Book Review: Sinner

It was the first time I’d really realized I’d lost my soul and that the beauty of not having a soul was that you couldn’t seem to care that you no longer had one.

sinner_maggiestiefvaterTitle: Sinner

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

# of Pages: 357

Published: July 1, 2014

Rating: 3 Hearts

Synopsis:

found.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get back Isabel Culpeper. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn’t just want her. He needs her.
lost.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It’s not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what’s the point? What is there to win?
sinner.
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.
[Goodreads]

My Opinion:

Honestly, I didn’t find this book as compelling as the prior three. I started reading it with such high hopes, because Cole and Isabel were my favorite couple in the original trilogy, so I was so excited to read a book dedicated to them. Although there were some scenes that I liked and enjoyed, most weren’t very powerful or creative; I just found it to be a bit cliche.

What I liked:

Cole continues to be my favorite character. He is so sad and broken, but also so witty. I have a soft spot for characters like this.

Isabel and Sophia’s relationship. Isabel was such a snarky character, but her cousin’s patience and love for her went so beyond family duty. I just really liked how they evolved as family members and friends.

Cole’s friendship with Leon. Sometimes Cole was so carefree and unexpected. I really liked how he befriended his driver and how they learned so much from each other.

What I disliked:

The reality show theme throughout. I didn’t not enjoy the fact that Cole had signed on for an awful reality show. The person running the show was so obnoxious and over the top, but I suppose Stiefvater was just trying to go for things clearly L.A.

I felt that Isabel was a bit more whiny and complicated in this one. There were so many times she got upset or angry or sad for no apparent reason or for reasons that didn’t make any sense.

What I thought overall:

So while reading this book, I had Thanksgiving and pre-finals week and so many other things going on that I wasn’t able to document better details on my likes/dislikes, but overall I just didn’t think it was as up to par with the others. I thought it was trying too hard at being L.A.-esque and that got old and boring after awhile. Do I recommend reading it? Yes. I am still glad that I read it, but I thought it could have gone in a better direction. I did like the ending though.

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Book Review: Forever

Mutual, respectful, enduring love is completely attainable as long as you swear you won’t settle for less.

foreverTitle: Forever

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

# of Pages: 388

Published: July 12, 2011

Rating: 4 Hearts

Synopsis:

then.
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.
now.
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.
forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment – a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.
 [Goodreads]

My Opinion:

So I have to admit that I didn’t like this one nearly as much as I liked the previous two, but it was a nice ending to a great series. I don’t know what it was about this book, but it just didn’t hold my attention as well as Shiver and Linger, but I was so ready to know how it ended that I breezed through the end.

What I liked:

I would just like to say again that Cole St. Claire stole the show for me. Once he was introduced, he instantly became my favorite! I just love reading his chapters and love his character in general.

“Are you high? Why are you never wearing a shirt?”
“I sleep naked,” Cole said. He put both milk and sugar in my coffee. “As the day goes on, I put on more and more clothing. You should’ve come over an hour ago.”  

The relationship between Cole and Isabel was dynamic from the beginning. Bad broken boy meets sad broken girl equals to perfection.

“Cole,” I said, “do you think I’m lovable?”
“As in ‘cuddly and’?”
“As in ‘able to be loved,’” I said.
Cole’s gaze was unwavering. Just for a moment, I had the strange idea that I could see exactly what he had looked like when he was younger, and exactly what he’d look like when he was older. It was piercing, a secret glimpse of his future.                                                                                                                                                                                   “Maybe,” he said. “But you won’t let anybody try.”

Cole’s voicemails were also just too great. He continuously makes me laugh with the ridiculous crap that he says.
Voicemail #1: “Hi, Isabel Culpeper. I am lying in my bed, looking at the ceiling. I am mostly naked. I am thinking of … your mother. Call me.”

Voicemail #6: “So, yeah, I’m sorry. That last message went a little pear-shaped. You like that expression? Sam said it the other day. Hey, try this theory on for size: I think he’s a dead British housewife reincarnated into a Beatle’s body. You know, I used to know this band that put on fake British accents for their shows. Boy, did they suck, aside from being assholes. I can’t remember their name now. I’m either getting senile or I’ve done enough to my brain that stuff’s falling out. Not so fair of me to make this one-sided, is it? I’m always talking about myself in these things. So, how are you, Isabel Rosemary Culpeper? Smile lately? Hot Toddies. That was the name of the band. The Hot Toddies.”    

Voicemail #20: “I wish you’d answer.”

