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: 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

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

Review: Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)

Title: Spell Bound

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Hyperion

Date Read: February 13, 2013

Pages: 327

The girl scowled. “You are something,” she hissed, leaning in closer. “I can feel it. Whatever you are, it’s not human. So you can either tell me what kind of freak you are, or I can cut you open and find out myself.”

I stared at her. “You are one hard-core little kid.”

Her scowl deepened.

“I’m looking for the Brannicks,” I said in a rush. And I’m guessing you are one because…you know, red hair and the violence and everything, and–”

“What’s your name?” she demanded as the stinging in my neck became actual pain.

“Sophie Mercer,” I said through clenched teeth.

Her eyes widened, “No way,” she said, sounding for the first time like the middle schooler she probably was.

“Way,” I croaked.

Characters: 

The Brannicks- I know that me lumping all of the Brannicks together in my discussion of new characters probably looks lazy, but that is just the way it will have to be. I haven’t read this book in over a month, and my memory is not the sharpest, so I admit that this may not be my best review. But keep in mind, I have read probably ten books between this one and the one I am working on now. Anyway, here we go!

The Brannicks are not who we expected them to be when Mrs. Casnoff mentioned them in the first book during Sophie’s orientation at HH. These Brannicks are just as intense as we might have expected, there are just far fewer of them . All in all, there are…3? 4? Yeah, it seems pretty pathetic. Buuuuuuuuut, they deserve a thumbs up because people don’t know they are so few, and they still think they are bad-ass! Anyway, I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but there are some pretty crazy connections between… certain characters…yeah.

Oh, and the Brannicks also have this ultra-helpful and simultaneously annoying warlock friend trapped in a mirror that comes in handy. That’s pretty cool! I wonder who he thinks is the prettiest of them all?

Conflict: It seems that trilogies seem to follow the same format: first book is all about a containable problem, the second book moves on to a problem a little larger that involves a larger population, and the third one threatens to destroy life as we know it while simultaneously tying us back to the original problem in the first book. Now that you have read those words, you are probably thinking about all of the trilogies that no doubt have followed this same pattern.

Anyway, this book doesn’t break the mold. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good! I like the conflict in this one, because it is so large scale. I think large scale problems make people think more critical about the consequences of their actions, and that ultimately gives us a glance into the direction of their moral compass. In this book, old enemies must team up to rid the world of the demon raisers once and for all, and it all goes back to Hex Hall…. muahahahaha! Seriously though, you get a little slice of every pie in this one: Prodigium, L’Occhio di Dio, the Brannicks, Hex Hall…. oh, and the crazy love triangle that often occupies trilogies. But, you will like it…. I think.

Things I Liked: A little off topic of context, I liked that there are occasional quotes in the books. What I mean is that before some of the chapters, there are quotes. My memory might be a little off, but I think all/most of them are from Alice in Wonderland, which I also liked. I also liked that characters in this book had the opportunity to be valiant, and took it. By characters, I mean Cal. Always Cal.

Things I Didn’t Like: My friend Ashley and I were talking about this, and we think that the little trip into hell they took was completely bogus. Are you seriously telling me that one can simply walk right into Hell, and turn around and walk right back out? ONE CANNOT SIMPLY, RACHEL. Also, it didn’t seem extremely hellish there, you might not feel that way, but we certainly did. I mean, what they went through sucks, but it certainly wasn’t anything you couldn’t push through. To me, the hell in this book makes me feel like Rachel Hawkins thinks her characters are emotional and weak, or maybe just emotionally weak. I also think that this book could have continued into a fourth and certain parts could have been expanded on.

Overall: All in all, I still really liked it. I was all caught up in the HH fantasy, and I didn’t bat an eye when hell was not that hellacious, or when things started getting a little cookie cutter. Looking back, I can find more things wrong with it, and they are the things sticking out in my mind, but I also remember really liking this book when I read it, and not being able to put it down. (I read it in one day.) I guess you really need to be the judge.

Cover Art: Not the best, not the worst. Her previous covers were a little more indicative of what you could expect when you cracked the cover, but this one fell a little short.

Rating: 3.75 stars. This is a little bit of a cop-out on my part, but it is sort of an average between what I think now and what I thought immediately after finishing it.

Review: Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2)

Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Hyperion
Date Read: January 29, 2013

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (a.k.a witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered she’s actually a demon, and her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping her kind off the face of the earth. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will either destroy her powers for good– or kill her.

