret fighting lessons make you long for the inanity of Oggy and the Cockroaches. Which sucks, by the way.

Shultz did try to portray vivid side characters with layers, so kudos on that. There's a particular demon and a particular uncle who I could have classified as characters of interest, but sadly, the main voices were boring enough to make me reconsider. There are plots and going-ons and motives and parleys that mustn't be revealed which aren't ferried across to us because humans! and teenagers! Which, by the by, makes total sense but a being out of the loop does the book no favor, IMO. Shultz also goes for a non-instalove, making us wait for months that pass by in pages to see them fall in #truluv with each other. I appreciated this, but couldn't root for nor believe in it. Their chemistry didn't spark, principally because of the narrator's voice and her penchant for boring me.

All in all: run-of-the-mill premise, a couple atypical elements, good effort, almost-400 pages and a tedious narration make for a review that could be short but isn't because I tend to bullshit. A lot. AMAZING COVER, though.


Because I shouldn't be the only one creeped out.

Thank you, Harlequin Teen!

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review 2014-04-07 08:45
(almost) 3 bags full
Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige

But sometimes you need to light a fire.

If only. Dorothy Must Die was one of the most anticipated debut novel of 2014 of mine, and so far, it's been the biggest disappointment for me and my three bags of wool. It was barely a flame, not even able to attract a moth like me, driving me to skip it at times for Archie comics and I don't even like them. Not to say it was a drag(it totally was but I'm being nice), but it's the same fairytale-the Wizard of Oz- extended, instead of retold with imagination and fuckery like I expected.

Dorothy is evil, the yellow road is crumbling, and crows have human eyes and ears.

-in times like these, the Wicked will rise!

What entails is a shoddy revolution, Wicked Witches, mutilated monkeys and the rest. And yet, it's pretty much the same story I saw(sadly, yes) back when I was in the second grade(woe used to be me). There's the evil ruler(in this case, Dorothy), there are the witches(in this case, Wicked) who recruit a girl from Kansas(in this case, not so sweet and named Amy), and words are flipped. However, this didn't affect, or contributed to my mild feelings for the characters were interesting, and had more depth than your average prom king and queen in a typical American flick(where, incidentally, they're the first ones to be slashed/chopped/mutilated). And that was the strongest factor in favor of Dorothy Must Die for me.

From Kansas girls to her rat to the witches and the Tin Woodman, not one character was brushed off with superficiality. Certainly there were character who didn't play much of a part, didn't have enough screentime for us to get acquainted, but in snide and side remarks, one can gather that they're much more than they appear as first, or act as. Case in point: Mombi, the Wicked witch of...somewhere.

Another pro to be noted was there were certain gruesome creatures, certain whimsical beings that were fun to imagine.


Creepy


Creepier


Creepiest

While we're on that, I must add that the book lacked a certain atmosphere, sans which the story didn't work for me. The enchantment was lost on me, and I was bored for a 4-fucking-32 pages while. In itself, the writing and telling of the land of Oz, its description, was juvenile, and had it not been for the dark subjects discussed(self-mutilation, forced child labor et cetra), I would've suspected it to be a light read. Yet I don't mean to imply that Amy's voice was lacking; simply that when one encounters an exotic, decrepit land like Oz, one expects a tone to be set for full engagement in the story. And Ms Paige failed to meet my standards on that count.

The story is straight-forward for most of the book, with no twists or turns or misdirections taking place. All work and no play(with the characters) made the book a bogus read.

Moreover, and I wholly realize I might be acting fastidious and impossible, there were a number of inconsistencies, trivial details lacking/erroneous/mismatched. Strap in, it's gonna be a long one.

1.First off all, the biggest twist to this rather plodding story, the one that provided a bit of umph! factor that is introduced at almost the end has already been given away in the blurb. Spoiler much?

2.Amy and the trailer she lives in are flown away by a tornado to the land of Oz. Yet weeks later, she spies on her mom searching and finding an old sweater of Amy's in a strange place. Where did that come from?

3.

The princess felt that their conversation ruined the apple-eating experience and was therefore a violation of the Happiness Decree...
It[eating apples] was against the Happiness Decree. It's not worth the risk.



