Monday, March 31, 2014

Adult Dystopian Review: Equal Part 3: The Destination by W.J. Costello

Equal Part 3: The Destination (Equal, #3)Equal Part 3: The Destination by W.J. Costello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

End game. Short and dangerous.
Equal Part III, The Destination, picks up with the same conversation that ends Part II. The chase may be over, but Janus and Diana are far from safe. We are reminded early on that the citizens of Equal are unremarkable in all except for their hatred of those who are different. Janus and Diana get careless and things go sour rather quickly.

This is the shortest of the three parts of this novel, but it's packed with danger and information. Everything is explained: Diana's origins, the nature of Haven, and the Plan, two decades in the making, that spawned the chase. Meanwhile, Janus and Diana are far from safety, though their destination is within their grasp. The edginess and danger take a back seat to the philosophy and history revelations that make up most of this volume, but the final run for freedom ultimately makes up for the break in action.

Like in the other books in this series, sexual content and violence peg this story as adult fiction. Still, I found that the author uses every bit of it to progress the story, and though it's horrifying in places, it serves to highlight the degradation of the society of Equal.

I loved Part III and the overall novel. This final installment is quick, but packed with danger, and while everything is resolved, the ultimate fate of Janus and Diana, and of the country of Equal, is left to the imagination. The theme of equality versus freedom provides an abundance of fuel for thought well after the final page is turned and the book is set aside, especially when compared to some of the trends in today's society.

I recommend Equal to fans of adult dystopian thrillers, though those who are disturbed by violence and sexual content might want to steer clear. Since all three parts are literally just a single story broken up into smaller pieces, I would say pick up all three before you start reading and definitely read them in order.

I picked up Equal Parts I, II and III during a free promotion on Amazon.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Adult Dystopian Review: Equal Part 2: The Journey by W.J. Costello

Equal Part 2: The Journey (Equal, #2)Equal Part 2: The Journey by W.J. Costello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The chase is on.
Now that Janus has thrown his lot in with Diana, they are on the run. Part II: The Journey is just that, the part of the story when the couple makes their bid for freedom. Already a creepy and scary villain, Orcus reveals the full extent of his evil nature and is hot on their trail. Those who aid Janus and Diana in their quest to reach the rumored safety of Haven find themselves in his crosshairs.

This part of the story features narrow escapes, costly mistakes, and tragic endings. More of the history and make up of Equal are revealed, and the extent of mankind's efforts to standardize everything and everyone becomes chillingly clear.

Again, this reminds me of Logan's Run, in that Janus, a man formerly tasked with capturing runners and bringing them to justice, is now on the run himself with a beautiful companion, but the lawman who chases them is nothing like the one in Logan's Run. His sadistic nature adds an edge of danger to the story that makes you fear for the two on the run, not to mention any who help them.

As with the first, and perhaps even more so in this one, the violent and sexual content in this story bring it into the realm of adult fiction, though all of it works to progress the story. This installment features more violence than the last.

The danger, intrigue and scope of the chase in Part II catapults this story into the 5 star range for me. I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend Equal for adult fans of dystopian thrillers. Keep in mind that this is not a standalone book. This is Part II of a single novel, and as such does not include a resolution for the overall story, though it does resolve some things while it sets the stage for Part III.

I picked up Equal Parts I, II and III during a free promotion on Amazon.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adult Dystopian Review: Equal Part 1: The Confrontation by W.J. Costello

Equal Part 1: The Confrontation (Equal, #1)Equal Part 1: The Confrontation by W.J. Costello
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Equality taken to the extreme.

Equal Part I opens with Mors, an old man at 49 years on the eve of his last day alive. He watches the other guests, people like him whose time is up, and thinks back on his life. The time is up so soon, and now, just as he and the others have gained some measure of understanding and competence, now, just as they finally find their grooves in life, life is over for them, for at midnight they turn 50. And at 50, all citizens of Equal are euthanized, cremated and distributed to the farmers to fertilize the crops for the coming year.

This is our introduction to a chilling dystopian future where equality is valued above all things. Natural reproduction, too prone to variance, has been replaced by science. No longer able to produce offspring, each new generation is designed and produced by scientists, all born on the very day the generation turning 50 is recycled. People who are born with inconsistencies are given equalizer devices which either enhance or inhibit their unique attributes to bring them in line with everyone else.

But the story isn't about Mors, it's about a man named Janus, a Sheriff, who is tasked with retrieving an elusive runner named Diana. With attributes that are too much for the equalizer device to handle, she has been named a lawbreaker and must be captured and destroyed before her very existence can threaten the balance of Equal's society.

