Really Ravishing Review (Mercy)

literati_rain66 Friday, May 20, 2011 ,
MercyReview of Mercy, by Rebecca Lim. 

Quickie: Delightful. Mercy managed to be fresh, despite it's recently over-used paranormal element. (That's a compliment, by the way)

Note: I read Mercy without a clue as to what it was about. I didn't read the back cover. I went in cold turkey, and I'm glad I did. Sometimes the back cover can really spoil the first half of the book... Anyhow.

Full: Mercy wakes up in a new body. She's disoriented and desperately trying to untangle the clues to her new life. She's only in this life temporarily, or, that's what she seems to remember about this whole experience anyway. Mercy's self-awareness is vague and incomplete, but she's certain that she's not the person this body belongs to, Carmen. But -plop- here she is, in Carmen's body, on a bus headed to a multi-school singing engagement.

With a single touch Mercy discovers that the people she's to be staying with, her host family, are struggling to cope with an impossible grief. Their daughter Lauren has been missing -possibly dead- for nearly two years. Mercy, Carmen, whoever she is, is going to be staying in this missing girl's bedroom. The anguish this causes the family is painfully obvious and made worse by an outburst from Lauren's brother, Ryan. He doesn't believe Lauren is dead. After all, she is his twin. He would know. But his parents feel that it's time to move on, and thus they've begun hosting singers in their home again.

Mercy can't help but feel like maybe Ryan's right. And she can't help feeling like maybe this time, instead of just biding her time until she wakes up as someone else, she can do something. She can make a difference. She can help.

Her resolve is only strengthened when another girl goes missing. The stakes are getting higher and time is running out.

What did I think about Mercy? I was pleasantly surprised. Here's why.

Mercy: At first you get the impression that she's sort of rolling her eyes. "This again. Great. Another body, let's see what I'll have to put up with this time." She's not all that concerned with the body she's in, she just wants to survive it. But then she becomes invested and you see her turn from the eye roller to a caring being who puts others before herself. That was lovely.

Mercy also keeps her cool. I mean, how freaky would it be to keep winding up in a different body, with only glimpses of the reason why? She's weirded out and a little jumbled at first, but goodness. I should hope so. But in spite of the constant body-jacking, she's still with it. She tries her best to get the body she's using through their life all in one piece, without totally destroying their life for them.

The paranormal element: Okay, sure, if you read the back cover or almost any review, you'll know what this mysterious element is... but I'm of the belief that sometimes it's really just best to read the book. Anyhow, I was happy to see such an interesting take on it. It wasn't the typical story, and it wasn't the more recent "How can I make this typical story into a non-typical story... oh! I'll add something paranormal.. and something else paranormal that doesn't normally go together. Aha!" kind of deal. THANK YOU, Rebecca Lim, thank you.

The mystery: There were a couple different mysteries in Mercy, and I liked them both. There was the obvious one- Where is Lauren, who took her, why? and then the less obvious but very interesting- Who is Mercy really? How did she wind up like this? I was a big fan of both.

The singing: Yes. I'm a choir geek. I admit it. In fact, I'm proud of it. So the environment was comforting and familiar to me. It's just not something that shows up in many books I read.

Should you read it? Yeah. I think so.

4 out of 5 stars.

Only One Opinion (City of Fallen Angels)

literati_rain66 Wednesday, May 11, 2011 ,
City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)Review of City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare. 

Quickie: A money-maker, but not in a good way.

Full: Honestly, I'm not even going to waste the effort typing out a summary. 1) Because there's not much to say and 2) Because I already spent enough time reading it.

I really enjoyed The Mortal Instruments trilogy. This... I don't really know what this was. I was satisfied and pleased with the conclusion of the trilogy. Sure, there were things that weren't completely settled or resolved, but that was just fine. It meant I could imagine the endings and futures myself. It was a good ending to a fun trilogy. And then there's City of Fallen Angels.

The writing was okay, it wasn't off-putting or anything. Standard Cassandra Clare writing. But the plot... I was disappointed in the plot. It's a lot of the same. Jace and Clary are angsting (again). Other things happen too, but the main story seems to be Jace and Clary's relationship. Maybe it was my expectations of the book, but I just didn't want any more of the Jace/Clary back-and-forth. I was expecting Simon's story. I was expecting a fresh problem. Not a re-hash.

The ending was (for me) the best part. Finally things were happening! The evil was big and interesting and worth reading about. Maybe not worth the couple hundred pages I had to read to get to that part, but still good.

In the end, I'm giving City of Fallen Angels...

2 out of 5 stars.

I hope you enjoy(ed) it more than I did. As always, this is only one person's opinion.

My Magnificent Mailbox #28

literati_rain66 Sunday, May 8, 2011
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme brought to you by The Story Siren.

This week I got:

From my friend Aine over at Aine's Realm:
The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
Siren, by Tricia Rayburn
Halo, by Alexandra Adornetto
Grace, by Elizabeth Scott
Tantalize, by Cynthia Leitich Smith
The Curse of the Wendigo, by Rick Yancy

From Amazon:
Enclave, by Ann Aguirre

Won from Mark Del Franco:
Unperfect Souls, by Mark Del Franco

From Nantucket Bookworks:
ARC of Trapped, by Michael Northrop
ARC of Second Grave on the Left, by Darynda Jones
ARC of Lot's Return to Sodom, by Sandra Brennan
ARC of The Hypnotist, by Lars Kepler

Really Ravishing Review (Darkness Becomes Her)

literati_rain66 Saturday, May 7, 2011 ,
Darkness Becomes HerReview of Darkness Becomes Her, by Kelly Keaton. 