Is it deliberate or am I reading it wrong?

4.Nox is introduced as the strongest fighter in the Order, yet Melindra almost always defeats him because Melindra was by far the best of us all. I guess you could always say there's a difference being the best and the strongest, but I'll tell you that that registers on bullshit-radar.

5.According to some:
Amy is the one one to kill Dorothy because.
But the because is so stupid you don't want to know.
Because you[Amy] understand her(since they're both from Kansas).
There was no understanding required for their plan.

According to others:
Amy is the one to kill Dorothy just because.
Because there are certain tools and people and methods.
(They're both from Kansas.)
(I think I like this better, more mysterious.)

6.Multiple characters change their appearances, Polyjuice Potion style.

First character is Amy, pretending to be someone she isn't amongst people who have known the person she is pretending at for a long time. I think it's safe to assume Amy had been magically provided with the poor person's voicebox along with their entire appearance, because surely Amy wouldn't have been able to fake her voice for so long.

Second character is...let's take a variaable:X. And yet, here's how X is recognized:
Their[gender pluralized] voice was all X.

Third character...whatever.

7. A sly, nervous grin.
What the actual fuck is a sly, nervous grin?
I can't grin slyly and nervously simultaneously, and believe you me, I did try. Hell, I went out to smile at the stray dogs lazing outside my gates. And I have a little-graver-than-slight phobia of canines.

8.I didn't know what was Good or Wicked anymore. All I knew was what was right.
And ignoring an innocent kidnapped and tortured is so right.

Whew! Glad we're done with that, now I can concentrate on expounding on the very few positives I have.

Dorothy was a fantastic protagonist:kick-ass not only because she can literally kick-ass, but because she has the personality and voice of a kick-asser. She is bitter, and doesn't have the noblest reasons for wanting things always, albeit she's a good person at heart.

...just to say I had someone

Here she admits that she would help someone, anyone just to say that she had someone to help whom she'd go to any lengths for. She is played or maybe she isn't, she never knows; this, as expected, confuses and frustrates her. Doubt and questions creep in; is her noble cause really hers?

Despite failing to set the tone, each chapter ended on these awesome punch lines; and there were wonderful quotes in between that helped in describing the characters, their passions and so much more.

Something about that much sweetness didn't feel right.

And then I thought: Bring it on. There’s no place like anywhere but here.

I didn't want to believe her, but I knew all too well that you can't always get what you want.

"Magic loves change," she said with a sigh. "Do enough of it and it will warp you in strange ways..."


A personal favorite:

We're off to see the wizard!

Thus my mixed bag of feelings can be shortened down to two indisputable particulars:
The land of Oz didn't enchant me.
Monkeys are awesome.

A better book, with similar outline, would be The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It's middle-grade, but it will twist your emotions so much more, and the little hint of wayyy-into-future romance is more heart-warming than the one here.



Ultimate rating: 2.5

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review 2014-02-14 10:31
RANT ON UNNECESSARY MISOGYNY AHEAD
Stolen Songbird - Danielle L. Jensen




To me, Stolen Songbird is a story caught between The Blue Sword and Cruel Beauty. It lacks the intricate prose of the former, its detailed background and the memorable characters along with the creative world and concept of the latter. Yet it has intriguing affairs of its own.

While on her way back to her farm, carrying eggs and dillydallying because it's her last day and soon enough she'll be on her way towards singing operas with her mother in cities far and beyond(excuse me for a moment. I can do it, I can remember her name, one goddamn name, memory! Ha!), Cécile is kidnapped by a longtime asshole of her acquaintance. She's then transported into tunnels, where she crawls and screams and fights and runs, all to end up bloodied and terrified at the feet of the troll king, who intends for her to bond with his son, Prince Tristan, and break the curse that has entrapped the troll kingdom ere long.

