Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Review: Spooky YA Novels Galore

If they gave out Olympic medals for reading, I would make Michael Phelps’ epic medal collection look like chump change. Okay, I suppose it depends on my reading. I recently bought the first four books of the Game of Thrones, but it’s a bit of a slower read because over half my time is spent, “Now who is this person again? What’s going on? What’s happening? When is it going to get interesting?”—so I’m really hoping the HBO version is better. Adult fantasy books clearly aren’t my skill level.

But YA fantasy books totally are.

This weekend I read three fabulous YA novels, and the titles alone should intrigue you. They did me.

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting reminds me a little of the Snow White fairy tale because there is an evil queen who doesn’t want to give up her power, a heroine who we find is destined to rule, and a black moment you knew was coming but wondered how is this story going to be saved? The men in this book—this heroine has THREE different guys you’ll end up rooting for—and yet you wonder, “Okay, which one is the good guy? Which one should she end up with?” Not in a love triangle sort of way, per se, but in a “Is the one she seems most drawn to really the best guy for her?” I found the author’s voice very readable; and it’s in first person—my favorite. Also, the setting for the dystopian world was filled in enough to feel interesting and new. A fast, entertaining read.

AS DEAD AS IT GETS by Katie Alender is actually the second in a series, which I was unaware of when I started. I think this made the story more interesting because much of the time, I was like, “What the hell happened before?” It was hinted at a lot and she did reveal enough details where you could piece it together, but at the same time, I want to go back and find the first book. It sounds too crazy to be believed. This story is about a teenage girl who can see dead people; and on top of it, one of the dead girls she can see happens to be a girl she helped kill. In the last book. I mean, it’s got a Christopher Pike theme going on in creep factor. But the heroine is quickly overshadowed by this quirky little detail when it becomes clear that a new ghost girl—someone she’s never met and never knew—is trying to kill her. And worse, she keeps killing off people the heroine knows and making it look like she did it. Nice. Talk about making a girl an outcast in her own school…and then there’s that stint in the mental hospital. And all the heroine is trying to do is make sure her younger sister is not affected by this. Yeah, good luck! Fortunately it all turns out right in the end, in case you were worried. You should give it a whirl—you’ll read it fast, I assure you!

WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellisen is a debut book and the most original of the three, I thought. (Not that I was really comparing—they were all good reads.) But the setting is in a different place. Not really dystopian, but more like an alternate Victorian or Dickens era setting. In fact, one of the characters, Dash, reminds me of a Dickens character, and I haven’t actually read any Dickens novel. The heroine (Felicita) belongs to the privileged upper-class, but soon finds herself betrothed to someone she does not want to marry. And it’s not so much the fiancé as it is the way of life—women literally have no rights in the upper-classes and she can’t bear the boredom of it. On top of it, her best friend commits suicide to get out of a betrothal. So the heroine stages her own suicide in order to run away from home. She disappears into the seedy part of her world, a sort of lower London on the Thames sort of world. The world she belongs to is superstitious and full of magic; in fact she herself is capable of magic, which is part of her world status. The man who helps her in this new world—Dash—has his own agenda, and as she is pulled more and more into his plans, she has to make a decision if she will allow herself to be ruled by him or if she’ll follow her own beliefs? Dark but lyrical, I found this the most haunting of the three.

So what have you been reading lately? Let’s talk about the books which have captured our attention lately—anything lyrical or full of action?

24 comments:

Maureen said...

Well, I found the Longmire books quite lyrical... And I read Krisin Higgins newest book and dug it. But not sure I'd say lyrical fits it's description, but it was fun. Same with Nancy Martin and the newest Blackbird Sister mystery...

But then again, I haven't read much lately...and my eyes are recovering from being dilated so I didn't read a thing today, uh, Monday.

Marnee Bailey said...

As to YA, I read Anna Dressed in Blood. It was really good. I read Sherry Thomas's second in her series, the Ravishing the Heiress. I can't wait for the third in that one.

Besides that, I'm trying to write. But I should be reading more, probably. I could stand some filling up the well. :)

TerriOsburn said...

How do you obtain an English degree without reading Dickens? I've read Dickens. My kiddo read Dickens this past school year. HOW did you get around that???

