Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Teen

Release Date: April 24th, 2012

Date Read: May 7-8, 2013

When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me. I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One. I didn’t even want to try.

First Impression: You can read all about my very first impression here.

I thought it was dumb.

I was wrong.

When I picked it back up, I did it because I ran out of books and I still hadn’t finished this one. I flew through it in about a day, because it gets so much better than that first chapter. I thought it was going to end up being a vapid, pretty girl’s version of The Hunger Games- with a love triangle. But, as I read further, I really liked it. I got to know the character more than the first few pages, and I was glad I picked up the book again.

Things I Liked: The relationship between all of the contestants was an interesting one to read about. It’s like being backstage on The Bachelor (I am assuming this, because I have never seen it), and it was fun to read. I think that kind of writing takes a little effort too, because the author really needs to study group dynamics in a competitive setting. I was angry and happy and confused by some of the girls, and I loved it. I would have hated it if the book wasn’t told from America’s perspective, but it really was nice seeing it through her eyes. I also really loved that there is a dash of politics in here. Royal secrets, questions about the end of the U.S. as we know it, all that. It is a theme that becomes increasingly important, and increasingly interesting.

Things I Didn’t Like: I am not sure that I like the love triangle. Love triangles are ridiculously overdone, but somehow they always feel like a necessary part of YA lit. I think that this book could have stood without the love triangle, but I don’t know how it plays out in the rest of the series, so I won’t write it off (so punny) just yet.

Overall: I reallllly liked it. That being said, my first impression really sticks with me, so I can’t give it 5 stars. I know that I am not the only one to feel this way about the beginning chapters, but I do wish the others would finish the book.

Rating: 

fourstars

Advertisements

Why Rating Books Makes Me Nervous

I feel like I have to be honest with you guys. So, here goes:

I’m pretty sure I am absolutely awful at rating books.

When teachers grade papers, do they grade them on a scale? Does one A necessarily match up to another A? Does one five-star rated book match up to another five-star rated book?

That’s my conundrum. I have read some really spectacular books, and given them five stars. But do some of the other books I have given five stars to really compare?

Should I even be comparing one book to another book?

So, every time I sit down to rate a book, I tend to over think it. In the end, I ask myself whether I really liked it, what I thought was wrong with it, and how much those things weigh against each other. That is sort of the purpose of my reviews, and I often don’t know what my rating is going to be until I get to the end of my review. The whole process kind of makes me antsy. I just don’t like the idea of someone taking my ratings at face value without reading my reviews.

By cellar_door_films via WANA Commons

Review: Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title: Under The Never Sky

Author: Veronica Rossi

Publisher: Harper Books

Release Date: January 3, 2012

Date Read: April 18, 2013

IN A WORLD OF DANGER

AN UNLIKELY ALLIANCE

BREATHTAKING ADVENTURE

AND UNFORGETTABLE ROMANCE

First Impression: If you take a look at how long it took me to read this book, you will notice that the only impression I had time for was the first one. That’s how good I thought the book was. The book is 376 pages long, and I flew through every one of them in no time. I liked the dystopian setting right of the bat, I liked the characters and wanted to learn more about them, and I ended up being too interested to stop reading it.

Things I Liked: I really liked that the characters were independent. I know that a lot of the characters are independent in YA books, but mostly I find that they are in the extremes. Some characters are so independent that they hardly have any friends and we think they are weird until we really jump into the story. Others are so dependent on their friends and family that it often causes problems. I liked that these characters had bonds, but could see the big picture as well. The bonds are important, but so is the big picture. Their feelings are also realistic as well. That’s another thing that YA books do. I know that teenagers are often moody and shallow, but that doesn’t mean that every teenager everywhere is only concerned about what to wear and what their love interest is doing or thinking. These characters are often shallow and selfish. However, the other half are introverted to the point of social aversion- but they are the deepest thinkers ever. Possible? Sure. Realistic? No. These characters seem realistic in a world that is not real (in our reality, anyway.) It makes the whole book and all of it’s newness in terms of setting more real. That’s the ticket. If you want to write me a piece of dytopian literature, then you better take some steps to make sure that I can make some sort of connection to make it seem real for me.