Shit happens fast enough as their union doesn't break the curse. Now, Princess Cécile becomes a resented prisoner but the king still has hope that the progeny of the new couple would surely break the curse. Entail the typical YA fantasy romance where they talk of not wanting to do it, she's terrified and he's disgusted, he's rude and a troll, she's human and feeble, feelers they do grow and although they can each read the other's emotions because of the union, misconceptions arise; they kiss, make up, fight, commit to detest-ability in moments of jealousy and the rest you can figure out.

BUT WAIIIITTTT! There are things unexplored beyond the curse. The troll kingdom and its hierarchy; there's story beyond their union. Revolutions, slavery, resentment, mad brother with a side dish of Troll politics. These things are different.

I don't know about you, but I don't think I've read a YA fantasy novel with revolutions, per se. There was Eona, and a few other but I don't think they fill the slot. However, it seems that the slot is still empty; Stolen Songbird didn't fill it.

Because first and foremost, it's a romance novel. A romance that takes time and grows because the characters need to grow and get acquainted with us. The love part takes up almost the entirety of the novel, and the revolution, we barely get a hint of. Thing is, Tristan is the one who leads the revolution, but chapters in his POV are very few, and when we do actually get to them, they revolve around Cécile, for the most part. What she's feeling, what she's done, what he's done to her, what she could mean for his plans, and wait a second, he's conversing with his father about something else! Hallelujah! Oh no, there's Cécile entering the scene. That accounts greatly for the lack of tense atmosphere, planning, words and deeds.

In this matter, Cécile's chapters have far more material. Don't get me wrong, she does all that he does, but since her chapters are greater in number, there's a lot of space to fill. The job is accomplished by escapades, side characters, discovering about the revolutions and witches and curses, meeting the slaves.

Stolen Songbird's characters have absconded some of the most irritating tropes of YA fantasy novels: Cécile and Tristan exist of their own, and are not dependent on the other; neither is a doormat, and there's no insta-love, or whining and complaining, or speshul-ness with snowflakes dancing around because there's fucking underground. That, in itself, wouldn't be a bad thing. Yet their personalities can have lists composed of everything we'd like to see; that's all they are are:lists. All the good things, and none of the bad. All the good things individually and nothing, no quirk or hint of true-ness, emanates from them. For me, they're forgettable. I was invested to a degree in their story but now, I couldn't give two shits about the ending nor their heartbreak nor what might ensue. Their voices hooked me for the time being, but there was no captivation involved; and now, almost two days later, I find them boring.

The troll world doesn't have a linear history, nor present. One could call it complex, with the disfigured nobility and the commons and the slaves bereft of magic. Power rules and power matters. Gender doesn't determine shit, blood does. Because blood carries troll power. Get this, gender doesn't fucking matter. She-trolls go to school and can inherit property; they can own their lives and rule their homes. POWER MATTERS. You'd think-I thought- that such a world would be almost free of misogyny. Yet at every turn, I encountered such sexist notions:

It was to his advantage – he had only two daughters, one of them now dead – and a new young wife gave him another chance at a son.

“But she’s his wife,” Tristan said indignantly. “She is duty-bound to go wherever he wants her to go.”

"...I can certainly tolerate drunkeness in myself, but not in a woman."[Says Tristan.]





FAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCK? There were more. Did you know, in all these centuries, Trollus was rules only by kings? Don't tell there was never a Montigny(the royal family) daughter powerful enough to defeat her predecessor. Just fuck.

And once more:

The second[rule] is that no human male may touch a troll woman, whether it is against her will or not.



Get this: troll males can hump and bump human females; it's frowned upon but there are no restrictions. She-trolls can be as powerful as He-trolls, depending on their blood. And that addition: whether it is against her will or not- that's fucking offensive, in a world like theirs. Implies that not only do they not trust the female trolls to be unable to protect themselves against humans, their judgement is skewed. I don't think it's chivalrous, it's stupid and fuck.



For once, I was so excited to read a YA fantasy where girls were on equal footing with boys; a world whose traditions weren't stooped in our age-old discrimination. This is a good post exemplifying my feelings.

Not only was the inclusion of misogyny inconsistent with the world building, it was also fucking excessive and unavailing.