What have I read? Well, I've reviewed most all the books I've read this summer so nothing new to report beyond those. Right now I'm reading a friend's unpublished MS. And it's back to writing. But I brought a couple books home from conference (yes, just a couple) so I have something to pick up in August.

Janga said...

I reviewed Molly O'Keefe's second single-title, Can't Hurry Love today. I loved it! I thought it was the best turnaround of heroine I didn't like to one I was totally rooting for since SEP's Sugar Beth. I have an eARC of The Notorious Countess Confesses,the next book in Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series, and I'm excited about reading it.

The O'Keefe and several other great reads are releasing today. Aming those I've already read and loved are How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins, All Summer Long by Susan Mallery (maybe the best in the Fool's Gold series), and Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis. Emilie Richards's One Mountain Away is also out today, a wonderful read for those who like women's fiction. I like Liz Carlyle's The Bride Wore Pearls too.

MsHellion said...

Hi Mo! Yeah, not everyone is lyrical. *LOL* I find a lot of YA novels lyrical and that might be why I gravitate to them more. And darker. But the supernatural darker rather than thriller-killer kind. *LOL* But Longmire sounds like a good one to note; and I'm glad you enjoyed the newest Higgins book. My favorite of hers is MY ONE AND ONLY, but I think that's because I love reunion stories.

MsHellion said...

Marn, yeah, now the group has pledged to write more, I suppose reading more is a bit out of the question. Still...maybe keep a "WISH LIST" as a reward. You should reward yourself at the end of a writing session with something you like. A chapter or two of a good book might be nice before bed.

MsHellion said...

Terri, it's amazing the breadth of things I didn't read and got an English degree. It's called mastering the art of the skim and also massive note taking. A lot of this stuff was regurgitating themes the professor thought important. I was great at pulling things out of context so to speak to support my argument and moving on. (Deacon Elder's daughter at work!) I particularly loathed Dickens though. He was boring and manipulative. And to me, a fake. Dragging this crap out by the paragraph and it's all "life is awful" with a sappy ending. I have issues with Dickens. *LOL*

I agree it IS appalling though. But I think it's appalling that so much of the literature we're encouraged to read is so darned depressing.

OMG, you bought a book! To go with your other unread books! *LOL* But I applaud your optimism!

MsHellion said...

I knew Janga wouldn't let me down with a new list. Okay, must stop by the bookstore! (Though I'm still not falling for the ONE MOUNTAIN AWAY. It's a trap, people! *LOL* I respect it couldn't have ended any other way, but deep down I know it's a trap! *LOL*)

P. Kirby said...

Currently reading Stacia Kane's Unholy Magic, the second in the series. It's hardly lyrical, more like seriously spooky UF with a protagonist who has drug addiction from hell. Anna Dressed in Blood is next along with Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. I'm still...totally obsessed with fan fiction.

I loved the first three books in the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones), but book four is a total letdown, five...which I just read, was okay. But fantasy is totally my thing. Season one of the TV series was good--great casting. Might be more approachable for non-fantasy readers. Since it's HBO, expect loads of violence and sex.

I've never read any Dickens. (Also, never gotten more than a few pages into Jane Austen, so not much of a classics reader.)

TerriOsburn said...

I don't have HBO but it was available in some hotel I stayed in not long ago. Watched about 8 minutes of Game of Thrones and couldn't take the violence. That stuff is not for me.

TerriOsburn said...

Oh, and Kiddo reads the Immortal Instruments stuff. I think she's reading the second Prince one right now.

MsHellion said...

Pat, no worries, never got more than a few pages into Austen either, which I consider a truer crime. THOUGH I could usually plug along with Mark Twain all right. And Kate Chopin(?)--the chick who wrote the Yellow Wallpaper. MAN, that girl had some problems, but good. I remember a women's literature class that I loved--everything we read was wonderful, but I suspect that had far more to do with the teacher than the content. She was passionate about the subject and able to make it very interesting.

MsHellion said...

HBO is pretty violent. (Understatement of the Decade I suspect.) ROME was violent...and graphic so I only survived a few episodes of that.

P. Kirby said...

I watch HBO, Starz, Showtimes series on DVD, so I'm always a season behind. As a rule, the producers of cable series revel in the absence of censors. That's why I like them; I'm a sick puppy.

Mortal Instruments was cheap, about $2.99, a couple of weeks ago. As was Anna Dressed in Blood. I'm all about cheap. Thought I'd give 'em a try.