Also, I just liked the story. I love the outsiders-insiders theme.

Things I Didn’t Like: It’s obvious I read this quite a while ago, so I don’t really remember anything bad. Also, I think when I read books so quickly, I might not have picked up on anything I don’t really like. Because, for me, it’s over in a flash. So, moral of the story, I liked it way more than I my have potentially not liked it.

Overall: Looooooved itttttt. (In my head that sounded like a flamboyantly gay man saying “fabulous.”) Great story, great characters, great read.

Rating: 

stars

Review: The Awakening by Karice Bolton (The Watchers Trilogy, #1)

Title: The Awakening

Author: Karice Bolton

Publisher: I think this is self published. I have an electronic version, and it doesn’t have a publisher’s name anywhere.

Format: Electronic- Kindle.

Date Read: August 4-6, 2013

Goodreads Blurb:

Alone in snowy, remote Whistler village, ana tries to build a new life since losing her parents. With a cozy condo, a sweet-faced bulldog and an evening job to leave the days free for the slopes, life slips into a great routine. If only she could shake the guilt for not remembering anything about her parents and banish the night terrors that haunt her every dream.

On a whim, Ana goes out with Athen, a guy she’s just met in the Grizzly Pub. The only problem is that she feels like she already knows him.

Withing 48 hours of meeting Athen and his family, Ana’s world implodes. She falls for Athen quickly, and before she knows it, a past life begins to resurface. As thrilling as the revelations appear at first, she fights the chilling information that Athen is from the underworld. Soon she begins to struggle as her own supernatural gifts are slowly unveiled, and she realizes that the nightmares she’s been having might be premonitions and not dreams at all.

It is up to Ana to decipher between fact and fiction before it is too late, and her new love, Athen, follows on her same fate- one that is lost between two worlds.

First Impression: I will be completely honest- I downloaded this book because it was free and had an interesting title/cover art. I actually found it on a list of free Kindle downloads on Goodreads. As I started reading it, it seemed to be a slow builder, but a lot of books are. I was also not a big fan of the sentence/paragraph structure or the writing style, but I pushed through.

Things I Liked: The story. I thought that the story itself had tons and tons of potential. I haven’t really read a lot of angel/demon books because I have heard that most of them are kind of awful, but like I mentioned before- I didn’t have the slightest clue what the book was about when I downloaded it.  The story was interesting, and I think it really could have been developed more.

Things I Didn’t Like: At first it was little things. I didn’t like that the author didn’t bother telling me where Whistler is (I think it’s somewhere in Canada?). I am not from the Pacific Northwest, and I have no idea where anything is located out there. Honestly, I was geographically lost until she mentions Seattle. I also didn’t like the names. I am not usually a stickler about these, but this book bugged me because I had no idea how to pronounce anything! They are almost all names that could be pronounced a variety of different ways. I mean, I will admit then when reading Harry Potter I just sort of mumbled over Hermione. But I would rather an un-pronouncable name that I had to mumble than a name I could say a million different ways. And finally, the big one: the writing style. I will give you some examples of things that bugged me:

1. “All I could hear was light buzzing.” (Page 158)

2. “Well, I’m kind of glad I did. It makes me realize you aren’t kidding about being a bad ass. I only saw the end. It was a big blur right up until you grabbed him.” (Page 161)

3. “They could care less about us.” (Page 185)

1. Light doesn’t buzz. I know some of you might be thinking that she meant “just a little bit of buzzing,” but that doesn’t really make sense in the context of the book. So… 2. That is one of the lamest pieces of dialog I have ever read. 3. If you could care less, you at least care a little. The example of dialog is pretty accurate for the dialog in the rest of the book, and looking back, I honestly don’t know how I got through this book.

Overall: Disappointment. The story seemed pretty good, but even that turned out to be kind of anti-climactic and was slow to develop. I didn’t have the faintest clue about the main plot until I was at 30%. The writing style for me was full of pet peeves, and I thought it was awful. I am not usually so harsh a reviewer, but I really, really disliked Bolton’s use of language and structure. Really. Usually I do a little section on the main characters and how I felt about them in my reviews, but the characters in this book were too shallow for me to even have much of an opinion of them. The dialog made them seem pretentious and naive, and a lot of the time they just seemed creepy. The whole book fell flat for me.

