Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

“Remember my titles? I don't get poisoned, I do the poisoning. I'm the Princess of it.” 

So today, we have decided to review the book Poison Princess by Kresley Cole. The prologue of this book started off with some serious promise. It gave you this sense creepiness and mystery and the guy who is narrating...what a mess. He gave you this rapist feel, but that's only for a short while so don't let that scare you away from reading the book. He just added to my curiosity as to what would happen. So, naturally, I continued with the book, setting aside everything (my school work) just to get through with it. Unsurprisingly, thanks to the book, I scored three consecutive C's, but that's not the point. This book has its pros, but unfortunately, I think it's cons might just outweigh them.

<Gabby has to talk about this cover--excuse her...> WOW! That cover-the feels!!! I love the fire! And the font and the dress and the colors... and I could go on and on and on.... It just represents this book SO SO well :).

Starting with the pros:
1. Jackson Deveaux- this boy... Oh God. He's Cajun French and that just makes everything so much better, right? He's hot, angry and determined. If he wants something, he will get it. And his accent, dear Lord. The way he says partner, 'podna', just say that to yourself in your head. Doesn't that sound sexy?

2. The action- there's not much of it, but whatever we get is sufficient. I'm used to a lot of violence; I'm a naturally violent person. (Don't be scared, people, my sister has never actually armed anyone. Right, Elena? - Ari *glares disapprovingly*) Crown of Midnight by Sarah Maas is one of my favorite books and I have this weird affiliation with horror movies, so yes, this wasn't enough to satisfy my tastes since it is a post-apocalyptic novel but of all the action that we do get, it's a breath of fresh air. Especially from all the petty drama that goes on.

3. The ending. Wow. Just wow. And to think this book was going to make me rip my hair out. It is so intense, it's amazing.
That's it. That is. All. Of. The pros.

Now the cons:
1. Our main character, Evangeline, is sixteen and recapping her story before the Flash (the apocalypse) to rapist (the guy who I referred to earlier), Arthur. The thing is, she recaps almost a week before the apocalypse in explicit detail. I did this then, I watched this there, I talked to her about this. We learn that this girl has got issues early on in the novel but the author never specifies that she has anything like super memory so how does she remember everything so clearly. It's not like these few days are told in third person! Literally, she can remember not watching one episode of America's Next Top Model. She remembers her conversations with her best friend word for word. And I don't even remember her best friend's name cause I don't give a single ounce of a crap about her.

2. The supporting characters in those seven days. Mel (the best friend whose full name I cannot remember), Brandon (the "perfect" jock boyfriend), Clotile and Jackson Deveaux's other friend (who I couldn't care any less about). Why are they even here? Because SPOILER ALERT! (not really), they all die. We suffer through almost one hundred fifty pages of Evangeline talking to them, with the conversations sharing no relevancy to the story. Mel is overly fond of saying the 'b-word' for some reason, Evangeline is at crossroads about whether she should give up her V-Card to Brandon, she's trying to out slut Clotile and Jackson Deveaux's friends...why were they even there?Just..why?

3. Selena Luna- I wanted to rip her throat out. From when she was introduced, I didn't like her. She's described as a Lara Croft look alike and I hated that it all works out. Selena is rude, a liar and just downright selfish. Read the book yourself to find out more about this girl. Her only upside is that she's a complete badass when it comes to fighting.

4. Jackson Deveaux. Oh Jackson. He's a dick at the beginning of the book and it's really hot. He's a dick during the middle of the book and it's really hot. He's a dick at the end of the book, it's so not hot. He's apparently got reasons to be the way he is and frankly, they're pathetic. The way he treats Evangeline, it's like indirect abuse. Just disgusting. I'm not saying that Evangeline is innocent, she shares the blame, but she doesn't completely deserve the way he treats her.

