Friday, November 30, 2012

The Cranes Dance

Kate Crane is by herself for the first time ever. Her constant companion and sister Gwen is back home, recovering from a self inflicted injury and an undiagnosed mental illness. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and she now lives in her sister's apartment. She has plenty to occupy her time as a soloist in a New York ballet company. She has rehearsals, performances, and classes to fill her time, but even though her sister isn't there, she constantly lives in her shadow. Gwen surpassed her in the company and Kate now wears the costumes she would wear and essentially lives Gwen's leftover life. Through flashback and inner dialog, we get to know Kate and see her journey during the months of her sister's recovery.

I am a sucker for all things involving ballet. I find it infinitely interesting because of the physical demands, the ability, the dedication, and the grace involved to really be successful. Plus the music is phenomenal. The Cranes Dance is an interesting look into the world of top tier dancers with a decent into madness similar to the film Black Swan. I enjoyed the dancing aspects of the book. The descriptions of dancing gestures, conventions, and the plot of Swan Lake at the beginning of the novel are hilarious. I laughed out loud a lot, much to the interest of the random people around me at school. I loved learning the French technical terms and the descriptions of the dance. I honestly wish there was a little more detail about Kate's performances later in the novel. As the novel goes on, they get a little glossed over, but her mental state is more important then. The schedule these dancers adhere to is insane with practice and classes every day, rehearsals, performances, in addition to trying to have some semblance of a social life. I also never really thought about the physical toll of a high level of dance and the short careers of top ballet dancers.

Kate is an interesting character because she never tries to hide her insecurities or her crazy or petty thoughts. I actually really liked her because of her honesty and sense of humor. She lives within the shadow of her absent sister and, even though she isn't present for most of the book, Gwen has a marked presence. Kate wears Gwen's clothes, sleeps in her bed, plays the roles she would have played, and the list goes on. It's no wonder that she becomes obsessed with comparing herself to her sister and their past. They have a toxic relationship where Gwen falls apart and Kate covers it up and picks up the pieces. Kate is jealous of Gwen's dancing ability despite her mental illness. She has to come to terms with the reasons why she called her parents about Gwen's behavior. They may be more selfish than she is willing to admit. Over the course of the book, Kate injures her neck, becomes addicted to Vicodin, and suffers a mental decline throughout the novel. The mental part kind of sneaks up on her because she doesn't acknowledge her addiction or the things that really bother her. She struggles to appear completely happy and normal to those around her, even when they offer her help.

The Cranes Dance is a dark, funny, and honest book written by a former dancer Meg Howrey. She integrates her knowledge of dance very well and gives the novel a dose of realism. I found myself staying up late and forgetting to do other things to finish this book. I highly recommend it to fans of Black Swan and ballet dancing in general.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 29, 2012


In the English town Sorry-in-the-Vale, Kami Glass has heard a boy's voice in her head her entire life. His name is Jared and they share everything with each other. Having silent conversations all the time does not do wonders for the social life, so Kami is largely considered strange and someone to be avoided except for to her best friend Angela, a beautiful misanthrope. Together (more reluctantly on Angela's part, they create a school paper. While setting everything up, a newcomer named Ash Lynburn offers to join the paper. He and his family are famous historically and have come back after years and years of living in America, much to the chagrin of much of Sorry-in-the-Vale's citizens. Two strange things have happened since the Lynburns have returned: animals have been brutally murdered in the woods near Kami's house and Ash's cousin Jared seems very similar to the Jared who speaks to her in her head. Kami vows to use her intrepid reporter skills to solve these two mysteries, but she has no idea how it will change her life and the very town she lives in.

Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors due to her great writing, boisterous personality, and general hilarity. Unspoken is one of the best books I've read in a while. The characters are all fully realized and diverse. Kami is a fun and interesting character. She isn't a shrinking violet or incredibly passive like so many romantic YA novels. Intelligent and insatiably curious, Kami investigates the animal murders and tries to learn as much as she can about her connection with Jared. Jared isn't the typical bad boy. Sure, he gets in trouble and has issues, but he never treats Kami badly or does anything truly horrific. Even the love triangle here isn't terrible. I have grown to truly hate them since it seems to be a lazy authors way to make the girl desirable and interesting AND one of the male characters is completely ruined to make the choice between the two clear. Ash and Jared are very different and have their own appeal, but the book is really about Kami and Jared and how they can cope with having any sort of real relationship. The minor characters are all interesting and add their own varied personalities to the story. My favorites are Kami's best friend Angela and her self defense enthusiast brother.