P. Kirby said...

Rome was violent, Spartacus even more so. Husband-critter and I devised a drinking game for Spartacus. Take a shot for every instance of the word "cock." At the end of an episode, one could easily have alcohol poisoning.

Maureen said...

What a fun sounding game!

I do need to get something going in the currently reading department...nothing really fills me with excitement...sigh...

Di R said...

I've recently finished Shadow of Night, the second in The Discovery of Witches trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I can't wait for the next one. Also, she was in our area on a book tour, and she was great. This book takes place in 1590, and I loved how she incorporated real people and places.

Now I'm reading Bloodline by James Rollins-man I love him!

Di

quantum said...

I've given up fiction while the Olympics are on!

Just watched Michael Phelps add to his medal collection. What a swimmer. He's generally acknowledged as the greatest Olympian ever!

Also watched the American Lady Gymnasts taking gold. An awesome spectacle.

I think we need synchronised writing as an Olympic event.
You guys would look great in leotards. *wink*

Janga said...

You don't think Kate Chopin's The Awakening is depressing, Hellie? It's one I always want to add to Jenny Crusie's reference to literary classics (Madame Bovary, Anna Karanina) in which women who go after what they want die or become celibates devoted to good works (Hester Prynne). Granted the insanity of the heroine in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is even more depressing. But to be fair, Chopin also wrote "The Storm" in which great sex between adulterous lovers ends with everyone happy, and Gilman wrote Herland with its feminist utopia sans competition and conflict.

MsHellion said...

I definitely want to try Pat's drinking game. Who's in?

MsHellion said...

Mo, I hate it when I can't find books that excite me to read, but the older I get, the broader my interests become. Or maybe it's the writing aspect--I'm willing to read self-help books, history, psychology, religion, and other non-fiction, as well as writing craft books (so long as they refill the well and don't poison it! Hard to pick a good one that does that!), and sometimes I'll branch into other aspects of fiction I enjoy. Like in my romance, the aspects I really like are the social history--so I find books about social history in the eras I find fascinating. I love reading stuff about Indian and Islamic cultures--as a family network. I know I like books with dystopian themes, so I go looking for those kinds of books, which is how I got so hard and heavy into the YA novels. I mean, there was Harry Potter and Twilight, but after that, I had to do some searching. (Though I did enjoy the Princess Diaries...I am charmed by the variety. Just depends what I am in the mood for. Mood is extremely important. Maybe you need to figure out your mood--what are you interested in knowing more about?)

MsHellion said...

Di, I love when authors can incorporate real places and time!! Will have to investigate those books. Excellent suggestion. I read the Devil Colony by James Rollins--and he's excellent at suspense and tension--and now I never want to go to Yellowstone National Park because I think it will blow in a fiery mess *LOL*--and my previous boss loved the book so much he still is obsessing about it and recommending it to others. *LOL* I'm guessing this is a similar sort of thriller?

MsHellion said...

Q, typically I'm not an Olympics fan, but I've been watching bits and pieces--I even watched some volleyball yesterday and was so obsessed, Dad and I nearly missed his doctor's appt! I still don't know if they won.

I do love the gymnastics and I saw on the news they kicked some ass, so that'll be fun to watch tonight. I'm looking forward to it (assuming it's not past my bedtime when they show it!)

I did feel bad about the guy gymnastics last night...when Japan had their little fit and Ukraine got kicked out of 3rd place. You could see them roll their eyes, like, "Well, that's JAPAN, they always have to win..." Too bad. I'm sure they were all really awesome; and glad to see GB got one of the top medals, even though I wish they'd retained their 2nd place status.

MsHellion said...

See, I knew I should have goggled names or something. I wasn't sure about Chopin, but knew she wrote something depressing too. Yes, the Yellow Wallpaper (Perkins) was so terribly depressing, but I think it really gave me my first real fire about how belittling men could be to women and their real health problems--that it's only been very recently (last 30 years or so) we've been approaching mental illness and depression more compassionately.

Now I have to look up the Chopin book where no one dies in the end but has sex. Of course THAT one was never featured in class. WTH. And definitely find Herland.

I love your comments when I bring up stuff like this. You're so patient with my obvious ignorance--esp when I supposedly majored in English! I was always better at the writing than the literature, I'm afraid.