Monday, March 18, 2013

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

3.5 stars

And All the Stars proves itself as an original plot with diverse and likeable characters.

The world is covered in a purple dust and there are black spires in major cities all over the world. People are dying, and those that survive and covered in stars or are stained green.

Madeleine Cost is at the epicenter of the invasion in Sydney. As a result, she is almost completely covered in stars.

Madeleine teams up with seven other teens and young adults who begin to refer to themselves as The Blue Musketeers. Madeleine and her new family of Musketeers must hide from the Moths who seek to possess their bodies.

And All the Stars is a lovely novel about strange new friendships and the love that develops during desperate times. In these young people, the seed of hope is nourished by the close bonds of love and a reliance in one another.

The novel is well written, and yet there were times that I was unsure who was speaking. Conversations between characters needed to be broken up some with action descriptions and with character names to increase the clarity as well as to help lead the reader along. The sheer number of characters made this a necessity that was not met as well as it might have been.

Advance Reader Copy provided by the publisher and

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Books I Want to Read

This week I'm starting a new post dedicated to the books I want to read, but I'm reading other books right now. Let me assure you, dear constant reader, there are always books I'd like to be reading but can't get to right this minute.

#1 on the list for this week is by my dear Goodread's friend, Karina Halle's new novella On Every Street. It's her back story into the romance between Ellie and Javier from Sins and Needles, book 1 of the Artist's Trilogy.

#2 is actually #2 and #3. Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa and the sequel, The Eternity Cure are on my must read list. I want to say that book 1 was on my list to read last year, but was pushed to the side. Now I have the second novel in the Blood of Eden series, The Eternity Cure courtesy of, so the series just got pushed up. I'm hearing lots of good buzz about The Eternity Cure.

This beauty is due out on April 30th, 2013 according to Amazon.

Okay, so that's three lovelies I want to be reading. This of course doesn't mean that I'm not currently enjoying And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst or City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte. I'm loving both!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was unprepared for the emotional ride that is Me Before You.

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At its heart, Me Before You is love story. Twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark hasn’t been anywhere really. Money has always been an issue, as Louisa helps to support her sister, her sister’s child, her parents, and her grandfather. But more than that, Louisa has been has let her lower middle class define her. She believes that travel, college, and other accoutrements of the educated upper classes are simply, “Not me.”

When The Buttered Bun tea shop that Louisa has been working in for the past five years suddenly closes, she is forced from her routine to find new employment. This bit of circumstance lands her squarely in the world of thirty-five-year old Will Traynor, a C5-6 quadriplegic, and forces Lou to rethink her safe choices. Will Traynor’s life, up until being hit by a vehicle was anything but safe.

The development of the friendship and eventual romance between Will and Lou is remarkably believable. Louisa, like most of us, is terrified by Will’s depression and sarcasm, but it’s Will’s attitude and Lou’s financial situation at home that forces her to reluctantly stay in her position as caregiver.

“Here’s what I know about you, Miss Clark. My mother says you’re chatty.” He said it like it was an affliction. “Can we strike a deal? Whereby you are very unchatty around me?”
I swallowed, feeling my face flame. “Fine,” I said, when I could speak again. “I’ll be in the kitchen. If you want anything, just call me.”

Will is often complete ass, but it’s difficult to blame him. He is at the mercy of his failing body; from pneumonia, to the pooling of his limbs, Will is in nearly constant pain. So it isn’t surprising that he is unhappy with the peacock-bright Louisa, busying herself in his space.

”I thought I’d see if I could fix any of these frames,” I said, holding one up. It was the picture of him bungee jumping. I tried to look cheerful. He needs someone upbeat, someone positive.


I blinked. “Well…I think some of these can be saved. I brought some wood glue with me, if your happy for me to have a go at them. Or if you want to replace them I can pop into thrown during my lunch break and see if I can find some more. Or we could both go, if you fancied a trip out…”

“Who told you to start fixing them?”
His stare was unflinching.

Uh-oh, I thought. “I…I was just trying to help.”

“You wanted to fix what I did yesterday.”