Without those choice lines, the book would've been the same; they don't affect the story in any fucking way. A picture, a name of a female ruler in the library wouldn't alter the story. This is my question: Was the inclusion solely for the purpose of custom? Because that's how it is in YA book? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

And I'm not even a fan of Nicki Minaj. But she's so right

Another thing I'd like to know is why does the kingdom of Trollus have a curfew.

The side characters are all well-developed, especially Marcus. I love that he tried to (view spoiler) when shit happened. There was the usual another girl thing, the subversive type where the author tries to show that the other girl isn't a bitch, and has feelings of her own. This trend started because authors tried to write more feminist novels, to show that girls don't need to fight because they love the same guy. But my sensors are so overwrought: this thing's been done so many times. I wish it weren't there at all. But it was, and far be it from me to tell what an author should or not do.

Yet I still wish. I wish that if the authors do include it, I wish for once the girl weren't so fucking beautiful and mesmerizing and curvaceous on the outside; for once, can't a guy share a platonic and intimate relationship with girl who loves him but isn't a super model, AND she does the job of making the MC jealous? And then can we have the props follow? The feelings and all? Can the MC not ever be jealous of a girl with plain features? Says my finicky side.



For the sake of being fair and shit, I must add that she was a loyal person and had her own grievances, who might have been nicer to Cécile in a world where there are two Tristan's. [I want to read a book where two girls pine over the same guy, and there's no friction between them; they're united in their pining. Actually, there was something similar in [book:Persuasion], and obviously, there are so many incidents in real life.]

Also, the book says that due to an old tradition of inter-breeding amongst them to preserve their blood, the nobles and royals are all disfigured. Even the 'other girl' has an internal, hereditary problem, yet Tristan is perfect. In. Every. Fucking. Outward. Way. He doesn't even have pointy teeth. Seems to me, he should be the most disfigured of the lot.

I was going to rate the book three stars, but writing this review has made my feelings more coherent, thus the lack of half a star.

Anywho, besides all that, the scenes with sluags in especial were credible, reminiscent of The Descent: Part 2, which is to say, it was very atmospheric and disgusting with the pool of shit and all. It was a gripping novel that had me hooked whenever I was available for hooking. The character introductions plus developing relationships. very, very little about revolutions and the politics beats the lack of revolution-izing by a very minor factor.

All romanticising and characterising, no revolutionizing. :/

I certainly would encourage you to give Stolen Songbird a try; it's not a bad book, actually. Some of the things just weren't to my taste.

Review copy provided by publishers.

[If you can't figure it out, this review was written in two parts. Yesterday, when I was feeling mild after an unexpected evening nap, and today, after getting access to my computer after almost a two-day hiatus. I was feeling ecstatic. Go figure.]

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review 2014-02-12 12:20
WARNING: THERE BE DRAGONS!
Plus One - Elizabeth Fama

First things first, let's decide on the rating because I love giving golden, little stars to books.

In terms of writing, characters, plot, blah di dah all mushed together and judged together, I'd like to give Plus One three intact stars. On the other hand, when I consider my feels, or lack thereof, and enjoyment, or lack thereof again, I can come up with nothing better than 2.5.

SO I decided, if I'm going to break them, I might as well go in completely, AND compromised between my critical heart and generous mind: 2 and 3/4 stars. It's in sequence.

Plus One incited in me reactions from a very small range. There were times during which being in my vicinity would have transported you to a dimension where dragons breathe not fire, but fire-colored liquid(OJ), through not their mouth, but their nose.

I am a ferocious beast in pink!


It was a miracle we didn't get hit. It was like the videos I had seen of traffic in India...



DO you see what comes after what? I swear, had it not been for the book, I'd have fallen for Ms Fama right there and then.

I rested my lips on the rim of the bottle before I drank, trying to differentiate between the warm wetness of the water and the warm wetness of his mouth...



HAHA! But alas-ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

...and brushed his great nose...



My HOUSE IS ON LIQUID-FIRE!

More of my reactions included:
boredom, because while lots of things happened, they really didn't.


confusion, when they say

"This is what I've wanted since the prairie."

"The same night that..." He couldn't finish the sentence. "The same night that Poppu died."