But once Sophie arrives, she makes a shocking discovery: someone is raising new demons in secret and planning to use their powers to destroy the world. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Characters: I am only discussing new major characters here.

Cal- Ahhhh, Cal. I was positively giddy in the first couple chapters reading about Cal. He is introduced as a love interest in the first chapter or so. He is a white witch with a knack for healing. I love it because since Sophie is a demon, and Cal is a super-powered white witch, it has this awesome dark vs. light, good vs. evil thing going for it! Love love love. He is strong and silent and good. The way Rachel Hawkins writes it, he just seems to exude the stuff and even though he only exists in paper and ink, the reader is drawn to him. At least I was….

Lara- Lara is Mrs. Casnoff’s sister, and also Sophie’s Dad’s assistant. She seems to be pretty awesome at her job, but she seems super duper fake as only corporate type people can. You learn about her eventually, but for most of the novel she is just this freakily efficient secretary type lady.

Daisy-
This whole Daisy and Nick thing is one giant can of worms. I will get to Nick in a second, but Daisy is anything but a dainty as her name implies. She is a demon (say, what?!) and she represents a lot of pain and a big threat. She seems demure when there are important people in the room, but get her alone and she is a robust person with a soft spot for bad boys… and that’s where Nick comes in.

Nick- Holy smokes, this guy is scary. He is all intense eyes and unpredictable behavior and he scares the crap out of Sophie, and therefore the reader. He is a volatile bad boy, and it takes awhile to warm up to him, and likewise it takes him awhile to warm up to Sophie. However, he seems almost tender with Daisy…and that’s good, right?

Conflict: The Eye. It’s all about The Eye, and therefore Archer. Well, I lied, it isn’t completely about the eye. It’s also about the crazysauce person out there raising demons. That’s right, someone is out there doing it on purpose, and with the power that demons have, that is bad thing. Unfortunately for Sophie, there are also some problems of the heart. This book will have you groaning when Sophie makes a choice you may not have made, and then you’ll be wondering if she really did make the right choice… and then questioning that. UGH is right.

Things I Liked: Um, the whole book? Seriously, this is one of my favorite new series, and I practically flew through it. It kept me on my toes, sated my mushy romantic side, and gave me a good dose of action. Well done, Rachel Hawkins, well done.

Things I Didn’t Like: I didn’t like the sadness I felt when the book ended. There are a lot of things that happen at the end that make you say “Oh…oh, that’s sad. That’s not good.” But that part sucked in a good way I suppose.

Overall: I loved it. I loved it a lot. I am recommending it to anyone that will listen. I can’t wait to read Spellbound!

Rating: 5 stars

Cover Art: I really like the cover art for this series, but it makes me open my book upside down a lot. I love the little hints it gives! However, don’t get too excited about the wedding dress on the cover, it isn’t what you think!

Review: The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3)

Title: The Mark of Athena
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Date Read: January 20-21, 2013

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy– after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera– it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. AS Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace. And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge Me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find– and close– the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader– but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…

Characters: I will only be discussing the characters that I didn’t discuss in the first two reviews, which pretty much just leaves Annabeth, so here goes…

Annabeth- You really feel for the girl in this one! She hasn’t seen her boyfriend in forever, and now she has a ridiculous task that her schizo mother expects her to do by herself. Oh, and nobody has survived this particular “quest.” Poor, poor girl. But one of the things that I love about Annabeth is that she sucks it up. She is a strong, smart girl, and a great role model for any younger readers. She keeps her head up even though she is struggling inside, and even though she couldn’t ask for help even if she wanted to, she doesn’t want to endanger others by asking. She also keeps it in her to be sensitive when it’s required.

Conflict: Annabeth, Percy, Hazel, Frank, Leo, Piper and Jason have to go to Rome to close the Doors of Death. Unfortunately, there are a billion obstacles along the way. Also, Annabeth is going through a ton of stuff, and won’t be able to be with them in Rome. At least for a while. The conflict is pretty well described in the blurb and in my Annabeth character section.

Things I Liked: I really loved the first two books in this series, and this book is no different. It’s 574 pages, and I read it in less than 48 hours. So, yeah it was pretty awesome. The conflict flows really well, and I love that it is both resolved and extended so that the next book is something you can look forward to, but there is still progress in the novel. That is a tightrope that not all authors make it across, and Riordan slam-dunks again. I may just have to look into his other series. In addition to the overall conflict, I really like that the story is told from the viewpoints of all of the main characters so that you can really understand all of their problems. And, as my other reviews may have hinted, I really like all of the mythology… Greek and Roman!

