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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Black Heart Review

Hey guys, before I begin this review, let me first apologise for not updating this blog as much as usual. I can't believe I haven't posted a review since February! I've been really busy with school and it kind of slipped my mind. Sorry! So, Black Heart by Holly Black. Let us begin. When I first started reading this trilogy, and noticing the awesome titles (White Cat, Red Glove), I didn't realise that the end would be quickly approaching and neatly tied up in this final book, titled Black Heart. It is certainly fitting, and serves as a motif throughout the book; in fact, it reminds me of the time Cassel planned to "fake"-murder Lila's dad, Mr Zacharov, by turning his heart into stone. A strangely beautiful image. Although the mystery and constant twists and turns is what draws readers to Holly Black's Curse Workers series, for me it was definitely the romance between Cassel and Lila. I love them together. They are so utterly perfect for each other, each being slightly evil yet adorable and the fact th
at they've been friends for years only made it sweeter, from my point of view. Holly Black does not shy from further relationship developments, if you get my meaning *wink wink* but overall, this book is not overly graphic or gross-like some teenage paranormal series I could mention but will refrain from doing so-and readers will be rooting for Cassel and Lila all the way. Even though I usually applaud this author's meticulous plotting, some strands of Black Heart seemed unfinished and irrelevant. Apologies for spoilers ahead but I must ask: 1. What was with that girl,we'll call her M, and her wanting Cassel's help? I don't think it was really relevant to the storyline 2. What was the last sentence all about? As all dedicated readers would agree, all final sentences, especially ones that conclude an ENTIRE SERIES, should be extremely profound and memorable. For me, Black Heart failed to end on a particularly high note. But this is all extreme nitpicking, and as a crazy fan of all the cons and badassery of the Curse Workers, I think I can forgive and forget. Maybe one day Holly Black will revisit the books and bring Cassel-with Lila, I beg of you, with Lila!-back to life.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Catching Jordan Review

I was really mixed up about this book. The summary made it sound fantastic: strong female protagonist, hint of romance and sport (though I know approximately nothing about football). Catching Jordan definitely had some highlights but unfortunately, some low points.

Jordan Woods is a female quarterback who struggles daily against opposition who don't think she should be playing football, don't think she should act so unfeminine and definitely don't agree with her dream of going to Alabama and playing college ball. She's got plenty of support though, to counteract all the downers, such as her adorable best friend Sam Henry (aka "Henry"), teamates JJ and Carter and her family members. Just not her dad. When new guy Ty arrives at Hundred Oak High and is immediately recognized as a quarterback, Jordan's position is threatened. It doesn't help that he's smokin' hot and is mutually attracted to her too.

I loved nearly all of the characters in this book: gorgeous Henry whose lifelong crush on Jordan made me want to squeal like a pig and the awesome, if slightly misogynistic, boys on the team who treated Jordan like a sister and defended her too, not that she needed it. But I had issues with Ty who was a total d-bag and ridiculously over possessive of Jordan considering they'd barely been going out for a week. Then again, they'd already did IT in that short amount of time which kind of turned me off (no pun intended) the book a little. Just a little. However, combined with the fact that she didn't even KNOW him properly and had never been kissed let alone, er, you know, prior to Ty...well, that was kind of sketchy. I continued reading though, because I really wanted to know how it ended.

Jordan herself was a bit difficult to relate to. Not because she's always surrounded by guys or because she's this wicked sport player when I can barely catch a ball one-handed, but because of the constant changes she had in character and personality. One minute, she refuses to dress femininely -even her underwear, for cripes sake-the next she's donning slinky dresses and clothes that show off her body. She despised anyone who acted remotely girly or promiscuous and chose instead to behave like a caveman with long blonde hair. Then, would you know it, she loses her virginity to a dude she met a week ago, starts crying nearly every time she sees Henry and gets in touch with her long lost feminine side. It was a bit annoying to be honest.