Rating: 2.5 stars. And that is simply for the story’s potential. And even still, I’m being generous.

Observations and Changes

Image via WANA Commons by Natasha Hanova.

Hello ladies and gents, it’s been a while. I have distanced myself a little from my blog for a couple reasons, but we will get to that in a minute.

Let’s chat about a couple things:

1. There is absolutely no need for the temperature to ever get into the triple digits. Ever. It seems like every time I have gotten into my car this week, the thermometer tells me it’s like 102* and that just isn’t necessary. I have always been a lover of autumn. Honestly, summer would probably be my jam if it wasn’t so hot! I like the carefree attitude of summer, but what good is it if I have to stay inside to avoid a heat stroke?!

 

2. I am obsessed with baby blogs. Really, it’s only two. Some people might be reading this and worrying for my mental health, but I want to let you know: I have no intention of starting the baby process any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be in that position in life– but I’m not. I haven’t landed a full time job, my mom still has me on her health insurance, my husband is still in college, and we still live in an apartment with a roommate. Not ideal circumstances for child rearing.  Until those things are out of the way and thriving, I will stick to living life vicariously through some baby blogs. My favorites (I mean like I’ve-read-every-post-ever favorites) are Dear Baby  by Melissa Jordan and Little Baby Garvin by Jessica Garvin. I have loved reading about the ins and outs of their pregnancies and the awesome (and not-so-awesome) aspects of raising their little ones. But, these blogs really have more to offer (at least for me). I get a lot of fashion inspiration and I think a little more about my values and spirituality and marriage and what is really important in life. Thanks to Jessica, I am already thinking of fun new ways to celebrate and decorate for the holidays (eventually with kids!). And, thanks to Melissa, I am trying to take some fashion risks and really try to figure out my style and not just buy from the same stores over and over because they are convenient. But most of all, these blogs are helping me visualize what kind of family Chris and I will have one day, and what we want that family to look and feel like. Melissa and all of her wonderful words are really getting me to start thinking about how I feel about God and religion and all of the things I have been sort of ignoring in the past. The lessons I’ve learned from them? The best is yet to come.

 

3. I have not been feeling overly excited about reading lately. This one has really been weighing on me. Reading is a part of who I am and who I want to be and how I want to get to that point. I love books. Goodness, I even married a writer! But lately, I really haven’t been as much into reading (excluding blogs) as I used to be. At this point, I am chalking it up to being poor and not being able to indulge in some new books for my ever growing collection. A lot of it is stress too. The more stressed I seem to be, the more I tend to want to get away from some of the stressful situations in the fictional novels I’m reading. I know, I’m a loon. All I can think about is that line from the Blind Melon song: “It rips my life away, but it’s a great escape.” That’s kind of how I feel about books. Most of the time it’s a wonderful escape and I can’t get enough of it, but I think some of my stressors (mostly me not having a full time job and always seeming to be low on funds) are following me into these escapes. I can’t shake it. However, I am optimistic about a recent application I put in for a communications firm, and so I am trying to be positive about my life.

 

4. The future is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I know you guys are probably thinking “Duh, Casey” but I have never believed this more until now. My husband is still in school and in August he will start going five days a week. Typically, he has usually just gone every other day, but this semester stacking classes just didn’t work out. I know that he needs to do this and I will support him 500%, but I’m just terrified about our financial future. With him being in school a little over an hour away M-F, he will only work on weekends and I will be the sole breadwinner. I don’t have a full time job. I don’t make a ton of money. I don’t know if I can do this. In order to keep this anxiety in check, I have been applying everywhere possible, and I am trying to stay positive. A lot can happen in a month.

 

5. My stance on lying during interviews. In truth, I am really anxious when it comes to job interviews. I don’t want to fudge the truth about where I want to be in ten years, but I often think that the truth might turn potential employers off from me. I don’t want to stay in this area my whole life, and neither does my husband. But, employers want people that will stick with their company. It’ funny, in my Organizational Communication class (see Dr. Lyon, I was listening!), we talked about how the workplace used to be rigid and hierarchical and that once people got jobs, they stayed with that company for the rest of their career. Then we talked about how nowadays people are always looking to advance themselves and they really don’t stay within one company for too long. I feel like those two frameworks are sort of coming together. Companies want a competitive environment, but once the get you, they want to keep you. Forever. And ever. SCARY.