Things I Didn’t Like: Uh, pass? I know it might make me a bad reviewer, but I really can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Riordan is a really great writer, and so if he is making any big mistakes, he does a good job of covering them up so I don’t remember them later…

Overall: I love the way Rick Riordan writes, and I love the way that the characters all have really good qualities, but that in the tradition of Greek/Roman mythology, there is still a fatal flaw for all of the. The conflicts are all intertwined and both mysterious and understandable. Fantastic.

Rating: 5 stars

Review: Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)

Title: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Date Read: January 27, 2013

the longing.

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.

the loss.

Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.

the linger.

For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces– wolf and human– with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming, As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

Characters: I am only going to add one here, since he is pretty much the only new major character. Wait, I lied, one more!

Cole- At first, I hated him. Absolutely hated this haughty man-boy. But, like so many other things, he really grows on you. I really liked him by the end, but that really only came from him having to convince everyone else throughout the book (subconsciously or not) that he was worth liking. It’s hard to like someone that wants so badly for you to like them! Although if Cole were real, he would deny that wholeheartedly.

Isabel- I suppose Isabel is a lot like Cole, but we have known her longer. I loathed her at first, too! But I really think that Stiefvater meant for that to be the case. Books aren’t as good when there is nothing to hate! In the first book, we really didn’t get a whole lot of Isabel, because she really wasn’t too important. But certain events bring certain people together, so here she is! She grows on you, too. It always seems that there is more behind a person than we anticipate, and Stiefvater does a good job showing us that in these books.

Conflict: It’s a complete flip-flop guys. We don’t really miss things until they’re gone.This book is exhibit #2… and the first one is exhibit #1. You may not understand what I mean about it being a flip-flop unless you have read the first book, but I don’t want to explain it to you because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t read the first book!

Things I Liked: I liked the introduction of a brand new character. Too often, you see whole series progress without ever seeing a new character emerge, and I usually dislike those books. Cole was a pleasant surprise, and the conflict was something that kept you paying attention! I liked that Grace had a secret problem to deal with, I know that sounds awful, why would I want a character to have to deal with a sucky problem all by herself? Well, because it proves what that character is made of! Grace is tough stuff and I really like when there are legitimate problems that prove that. Notice that I said legitimate problems. One thing I really dislike is when the main character loses grip on a situation that was really entirely preventable and only serves to muddle in the actual story line.

Things I Didn’t Like: I guess I just didn’t like that I didn’t get enough. Every time the viewpoint changed I was like “ughhh” because I wanted to keep reading about that one particular person and what they were going through. That is just an angsty thing though, so I suppose it doesn’t really belong in this category. However, I am reviewing this a little late and I didn’t jot anything down, so I can’t remember any issues popping up along the way. At least not any that stuck with me.

Overall: I like these books a lot. After I finished the first one, I went right ahead and ordered the next two from Amazon. I ordered this one on Amazon Prime, so I got it in a couple days. But, I went without for Forever (the third in this trilogy), and it took forever to get here. It also didn’t come with any tracking information so I just about went crazy waiting for it. I am probably exaggerating about the snail mail in this instance, but the mind remembers what it wants to remember… Anyhow, I was pumped to read these, and this one lived up to my expectations, so on to the third!

Rating: 4 stars

**Cover Art: I am not sure if I want to make this a category for all of the book reviews I do, but I am doing it for this one, so here goes: I liked that this cover was so much like the first one, but that it gave a little hint about what was to happen between the covers. The cover for Forever does the same thing, too! Also, even though it isn’t cover art, I think that the color of the text is worth mentioning. All of the covers in this trilogy are a certain color, and the text is the same color as the cover color. At first when I was reading Shiver, I thought I was going crazy. But, alas, this book told me I wasn’t and Maggie Stiefvater is just clever.

My First Bad Review

So, if you guys have gotten a chance to look at my last post, you will see that it is a bad review for a book. I have to admit, I felt a little bit like a jerk writing it… like bloggers’ guilt or something. I feel like I was justified in giving it the review that I gave it (you can read it and be the judge), but I don’t know if you guys will see it that way. I suppose I feel especially bad about it because of the awesome reviews I have been giving some of the other books I have read recently. But, I think that is part of what made me give it such a bad review- the other books that I have been reading are so much better than that one. I wonder if I would have given it a better review if I had read it before the Hex Hall books or the Heroes of Olympus books. I may have put Need under a little less scrutiny. Who knows!?