The relationships Jordan had with Henry and Ty were all a bit wishy-washy. In the end, she chose Henry but only after a prolonged, drawn out silent treatment and SO MUCH CRYING. I wish Miranda Kenneally had just picked one guy to support so there would be a stronger, more developed relationship with him and Jordan rather than two slightly disappointing ones. Though any scene with Henry and Jordan made me swoon like an 18th century handmaiden.

I think I had my hopes a bit too high after reading all the fantabulous reviews raving on about how wonderful Catching Jordan is. It is wonderful, I suppose, as long as you don't invest too much into it and are satisfied with a fun, feelgood book about teenage relationships and football.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Smokin' Seventeen review

Title: Smokin' Seventeen
Author: Janet Evanovich
Status: Seventeenth novel in the Stephanie Plum series
One word summary:Average

Yes, I know that this is technically a book for adults and clearly the bit under Reading While Dreaming says that this is a site for Young Adult books but whatever. Most teenagers do read adult fiction books (I'm one of them) so Reading While Dreaming is going to start branching out and reviewing adult books AND young adult books. If you have any requests, drop me a line in the comments section!

The Stephanie Plum series are an unusual twist of crime, romance and humor. Stephanie Plum herself is all three of those things: a)she's a bounty hunter b)in love with two men, a cool cop by the name of Morelli & security expert Ranger and c)surrounded by lunatics such as her hilarious granny Edna Mazur and plus-sized sidekick, Lula.In Smokin' Seventeen, Stephanie is chasing her usual weird 'n' wonderful bad guy list which includes an elderly vampire. Think ancient Edward Cullen minus the actual fangs required. Her mother is also playing matchmaker, introducing Stephanie to a potential husband who can cook. And to top it off, dead bodies have been showing up outside Vincent Plum's Bail Bonds, where Steph works, and it appears the serial killer is after her now. Great.

Janet Evanovich is known for her ability to write crime novels with splashes of humor but this book falls slightly short. Yes, Grandma Mazur is her usual fantastically nutty self and when Lula thinks she's been bitten by the senior citizen vampire, I started cackling but otherwise, Smokin' Seventeen is a tad bit dull. Her other gems, such as Hard Eight and Ten Big Ones, have set a high standard that readers expect out of the Stephanie Plum series; perhaps too high for the latest novel to succeed.

But faithful readers and even newcomers to the series will enjoy reading this adventure, and I must say that Evanovich is really pushing the whole romance angle, though that can be blamed on Joe Morelli's Wicked Witch of a grandmother who sets 'the eye' on Stephanie. 'The eye' entails a massive pimple and some naughty urges, which may be slightly inappropriate for younger readers. Anyway, the'whodunnit' mystery is very obvious and I felt like screaming in frustration at times. Here is a cryptic hint: fudge in an apron.

High Points: whenever Grandma Mazur says anything. She's my dream grandma.
Low Points: the lack of laugh-out-loud moments.

Recommendation: Read, if you love Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum . Have a go even if you've only just heard of the series. I recommend reading the other books first,not because of continuity (each book has a new storyline, anyway),but because they're much more funny. Trust me on this.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Bloodlines review

Title: Bloodlines
Author: Richelle Mead
Status: First book in the Bloodlines series
One word summary:Interesting

Yay! Back in the Vampire Academy world with bloodthirsty Strigoi, pale Moroi and ass-kicking dhampirs! And of course, the mysterious Alchemists with their golden lily tattoos.For those of you unfamiliar with Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series featuring Rose, don't worry. Sydney Sage, the Alchemist narrator of this new series gives plenty of background information to initiate you as a Rose/Dimitri/Adrian/Lissa fan.

After we thought everything worked out fine in Last Sacrifice, the last book of the VA series, a new problem arises. Those who hate Lissa as Queen have found an ingenious way to kick her off the throne: murder her sister, Jill. After an attack on Jill's life, she must go into hiding. Who with? Well people who can protect her identity of course. Namely, Eddie, Adrian and Sydney; posing as 'siblings' in a human boarding school located in Palm Springs, California. The gang are back! And we even get a little cameo from Rose,in the fourth chapter. Richelle Mead knows what readers are thirsting for-pun intended-and Bloodlines delivers.