Quickie: I enjoyed it, but it was what I was in the mood for. If I had been in a more cynical mood, I don't think I would have liked it as much. Make sense?? No? Maybe you'll have to read the full review...

Full: From the cover flap: Ari can't help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can't be changed or destroyed, ARi has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is. 
Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long-dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting too close. But it's impossible to protect herself when she doesn't know what she's running from or why she is being pursued. 
She knows only one thing: She must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush, rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.
Ari won't stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Okay, so Ari was a pretty cool chick. I liked her toughness, and her ability to hold her own. She was more than a little stupid when she didn't tell her foster parents where she was going though... And plenty irresponsible. She's lucky that it all worked out okay and she didn't end up dead. Entering a dangerous situation and not telling a soul where you're going is just plain stupid, no matter your skills. But she did make up for it later, with guts and gumption and smarts.

The relationship is probably my least favorite aspect of this book. While I liked Sebastian, the relationship went way, way, way too fast. It was more than rushed, it was a time-warp. One day they are introduced, and the next they're in love. I'm being very literal here. I simply couldn't buy into their relationship and I felt it was untrue to the characters. Sebastian was supposed to be the brooding boy, the one that you had to put in that extra effort to get to open up. So how come he's falling in love with a random stranger the second day he knows her and baring his soul and secrets to her?? I just couldn't dig that.

The paranormal and mythological elements were fun and interesting and I had no problem with them. It was an unexpected mash-up of creatures, but that's what made it fun. I definitely didn't expect the Big Villain to be what the Big Villain ended up being, so that was nice. I loved the culture and feel of New 2, it was like the New Orleans of today, but creepier and stripped of all the "normal" people. Totally chaotic and very vibrant. Honestly, I think the setting was my favorite part of the book.

When I finished reading Darkness Becomes Her, I thought "5 stars!". But then I had time to think about it, and in the end I'm going to give it 4. Why? The relationship. It was just too big of an issue for me. But I will be reading the next book in the series.

(Edit) The more I think about it, the more I think this book is really a 3 star. I'm sticking with my 4 star simply because that's how I felt at the end of the book, but if I were to review it right now, it would most likely be a 3. It was my mood at the time of reading it that resulted in a 4. Just something to keep in mind if/when you read it.

Really Ravishing Review (Enclave)

literati_rain66 Thursday, May 5, 2011 , ,
EnclaveReview of Enclave, by Anne Aguirre. 

Quickie: I suspect this book (and author) will win many awards because this book is a masterpiece. This, my friends, is why I read.

Full: I'm going to skip the synopsis on this one, because I feel it's best read cold-turkey. No spoilers, no pre-concieved notions. Just a book. A fantastic book by an extraordinarily talented author. I will, however, give my thoughts.

Characters: Loved them all.
-Deuce came off as green and desperate to prove herself in the beginning, almost to the point of irritation for me. That was good though, because it made her personal journey, discovery, and growth all the better. She was a fighter, to be sure, but I was glad to see that she wasn't completely pragmatic and heartless. If she would have been, I doubt I could have identified and "bonded" with her. I loved her though, mistakes and flaws included. Her growth as a character was lovely and fulfilling.
-Fade was pure love. What more could we ask for? A tortured boy (man? I feel like he's more man than boy) who has difficulties connecting to those around him. (For good reason) But once you take the time to get to know him, he's pure gold. Sweet, protective, jealous, understanding, and respectful. He's not intimidated by Deuce's Huntress title, nor does he see her as any less feminine. He respects her for who she is.

World: Oh man. This is a terrifying place to live. And yet, so very rich. With a lot of dystopians lately, I have felt like I've got a grasp on the world they have created, but with Enclave, I could see it. I could feel it. I could smell it. It was clearly researched and dwelled upon to a great extent. I am absolutely astounded at how much I loved the world. I would call it dynamic. And frighteningly realistic. I can't wait to go back!!

Cover: Well, covers and book design do not count towards my ratings, but I wanted to mention this one. Here's why: I left it on. Usually  when I read a hardcover book, I take the dust jacket off and put it up on top of my bookshelf so that I don't ruin it. But I didn't do that with Enclave. Not because I wanted to ruin it (I didn't!!) but because it creeped me out. No, really. Every time I paused to collect my thoughts I'd close the book and be totally creeped out by those hands and I'd open it right back up again because I had to know what happened next. Maybe that doesn't make sense to you... maybe I'm just crazy, but it mattered to me. I enjoy looking at covers while I'm reading books. With hardbacks I usually make the sacrifice and take it off to make sure I don't rip it or anything else. But this one... I couldn't take it off.

Etc.: Read it. Trust me, the hype about Enclave is well deserved. It started out beautifully and only got better as the page numbers went higher.

5 out of 5 stars.