I found this to be a captivating read. The society and mindset of Equal are frightening. The story is well-written and well-paced. Details and nuances are used effectively to convey just how bad Equal truly is. The story features sexual and violent content that pushes it into the adult category, though both are used effectively to build the story, the characters, and the world. There is nothing frivolous in this book. All has a purpose.

Overall, I really liked Equal Part I, The Confrontation, and I would recommend it to those who like adult dystopian thrillers. It reminds me of Logan's Run (the movie). Keep in mind that this is not a standalone book. This is Part I of a single novel, and as such does not include a resolution. That is reserved for Part III.

I picked up Equal Parts I, II and III during a free promotion on Amazon.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Adult Eco-Fiction Review: Water (Akasha #1) by Terra Harmony

Water (Akasha, #1)Water by Terra Harmony
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More graphic than I expected.

Kaitlyn is snowboarding when an avalanche sweeps her off her feet and buries her. When she awakens, she discovers that she's been kidnapped. Her captors are running tests and experiments on her, and one in particular seems to instantly hate her. But she finds one of the others attractive and ends up shacking up with him not long into her captivity. Meanwhile, she discovers more about the organization that holds her. They are an ancient group of environmental protectors, and they believe she is their next Gaia, a woman who can affect the elements.

Overall, the story is well-written and decently edited, though in later chapters I noticed an increased number of errors, like mind instead of mine. That being said, I'm on the fence about this one. I think it was written to champion the plight of the Earth, and at several points the prose is diverted into various environmentally friendly topics. The organization that kidnaps Kaitlyn at one point stops to try to explain composting to a food vendor and at another holds a meeting with an airport to convince them to adopt an energy savings program. It's kind of odd in a book featuring people with a mystical affinity to the elements (i.e. superpowers). I kept thinking Captain Planet. The powers are somewhat interesting, but the way they are described seems to change part way through the book.

Still, the story might have been much better were it not for the overload of sexual situations, consensual and non-consensual. It is good that the author posts a warning about this content in the very front of the book, but perhaps the warning should be worded a bit more strongly. There are three or four graphically detailed scenes (and perhaps a few not so graphic, too) definitely not suited for younger readers. The attacks, yes that's plural as in more than one, are particularly disturbing to me. I knew they would be bad going in, because I read some of the reviews beforehand, but they were worse than I thought they'd be.

As for Kaitlyn, I think she's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. She has plenty of opportunities to escape The Seven, but meekly stays with them, though she plays at being rebellious. I don't buy it. Especially when they are in Spain, she could have gotten away or at least made another attempt instead of just helping them put together pamphlets. I also found it odd how we have so much unconscious traveling going on. Both when she is first rescued/captured and later when she is again kidnapped. Going halfway around the world, I would imagine one would come to at least a little bit at some point.

I would say this one is ok and I kind of liked it (held my attention), but it's not one I'd really recommend unless you're comfortable with the adult situations (graphic and otherwise) and don't mind a good deal of eco-content. It was a quick read.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ARC Review: The Quest for Truth (Paranoia) by Jonathan-David Jackson

The Quest for Truth (Paranoia #2)The Quest for Truth by Jonathan-David Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gives a totally new meaning to the term egging...

The Quest for Truth is book two in the Paranoia trilogy by Jonathan-David Jackson. Oscar Well, having narrowly survived the hostile Red Fist takeover of his town and state through shear luck and paranoid overreaction, is hiding out with his new best friend, Hodge, and his new girlfriend, Penelope. But they cannot hide forever. Red Fist is searching for them. In fact, they could be watching right now.

When I read the first in this series, I wasn't sure which direction a sequel might take. The Quest for Juice went from the ramblings of a paranoid man trying to track down the mysterious man named Ron, who stole his favorite orange juice off the shelves, to a surreal conspiracy proving to Oscar that his paranoia may not be all that far off. Now that I've read number two, I'm happy to report that it did in fact take a direction, and that direction was just as twisty, unpredictable, and absurd (in a good way) as the first.

Before getting into my favorite characters or my opinions about the plot, I'd like to mention the footnotes, which I realize I left out of my review of the first book. These spice an already humorous book with off-hand comments and asides that make these stories hazardous to read in public (if you value your reputation as a sane person). I found myself giggling uncontrollably before getting more than a few pages in, and I even had my son read those initial pages so he'd know his mother wasn't, in fact, losing her mind. My advice is to follow those links as soon as you come to them in the story, don't even finish the paragraph, just follow.