Sydney Sage is wildly different, as a narrator. She's logical and observant, compared to Rose's instincts and recklessness, and what we would call a thinker rather than a fighter. But don't make any assumptions about her; Sydney can be, as one character put it, 'as scary as hell'. Her intelligence is her greatest strength, besides her deductive reasoning, and there is something so very charming about her social awkwardness in situations Rose would have excelled at, like when a boy attempted to ask her out. That part had me inwardly sniggering and embarrassed on Sydney's behalf. My favorite scenes with Sydney are towards the end of the novel when she manipulates that jerk Keith and manages to plot revenge against Laurel for bullying Jill. Go Sydney! Hope to see more of that awesome mastermind behavior.

The plotline through Bloodlines is well paced and steady, with a whole heap of foreshadowing. The 'bad guys' are almost painfully obvious from the start but what they're guilty of isn't revealed until much later. The thing with Keith and Sydney's sister Carly was horrible but Sydney handled that in her usual scary way.I also enjoyed the fact that there was still plenty of action, and by action I meant fights, especially at the end. Eddie, you are so freaking cool! To keep the suspense and mystery, Richelle Mead throws in some murders, the possibilities of vampire hunters and a little taste of romance to keep us going until The Golden Lily is released, in May next year. And can I just say, what's with the mini-cliffhanger in the end? I'm going nuts in anticipation.

High Points: badass Sydney, more heartbroken Adrian-I felt so sorry for him. Don't worry, Adrian, I still love you!
Low Points: that jerk Keith and scumbag Lee. The two of them should crawl in a hole and expire.

Recommendation: Read, definitely read. That's all I can say and all that needs to be said.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hey There, Readers

This may seem sort of random and out of place but I suddenly had the urge to introduce myself to any readers out there. Yes, I know it's been like, a month since this blog was started and I can already hear some pernickety reader thinking 'Surely the introduction comes BEFORE she starts rambling on about young adult books?' To them I say, whatever. Yes, what a great comeback that was. Anyway, so here are some important facts you should know about me that I couldn't be bothered to jam into the About Me section because frankly, no one likes reading a big wodge of text. Instead, I'll break it down for you:

Name: I'm calling myself Treehugger because a. I hug trees b. On the internet, anonymity is everything and c. Because that was the first thing that popped into my head when the screen came up and asked for a username.

Age: Hmm. I'll be vague and say I'm definitely under twenty but not a technologically precocious five year old. I don't type as fast.

Interests: Reading (duh!) and writing poetry, as well as watching crime TV shows because they always have hot investigators who can say 'We gotta catch this guy' without sounding dumb. Think Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds or Steve McGarrett from the new Hawaii Five-O.

Favorite book: The Day after Forever by Erin Skiffington. She was fourteen when she wrote it which I think is amazing. The book is pretty amazing too.

Favorite poem: "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickingson

Favorite movie: (500)Days of Summer

Talents: I can wiggle my ears and read really fast. Not at the same time, unfortunately.

Motto I live by: 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'
OK, that's all for now.

Have a great day!


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Last Sacrifice review

Title: Last Sacrifice
Author: Richelle Mead
Status: Last book in the Vampire Academy series
One word summary: Satisfying

The reason I'm reviewing this book so late is because Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is going to be released later this month. Bloodlines is the start of a new series set in the Vampire Academy world featuring Sydney Sage, a friend of Rose as the main character. So if you read this now, there's plenty of time to catch up on the VA series before Bloodlines is released!

Rose Hathaway is a dhampir (half Moroi/ half human) bodyguard to her best friend and princess Lissa Dragomir and in love with her former instructor and Strigoi (a type of evil vampire as opposed to your friendly Moroi types). She's also wrongly accused of murdering the Moroi queen. Ouch, that's got to hurt. So Last Sacrifice opens with Rose going baloney in jail since she's a badass, why-talk-if-you-can-fight-instead type of person. Of course, Rose is furious because she's got way better things to do with her time like resolving her relationship with Dimitri, who can't seem to forgive himself for what he did to Rose as a Strigoi, and oh yeah, finding Lissa's long lost sibling. All this is complicated stuff, so I suggest you read the first five books before attempting Last Sacrifice because it won't be long before you're all 'What? What? When did that happen? Who's Adrian? Why does Rose need to find said sibling of Lissa's?' There's way too much back story that I could possibly summarise in one teeny book review so take my advice: read the other books first.