 

6. I’ve been rethinking this blog. This whole thing is really very specific. The blog is called Bookcasey: Confessions of a Bibliophile, and that implies BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! HEY, BOOKS OVER HERE! That’s great, but I don’t think I can live up to that right now. I already told you about my current reading dilemma (it’s really not that bad), but it’s other parts of the process, too. You may have noticed that I am not the most regular poster, but that’s because I readreadread and then I promise reviews, and then I just want to read but there are so many books piling up to be reviewed and then I just ignore the problem and keep reading. Then I hide. And you don’t see me for weeks. And it makes me feel guilty. So lately I have been contemplating changing the name of this blog and just making it sort of a general thing. However, this new blog format would still include me talking about books and the occasional review. The best of both worlds, right? THEN WHY AM I STILL THINKING ABOUT IT. I am a deliberator. (sp?) I can’t not think the death out of something. As my husband might say “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

 

And there you have it: I am a basketcase and I am quickly unraveling…and re-raveling….and unraveling….you get it. One of my professors once told me that the year after he finished his undergraduate degree was the hardest and most depressing of his life, and he’s right. I wish he wasn’t, but this is a time of transition and I really just have to try and make the best of it.

 

Sequel Review Anxiety? Is There Such A Thing?

Whenever I write a review for a sequel, I am overcome by some sort of anxiety. Weird, right? Well, it is. I just feel like when I am writing a sequel review I am going to give something away and someone that hasn’t read the first book is going to come across my review and throw a fit. And then I have to be that girl that makes a person not even want to pick up a book because I gave it all away. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I don’t want you guys to think I suck. This is all coming to me now because next up in my review list is Fever the second book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren Destefano. It wasn’t one of those second in line books that made me hate the series or anything, I actually liked it (not as much as the first or third, but still.)

This is how I feel I should preface my sequel reviews.

So, how do you guys feel about sequel reviews? Do you follow a specific rule? Are there any exceptions?

In other news, I am introducing Chris (my husband) to the weeping angels from the Whoniverse. It started out when I made him watch the first episode from the new series of Doctor Who, and then I wanted him to see the first David Tennant episode. Buuuuuuut, I don’t know if I really like the first David Tennant as the Doctor episode because he spends most of it unconscious, so we watched Blink and then he finally got what I meant about the Weeping Angels being so freaking terrifying. Now, we are watching The Time of Angels and things are really getting creepy. But I am making a Whovian of him. I love going back to these early Matt Smith/Karen Gillan episodes, I love both of them so much. Especially Amy. So sassy.

How do you feel about the Angels? If you aren’t terrified of them, I don’t think we can be friends.

Who is your favorite Doctor/Companion combo?

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Delirium, #1)

Title: Delirium

Author: Lauren Oliver

Pages: 441

Publisher: Harper, 2011

Date Read: March 6-14, 2013

 

They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever.

And I’ve always believed them.

Until now.

Now everything has changed. Now I would rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie.

 

Characters: 

Lena- It seems that the pattern in these types of books is for the main character to blindly believe in the system, be proven wrong, and fight to change it. Sadly, this book doesn’t break that mold. However, in light of that, I still liked this book. I liked it better than Matched. Lena is fiesty in a way that Cassia (Matched) is not, and she knows how to play it cool. She has a rule breaker friend, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in…when the time is right. She’s smart.

Alex- Ahhhhh, the boyfriend. The boyfriends in these types of books are always the best because they’re so mysterious. You spend most of your time trying to figure this guy out, and in the mean time he sweeps you off your fight feet with his awesomeness. By “you” I mean the main character….right? Anyway, Alex is wonderful and loyal and exciting.

Hana- Hana is Lena’s best friend (she’s the rule breaker I mentioned earlier). And of course, Hana would be the reason that Lena meets Alex. It seems this book has a lot of loyal people in it, because Hana is just as loyal as Alex is to Lena. I guess she just knows how to pick them. At first I didn’t like Hana because she just seemed to purposely get Lena into trouble, but she really grows on you.