As for characters, I must say I'm pleased that Mr. Hodge plays such a big role in this story. Mr. Hodge is a hedgehog (the cover promises more hedgehog, and it delivers). He's also Oscar's conscience. I'm not certain if this was intended, but it's definitely how it plays out. I love how Mr. Hodge enforces his advice, though I'm pretty sure Oscar doesn't. It's also fantastic that there's another charismatic critter in this one. I'll leave it at that, so as not to spoil the surprise.

I think another cool thing about this book is that it pits people that are different, in particular the mentally ill, against superior forces that want nothing less than their complete and ultimate destruction. In the story, some of these disorders take on superhuman proportions (my favorite is the one that makes enemies feel minty fresh), though others are more mundane disorders like cleptomania and many are downright silly.

But, the underlying plot is that these people are being targeted by Red Fist specifically because they are different. They are being captured, experimented upon, and killed, all with the goal of ultimately purifying the human race of the genes that caused their conditions. There are some parallels that can be drawn to certain real-life events, making this story chilling in places. Sure, the humorous approach makes this an entertaining read, but the underlying plot is sinister and all the more scary because it could and has happened before (if not targeting this particular element of humanity).

So, overall, The Quest for Truth is a hilarious yet frightening book. Adult humor, gore, and mental instability color everything in this story. So, in short, this is not a book for kids. However, adults who enjoy books that embrace the absurd, who like hedgehogs, and who like a good bit of action will likely enjoy this story and its predecessor, The Quest for Juice. I eagerly await book three, The Quest for Nothing in Particular.

I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the author.


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Saturday, March 15, 2014

YA Romance Review: Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, there's a lot going on in this one.

Breaking Dawn wraps up the Twilight Saga in a rather epic way. This volume features three Books, two from Bella's perspective and one from Jacob's. Book One, Bella's perspective, covers Bella and Edward's wedding. Book Two, Jacob's perspective, covers the unexpected consequences of that wedding. Book Three, Bella again, picks up after Bella finally becomes a vampire and ties the unexpected consequence into the ongoing Volturi plot.

For the romatics, Book One is the reward for making it all the way through the first three books. Bella and Edward finally tie the knot and are off for their honeymoon. I thought this part was well done, though it gets a bit frustrating (for Bella and the reader) when Edward backs off yet again, no matter that his reasoning behind it is solid. Otherwise, it's like a dream come true for Bella, all the way up to the end when she makes her discovery.

Book Two is told by Jacob. The horror of what's happening to Bella is lightened by Jacob's personality quirks, the lengthy but humorous chapter titles, and the insight into living in a pack. Jacob, Seth and Leah share a pack mind when in wolf form, so Jacob will be thinking of something and Leah or Seth will pop up and say something back, much to his chagrin. There is a bit of dialog devoted to why Leah is the only female to have ever phased, but it's mostly Leah trying to come to terms with feelings of inadequacy prompted by Sam imprinting on Emily (pack drama first hinted upon in previous books).

Book Three begins with Bella's tortuous transformation into a vampire. When she awakens, she finds everything so much larger, more detailed, just more...everything. Her voice in these final chapters is much more confident, boosted in part with how well she takes to vampire life and in part with how happy she is with Edward and her family. But, again, the plot thickens when Alice has a devastating premonition that threatens to destroy everything and everyone Bella holds dear.

I'm not going to say this is the best book ever, but I will say that I enjoyed it immensely. I think that if you enjoyed the series up to this point, you'll likely enjoy this one, too, but some parts might throw you off. In particular, these are some of the things that I found shocking or disturbing. The end of Book One is incredibly bloody, maybe even more so than was portrayed in the movie (that's a lot, yes). The conversations in Book Two about being less than a woman (Leah) are kind of sad. And in Book Three, Jacob is shifted into an odd role in the family, though everyone is eventually fine with it. Not to mention that marriage (and becoming a vampire) seem to be all Bella needed to stop being a whiny, clumsy, two-timer.

Overall, I loved this book. Not everyone will, not even everyone who liked the first three if other reviews are any indication. I would say if you liked the first three and want to see what happens, then grab a copy of this one. If you didn't like them, or if paranormal romance isn't your thing, just pass.