The Vampire Academy series are fast-paced and full of action-not just beating the crap out of Strigoi and bodyguard training but romantic action too. I like the titles of each book, especially 'Last Sacrifice'  and can I just say the cover is absolutely gorgeous? Rose and Dimitri are a match made in heaven (or hell) as both are perfectly suited to one another. Despite the seven-year age gap which may seem icky at first and that Dimitri was Rose's instructor before he was unwillingly turned into a Strigoi, there is something special about their relationship and I'm not talking about the fact that both can take down a entire group of Strigoi without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately, Rose is with Adrian but that may soon change after she escapes with Dimitri to they find the true murderer and Lissa's half brother or sister.

Last Sacrifice's plot is good and I love how previous characters like Sydney from Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4) and Victor Dashkov (the main villain in the series, Strigoi not included) return to finish their storylines properly, though Sydney will get her own storyline in Richelle Mead's new spin-off series Bloodlines which is set in the same world of the Vampire Academy books. The only criticism I have is that the murderer's identity did not seem surprising or unexpected which was slightly anti-climatic. But what happens after Rose reveals the culprit makes up for it in the end.  Rose's character has developed so much since the beginning of the series; she's changed from a seventeen year old with barely any fighting experience to a  woman who can take down a Strigoi in a heartbeat and do anything to be with the man she loves.

High Points: SPOILER ALERT: Rose and Dimitri back together!
Low Points:  the murderer's identity, poor heartbroken Adrian

Recommendation: A satisfying end to the Vampire Academy series with a happy ending for Rose but we'll miss her witty comebacks and flirtatious ways.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting review

Title: Sisterhood Everlasting
Author: Ann Brashares
Status: Last book in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series
One word summary: Touching

Even though I was barely a teenager by the time Forever In Blue was published, I've always loved this series. So when I heard Ann Brashares was writing another Sisterhood book, I almost wet my pants in excitement.I couldn't wait to read it! And after I read it, of course I had to review it.

Ten years later and the girls are all grown up. Bridget is practising being homeless, along with her boyfriend Eric. Yes, they're still together. Lena is being her shy, awkward self by painting and teaching to avoid contact with the outside world, like a hermit. Carmen is now a size 0 and acting in a major crime TV show as some investigator. And Tibby? No one's heard from Tibby for two years, probably because she's moved to Australia with Brian. But then the opportunity for a reunion occurs, organized by Tibby; the Sisterhood are to meet in Santorini, Greece at Lena's grandparent's house.

All the girls haven't changed very much; their 'voices' throughout the novel remain practically the same since they were sixteen. Bee is still wild and reckless, Lena a loner, Carmen is just as brassy but Tibby is not a major part of the book for reasons I cannot explain here in fear of giving away all the details. We see their development as characters once more, with Lena becoming braver and Bridget losing her runaway tendencies whenever the going gets tough. The story isn't really 'adult' except for a hot scene or two; but it is very interesting seeing the lives of the Sisterhood at 30. Ann Brashares manages to recapture our attention despite the years gone by and creates a detailed plotline that's easy get hooked into.

However the ending is a bit naive and childish; it seems unlikely in the real world that when we're all grown up we get to live with our best friends right next door like a typical seven year old's fantasy. Everything works out perfectly, everyone's happy (at the moment, anyway) and there's a new baby on the way. I love how Brashares allows readers to glimpse at the lives of other supporting characters in the previous novels like Kostos, Brian and the siblings/parents of the Sisterhood. The prose is beautiful, which is typical of any Ann Brashare books, with great quotes that match and begin each chapter.

High Points: Lena and Kostos! SPOILER ALERT: Tibby's daughter, Bailey
Low Points: SPOILER ALERT: the reunion that never happened

Recommendation: Read if you're on a walk down memory lane and would like to re-experience the nostalgia of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.