Conflict: Love is a disease and therefore should be treated like all other diseases and vaccinated. There you go! How would you cope in a world like that? This book reminded me a ton of Matched, but this one had a little better world building, and there was actually more of a conflict than the one you see on the surface.

Things I Liked: The names. You might think I am superficial when I say that, but so what? It’s true. When I read a book, I don’t like having to mentally battle with the names I am reading and second guessing whether or not I am actually pronouncing them right. For instance: I didn’t know how to properly pronounce Hermione until I saw the first Harry Potter movie. Books these days are all apocalyptic and have funky names that I have difficulty pronouncing, and this one has good names that are also reader-friendly.  I loved the loyalty of the supporting characters to Lena, and I love that she is stubborn and has a sort of steely resolve. And she’s smart, I love that. There is nothing worse than a dumb main character.

Things I Didn’t Like: Honestly, I don’t really remember. I think it took me a little while to read this one because I was busy and it started a little slow. But, once all of the characters are introduced and stuff actually starts happening, I found myself wanting to read it more often. I hated her family, but I was supposed to, so no surprise there. I guess what I disliked most about this book is that I was constantly comparing it to Matched because they are so similar.

Cover Art: Loved it! I love seeing a fresh face on the cover of a book instead of a cutesy model on the front with a barrel of eye makeup on.

Overall: I really liked the story-line, aside from its remarkable similarity to Matched. It’s a good read, and I would recommend it!

Rating: 4 stars

Matched by Ally Condie (Matched, #1)

Title: Matched

Author: Ally Condie

Pages: 366

Publisher: Speak

Date Read: February 27, 2013

 

Cassia has always trusted the society’s choices. And when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia is certain he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now she is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one dares follow…between perfection and passion.

Society Matched them, but love set them free. In the society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

 

Characters: 

Cassia- At first, I thought this girl was a robot. The blurb says that she has all of this faith in society, and she freaking does. She reminds me of the main character in Delirium- in the beginning at least. Thankfully, this girls starts to develop a little bit of a brain as the book goes on, but she gets pushed into it by her surroundings- and a little bit of subliminal messaging it seems!

Xander- ROBOT. I guess this is supposed to be the theme in the book, but this one took me a little while to get into because of how plain and ridiculously robotic all of the characters were. Xander is probably my least favorite character out of the bunch, but at least he is astute.

Ky- I thought Ky was interesting in an I’m-not-sure-what-to-think-about-this-guy-because-he’s-weird kind of way. But, that mysterious, selfless weirdness is very endearing and makes you want to know more and more.

Conflict: THE MAN. Well, society. This (if you haven’t noticed) is one of those society-rules-the-world books where everyone is a mindless drone but one person manages to snap out of it with the help of a person outside of the system. I love the premise, this one just took a little while to build up to it. I like the little acts of defiance in here, though. I mean, all of these books build up to big acts with little acts, but the particular ones in this book are nice. I’m a sucker for poetry, and that aspect helped keep me into the book until the good stuff happened.

Things I Liked: Like I just said, I loved the poetry aspect of this one. I also love love love loved Cassia’s grandpa! What a romantic old man. I also like the nature=freedom sort of them in this one.

Things I Didn’t Like: Although this book took awhile to get into, the only thing I really remember disliking is the slowness. Granted, it’s been a little while since I read it and I am a little hazy on the details. You guys should also know that this might happen with the next couple books because…it’s been awhile.

Cover Art: I like the cover art, and the only thing that really made me start questioning whether I actually liked it was that stupid commercial that  I saw for this series. Something about that commercial, I just really hated.

Overall: All in all, I liked the book when I finished it, and I ordered the second one! However, a friend of mine was reading the book and she was NOT into it. I hope that doesn’t jade me going in, but I have a feeling it already has.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Review: Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)

Title: Wither

Author: Lauren Destefano

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Pages: 358

Date Read: February 22, 2013

 

In the not-too-distant future, genetic engineering has turned every newborn into a ticking time bomb: Males die at age twenty-five, and females die at age twenty. While scientists seek a miracle antidote, young girls are routinely kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. When sixteen-year-old Rhine is taken, she enters a world of wealth and privilege that both entices and terrifies her. She has everything she ever wanted– except freedom.