5. Evangeline Greene, the main character. Pathetic, annoying, whiny. Did I say annoying? Kill me already. You get off on the wrong foot with this girl. In the first few pages, her rich as heck boyfriend is picking her up in his BMW or whatever and she's all dressed up for her first day of school. And she's not happy about seeing her boyfriend. She's disappointed. You know why? Because he didn't compliment her dress, or necklace or bracelet or anything else. Like, girl! What's wrong with you? Then apparently the school would fall apart without her and she waves to everyone at school because...I don't know why. And after the apocalypse? She can't hunt or cook or fix her own dang car, she's completely useless until Jackson Deveaux comes back for her. And just out of curiosity, how does Jackson survive the apocalypse when everyone just drops dead? Anyway, after the entrance of Selena Luna, Evangeline just falls apart. All she can think about is Jackson having sex with Selena and just how jealous she should be of them. I wanted to slap the girl. Hard.

6. Last but not least, the beginning. I had the biggest problem with this because what was its point. Yeah, Evangeline is a freak who has visions of the apocalypse and is an amazing artist. Ok, we get that, but what do you want me to do? Grovel over it? Her and Mel (the best friend in case you don't remember), are talking about guy stuff and Evangeline keeps talking about how loyal her boyfriend is and how much he loves her. She hates on Jackson and his gang and yells at him a lot. Come on! The guy has issues but he's not that bad! Now I wouldn't have such a problem with the beginning because we definitely could use with a little back story, but not 100+ of it. Especially 100+ of back story that pretty shares no relevancy with the story whatsoever.

In conclusion, though I wanted to rip this book to shreds several times, I will definitely continue with the series. The ending and the way Jackson says partner saved it for me. But I had high expectations for Poison Princess and it fell flat. 2.5 stars.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

I read the first book in the Raven Cycle series back in May. I can clearly remember that I was confused several times throughout the book, but it was not because there were plot holes, but because the writing was so intricate and peculiar. When I was reading the Dream Thieves, oddly enough, I understood everything I was reading. Perhaps I was vaguely familiar with the writing style or I just got smarter over time (probably not the latter); either way, by the end of the book, I was shocked with myself. As I once read in another review, the writing is for the intelligent people in our species. If you can't comprehend fast or make sense of metaphors, then this book is not for you.

