Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Junianna Baggott was … strange, very, very strange. I liked it but it’s not for everyone.

 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.

 I stumbled upon this book when I mistook it for another book I heard rave reviews about under the same name. I thought about scrapping it once I figured out it wasn’t the right one, but I read it anyway. This book got me thinking, but about the oddities within the story and not so much the story itself.

 Baggott has a unique writing style. Her third person view of this broken world shadowed by the Pure-filled Dome brought a lot of unique perspectives. It was interesting how each chapter progressed between the differing views of each character. Personally, I’m not a fan of this type of writing, particularly because I fall in love with one voice and I hesitate to read the next chapter because I’m annoyed in the view shift. Also, since it was in third person, I was confused at who was the dominating voice in each chapter because everyone is referred by their name. The lack of first person left me thumbing back through the pages looking for a reference of which character was talking.

 There was a well-paced build of relationships between the characters which took off rather quickly. Yet, throughout the whole book I wished for a first person view. All romance was muted due to the third person. It didn’t draw the reader in and allow them to fall in love with the characters. It was almost as if I was watching the characters through a transparent dome, seeing but not really grasping who each character was. It was really disappointing.

 Baggott came up with a crazy world. I’m all for a creative imagination and unforgiving post-apocolypic worlds but, dang, Baggott has no mercy. I’ve never read such beautifully grotesque descriptions and disturbing characters. I hope they never make this into a movie, I will NOT watch it. It’s too much to handle. I admire Baggott’s forward-thinking attitude and dabble into the biosciences and nanotechnology. It added a plausible scientific angle with the possiblity of messing with DNA. However, even though the outcome was believable, I was turned off by the hybrid creatures and the fusion of objects to body parts. I had an issue believing that people could survive fused to other people or that objects fused to organic material wouldn’t deteriorate or break from use. It’s quite frankly disgusting and this distasteful quality prevented me from fully accepting the characters.

 The second novel, Fuse, will be released in February 2013. I will most likely pick it up out of curiosity but the characters weren’t memorable enough to account for excitement. I feel like a lot of readers won’t enjoy this novel due to its grotesque nature. The plot seemed forced and too set up. For all the action, it wasn’t very exciting. The cover is pretty and the story was interesting but it doesn’t have that spark that’s needed to create book magic.  It was just strange — very, very strange.

Releases and Recommendations

It’s Tuesday, the wonderful day books are released to the world. I’m anticipating the release of The Crown Of Embers by Rae Carson on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, it was exciting but especially heartbreaking. It is with a wounded heart I go forth to read the sequel in the Fire and Thorns trilogy. I can only hope that there is greener pastures in the author’s mind for Elisa’s future. Rae Carson is someone who brings out a bright,  colorful world that acts as the real one, with no mercy. I admire that quality since it is far easier to be lost in complete fantasy than face the realities of living and dying.  Okay, I know I sound somber and such, but it was really a good book and it just goes to show what kind of effect it had on me. I’ve had enough time to mourn her losses, now I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Releases and Recommendations

Happy Tuesday! That spectacular day of the week that books are released to the masses!

I’m looking forward to Pushing The Limits by Kaite McGarry which is released on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

For some odd reason, unkown to me, I’m gravitating towards Contempary Young Adult lately. I’ve never really had an interest other than the few romance/dramas that have filtered in between my paranormal, post-apocolyptic, and dystopian novels.  There seems to be a lot of good ones coming out! I’m super intrigued by this new book. I love the idea of opposites attracting and I’m hungry for an edgy romance. Hopefully, it lives up to its hype when I read it at the end of this month!

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

I was initially drawn to the dystopian element in Birthmaked by Caragh M. O’Brien. Unfortunately, I’m either seriously sick of the dystopian genre or this book didn’t do it for me; I hope it’s the latter.
 In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother’s footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be “advanced” into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve.Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.
 
 This was a really good story. Was I lost in it? No, but it presented a warm message on the importance of life.
 