“Do you know what, Louisa? It would be nice—just for once—if someone paid attention to what I wanted. Me smashing those photographs was not and accident. It was not an attempt at radical interior design. It was because I actually don’t want to look at them.”

I got to my feet. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that—“

“You thought you knew best. Everyone thinks they know what I need. Let’s put the bloody photos back together. Give the poor invalid something to look at. I don’t want to have those bloody pictures staring at me every time I’m stuck in my bed until someone comes and bloody well gets me out of it again. Okay? Do you think you can get your head around that?”

I swallowed. “I wasn’t going to fix the one with Alicia—I’m not that stupid…I just thought that in a while you might feel—“

“Oh Christ…” He turned away from me, his voice scathing. “Spare me the psychological therapy. Just go and read your bloody gossip magazines or whatever it is you do when you’re not making tea.”

My cheeks were aflame. I watched him maneuver in the narrow hallway, and my voice emerged even before I knew what I was doing.

“You don’t have to behave like such an arse.”

The words rang out in the still air.

The wheelchair stopped. There was a long pause, so that he was facing me, his hand on the little joystick.


In the truce that occurs after this interaction, Will begins to treat Louisa like the fixture in his household she will become. With this shift in power, and as the weeks slip by, Louisa begins to look forward to her days with Will.

Moyes has written a novel that challenges the idea that we know what’s best for those in situations that mirror Will Traynor's. Even Louisa is susceptible to the notion that she knows what Will wants, her judgment—like that of his family, clouded by love and the ultimate fear of saying goodbye forever. What is a life after all? Is it an able bodied person’s right to decide for another what constitutes a life? Is love enough?

Further, Louisa and Will's affection for one another challenges the traditional notion concerning love. Will is determined to make Louisa see that he isn't fit for anyone's romantic feelings. Not surprisingly, Louisa has her own ideas concerning love.

Moyes beautiful novel, Me Before You, challenges us to ask who gets to decide what a life is? It is a deeply human book, both funny, and tragic that asks us, "What makes living worth it?"

Advance reader copy provided by Viking in conjunction

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Angelopolis: A NovelAngelopolis: A Novel by Danielle Trussoni

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Angelopolis is a disaster of a book.

It begins well, with our hero from book #1, Verlaine, and his meeting with Evangeline. Evangeline is taken by Eno, an evil Emin angel, which is the start of our adventure to Dullsville.

Trussoin spends an incredible number of pages dedicated to what each type of angel looks like, and what they do. Equally, the dedication to Noah and his seed catalog is tiresomely drawn out.

What is lacking from Angelopolis is a point. Verlaine MUST get Evangeline back because he feels awe and flutters when he's near her. The actual emotions of the characters are so stilted and academic, it hurts. The motivation is nil, and so the characters simply exist and perform the essential tasks needed to move the meager plot forward.

In this passage, Verlaine "shivers" because "There was something in her manner that inspired a sense of fearlessness." What that something is, we don't know. The character that inspires fearlessness, said relatively little.

In another instance, Vera has just awoken to find her party greatly reduced.

"Vera wanted to say something but she couldn't find her voice. She hoped that her silence would be understood as a kind of vigil."

These kinds of passages just scream cop-out. These are moments to be taken advantage of in character development, but instead, Trussoni simply moves forward. After all, there's boring and oddly executed action scheduled!

Equally troublesome are the settings that contain items that were previously not included.

"There was no bed and no sign of food or water."

Just one page later and in the same setting Trussoni writes, "Lucien went to his bed and pulled a beat-up suitcase from underneath."

Magically appearing beds are one thing, but cots and metal chairs make an appearance as well in a prison setting.

"There were no blankets, beds, or toilets nothing more than what was absolutely necessary to sustain the creatures."

"They (Angels) screamed and struck at the tower with whatever was on hand--metal folding chairs and rods broken form the cots in their cells."

Now they have cots, but no beds? It's troublesome when an author isn't clear about the rules that govern the world she's created. The angels either rest or need sleep, or they don't.