What I disliked:

The parents again. Grace’s parents have serious issues on how to raise a child. I think that the way Grace reacts is totally and completely justified. As for Isabel’s parents… I feel like it is reasonable that they would be at wits end due to the loss of their son, but I think that her father takes his hatred for the wolves a bit excessive.

What I thought overall:

Although I didn’t love it as much as I loved the first two, it was a good ending. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will just say that I approve of the ending. I am sad the series is over, but I am so so stoked to read the Cole spin-off. It was a fantastic series and I am so glad I was able to read it. Do I recommend reading it? Yes.

Book Review: Linger

I could not stop myself from exploding, but I could at least learn to contain the fallout.

linger_maggiestiefvaterTitle: Linger

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

# of Pages: 360

Published: July 13, 2010

Rating: 5 Hearts

Synopsis:

the longing.
Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.
the loss.
Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing their life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.
the linger.
For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces – wolf and human – with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?
[Goodreads]

My Opinion:

Oh my goodness, I have no words!! I haven’t been this hooked on a book series in a long time. I just have this need to find out how it ends. I wasn’t able to get the last book the other day, so I have to wait, but I am dying to know! I am so attached to the characters and the storyline. I haven’t read a book that fast in awhile, but I just can’t get enough. Incredible!

What I liked:

It was such a nice surprise to find that Isabel was transformed into more of a main character. She wasn’t my favorite in the first book, but I really liked how she grew and changed through the death of her brother. As the story continues, you get more of an inside look at her life and why she is the way she is… I just really feel for her now; she is so sad and tries to be so tough. One of her better qualities is that she has more attitude than she knows what to do with; it is amusing. “When I say panini here, everyone says bless you.”

The new budding friendship between Isabel and Grace was so refreshing and fun. They have started to bond, if you will, through the events at the end of the last book and I love seeing realistic growth in characters. I really liked how close they get and how real they are with each other. Grace to Isabel-“That’s positively morbid- even for you.” “Bite me,” I [Isabel] replied. “You need therapy.” But she said it lightly.

The fact that Sam is a musician is a bit cliche, but it works for his character. I wasn’t super impressed by that aspect in the first book, but I really liked his lyrics throughout this novel. Specifically:

“Is it still a secret if nobody cares/if having the knowledge in no way impairs/your living – and feeling – the way that you breathe/knowing the things that you know about me -“

“One thousand ways to say good-bye/One thousand ways to cry/One thousand ways to hang your hat before you go outside/I say good-bye good-bye good-bye/I shout it out so loud/’Cause the next time that I find my voice I might not remember how.”

Although Rachel is a minor character who doesn’t appear that much, I really like her, because I can relate to her. She is just so out-there, spunky, and original. I find her funny as well with her always referring to Sam as The Boy. “Kissing in front of the loveless is an act of cruelty.”

OMG, can I just say that Cole and Isabel are just perfect!!!!! I have totally and completely fallen in love with their relationship. Even though they are an official thing, I just find myself anticipating the next time they interact. With him trying to be the cool, confident guy and her trying to be the tough-as-nail girl equals to the best conversations. I just think they even each other out and I can’t wait to see what is in the future for them.

I wasn’t expecting to like Cole from the beginning of the novel or from the synopsis on the back, but after a couple chapters I wanted to find out more about him. I am extremely interested in more of his past with his band and his father, but I am sure more of that is to come. I find him as literary crush material as well. I have a thing for emotionally challenged guys. “…a totally swoonworthy, but jerkish werewolf…”

What I disliked:

This is extremely minor, but I am a firm believer that picking a college based on a boy/girl is ridiculous and I felt that whenever that was brought up, it slightly encouraged this notion. This aspect just made it seem slightly Twilight-esque; which so far I had liked the series due to the fact it was pretty different from Twilight.

The parents, of both Grace and Isabel and Sam and Cole. Pretty much all of the parents in this series were dysfunctional and ridiculous. Girl in the Pages brought up the fact that Stiefvater writes a realistic view of teenagers and their parents and I do agree, but gee Grace’s parents need to let up. I completely agree with Grace’s viewpoint- they have been absentee until this point… get a grip.

What I thought overall:

Again, oh my goodness! I am just so impressed by this series. I didn’t think I would like it, because it was about werewolves, but it is about so much more. It is written so fluidly and has characters that I either swoon over or relate to. So good. Can’t wait to read the last book. Do I recommend reading it? Yes

Book Review: Shiver

Some days seem to fit together like a stained glass window. A hundred little pieces of different color and mood that, when combined, create a complete picture.

shiver_maggiestiefvaterTitle: Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

# of Pages: 390

Published: June 1, 2010

Rating: 5 Hearts

Synopsis:

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.
the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.
the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human–and Grace must fight to keep him–even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.
 [Goodreads]

My Opinion:

I honestly have no words to describe this book. It was wonderful and an absolute joy to read!! I had seen the series around, but only decided to read them, because I joined a Read-A-Long. There was a whole ten days set aside to read this book and I finished it in four. I wasn’t sure what to think about the book at first with it being about werewolves… it seemed a bit too Twilight, but it was nothing along those lines at all.

