Fantasy

Perfect Lies

Three Stars

Title: Perfect Lies

Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Harper Teen

Length: 256 Pages

Synopsis:

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie’s visions of the future can’t show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia’s first love, Fia knows he’s hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other – but that may not be enough to save them.

Overall Review:

I didn’t love Mind Games, which was the first book in this two-book combo, so I’m not surprised Perfect Lies didn’t quite do it for me, either. I found this book very…odd. I can’t really describe it any other way. It lacked purpose for me, and the writing felt hurried and sloppy. The thing that bothered me the most was the different timing of Annie and Fia’s points of view. It was weird and completely confusing.

The plot, as with the first one, was exciting. People were hunted and running and even dying- so there was plenty going on to keep me reading. The problem I had with all of the action, however, was that it just didn’t tie in to the world created for the two sisters.

The characters STILL didn’t grow in book two of this series, which was my main complaint. They start doing different things, but none of it really tied to meaningful change. It’s almost as if the author tried a little too hard. The characters became unstable and annoying- and I get what she meant to do with the repititions that Fia kept doing, but it was just too much. The double Points of View continued in this last installment, but they weren’t any better than the first two. Both characters came across as very whiny, as well, which is very disappointing.

The thing that fell the most flat was the relationship between the sisters. One is sheltered and one is essentially psychotic- and the way they’re written doesn’t lend to a healthy understanding of each other. I did like this one better than the first, and although still not the best, I found it more compelling and sound than the first.

Signature

Mind Games

Two Stars

Title: Mind Games

Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Harper Teen

Length: 304 Pages

Synopsis:

Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other’s secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right. When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn’t grasp just how wrong. The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie’s life. Now Fia’s falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she’s ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won’t let them take her future.

Overall Review:

Mind Games fell a little flat for me. I really wanted to like this one, but it just didn’t do much for me. It’s told from two points of view- one for each sister (Annie and Fia). The writing was pretty basic, but it works well for the targeted age group so I was okay with it. There were some flashbacks (okay- a lot of flashbacks) that made things a little confusing, but they were alright once you pushed through them. The thing I had the biggest issue with was the points of view. They weren’t markedly different, which is something completely necessary when using two POVs. Another problem was the relationship between the sisters, which was positioned as “strong and unbreakable.” We’re told that many times, but there weren’t many examples of that in the actual work itself.

The premise of the book is interesting- with one sister blind and only able to see the future. The other sister, Fia, is an assassin who is forced to kill to protect bad things from happening to Annie. It unfortunately doesn’t do much in regards to character development. I found the sisters both whiney and selfish- and they didn’t get any better or grow into themselves as the story progressed.

The plot line was actually very interesting, with great twists and entertaining bits. The last couple of chapters were probably the best in the entire book- I was surprised with how it ended and how well thought out it was.

As a whole, it was a rocky read for me, and not one I can recommend to others.

Signature

Adventurers Wanted, Book Two

Four Stars

Title: Adventurers Wanted, Book Two: The Horn of Moran

Author: M.L. Forman

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Length: 384 Pages

Synopsis:

The land of Alusia is on the brink of war as two men have each claimed the throne. Only the true king can sound the Horn of Moran and prove his nobility. But the Horn has been lost for years. If it is not found and soon it could mean the destruction of an entire nation. Young Alexander Taylor joins a band of seasoned adventurers who have been called up to retrieve the legendary Horn of Moran. Their journey to the mysterious Tower of the Moon will take them through an enchanted forest, into battle against a goblin army, past the watchful eyes of griffin guards, and face-to-face with a sphinx and her deadly riddles. With his sword, Moon Slayer, and the wise counsel from his wizard mentor, Whalen Vankin, Alex must use all his wizard and warrior skills to slay a darkness that may consume them all.

Overall Review:

I found Adventurers Wanted Book Two was as equally enjoyable as the first one. I found this second installment in the Adventurers Wanted series to be a little more creative than the first one. It is a decent stand-alone book- but it also plays nicely in with the first one and the environment the author created. He does a great job of bringing some of the same characters back, as well as introducing some new ones, as well. The new characters add a lot of interest and mystery to the story and are great additions. Alex continues to grow and become more knowledgeable as the series continues, which I really appreciated. I love it when the main character improves over time- it’s only natural!

I feel like this book does a good job at creating questions and further setting up the rest of the series. It also does a good job of better fleshing out the culture of the series- honor, doing the right thing, and the fun magical elements that are throughout the story. The plot formula is very similar to the first book- and it was very easy and fun to read.