While I'm discussing things that don't exist, let's talk about the title. (view spoiler)[ There is no Angelopolis! Apparently it exists in the inner circle of the prison, but that's the extent of the conversation. I can only conclude that Trussoni liked the sound of the word, and used it. She had to put something about an Angelopolis in the book, and so we are fed lame lines that add up to nothing. (hide spoiler)]

At the heart of the plot are the evil angels and their threat to humanity. Very little time is spent on creating a sense of fear and impending doom. We simply have to take it on the word of the Angelologists that the angels are evil.

Let's not forget that Evangeline is in danger and Verlaine must save her because he feels awe and flutters when she's around. So, in what must be the stupidest section of the book, (view spoiler)[ Verlaine leaves Bruno and Yana from a security post because he's tired of talking and goes off to find Evangeline in the prison alone. Why? "His time for simply taking orders was over. He was going after Evangeline alone." Except that there were NO orders. (hide spoiler)]

This kind of manufactured drama stilted, I could simply not take it seriously.

Finally, the conclusion is horribly thrown together, and an ridiculous cliffhanger is tacked to the last page. (view spoiler)[ Verlaine plans to catch Evangeline, and kill her! (hide spoiler)] Dumb.

Quotes taken from an unedited e-galley.

ARC provided by and Viking

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Friday, March 1, 2013

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest DarkThe Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4.5

"I'm going to kiss you, Eleanore," he said quietly, still looking at her. "Not now. Later." His eyes cut back to mine. "I thought it fair tell you first."
I stilled. "If you think you can do so without me biting your lip, feel free to try."
His gaze shown wicked blue. "I don't mind if you bite."
"Biting your lip off, I should have said."
"Ah. Let's see how it goes, shall we?"

The title of this sure fire winner, did nothing to prepare me for the rather original story that resides between its pretty cover.

The plot is set in Victorian England at the onset of WWI. Lora Jones is found in the streets of London at around age 10, without language or clothing, Lara is raised in an orphanage. When Lara confesses to hearing music, voices, and other oddities, she is sent to a mental institution.

Lara is nothing if not bright, and learns to hide and lie her way to a clean bill of mental health. "Cured", she is sent to an elite all girls boarding school on England's southern coast.

It is there that she meets the mute grounds keeper, Jesse, and the Duke of Idylling's son, Armand.

Ah, but this is not your typical love triangle, but we'll get to that in a minute.

What sets The Sweetest Dark a part from other YA novels is the treatment of the characters.

Lara is not obsessed by her looks, or her lack on money. Instead, Lara is much more concerned with simple things that she can do something about, like eating enough at each meal. After being hungry for so long, Lara is simply happy to exist in a semi-safe environment.

This is not the first YA book to be set in a boarding school, but it is the first that I've read that handles the bull-shit that the other girls dish in a very adult manner. Most YA novels feature a tough main protagonist who is ready to kick ass, even at her own detriment. This is not the case in The Sweetest Dark. Lara does nothing without fully weighing the options. The results are refreshing and satisfying.

We'd entered that numbed, dragging stretch of hours before Sunday tea and after church, when Iverson's genteel young ladies tended to wander off in their individual clusters to genteelly shred the characters of anyone beyond their circle.

There's so much drama going on with our three main characters not being exactly human that we just don't need more problems in the form of secondary school girls. Yes, the dynamic is there, but Abe doesn't fixate, and for that, I thank her.

The attention of Jesse and Armand are equally adult. Lara is Jesse's beloved, and that is obvious from the beginning. There are no games, there's no, "what ifs or whys". Their love just is.

Armand plays his own role. Confused by his obsession over Lara, who he calls "the waif" he attempts to puzzle her out. She's not very forth coming, and their interaction, much like her interactions with the other school girls is satisfying. Lara is quick witted and matches Armand's self-loathing turn for turn.

As I've mentioned, the three are not exactly human, but again, Abe's treatment of the three is realistic. There's nothing in The Sweetest Dark that comes easily for the three, which makes the magic that much more believable. I don't wish to give away what they are, but suffice it to say, Abe again delivers on originality.

A great big Thank You to Shana Abe for her contribution to awesome female characters that do smart things! Oh, and thanks for a book that doesn't contain fey, vampires, or werewolves. You Rock!

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Quotes taken from unpublished proof. ARC provided by Netgalley in association with Bantam Books

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