Heh? She was just talking with her Poppu, like she just returned from his room. The prairie was around two days ago.


disappointment, because nothing in the book satiated me


creeped out, the singular time:

I looked closer. His lashes were as pale as his eyebrow.



This is a poor kid she's just met, who's walking with them in uncomfortable silence, going "Um...." As someone who herself suffers through that, I find it creepy. But that's my pet peeve, don't you be bothered and all!

Plus One has a very interesting premise, a world that was unfolded in multiple chapters at a varying pace. Days and Nights are not, as one might guess, races; they're classes of people bifurcated based on their assignment in either day or night. At first, I was really impressed with the background and attitudes and traits of people-Rays and Smudges; Rays walked and talked openly while Smudges learned to sneak and skulk around early on. The difference in their perceptions is something I'd have liked to see more of, but sadly the book lacked in that department. I also thought that their lives would be more hurried seeing that each class had around twelve hours assigned to them, but they almost seemed languid. There were things that I questioned about the working of the world, the simplest things because I am goddamn genius(not), and I'm glad to admit that they really were no problems, and I was simply pretending at being precocious.

The theme playing at the book's core is love. Love for family starts the roller-coaster(not), and ends with true love. (True love ain't for me butI believe in tru wuv.) Sol Le Coeur decides to kidnap her new-born niece by deliberately mutilating her hand, so her grandfather, Poppu, gets to hold her before his last breath. Various misdeeds, mistaken identity, good people, chances et cetra ensue, and a story is written.

Sol is a badass MC who will be loved, admired, aspired, sung ballads in taverns about by one and many; she doesn't always kick ass, she has her moments of vulnerability and stupidity, and if I weren't me, I would say she's a marvellous and unique character with lots of juice to be squeezed out. However, by some probability and a few too many rounds of moonshine with dices in hand, ended up with me being me. And being me, I say that Sol didn't leave any kind of impression on me as a person, nor could I connect with her in any way. This lack of connection contributed the most towards my mild feelings about Plus One.

The romantic interest, D'Arcy, I think, could have been a great character. But he didn't give me any swoons and I couldn't even begin to try and look at him beyond his niceness. In the beginning, he had great potential to be a mulch-layered character, and he continued to be so, until a little ways forward from the mid of the story. That is when I felt it all going down the drain- the potential realized, and the unrealized. However, at the end of the second day, I refute my aforesaid statement because he really was a fleshed out character, and made more of an impact on me than Sol did. No swoons, though. No goddamn swoons.

Another character I'd like to discuss is Gigi. From what little we see of her, she comes off as a bitch, broken and used. I liked her and I felt for her. She is being treated like shit from both sides, yet she has her attitude and yet she helps them. At least there was one character whose story I'd like to read, and see where she goes.

This is a minor spoiler, so skip if you want.
Gigi is Sol's brother, Ciel's ex. He broke her heart. He's married and has a child. YET he forces her to negotiate with him, when other people were up for it, and she absolutely doesn't want to. He has his reasons, but I thought this was a downright assholish thing to do.

The story isn't really very political; it involves more skipping about, hiding and having fun, thinking unwanted thoughts etc. It isn't very revolutionary either. There are some revelations made, and there might a revolution growing in the background, involved with characters completely unrelated with Sol, but that has very little to do with the story, until the very end. Plus One doesn't set out to make any statement; differences, injustices don't consume many words because foremost, it's a story about love.(And escaping.) Poppu, D'Arcy(for him, Jean, Helen), Ciel and in light of a declaration, Gigi.

One plus(o_O) is that I rrrrrrreeeeeeally like the cover.[See truwuv.]

I suppose lots of people are going to love this book-even with the misjudged set of expectations- but I spent my time making sounds of chains clanging as zombies zombie-shuffle wearing them as ornaments while I'm actually gritting my teeth(my teeth are razor-sharp and the razor is made of steel).

For when bats steal your OJ.

Not my best review, but it's all I can manage. Drawing dragons wears me out, as does trying to imagine myself as dragons(I'm nothing if not authentic).

Thank you Macmillan Children's Publishing Group!

Source: attheendofthestory.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/plus-one
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