I really enjoyed the beginning. It was a very clean, well-paced introduction into O’Brien’s literary world. In fact, it was pretty well-paced throughout but there wasn’t anything there to connect the characters to the reader. Gaia was such a stong character with a well-developed voice and personality. The other characters, however, were not, with the exception of Gaia’s mother. They were all the same in tone and I couldn’t tell any of them apart even with the main love interest, Leon. I was confused a majority of the time on who was who.
 
The story had everything it needed to make a good novel, however, it just didn’t click. It missed some cohesive elements that would have brought the book up to another level. I’m not exactly sure what those are, but that’s the magic of books — you’ve either got it or you don’t. If you’re looking for romance, this isn’t the book for you. The romance was seriously lacking; there wasn’t anything until the last 50 pages, and there wasn’t enough build up or tension to keep readers interested.
 
A lot happens in this book, but I didn’t find myself on the edge of my seat or reeling in anticipation of what would happen next. It read more like a catalog of events, and I think that’s the main issue I have with this book. It was a lot of tell and very little show. Everything I knew about the characters was because I was told; I didn’t get to figure anything out for myself or make my own assumptions. Isn’t that the best thing about being a reader? We get to know the character and make our own decision on whether we like/dislike a character based on his/her actions. With this book, I felt like the decision was made for me. In short, O’Brien is a little pushy and I’m not sure if I like it.
 
Overall, the concept was really interesting and I loved Gaia, but because the supporting roles were so weak, it kind of ruined it for me. It was good enough that I will read the sequel. Prized. However, I don’t feel like gushing about it so that should speak volumes on whether I really recommend it or not.

Kiss The Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

 I’ve been a fan of LKH for years. I’ve read all of her books and there is no question when a new book is published, I’ll read it.

 Kiss The Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton has all of the elements expected in an Anita Blake Novel. It was really well balanced between cop scenarios and steamy lovemaking. I’m glad, because some of her previous books have been too lop-sided and has turned away some readers.

When a fifteen-year-old girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to find her. And when she does, she’s faced with something she’s never seen before: a terrifyingly ordinary group of people—kids, grandparents, soccer moms—all recently turned and willing to die to avoid serving a master. And where there’s one martyr, there will be more…

But even vampires have monsters that they’re afraid of. And Anita is one of them…

 Out of the two things that balance out her novels, both of them had flaws for me this time. I’m not sure if I’m finally recognizing it and I’m slowing coming out of the LKH hypnotized fog or if it was just super evident in this novel.

 First, Anita is one kick ass Marshal. I love how badass she is and her efficiency and deadliness. I was initially drawn into the series from all of the police work and cases she worked on. Unfortunately, this book had too many soapbox moments. It seemed after every police moment Anita would step up onto her soapbox and preach about the brotherhood of policemen working together. It was a lot of “This is what we do,” “Standing side by side,” “Heading into the gunfire and screaming,” and “No one harms one of our own”. Normally, that’s fine; I get it, Marshal Pride and the unity of having each other’s back, but it was too much. Shut up already, we get it.

 Also, I felt like the plot turned into a disappointment. In the beginning we hear about this new vampire clan that isn’t tied to a master and wants to live freely. They are killing people to fight for freedom, yet in the end it’s resolved in two pages. It seemed too easy. I was disappointed, usually the book ends with a bang; this one was more of a sizzle.

 Another issue I had is a more personal one. I don’t know why it’s taken me until book gazillion (That is an exaggeration, this is Book 21) to have this problem but there are simply too many men in Anita’s life. I’m all for multiple male characters that add tension and excitement to the story, but come on! I’m having trouble believing not so much that the men would be okay sharing Anita but that Anita would be okay being with so many men. I understand LKH tries hard to differentiate each guy in bed as well as looks and personality, but it would be so much more interesting to read if one of the guys wasn’t the greatest in bed. The whole point in having multiple lovers is to add diversity in Anita’s sex life, but if all the sex is “great” and she orgasms a million times for each guy, how is that any different? I would love to see awkward, laugh out loud moments or angry fights in the middle of a session. Juggling that many men should be entertaining and exciting, but it’s becoming more like Anita racked with guilt she hasn’t slept with so and so today, and she does it only to appease the men. There isn’t any anticipation; the sex is expected. I’d love to see more build up, which means the sex needs to be toned down.