What I liked:

The male lead, Sam. He was such a refreshing character. Lately, the books I read have had such strong, obsessive, dominant male characters, but Sam Roth, although a werewolf, was so vulnerable and sweet. I wouldn’t say he wasn’t strong (he was a freaking wolf!), but he was tender, thoughtful, and liked to read books. Definitely my new literary crush. “I had planned a thousand different versions of this scene in my head, but now that the moment had come, I didn’t know what to do.”

The recognition that the main female character’s obsession with the wolves was unhealthy. This may seem like a strange thing for me to mention, but I felt that one of the greatest things about this book (in comparison to Twilight) was that, yes, Grace had a weird thing for the wolves that lived in the woods behind her house, but the author made sure to have her friends mention that it was odd and unhealthy. Of course, later on you learn why, but I liked how it didn’t encourage the behavior.

The author’s take on werewolves was so interesting and unlike any I had read before. I don’t want to ruin too much, but to have their changing be due to weather instead of just whenever they want made for a great story and causing them to have an “expiration date” added a nice touch as well.

It is rare when I like the female lead of a book. I normally always fall for the guy, but I liked Grace. She had a pleasant personality and didn’t do anything that made me hate her. “Her eyes flicked over the shelves, seeking possibilities for escape.” Maybe I liked her, because I could see a little bit of myself in her. Not only did she like to read, but she was also an introvert. “We’re introverts. We like doing nothing together. All talk, no action.”

What I disliked:

In complete honesty, I enjoyed this book so much and I didn’t write down nor can I think of a single thing that I disliked about this book.

What I thought overall:

This book was fantastic. It was a quick read, but it was so well written. Some of the sentences, I had to read more than once, because they were just so good. The characters were so real and likable; I couldn’t find anything about it to rant about. I can’t wait to start the sequel! Do I recommend reading it? Yes.

Book Review: City of Ashes

If you really love something, you never try to keep it the way it is forever. You have to let it be free to change.

cityofashes_cassandraclareTitle: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

# of Pages: 453

Published:  January 1, 2008

Rating: 4 Hearts

Synopsis:

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? [Goodreads]

My Opinion:

This book was fantastic! I didn’t necessarily love the first book, but I liked it enough to read the next book in the series and I am so glad that I did. This book was intriguing, hilarious, and action-packed.

What I liked:

Above all, I liked the relationship/friendship between Clary and Simon. I just find there to be something so special and innocent about the two of them. Maybe it is because they have known each other practically their whole lives, so it is safe or because how Simon thinks and feels about Clary is just so sweet. I haven’t decided yet, but I can’t wait to see what is in store for them.

The character of Magnus Bane is slowly growing on me. I wasn’t too much of a fan of his in the first book, but he really came back for the win in this one. Besides his “secret” relationship with Alec, I just find him to be absolutely hilarious. From his outrageous outfits to his remarks; there is just so much spunk and attitude surrounding him. “… a warlock who looks like a gay Sonic the Hedgehog and dresses like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

I really liked the take on faeries, vampires, and werewolves in this series. I am normally not one for fantasy novels (besides Harry Potter and Twilight), but I think the way they are portrayed a bit differently than usual is quite creative.

**SPOILER** One of the character changes that I most enjoyed is Simon’s transformation to a vampire. He is by far my favorite character in all his nerdy-ness, so I wasn’t so sure how I felt about him becoming a child of the night, but in the end it worked for me. He adapted to it and the jokes he managed were the best! “Because I forsee many romantic picnics in our future. You, drinking a virgin piña colada. Me, drinking the blood of a virgin.” **SPOILER**

This was a beautifully written sentence: “Inside him the cold of fall battled with the memory of summer.”

What I disliked:

The Jace and Clary thing. I understand the story there and in the first book it made sense- long lost brother and sister who met not knowing they were related and ended up falling for each other only to find out they are siblings. That is where it should stop. It seemed as if they were trying to end it, but then certain events would throw them back together such as the seen in the Faerie Court. I thought that part could have been left out. I am not going to bash this storyline as incest, but it needs to end.

I haven’t figured out why all of a sudden in this book there are random Bible verses thrown into the mix. I am a Christian and I enjoy a good fantasy book about demons and angels every once in awhile, but I don’t see why we need to bring the Bible into it. The first book was good and it made sense, sticking random verses in there didn’t really help the story.

What I thought overall:

I really, really enjoyed this book. I am so glad I didn’t give up on the series after the first book, because City of Ashes was definitely worth my time. It made me laugh on multiple occasions and held me on the edge of my seat. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Can’t wait to start the next one. Do I recommend reading it? Yes (but only after reading City of Bones).

Book Review: Leaving Time

Could love be not grand gestures or empty vows, not promises meant to be broken, but instead a paper trail of forgiveness? A line of crumbs made of memories, to lead you back to the person who was waiting?

leavingtime_jodipicoultTitle: Leaving Time

Author: Jodi Picoult

# of Pages: 398

Published: October 14, 2014

Rating: 3 Hearts

Synopsis:

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.
Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. [Goodreads]

My Opinion:

I have been highly anticipating this novel. I bought an e-reader, so I could read the prequel. I went to a meet-and-green with Jodi. I have a signed copy of the book. But I have to admit that it is not my new favorite. I just didn’t love it. Being an avid Picoult reader, I love how she never fails to deliver a twist ending and I must say that this one really threw me for a loop.

What I liked:

I found the incorporation of elephants to be a refreshing addition to the story. It was packed full of facts that I thought were very interesting. I don’t want to give too much away, but a couple of my favorites facts are that elephants hold grudges and have trunks that stretch like accordions.

The relationship between Thomas and Alice in the beginning. Thomas was so nerdy and cute with his glasses fogging up when he came to Africa for the first time; plus his adorable little trick with the origami elephant. “It was almost as if there was a tear in the fabric I was made of, and he was the only color thread that would match to stitch it back up.”

The twist ending was completely out of the blue… well at least for me. I won’t give it away. I will say that I don’t think it was one of her most creative plot twists, but it was definitely one that I didn’t see coming. I always try to figure out where she is headed, but for some reason what she picked never crossed my mind. Which was a nice surprise.

Jenna and Virgil’s friendship was really genuine to me. There is just something about a washed up, old detective and a preteen hanging out and having some good laughs that is just so sweet. I love weird, unexpected friendships and this one had moments that really made me smile. As the story progressed, I really liked how he became protective over her, like the father figure she never had.

What I disliked:

The characters in general were not very likable. There is a preteen, a psychic, and an ex-detective. Yep, I know, a bit cliche. Then add the missing mother and crazy father who both happen to be scientists, and throw in the extended family consisting of the three others who work with elephants. Jenna– I felt for her wanting to find her mom and everything, but I thought her character was a bit far-fetched. She was thirteen years old, but came across more like eighteen. She just seemed to be a bit too mature and was just way too street smart and book smart to be taken seriously. Serenity– I am not one for psychic stories, but I liked her the most from the beginning. I felt she had the most character development and I could really see her story being real (minus the actually believing in psychic things). I found her to be funny, confident, and maybe I’m biased, because she drove a yellow VW bug and I am obsessed with those. Virgil– I don’t care much for drunk characters, but I thought it was a bit lazy to create a character with the alcoholic ex-detective stigma. He was just too easy and not very original. Alice– the mother; I thought she was great in the prequel and in her younger years having so much attitude and spunk, but I started to dislike her as the story progressed. Thomas– I liked him in the beginning and I never actually came to a point where I hated him, but I felt he was doomed from the start. He was extremely smart, had a mental disorder, his disorder causes him to have an abusive lapse, and then ends up being cheated on. “A bruise is how the body remembers it’s been wronged.” Poor guy. I would crack too.

 Infidelity is not something I necessarily like to read about. I understand that not all relationships are perfect, but even when things get tough, I don’t think it is ok to just peace out and find the next best thing. Or not peace out and just do in secret. The relationships were pretty messed up in this story and I partially blame Alice for this; she didn’t really seem to understand what marriage means. It seemed to me like she gave up too easily.

The storyline is really quite confusing. It was so full of theories and subplots that I just found it to be really hard to follow at times. Once I made it past the halfway mark, it started to pick up speed and make more sense. But then you hit the last fourth of the book and the twists start coming out and the confusion comes back.

What I thought overall:

It was a good novel, but not a Picoult masterpiece. If you want to learn a little about an amazing animal, while reading an interesting book about a young girl searching for her long lost mom… then I would definitely look into it. It provides some great laughs, lots of interesting facts, and a few smiley/teary moments. Was this my new favorite Jodi Picoult novel? No. Will I read her next book? Yes. Do I recommend reading it? Yes (specifically for avid Picoult readers).