Personally, I wasn't even planning to read the Twilight Saga at all. It actually took watching the movies to really pique my interest, and once I watched the last of them, I was hooked. I immediately started reading the books and was pleasantly surprised with how accurately the movies portrayed the books. However, I think that Breaking Dawn Part II (equivalent to Book Three in the book), had the most obvious break from the original story with it's climactic showdown that prety much came out of nowhere. I think this is one of those cases that reading the book first would have ruined if for me. Lucky for me, I did things backwards this time, so I liked it.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

New Release March 14: The Quest for Truth (Paranoia #2) by Jonathan-David Jackson

Today, I am happy to announce the release of a sequel I've been looking forward to for some time.  I don't usually get the inside scoop for releases like this, other than for David Estes books, so I'm excited to be one of the first to tell you about it.  I think those of you who like humorous, quirky books will like this one and its predecessor The Quest for Juice.  

Oscar's orderly paranoid world has been turned upside down by the Red Fist Army and he now lives in exile. With the help of Penelope, Jim, and Mr. Hodge the hedgehog, he must free their hostage town, take on the Red Fist, and discover the truth about Dr. Boggs.

However, when things go wrong and Oscar loses his closest friends, he has to rely on an unlikely group of refugees with surprising mental abilities. As he continues on his journey to freeing the town and himself, he finds out more of his own truths than he ever imagined, and absolutely nobody shoots lasers out of their eyes. 
I first discovered this series on the CreateSpace message boards before The Quest for Juice was quite finished, read a preview of the work in progress, and was immediately hooked. After that, I kept an eye out on the message board that had first pointed me towards the preview, looking for the typical excited post that authors tend to leave when their hard work is done and their books are going live. When I finally saw it, I snatched up a copy of the book immediately (kindle version) and devoured it, leaving what I think just may have been the first review for it.

Since then, I've been waiting for book two, because the first story ended with a promise of more, a prospect I looked forward to. Imagine my surprise when the author contacted me on Goodreads to offer an ARC copy and a heads up that his book was going live on the 14th.  Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.  

Check back in next week for my review of The Quest for Truth, but in the meantime, here's my original review for The Quest for Juice.  

*****

The Quest for Juice (Paranoia #1)The Quest for Juice by Jonathan-David Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quirky, dark and funny.

Oscar Wells suspects 'they' are up to no good in his town. All of his extensive research, documented meticulously on a wall in his house, points towards a dark conspiracy. First, it's little things, like his key not quite fitting and having to jiggle it to open his door. But when his favorite Sunshine Juice is replaced by Sunlight OJ, "now with 50% more real orange pulp," they've gone too far. From there Oscar spirals into a paranoid breakdown that lands him first in jail and later in a mental ward, and then it gets really interesting.

Oscar is a mess. The book is told from his perspective and he freely walks you through every connection, suspicion and thought that lead him to his often tenuous conclusions and decidedly odd outlook on life. I found myself laughing aloud many a time.

On the other hand, the unlikely outcome requires quite a leap of faith, even through the eyes of the delusional main character. Entertaining, yes; believable, no. I'm not certain I would read the next one in the series when it comes out, because I'm not sure what's left to tell based on where the story left off.*

Overall, The Quest for Juice is an enjoyable read with a ton of humorous, though at times dark, insanity sprinkled in. I highly recommend it to people who like stories where reality and perception clash in interesting ways. This story kept me guessing and second guessing, and I loved that about it.

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*Having started the sequel at this point, I can say there is plenty left to tell, and so far it's on par with the first one. I think at the time I originally wrote this review, I was having trouble picturing a sequel. The story is completely unpredictable (rare in most books), which probably led me to that conclusion. How could I predict the unpredictable? So far, the author seems to be proving me wrong, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

YA Romance Review: Eclipse (The Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

Eclipse (Twilight, #3)Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continues the story of Bella, Edward and Jacob after Edward and his family return to Forks.

The love triangle continues. Now that Edward is back, Bella is conflicted. On the one hand, she loves Edward unconditionally. On the other hand, she considers Jacob her best friend in the world (though she doesn't seem to treat him very well). So, here we have two guys who adore Bella, but she can't seem to say goodbye to either of them. This was the first time I started feeling sorry for Edward, too, especially when Bella's dad, Charlie, begins to assertively favor Jacob over him. Charlie's ploys to encourage Bella and Jacob to hang out are pretty funny.

Beside the thickening romance, the Victoria revenge plot thickens. Mysterious disappearances in nearby Seattle, an unknown vampire rifling through Bella's things and stealing personal items from her room, and of course, Victoria sitings all build the level of danger quite effectively. I really enjoyed the build up and the ultimate show down, which I won't go into details about. I must say Meyer has a knack for writing a memorable fight scene. Had my heart racing.