Highlights:

  • Great foreshadowing
  • Easy to read
  • Fun and exciting action
  • Clean and non-violent
  • Great character development for ALL characters
  • Narration was spot on
  • World building aspects were amazing- well described and easy to imagine

Lowlights:

  • Unequal weighting of time- some paragraphs cover months and others a few hours/days
  • Still a lot of “telling” and not as much “showing” as I would have liked.
  • Still had a few issues with conflict- everything seemed way too easy

Signature

Peter and the Starcatchers

Five Stars

Title: Peter and the Starcatchers

Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Length: 452 Pages

Synopsis:

Don’t even think of starting this book unless you’re sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger.
Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

Overall Review:

I adore Peter Pan. It’s one of the stories from my childhood that I love the most. Besides- pirates and magic and flying boys and never growing up? How can you not love that?

I liked this book because it was a fun adventure behind the story of the eternal dilemma between staying young and embracing growing older. It gives a unique perspective on how Peter got his magical abilities (starstuff- I want some!), as well as the backstory of the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, and Neverland. It’s a fun and easy mystery that’s packed with humor and the stubborn characters we all love from the classic story of the boy who never grows old.

The authors do a great job of playing to the emotions of the inner children in all of us. I got outraged in all the right places and softened in others. The relationships are realistic and fun- and it was just a fun book to read. I highly recommend this book.

Highlights:

  • Great character development
  • Easy to read
  • Fun and exciting action
  • Great back story and unique angle on Peter Pan
  • Clean and non-violent
  • Full of “showing” instead of “telling”
  • World building aspects were amazing- Neverland has never been more fun to experience

Lowlights:

  • Not a lot of weighty conflict- the resolutions were easy to come by

Signature

Adventurers Wanted, Book One

Four Stars

Title: Adventurers Wanted, Book One: Slathbog’s Gold

Author: M.L. Forman

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Length: 400 Pages

Synopsis:

The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter s bookshop window: Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within. No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation. Upon entering Mr. Clutter s shop, Alex is swept away to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves. Alex becomes the eighth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red an evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower. Alex s adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most important, friendship.

Overall Review:

I really enjoyed reading Adventurers Wanted Book One. I thought it was a fresh approach to the fantasy world, and one that makes it very YA appropriate. I liked Alex for the most part, although there were some issues in how he was developed. I especially liked how he grew throughout the story- I think a lot of books are lacking this, and the author did a great job at moving the main character through experiences and trials that helped him become better. The story was engaging, easy to read, and a lot of fun to get into. It was exciting. The ending set the characters up for future adventures, so I’m looking forward to reading more about Alex and his friends.

Highlights:

  • Clever and refreshing approach to fantasy
  • Easy to read
  • Fun and exciting action
  • Good morals
  • Great character development for the main character Alex
  • Good ending with a fun, unexpected twist
  • Narration painted a perfect picture of the events going on
  • Didn’t carry on or become boring- moved right to action points

Lowlights:

  • Light on the background of the main character
  • The secondary characters weren’t developed as much as I would have liked
  • Not enough conflict or interpersonal issues like jealousy or major fights- everything was a little too easy
  • Main character never seemed to make any mistakes
  • A little repetitive
  • The author did more “telling” than “showing” in several places
  • Feels a little like wish fulfillment

Signature

Twilight Series, Books 1-4

Three Stars

Title: Twilight Series

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown

Synopsis:

Book One: Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

Book Two: Legions of readers entranced by Twilight are hungry for more and they won’t be disappointed. In New Moon, Stephenie Meyer delivers another irresistible combination of romance and suspense with a supernatural twist. The “star-crossed” lovers theme continues as Bella and Edward find themselves facing new obstacles, including a devastating separation, the mysterious appearance of dangerous wolves roaming the forest in Forks, a terrifying threat of revenge from a female vampire and a deliciously sinister encounter with Italy’s reigning royal family of vampires, the Volturi. Passionate, riveting, and full of surprising twists and turns, this vampire love saga is well on its way to literary immortality.

Book Three: Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will eagerly devour the paperback edition. Eclipse, the third book in Stephenie Meyer’s riveting vampire love saga. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Book Four: When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved? To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs. Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever? The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

Overall Review:

I feel like I need to add my review of Twilight. I read all of the books and watched the movies – and I’m sure other people have, too – but I just needed to voice my opinion. There were a few redeeming qualities, but overall this series was not my favorite.

I admit I swooned over Edward Cullen. After all, what girl doesn’t want a guy that’s totally obsessed with them and wants to protect them from every possible problem? I certainly do. I also liked how it was a fun twist on the Shakespearean love story- except with vampires and werewolves. I liked how the author kind of paved the way for monster stories and paranormal romance, and what she did with character relationships was pretty great. When Bella Swan’s heart broke, I felt like MY heart broke.

Overall, the character development was abysmal. Everything seemed way too easy (that’s a theme with YA books I feel- conflict is a GOOD thing, people), and I’m so over the helpless female heroine who has to be saved by the practically indestructible love interest. It’s so cliché.

Highlights:

  • Relationship development was great
  • Easy to read and fun
  • Plot was unique and had enough twists to keep me interested

Lowlights:

  • Characters lacked strength and were extremely co-dependent
  • Characters were annoying
  • Unrealistic emotions
  • Writing was mediocre

Signature