I love the concept of the story with two people that can communicate and hear what they other is thinking at all times. When these two people meet, things get weird. They know just about everything about each other: their petty, horrible thoughts, secret desires, and a multitude of other things they would never want anyone else to know. They also can't sand to physically be around each other. Any other author would have the two characters instantly fall into a romantic relationship where they are soul mates that are meant to be together and everything is perfect. (I would hate the crap out of that book because it's a carbon copy of all other paranormal romances out there.) Brennan takes a completely different route and shows how many problems would realistically arise in a situation like this. No one wants a significant other that can read their every thought. We all have horrible, hurtful thoughts we don't really mean and thoughts just not meant for public consumption. This situation would be disastrous for any sort of relationship. Kami and Jared have no idea if their feelings are real since they can feel everything the other feels. They also have no capacity at all for what it's like to be truly alone and independent. This relationship is problematic at best and they don't really know what they are to each other when face to face. I love that Brennan doesn't take the easy way out and explores the problems and facets of this unique relationship.

Unspoken is an amazing novel that I had to finish. The twists and turns in the story are considerable and surprised me. Brennan's writing is just delightful and I can't get enough of her quick witted humor. The love triangle and the bond between Jared and Kami could have been really badly handled, but she subverts my expectations and makes them new and interesting.The ending ripped my heart out a little, but it was necessary. I don't know why everyone is calling it a cliff hanger. It's really not, but it does make you want to know what happens in the next book, which I will definitely be reading. Highly recommended for fantasy fans not afraid of some humor.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Pumpkin pie is my one of favorite things about this holiday, mostly because I hate turkey. My other favorite thing is spending time with my brother and his girlfriend and stuffing myself with delicious food while we watch Home for the Holidays. I hope every one of you has a fantastic day with friends or family and lots of fattening foods. Love you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Lex's life has completely changed. Not only is she a Grim that helps bring souls to the Afterlife, but her life has turned upside down with the betrayal of Zara, the Culling of her power to Damn, and the death of her twin sister Cordy. When she returns to Croak, her welcome is less than warm. Most of the Seniors and residents hate the Juniors and especially Lex, blaming her for Zara's crimes and the following mayhem. As Zara's attacks get more frequent and the inhabitants of Croak get more hostile, Lex, Driggs, and her fellow Juniors flee to DeMyse, Las Vegas on crack and another Grim city to regroup and follow the clues to the Wrong Book, which may hold the key in beating Zara. Hopefully she can stop Zara before she Damns her closest friends and family.

Scorch starts up shortly after Croak left off with the wake of rage and guilt that Lex feels over the death of her sister and her unintentional complicity with Zara. This book is much darker than its predecessor and is in short supply of its fun and lightness. However, that happy go lucky element is replaced by character development, plot twists, deepening relationships, and even deaths. There are some truly heartwrenching moments here that just pull at my heartstrings, which I didn't really expect. The snappy, clever dialog is here again, but toned down because of the dark and serious tone of the novel. I still laughed out loud at certain moments and I love how sharp and quick-witted Lex is.

The characters are fully realized and just awesome. Lex is deeply conflicted and guilt ridden while she struggles to solve her problems. Her relationship with Driggs deepens and intensifies as they support each other for all the bad times. I love their relationship and their silly banter even in the most dire of situations. They are the glimmer of hope in all the horrible things that happen. Uncle Mort is much better than in the last book where he was fairly forgettable except for being odd. There is a method to his madness and he shows he knows much more than he lets on. New characters Pip and Bang are dynamic and interesting, proving to be needed and wonderful additions to the novel.

There are a few things that bother me and make the novel a little less than perfect. The actions of characters are weird and the resolutions just don't seem to measure up to the epic lead up. The villains, as much as I love to hate them, are pretty one dimensional and flat. This makes it easy to hate them, but could be written a little better. Other than these few problems, I love Scorch and the unique world Gina Damico has created. I eagerly await the third installment.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Gemma has abandoned her family to run off with sirens Penn, Lexie, and Thea in order to keep her family safe and stay alive. She wants nothing to do with them, but doesn't want to put her family in danger. Avowed to punish herself, Gemma refuses to give in to her siren desires and becomes weak and starved. Her deep and strong urges become harder to ignore as she becomes more and more weak. Over time, she changes from the girl she was at home, hard at work and innocent. Harper is frantic to find Gemma and take care of her father. She picks up the pieces Gemma left behind: Alex, her and Gemma's dad, and dealing with the death of a close family friend. If Harper finds her, will Gemma still be the same girl that left? Or has she changed drastically because of the evil nature of the mythological creature she is now?