And we cannot forget the Volturi. Like in New Moon, they only have a cameo, but really, that's all they need. A few minutes of face time between the main characters and the Volturi and the tension lasts for the rest of this book and through the end of the last one. They make good "lawmaker" villains because they set and enforce the vampire code of conduct, and are almost too powerful to challenge. It's the perfect recipe for corruption, and the Cullens' unique gifts have put them on the Volturi radar.

As for Jacob, he gets more interesting yet again, especially now that we get a little more insite into his pack. The last chapter of the book is the first one that breaks from Bella's point of view in favor of Jacob's. It was a bit surprising, but very well done. His voice is definitely well-defined and differentiated from hers, all the way down to the chapter title.

Overall, I loved Eclipse just as much as the first two in the Twilight Saga. I experienced emotions ranging from excitement and amusement to anger and fear. The main characters aren't always likeable (I'm looking at you Bella), but they do draw you in. Even when they were at their worst behavior, I still cared what happened to them.

I highly recommend Eclispe to those who enjoy YA paranormal romance, particularly those who actually enjoyed the first two in the series. If you read previous books in this series and didn't like them, you are in for more of the same, so maybe this isn't the book for you.

On an aside, I must say the movie was pretty close to the book, though there were a couple of differences I noted. In the movie we see more of the fighting at the end (since we aren't restricted to Bella's point of view), and the scene when Bella caves is much more romantic. The edits did the story some good for the big screen.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

YA Romance Review: New Moon (The Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer

New Moon (Twilight, #2)New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I now understand why Team Jacob vs. Team Edward came about.

New Moon picks up while Bella is well on her way to recovery from the events that ended Twilight, but after an accident that reminds everyone that, yes, Bella is human and, yes, Edward and his family are indeed vampires, Edward becomes more and more distracted by his concerns for her continued safety. When he decides that the only way to protect Bella is to remove himself from her life entirely, Bella suffers from a major breakdown.

The budding friendship between Bella and Jacob draws her out of a deep depression. Despite her lack of romantic interest in him, she leads him on, afraid of falling back into her slump. She tries to be honest and tell him that she's stuck on Edward, but can't help but tell him that she also wants him to keep trying. It's kind of a flaky, selfish thing to do, not exactly endearing. The whole thing left me feeling sorry for poor Jacob.

But despite all that, I felt myself mourning with her. It's easy to say that she shouldn't have fallen apart so much over a guy, but then again, she didn't just lose him, she lost a family and a new sister, Alice. To have so much, love, family, acceptance and perhaps even the promise of immortality, and then to lose all of it all at once, how could she not have fallen apart? Do I agree with how she deals with it? No. Do I empathize? Yes.

As for Jacob, we get to know him in this story, and he has to be one of the most interesting characters so far. With Edward out of the picture, it's difficult not to root for him. He's the ultimate good guy: kind, funny and supportive. He knows Bella is broken, but wants nothing more than to make her happy and perhaps find a place in her heart. And then there's the whole werewolf thing. Kind of hard to court a girl, especially one like Bella, when you keep turning into a wolf everytime you're angry or jealous. I think it's ironic that he, like Edward before him, believes the only safe option for Bella is to stay away. She just can't seem to catch a break.

Besides all the drama, there is a good deal of humor sprinkled through the story, and horror as well. The Volturi are creepy, the encounter with them terrifying. The whole scene kept me up way late. I probably shouldn't have tried to read that chapter right before bed, not good for your peace of mind.

Overall, I loved this book, love triangle and all. Jacob is really the star of this one, and I can totally get why some people would tend to take his side. Then again, it's hard to argue against Edward, flaws and all. He is obviously Bella's soul mate, whatever that's worth. No matter how good Jacob would be for Bella, her heart belongs to Edward, and honestly I don't think Bella's right for Jacob.

I'd recommend this book to those who like YA romance, particularly with love triangles, werewolves, and vampires. It compares pretty closely with the movie of the same name, which I must admit I watched first. I thought it was fantastic that the movie was able to so vividly bring the book to life, and so accurately, which I didn't realize until I finished reading New Moon.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

YA Vampire Romance Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight (Twilight, #1)Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? I loved it.

I didn't expect to love it. In fact, I resisted picking up these books until now specifically because of the vocal anti-Twilight reviews and office conversations I'd been privy to. So why did I finally decide to pick them up? Simple. Two weeks ago I figured how to link my table to my cable box and wanted to test drive it with movies I was pretty certain my husband and son wouldn't want to watch, and the first three Twilight movies were playing, all week, for free. My husband joked that I'd already seen them (we'd watched Vampires Suck together last year), but I put on my ear buds and watched them anyway.