Now. Is it weird that I wanted to kiss the Raven Boys? And Blue? And her family? And Ronan's brothers, Declan and Matthew? And the Grey Man? And Kavinsky? Is that weird? Does that make me weird? I honestly don't know nor do I care. Each and every one of these characters are well rounded individuals that make my heart flip every time they enter, even if it is for barely half a page. If I had to rate the Raven Boys from most favorite to least, I wouldn't be able to. They're all just so good! Ronan stood out like none other in this book because ultimately, it was meant to explain him. We get to see his struggle with his new power, his relationships with his friends and family and how much his past has affected him. Gosh, I don't know what to say about this guy other than this:
 Dick Gansey. What you do to me... If you really break Gansey down and look at him, he's just a rich high school kid who goes to rich private school. You'd expect him to be like a snob like people normally portray such kids as. Man, are they wrong. Gansey doesn't care about the money. Never is it specified, but I don't think he really cares about school either. Gansey lives, breathes, eats, sleeps, talks for only one thing. One purpose. And that's finding Glendower. That's it. His determination is admirable, his wit is impressive, his calm personality is endearing. When you think of Gansey, you usually visualize a nice, sweet guy. This book changes your perspective on him. We still get a fair share of calm, dominant Gansey, but we also see his dangerous side. His mess-with-me-one-more-time-I-dare-you-to side. And wow, it's amazing. Also, he loves Jane, I mean, Blue. You can see a relationship slowly developing between them, transforming from love-hate to something quite passionate but deadly.
Adam shredded my heart to pieces in this book. He's this independent guy who will fight his own battles and win. But he is so into being a one man army that all his previous efforts go down the drain when he attempts to prevail but ultimately loses the war. He's battling his inner demons, trying to come to terms about what happened with his family as well as what happened at the end of the first book where he made a serious sacrifice. No spoilers here, folks. He doesn't want anyone's sympathy. No turning him into a piece of charity work or giving him puppy eyes. Do that and he will blow a gasket and punch your teeth in. But his refusal for help makes him vulnerable. Easily irritable. And it's hurts him as well as the people around him. Especially a certain someone. Deep down, this guy was hurting and I think it was portrayed so well that I actually felt it.
Noah doesn't have much of a part in this book and neither does Blue. Unlike the previous book when her curse was a main source of fuel, it becomes secondary in this book. I don't really mind. A major secret about Noah was revealed in the previous book, and once again, no spoilers, but you read about the gruesome details of his devastating tragedy. You kind of relive it with him. Noah is a fun guy and downright innocent. He makes you smile, laugh, cry. He's influential like that. Blue plays a major role with Gansey, Adam and Ronan, but her screen time is not much. I guess you can watch from the shadows how much she influences them, like the devil whispering in your ear. Except she's not telling them jump off cliffs or anything. She likes Adam and Gansey, she's forming an odd relationship with Ronan and Noah and her are just besties. The sweetest scene in this book occurred between her and Noah. When they converse, no matter how suckish your day was, their conversations will make you smile.
And now the icing on the cake. Kavinsky. A crazy bastard of a man. He's the guy in school that you talk to but secretly hate. Smokes and is always high. Is handsome and rich but a complete dick. This guy is psychopath and a druggie and a drunkard and one of the greatest villains I have ever read about. When you read about a villain in a book, you don't want to read about one that has a soft spot to something or is in love with the main character. No. They need to be ruthless, angry, cunning and crazy. That's why practically every loves the Joker. That's why, if this book were to be made into a movie, Kavinsky would be the next Joker.
Sure there are a hundred more characters, but I'm not going to talk about them all. The final person I will talk about is the Grey Man. He is evil, he is badass, but he isn't the right villain. He's witty, yes, but he's too soft. Affected too easily, so the author did the book justice by not making him the main focus and giving the role to someone else. Nonetheless, his role in the book is crucial and it would be totally different if there was the lack of his character.
Last thing to address, the writing and plot. The title of this book, the Dream Thieves, suits it perfectly. At the beginning you don't get much of a feel of it, but midway through, you understand why it is named the way it is. The plot revolves around Ronan. As said in the summary, "Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life." The whole purpose of this book was to unravel why that is happening and showing what Ronan will do to help himself out of such hardships. The writing as mentioned earlier, is different. It leaves you with this crease between your brows, where you're asking yourself "what the heck?" Its vague and that's impressive because most authors can't do that. Some write in such a way that they leave no room for imagination. Readers like to be spoon fed their information too. But the author doesn't do that here. You want to understand? Work for it. I don't know about you, but I love a good puzzle. 
Ultimately, this book had me at the edge of my chair the whole time. It had some serious twists and for the first time in eternity, I loved the villain. Warning: this book has quite a lot of violence, some described mildly and other described graphically, or more graphically than I'm used to. It also has a lot of profane language. I loved it. This is what you call a flipping book, for all you wannabees out there. Learn from this.

4 well deserved stars.

Nikita the TV Show

Sorry for the hiatus. . . again. . . but we were on vacation for a while, and apparently wi-fi is a foreign concept to those foreigners. Or maybe it was just my computer, which has recently decided it hates me. Anyway, due to the lack of books here, we've decided to do a review of the series and series finale of Nikita. For those of you who don't know, the show is about an assassin named Nikita whose death was faked by a secret branch of the government known as Division. She was then offered a choice: join them, or die. Division is headed by a man named Percy with his assistant/torturer Amanda, expert hacker Birkhoff, and recruit training supervisor Michael. They train their recruits as assassins, spies, and diplomats and send them out on missions where they often illegally take care of threats. Nikita becomes their best agent ever and eventually goes rogue and endeavors to take down Division.