Wake, the first book in the series, was ok, but it definitely had its flaws. Lullaby is a slight improvement. Gemma is slightly less annoying. The first book had her acting quite childishly and annoying, making me relate to her more mature sister Harper. This installment has her coming to grips with her new state as a siren and trying to abstain from the pleasurable aspects and the more monstrous aspects of siren nature. She pushes the limits of what her body can take to keep her sense of morality, even if her nature tends towards evil. The other sirens are more fleshed out than the last book. Penn views humans as toys to be used and discarded or as food. She is incredibly manipulative, jealous, and vindictive. Lexie proves to be the nicest, extending advice and help to Gemma. I find her the most interesting because despite her evil nature, she manages to still be good, giving some shades of grey to the previously black and white world. Harper is an awesome character, even if she isn't mystical or mythical. She stays home to pick up the pieces Gemma left behind and works relentlessly to find Gemma. The only annoying thing is that she keeps trying to push Daniel away because of what she perceives to be what is right. I'm fairly certain they will end up together, so this predictable back and forth is unnecessary.

I really enjoyed the horror aspects of this book. For a romantic and mythical story, there is a surprising amount of blood and gore. I would have thought this would put the target audience off, but the reception for the first book was pretty positive The stilted conversations that annoyed me in the first novel are much improved here. They flow more naturally and made the book more engaging and made me want to read it. There was one point in the book where the the characters act without thinking about the ramifications and then just sit around doing nothing. Very frustrating, but it was the only glaring flaw in an otherwise enjoyable narrative.

Lullaby is a decided improvement over Wake. I enjoyed the story and the deeper, more complex characters.  I am interested to see what happens in the next book, Tidal.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cover Reveal: Heaven Sent by E. Van Lowe

Here is the beautiful and awesome cover for the latest book in E. Van Lowe's Boyfriend from Hell series, Heaven Sent!


What Does It All Mean?

Readers who devoured Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel will be captivated by the third book in the Falling Angels Saga.

As summer break for Glendale Union high begins, heartsick Megan awaits Guy's return while struggling to control her emerging abilities.  Love is in the air, but can the new loves in Megan, Maudrina, Suze and Aunt' Jaz's life be trusted? Nothing is what it seems.  Meanwhile, the Satanists are set to hatch their most diabolical scheme ever, and if it comes to pass, Satan may finally win out.

Megan has precious little time to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the riddle she received at the end of Earth Angel. If she doesn’t, the life of someone most dear to her will be lost forever, and Megan may yet find herself living in HELL.

“The third book in E. Van Lowe’s Falling Angels Saga is his most thrilling yet.”

The color scheme is great and it fits in nicely with the other beautiful covers. Keep an eye out for it in 2013 and in the meantime, get the first two in the series!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Gemma is a star swimmer at her school on the fast track to the Olympics in a few years. She works hard and  devotes herself to her sport during the day and goes leisure swimming at night in the bay despite her sister Harper's warning that it's dangerous. The boy next door Alex is seen through new eyes and she falls for him as he falls for her. Everything is just about perfect until three very beautiful and creepy girls come into Gemma's life. Penn, Lexie, and Thea are eerily beautiful and rumors surround them everywhere they go. They take an interest in Gemma, but their dark nature and demanding attitudes put Gemma off until they force her to drink from a flask and throw her into the ocean wrapped in a golden shawl. Afterwards, Gemma feels weird and becomes faster, stronger, and more beautiful over night. She needs to find out what those girls did to her and how she has changed.

I was not a fan of Amanda Hocking's Trylle series, so I was a little hesitant to start this series. The writing improved. Even when I saw the flaws in the book, the writing kept me interested and focused on the story. Some of the characters are pretty well developed. Gemma is a great character for the most part. She's driven and smart, but her relationship with Alex seems a little too perfect. I love Harper, Gemma's older sister. She became a mother to Gemma at a young age because their mom suffered brain damage after an accident. I related more to her and liked her more because of her selflessness and ability to put her father and Gemma's needs before her own, even at the expense of her own childhood. The siren aspect is interesting and not entirely expected. They proved to be more violent and gory then expected. There are also many flaws with them.

Penn, Lexie, and Thea are mythological creatures who foolishly pissed off gods and have to suffer the consequences for eternity. Unfortunately, they are flat villain characters with no redeeming qualities. They have no facets and are simply evil, selfish, manipulative beings. I grew bored with them through the course of the book. They also have an extra stage of transformation beyond their finned form and I found it to be quite ridiculous. I get that both forms are present in mythology, but choose one or the other. Gemma is super annoying and selfish at times. She acted as one much younger than 16. Most of the plot points are pretty predicatable. The dialog is often stiff and unnatural. There are some huge passages of introspective inner dialog that could be shortened a lot and it just serves to spoon feed the reader motivations of the characters. Some of the writing is ham handed, but the main characters are much improved.

I had some major problems with this book, but it proved to be more enjoyable than her previous series. I will be continuing the series.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins