Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hex Hall- Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall? Is that like, Hogwarts or something?
Sort of.  It's a school for witches, warlocks, demons, fairies and even vampires. And it's in Georgia.  And it's only for the ones that get in trouble. So it's kind of like Paranormal Reform School.
I was reminded of the Sword and Cross School from Fallen.  This was a reform school, and it was in the same state as Hex Hall (unfortunately the same place where I reside unhappily), but for some reason that school had a bunch of angels as students and no one seemed to know about it.
Hecate Hall, as it is properly called, is full of students are very well aware of the other types of students who reside there.  Everyone knows that Beth is a werewolf, and Jenna is a vampire, and Elodie is an annoying witch who thinks she owns the place.  So, like a normal high school, there are cliques and groups and prejudices and all that lovely adolescent crap.
So, our main character, the terribly ignorant and confused witch, Sophie Mercer, ends up at this school.  At first, she has no idea what is going on since her Warlock father has never actually met her, and she was raised by her completely human mother.  It may sound a little Harry Potter, but Sophie's mother never locked her in a closet and she has no use for a magic wand.  The classes are also a bit different; some of them involve beating the crap out of other students.
Sophie is extremely likable; very snarky, very full of amusing pop culture references that no one else seems to get and apparently has a dark family secret.  Secret as in, she doesn't know, but some other people do, so she feels like a total imbecile all the time.
Her roommate is pink-loving lesbian vampire Jenna who is also a bit of an outcast seeing as she is a Creature of the Night and everyone is convinced she killed this witch named Holly.
There is also this whole thing about various groups of humans who want to kill all these un-people.  So instead of Voldemort running around killing humans, you have humans running around killing magic people.
Of course, some of these special magic people do awful things, too, so both sides are guilty.
This is a pretty quick read, seeing as I actually finished it in one day.  The ending is not quite what you expect.  Sophie does not defeat the most evil wizard of all time (there are no wizards anyway) and she does not win the House Cup (there isn't one of those either).  Some people die and some people turn out to be bigger jerks than once thought, and it's not exactly a happy ever after.
Saying that, it does mean that the sequel has more potential!  Huzzah!  So of course I started Demonglass today.
I suggest you go read Hex Hall, and then check out these:

Spell Bound (A Hex Hall Novel) this one hasn't come out yet.  But you should pre-order it or something.  It's what the outcast kids are doing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Dead-Tossed Waves- Carrie Ryan

This book is the sequel to Carrie Ryan's first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I reviewed that one some time ago.
The second installment is about Gabrielle, the daughter of Mary from the first book.  Personally, I liked this one better.
For one thing, Gabry lives in a place that makes more sense to me-- a town by the ocean that is still closed off from the Mudo, or as most people call them, zombies.
This is, of course, a zombie apocalypse series.
Mary claims to be from the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but most people don't believe her because they think all it has in it are those damn Unconsecrated Mudo dead freaks.  They aren't aware of the elaborate gate system with multiple towns separated within the forest.  The elaborate gate system confused me terribly throughout the first book, but here's a hint: the whole gate system and how it was created is revealed in this book. Yay!  That made me happy.
As in most of Carrie Ryan's works, it's not all lollipops and rainbows in the end.  People die a lot.  You know how a lot of times there is be all and end all relationship in which the teenage girl finds the love of her life in high school and something is keeping them apart but in the end they are meant to be?  Carrie Ryan doesn't do that.  Her relationships are more realistic.  They don't always work out; sometimes they find other people they like better; they're confused about what their life means and who, if anyone, they should be with.  This is really nice to see in YA fiction because I think it shows how most young people really feel.  They don't always fall in love with the first person they see and stay with them forever.  Sometimes they end up alone.  And of course, all those damn Unconsecrated Mudo dead freaks are running around making life hell for everyone else.
Even from the beginning, you can tell that things are not going to be rosy.  And I love that.  It's a wonderfully depressing yet hopeful read and is full of mysteries.  I'm already wondering what will happen in book three.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is Wrong with Me?