 Alas, I still love Anita and Jean Claude, and Asher, and Nathaniel, and Micah…the list goes on and on. I was still enraptured in the story and enjoyed every juicy detail. Kiss the Dead is still very gory and badass, executioner Marshal Anita Blake comes out to play. There is a lot of love and lust between Anita and her men. I enjoyed the character building among her cop buddies and how the cops attitude towards her has evolved into respect. There is a bit of drama but it didn’t blow me out of the water. It was too neatly packaged for me. I understand Anita has issues juggling her men but it comes off as emotionally draining, in turn leaving the reader emotionally tired. I just expect nothing but the best from LKH and I’m left feeling confused and disappointed. I can’t see where this series is going to go next, but I’m a loyal fan of LKH so I’ll definitely be around to find out!

Releases and Recommendations

I’ve just finished reading another installment in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. So I’m kind of on a Ward kick which brings me to the anticipated release of the most recent addition to the Brotherhood Series, Lover At Last. It will be released on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

The eleventh novel in the stunning #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series–the hotly anticipated story that finally unites Blay and Qhuinn…forever.

After so many books, I’m attached to all the characters. Of course, I want Blay and Qhuinn to be together, everything has been leading up to it. However, this will be my first delve into literary erotic homosexuality. With Ward, I’m sure it won’t be disappointing. I’m interested to see what she has in store.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

 And it just keeps going and going…

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series

 I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m a fan of Cassandra Clare. I’ve read all her books and I’ve enjoyed them, but there is an adolescence to the series that I believe I’ve grown too old to appreciate. I’m only in my early 20s, and I LOVE Young Adult literature but some authors can’t cross over to the older generation as well. Clare is one of those authors. Her books are something I want young girls to read, each novel is packed with life lessons hidden within the text and her characters learn from their mistakes. Even though her characters are juvenile, the narrative voice has a mature overarching tone throughout. And yet, I still feel as though I can’t connect with the characters anymore.

 Don’t get me wrong, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare was a really good read. I’ve read Clare’s stuff faithfully, but I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan.

 The Mortal Instrument series continues to fascinate readers, me included. I loved the concept of Jace being taken over by Sebastian. The traveling apartment was interesting and Sebastian is as appalling as ever. There is a lot more face time for secondary characters in this novel. It only felt like half was Jace and Clary and the other half was everyone else. I enjoyed it because I’m more in love with Clare’s secondary characters than her main characters. Simon is my favorite vampire who provides all the common sense and comic relief. Also, Isabelle, the badass shadowhunter with an attitude and great fashion sense, provides a real element and comic relief as well. With Clary and Jace, their characters are so defined and, for lack of a better term, huge, they don’t quite live up to it. Jace is described as the hottest, most arrogant boy on the planet and Clary is such a faithful friend going headlong into danger without a second thought; it just seems like too much for me. They don’t really live up to the greatness Clare has thrust upon them.

 Although, the characters are executed beautifully, but I find myself annoyed with their decisions. Again, it’s that adolescent factor. Granted, I know this is a Young Adult novel and they are in their teens, but this series has that annoying quality where bad stuff always happens, no one ever just gets to be together and everything builds on itself. Everyone is helpless, ALL THE TIME. Everyone is against them, even the people who are supposed to protect them. Some would say that’s good plot building, but for me as a reader, it’s exhausting. I mean, come one, why can’t Clary and Jace just be together? The adults in the novel treat them like children and they think like children, yet they fight like adults and make serious decisions. There is so much conflict without resolution. There is no pay off for going through each battle with the characters. For me, that creates a detachment from the characters. I just want everyone to man up and be their own person! Is that too much to ask?

 I will continue to read this series. Clare comes up with unique spins and surely bad things will continue to rain down on her poor, tortured characters. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The series seems drawn-out, someone dies and then another rises up. People that are supposed to be dead are magically allowed to continue to exist. There is too much meddling in the logic of a consistent storyline for my comfort. When will it end?!?  However, I’m still a sucker for the world that Clare created. My personal grievances aside, this was a really great installment of the series and I really want to see what happens next.