A little bit about the characters - Percy is a cunning, selfish man with a lot of power and no conscience whatsoever. He is manipulative (like pretty much every character in this show) and has so many insurance policies that he's pretty much untouchable. Amanda is a cold, hard, emotionless person who has cruel and unusual ways of torture and can literally brainwash someone into doing whatever she wants. Michael is hard to understand at first, but you can immediately tell that he has a complicated history with Nikita. He's determined to the point of being stubborn, loyal, and actually cares about his recruits. Birkhoff is a sarcastic, arrogant hacker who invented the best illegal hacking system in the world: ShadowNet. He's a legend among hackers, known as "Shadow Walker," and there's some debate among these hackers as to whether he actually exists or not, much to his amusement. He is affectionate towards Nikita and calls her "Nikki" (the same way she calls him "Nerd") and you can tell they were friends when she was a Division agent. Alex is a former sex slave and addict who was saved by Nikita. After Nikita gets her clean, Alex is recruited by Division and becomes Nikita's mole on the inside. Some characters join later, like Ryan Fletcher - the CIA analyst who discovered shadows of a Black Ops agency and later uncovered Division, Owen - the Cleaner (someone who kills unwanted agents) and protector of one of Percy's Black Boxes, another insurance policy to make sure he isn't killed, and Sonia - a hacker who was trained by Birkhoff himself and is (I'll try not to spoil too much) constantly trying to outdo him.

The show started good, and got consistently better. Unlike most shows, which have their ups and downs, I've never seen a Nikita episode that bored me. The twists usually start out like most other shows' - predictable - and then turn into something that you'd never see coming. There is a lot of action and danger and excitement, as well as romance and comedy, and these elements are heightened in the last season. The show evolves into something a lot bigger than I ever expected it to be, and the finale was nearly perfect - it includes one last shocking twist, and the ending is satisfying and without being too pretentious. While most shows that have been cancelled and only have a few episodes to finish end up rushed and unsatisfying, the pacing never falters in season four. The last season is six episodes of pure awesomeness. There's a lot of plot packed in, although it never seems rushed or too much, and each episode surpasses the last. The last two episodes have to be the best of the entire show, and the finale is probably the best I've seen of any show. If you've never seen Nikita, you have to, now. You won't be disappointed.

4 stars.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Today, we have decided to review Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout. When I read the first book in the Covenant series, I (like many other people, including Gabriel) thought that it was Vampire Academy with a Greek Dimitri, Caleb as Mason, and Alex as Rose Hathaway. Then I read the second book and realized that J.L.A. is actually kind of a genius. 
Sentinel (Covenant, #5)Even though the characters are, quote, "The,"  Alex being the snarky badass that everyone loves, Aiden is sufficiently swoon-worthy, and Marcus being the icy at first but then loving uncle, the characters are not what make me fall in love with the series. The other minor characters are just as great. Caleb is all one could hope for in a friend and everyone loves to hate Lea.

I really do love the fact that she has GREEK mythology and characters which caused me to love the book even more. Arya, on the other hand, thinks the "heroes and heroines fight demons" part of the Greek mythology is unoriginal but she easily forgives J.L.A.

What I think makes J.L.A. so good is her writing. Her writing style flows smoothly, and the pacing, dialogue, and thought fall into place perfectly and effortlessly. That's a rare quality in a book, and when I see it, I don't take it lightly. Also, J.L.A.'s quirky quips and humor makes this book lovable. J.L.A. has a way of making the words come to life and I had a beautiful picture of what was going most, if not all of the times I was reading. Oddly enough, I had a better connection with Aiden St. Delphi than the main character, Alex. I believe that Aiden's character was well thought out and planned and you can see that. (My little sis apparently connects to Aiden's dorkiness. - Ari)

I loved this series a little more than Arya did. However, Arya thinks this series isn't one that she will read when she is fifty years old, but is still a lot better than some of the stuff they publish these days, 3.5 stars.