I was blown away. The movies are fantastic. Funny, scary, romantic. I was hooked. When I finished watching the three free ones, I picked up the last two on Google Play, another app I hadn't fully test driven for movies. When they were over, I had that familiar feeling when you come to the end of a story but you're not quite ready to let it go. The fact that snippets of pages from the books were highlighted as the credits for the last movie rolled on. That got me. I immediately picked up Twilight on Kindle and devoured it in just a couple of days.

My opinion? Wow. I loved Twilight. Of course, many of my friends are against it because Bella's a bit flaky and Edward isn't exactly the best boyfriend material. Top that off with a rather unhealthy, obsessive relationship, and I can totally get where they are coming from. However, this is also what caught me up in it. Bella's so insecure and awkward, yet here is this beautiful boy who adores her. Edward is fascinated by and drawn to Bella, but he has to fight with every facet of his being to suppress his instincts to feed on her. Even having watched the movies and heard the plot from countless friends, I still got caught up in wondering how such a pairing could possibly work. And for the most part it doesn't, at least not yet.

Bella's internal conflict is central to this story. Many say she comes off whiny, or that her instant popularity in school is unrealistic. Honestly, I don't think that's the point of the story. I enjoyed it. It was interesting to watch her slow transformation. To watch her begin to come out of her self-imposed shell for Edward. Her tendency towards being a loner and failing to see what other's like when she looks in the mirror is something I empathized with. Not every teenage girl can be confident and graceful.

As for Edward, his struggles to come to term with his long dormant humanity as opposed to his instinctual thirst are quite exciting. I found myself feeling what Bella felt: confusion, attraction, and even fear. His demonstration of power in the meadow, apparently the first scene Meyers wrote, is terrifying. Everything that initially attracts her to him is designed to draw prey into his clutches. Yet, she accepts him. And he is torn. He cares for her so deeply, he worries that the only way to protect her is to take himself out of the picture.

And yes, he's sparkly. And his family is beautiful, almost angelic in appearance, and good natured. But, they aren't the norm for vampires in this story. They are the aberration. The real vampires in the story are much less benevolent. In fact, they are downright scary. We only get a peek into the darker world from which the Cullens have separated themselves. Just a peek, but it's enough.

Overall, I loved this book. It has romance, action, and danger, and I find myself thinking about it and wanting to read it again, even now before I've finished reading Eclipse. I have a feeling I'll be reading this one again and again. I recommend this book to fans of YA romance who don't mind sparkly vampires and teenage angst (there's a lot of both).

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Middle Grade Fantasy Review: The Last Page (Storyteller #3) by Lisa Cresswell

The Last Page (Storyteller, #3)The Last Page by Lisa Cresswell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And they all lived happily ever after...

The story picks up right where it left off in book 2. Lily and her companions continue their quest for Galamar's gems, and the Formorians step up their efforts to find and destroy her. Peter's delima, Merab's back story, and the legendary feats of Galamar are also key to the resolution of the story. I don't want to spoil anything, so that's all I'll say about what happens in the book.

I think this is an excellent wrap to the series. Things hinted at in the first two books are revealed and resolved in this one. The author did a good job bringing this story to a close in a satisfying way, though a couple things felt like they were resolved a little too perfectly. Some of the details seemed to come out of nowhere, making them less believable.

I found myself getting a bit confused as to the order of Galamar's feats. The quests are revealed in bits and pieces when Lily reads about them as she tries to figure out what she and her companions should do in their real-time quest. Since the heroes are not visiting the portals in the order that Galamar did, it makes it hard to keep them straight. I think this started in book 2 and just continued into The Last Page. That being said, I enjoyed the legend and I think it would be fantastic if Galamar's story wound up in its own volume some day.

Overall, I really liked this book and felt satisfied at it's conclusion, though the ending seemed a little too perfect and the history gets a little confusing at times. I would recommend this book to those who love fantasy, fairy tales, youthful heroes, and quests.

As a series, I loved Storyteller. I highly recommend picking up all three books because you won't want to stop once you get started. The three books read like a single volume, though each one has a climax and partial resolution that leads to the next. The story, while scary in parts, is appropriate for middle-schoolers and would likely keep the interest of young readers.

I was lucky enough to win all three books in this series in a contest.

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