For some reason, and despite the fact that I have plenty of excellent books to choose from, I can't seem to finish anything lately.
This means no reviews.
I'm sorry.  I don't know what is causing this. Perhaps it's because I have too much stuff to do and am under too much stress.
Actually I think that might be it.
Ok, problem identified. But there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Linger- Maggie Stiefvater

Yup, I decided I needed to know more about why girls love both wolves and boys.  So I read the sequel to Shiver, which I reviewed the other day.
Linger is not quite the same as Shiver.. For one thing, there are more character POVs.  You not only get Grace, Sam, and Isabel, but also this new guy named Cole. And Cole is really screwed up.  I liked reading Cole because I didn't like him much.
Of course, I hated Isabel in the first book, but when you see things from her point of view, she's not as annoying.  Plus she helps the wolves, which I personally think is a nice thing to do regardless.  Her family is horrible of course, but pretty much everyone has a terrible family in these books.  I mean, we have Grace who is sufficiently ignored by her oblivious parents for years and Sam whose parents tried to kill him. Cole's parents expected him to be some sort of genius wonder boy so he went off and rebelled by being in a band and doing whatever drugs he could get his dirty hands on, showing that while his parents at least meant well, they just weren't the right parents for him.  Isabel's parents are rich jerks who get drunk and hate each other and yell a lot.  And her dad likes to kill things, especially wolves.  So while sometimes you don't like the characters much, you can kind of see that they were shaped by the people around them.
I think, weirdly enough, that the person I identified with most was Sam.  Not only did he work in a bookstore (which I have done), but he folds origami cranes like mad (which I do and can't seem to stop.  It's an addiction).  I also have scars on my wrists like he does, only mine were um, not inflicted by my parents 
Now, I like books in which bad stuff happens.  I believe in a world where things don't always work out well because that is how I have experienced it.  The fact that all these characters are so horribly misunderstood rings a bell with me.  I think as teenagers a lot of us feel that way and sometimes we still feel that way when we're grown.  It's just one of those crappy things about life.
So while these people are being misunderstood, taken for granted, and rebelling, more BAD STUFF happens!
Yay, lovely exciting bad stuff!  I know for a fact that Maggie Stiefvater likes to make readers cry, and I appreciate this quality in her.  The werewolf disease becomes more complicated than previously thought (it's not just a temperature thing after all) and there is death.  Yes, death in this book.  As well as near-death, illness, drug abuse, nudity and German poetry.  All of these things are fabulous, with the possible exception of German poetry.  That's on the quirky-but-not-fabulous end of things.
I still think this series is pretty much GIRLY, because there's the agonizing romance, but if you like that sort of thing, and you like wolves (which we have previously proven that girls do) you'll probably like these books.

Next book in the series is . . .

Monday, August 8, 2011

Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater

This book is about how girls love wolves.
It's true.  We do.
I have photographic evidence (Look further down, it's really good!)
It's also a book about how girls love boys (I don't think I need photographic evidence for THAT one).
So, Shiver is a book for girls.  Or maybe guys who want to understand girls.  Or gay guys.  Maybe.  I know my husband wouldn't like it though.

Girls who like Twilight would probably like this book.
When I started reading this book, I was wary, because a friend of mine whose opinion I respect hated it.  But we're not the same person, so I read it anyway.  Plus I got to meet the author.
It took me a while to get into this book.  I didn't quite get why Grace was in love with Sam, and even less why he loved her.  She was a put-together person who could clearly take care of herself (unlike many heroines) but she wasn't fascinating. So the first part of the book was her and Sam being all, 'oh I like you but I'm going to sit silently next to you and wish you could be human forever (see, Sam turns into a wolf when he gets cold, and they live near Canada).'  But then there's more action because this one guy who is basically a total jerk gets bitten by a wolf and he keeps running off and doing jerky things like eating his sister's dog.  And he wants to be cured, and he thinks Grace knows the cure.  So we get less 'look I'm silently liking you' and more 'OH CRAP PEOPLE IS GONNA DIE.' And so Grace teams up with jerky wolf boy's obnoxious sister even though they dislike each other.  And of course there's the other wolves getting involved, and there's all this hopelessness because eventually, you stop turning into a human when you're part wolf (thus the agony of Grace and Sam).
The ending made me go, 'huh.'  But that 'huh' was enough to get me to pick up my copy of Linger.
I was talking to a middle school librarian, and she told me she wasn't sure she could put Maggie Stiefvater's books in the school library because they 'might' be a little risque. This, of course, was another factor which made me decide to read Shiver.  Personally, I don't think it's very risque.  But there is hope that the next two in the series will have more of that. . ..