Soon it becomes clear that not everyone at her new husband’s home is how they appear. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to escape… before her time runs out.

 

Characters: 

Rhine- As the little blurb on the back says, Rhine is sixteen. She also happens to be a twin, and heterochromatic. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s when someone has two different color eyes. Rhine and her brother are orphans trying to live their short lives in peace in NYC. I think Rhine is awesome. She is extremely determined and always inquisitive. For her situation, being inquisitive is both a blessing and a curse. She loves without meaning to, and forms attachments with almost everyone she comes in contact with- whether she likes it or not.

Linden- Linden is Rhine’s new husband. He is an architect meant for another world. I say this because he doesn’t fit into this new world. He draws up plans for houses with pies in the windows, and tire swings hanging from the tree in the front yard- he’s a sensitive dreamer. This is all well and good, but it means that he is practically blind to what is happening right in front of him, and too naive to try and puzzle it out. This all sucks fro Rhine.

Vaughn- This guy is creep-tastic. And also Linden’s dad. Throughout the novel, we don’t know exactly how bad he is, but we just know he is baaaaaaaaaaad.

Cecily- This tiny red-head is one of Rhine’s sister wives. She is annoying, and meddlesome, and rarely pleasant to be around. However, she brings out a side of Rhine that is sort of motherly, and I think it helps her grow. Cecily also changes quite a bit, and she is the only sister wife that really wants to be a sister wife.

Jenna- In the world of Wither, there are things called scarlet districts. These are basically just whole districts of whore houses. It sucks, but this is where Jenna is from. She is sort of steely for a while, but she is a lot more friendly and ten times more complicated than she seems on the outside. She knows more than she lets on, and she helps Rhine hold onto who she is while also growing.

Gabriel- He is a servant in the house where Rhine now lives. The relationship between Rhine and Gabriel is founded on hope. They are both attached to what the world used to be, and because they are the only two that really think this way, they are drawn to one another. However, him being a servant and her being a sister wife throws a kink into the grand scheme of things.

Conflict: Rhine needs to get back to her brother. Beyond that, the conflict really just revolves around an antidote. I can’t really give away too much without giving away the whole book, but the conflict is good enough to keep the book going strong. I mean, I read it in a day. That’s how good this book is.

Things I Liked: Ummm, all of it? The book is great. I passed it quite a few times before I decided to actually buy it, and even then it was because I friend recommended it. I am so glad she did. It really is awesome. I loved the characters and the concept (this was the first arranged marriage type novel I have read), and it was a very enjoyable read.

Things I Didn’t Like: Let’s be realistic here, whatever I put here would just be me reaching anyway. Why don’t you read it and tell me what you didn’t like!

Cover Art: I really like the cover art, it is mysterious and slightly creepy.

Overall: Love. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. It was a nice read and it was complex enough to keep my attention for a few hours straight. It also isn’t just a big love fest like a lot of YA books these days.

Rating: 5 stars.

Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

Title: Beautiful Creatures

Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Pages: 563

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps , and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Characters:

Ethan- When I first started reading this book, I though it was going to be from the point of view of Lena, not Ethan. So, when I finally figured out that it was a boy’s head I was in, I was a little excited. Not only do I hardly ever read books told from the point of view of a male, but I hardly ever read supernatural books from the point of view of the non-supernatural. So, I was pretty pumped for this! Reading from Ethan’s POV was nice since he knows the area. However, I was a little worried for a second that he was going to start talking with a deep Southern accent. I was worried that it was going to be like reading Huckleberry Finn in high school- I had to read most of that one out loud to myself so that I could understand the dialect. But, I was pleasantly surprised with this one, and they even gave an explanation as to why he doesn’t speak that way- his parents were both professors and were always correcting him when he dropped a “g.” I love that. Ethan is a gentleman and he isn’t an idiot, and he loves genuinely. And he is most of he reason that I liked this book.