Do any of my fellow book bloggers out there feel guilty after a bad review? Do you write more good reviews or bad reviews? Have you ever experienced this bloggers’ guilt?

Review: Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)

Title: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Hyperion

Date Read: January 24, 2013

“On her 12th birthday, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. Three bumpy years later, after a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, she’s exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Then when a mysterious predator begins attacking students, and Sophie’s only friend is the number-one suspect, a horrifying plot begins to surface. Soon, Sophie is preparing for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.”

Characters:

Sophie: I like Sophie. She is a very strong girl with a very strong will, and I really like that about her. Too often you read YA books where the main character has low self-esteem and battles throughout the novel. In Hex Hall, you get quite the opposite, and I really liked that. She is an outsider in this outsider world, and that would be enough to cripple some of the main characters in other books I have read, but Sophie keeps on going when things really are falling apart around her. Her only source of insecurity seems to be her magic. Otherwise, she doesn’t let other people get to her no matter what happens, and that is admirable- especially for a 15 year old. She has one hell of a journey ahead of her in this series!

Jenna: Jenna is Sophie’s roommate at Hex Hall, and she is even more of an outsider than Sophie. She is the only one of her kind at the school, and her classmates are not very nice to her (to say the least). However, she is a sensitive friend that really looks out for Sophie and you have to lover her for thinking of Sophie when her own life seems to such so much. Everyone deserves a friend like Jenna.

Elodie: We hate Elodie. When you read the novel, you will know why. She sucks! Well, I might be being a little too harsh here, but she does not make life very pleasant. She is your typical villain, but with the number of YA novels out there similar to this one, authors have a hard time breaking out of the mold. Every story needs a villain! She is beautiful and powerful, and those things make her high in the rankings, but a mean girl nonetheless.

Archer: Ahhhhh, Archer. He is pretty awesome, but he has some…baggage. I don’t want to give away the story here, so I really can’t go into too much detail. However, Archer is mysterious and fascinating and a little stupid all rolled into one, so you really can’t help but love him.

Conflict: An organization called L’Occhio Di Dio (The Eye of God) is out to rid the world of all Prodigium. They are famous for their heartless murdering of magical people, and it is their mission to keep doing just that.  People are dying at Hex Hall, and there is no proof that it is L’Occhio, and there are other possibilities flying around the school. One particular type of magical species is getting the brunt of the blame, and Elodie and her band of dark witches are really making it difficult for anyone to sleep soundly at night. I guess you will understand what I mean when you read the book. Anyway, it is a roller coaster ride at Hex Hall.

Things I Liked: I loved the magic part. I don’t really care that it is getting overdone, but I really like the idea of witches and whatnot. I loved Harry Potter growing up, and I still have that soft spot for magical stories. I really liked that this story didn’t focus on just witches, or just faeries, etc. I love when the author actually puts the other species in there, I think that it makes the author work harder and be a little more creative. It’s nice. I also loved the characters in this book! I love the mystery that comes with some of the characters. Another thing I liked was that this school didn’t seem any different than a normal high school (aside from the species of the students and the strangeness of the school)- the students fought like they should have and there were enemies like there should have been. No high school is clique-free.

Things I Didn’t Like: I know I said this for The Son of Neptune, but I didn’t really find a whole lot that I didn’t like about this book. I flew through this book in a day. That’s right, one day. I really liked it. The characters seemed well developed, and any holes I might have seen were holes for a reason. What I mean by that is that the holes were either explained, unnecessary, or were there to be explained in the next book. I just finished Demonglass, and of course there are holes in that one, too. The holes make a sequel possible, and we can’t forget that. They are what make us curious enough to read the next book! And believe me, you will really want to read the next book.

Overall: I loved it, I really did! As I said before, the characters are all well developed, the story is interesting and keeps the reader entertained. Hawkins really makes it easy to emotionally invest in the characters- and that is very important. Most authors are successful in making you emotionally invest in the main character, but Hawkins branches out and makes you care about more than just the main character. I highly recommend the next book! It has been a few days since I read this, and I lost the piece of paper that I wrote my notes on, so I apologize for not fleshing this out enough… I will do better next time!

Rating: 5 stars