Lena- I think that everyone has a certain section of the supernatural genre that they like the most- mine is witches. I love reading about witches. Maybe it stems from my deep connection with Hermione from Harry Potter, who knows, I just love reading about witches. Lena is pretty much a witch. Her formal title is Caster, but she is pretty much a witch. I liked that Lena was one of those characters that doesn’t try to fit in. She isn’t really defiant or angsty about it, she just does not change herself to suit others. I LOVE THAT. Too often I read books where the main character moves to a new school and spends most of her time trying really hard to fit in, or to not fit in. Lena just takes her own road. She is sometimes a little too moody for me, but if you read the book you will realize that she kind of has an excuse for all of her moodiness.

Amma- Amma is Ethan’s sort of live-in nanny/housekeeper. She has been around his whole life, and for most of his father’s, too. She seems to act as the mother figure for Ethan since his mother passed away, but I really like that she doesn’t try to be anything like his mother. She just keeps on being Amma- just a little bit stricter. But, Amma has some secrets. It’s nice when all of the secrets don’t fall to one main character, I think it makes the story a lot richer when you find out little secrets along the way that might change the way you feel about some of the characters. Amma is one of those people. At first she is just Amma, and then I was like “Oh, Amma is up to something!” and then I was mad at Amma for butting in, and then I was back to loving Amma. She’s a strong lady, and books need strong ladies.

Macon- Macon Melchizedek Ravenwood is the mysterious owner of Ravenwood Manor, which is believed to be cursed. Macon is also Lena’s uncle. He is also the one person in the world that Lena loves most, and for that reason, we have to love him. Because honestly, that guy is creeeeeepy for most of this book. You don’t know if he is some crazy magic man, or if he is just eccentric, and it takes a while to figure it out. However, I love when books have creepy parts every so often. If an author can creep you out or make you nervous, or give you butterflies just with words- then you’re reading the right book. Every book should do this to you at some point (hopefully several).

These are the main characters, but there are a couple important almost main characters but not quite minor characters:

Link- Wesley Jefferson Lincoln is Ethan’s best friend. His mother is the head of the DAR, and one of the biggest Lena haters in town. But, what I love about Link is his fierce loyalty. Every person deserves a friend as loyal as Link. Link is also really goofy and most of the time really annoying, but we can’t have everything!

Ridley- Ridley is Lena’s cousin, but she is a Dark Caster. She has the power of persuasion (she is a Siren) and she isn’t afraid to use it. Unfortunately, people with that power usually aren’t the most trustworthy.

Conflict: This book is pretty long, so naturally there is a lot of conflict. The initial conflict is just Ethan trying to figure out who Lena is and why she seems to be so important to him, and her being difficult and not letting him in. But a lot of the conflict surrounds Lena’s condition and how everyone in town is reacting to her. A lot of this makes you angry, because people can be really mean. I don’t mean insults mean, but we-hate-everything-that-isn’t-us mean. There are a lot of Caster issues, and an equal number of Mortal issues that plague these two.

Things I Liked: I was a big fan of the characters. I loved that they were imperfect, but believable. They have strong qualities, and weak qualities, but they aren’t shallow characters. You get to know these guys. I loved that parts of this gave me butterflies. I loved that it was told from a boy’s POV, and that that boy was smart. I also liked how intricate the conflict was, and that there were many unsuspecting people involved, and that those people were selfless and concerned.

Things I Didn’t Like: I didn’t like that the book took a little while to pick up. After reading the second one, I think it might be a recurring thing in this series. However, once they pick up, you’re hooked. I think that things are a little slow to start because there is so much that needs to be set up ahead of time for the conflict to be as intricate as it is. But, I’m alright with that.

Overall: Usually when I read a book and look back, I don’t like it quite as much as I did right after I finished it. This book was the opposite for me. As I am writing this review, I am remembering things that I really liked about it and I am not lingering on the stuff I didn’t like. It was a solid book and a great start to a series.

Cover Art: I usually like to get the original cover of the book, but this time I happened to pick up the movie-cover copy. I’m not always a big fan of the movie covers, but I think I like the mover cover better than the original cover for this book. It is more exciting, but I think only because the other is so plain.

Rating: 4 stars