Monday, April 26, 2010

The Value of X

From Amazon :

The Value of X tells the story of Ricky and Gary, who as best friends coming of age in 1990 New Orleans discover a mutual attraction. Ricky, who aspires to become a chef, secures them both occasional jobs in a diner so that he can indulge his passion for cooking and they can spend time together. Life is complete until their parents discover their true relationship and try to separate them by sending Ricky to a culinary institute in New York.

The main reason why I shouldn’t be reading romance novels is that, no matter what the story is, I absolutely hate it whenever the characters have communication issues. And since most romance books have an epic dosage of lack of communication, I am incapable of surviving and loving any romance.

The value of X, though it is absolutely adorable, is a romantic novel and therefore displayed a rather frustrating cast of characters that decided to keep all their emotions to themselves. This is a problem, especially when you are trying to maintain a relationship with someone who lives half a continent away. I felt like going to New York, kidnapping Rickey and dragging him back to Gary. Seriously, this book made me mad.

Apart from this, I really love the characters. Gary and Rickey (both boys, if you hadn’t already guessed) have been best friends since forever, and they have also begun experiencing love for each other. I loved how there was hardly any dawdling about ‘coming out’ and how the boys immediately went onto more serious matters, such as making out, and, well, eventually, sex.

The plot was cute too. Since Rickey and Gary’s parents are against homosexuality, when they guess what is going on between their sons, they decide to try and separate them. To do this, Rickey’s parents send their son to the CIA, a cooking institute in New York, miles away from New Orleans where Gary has to stay.

The boys slowly fall into a depression, each on their own side, and though Gary drowns it in liquor on his side, Rickey desperately tries to stay afloat. I have to admit that at times, Gary's utter helplessness without his beloved boyfriend made me cringe, but overall, both their characters were adorable and likeable, without being absolute Mary-Sues or Mr. Perfects. They had their flaws and they were human.

Though some say this was about cooking, I had a hard time seeing a lot of actual cooking going on. Sure, Rickey goes to a cooking school and Gary works as a cook, but that doesn't necessarily make it a book about food and fancy restauraunts. If you're looking for some sort of cooking novel, then this isn't one, though there are a couple (maybe one or two) rather tasty plates described.

This book got me wondering, though : do all gay romance books turn out to have cocaine use, liquor abuse and vulgar language? I've come to the point where I'm actually starting to think all gay men drink like mad, are drug addicts and swear like hell. I don't actually think that, that's just what the books I read tell me... Anyways, if someone knows of a good gay romance book that doesn't include drugs of any kind, I'll gladly pick it up.

This was a very cute book, but it wasn't much more. Sweet, even though the characters can be rather vulgar, and I can still hardly believe I actually enjoyed a romance novel. There is very little plot to speak of, and only a few truly entertaining parts. A very light read and only a little over a hundred and fifty pages, I skimmed through it in less than a day.
The Value of X by Poppy Z. Brite
Rating : 7,4/10

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Ah, I was disappointed by this book. Here's a zombie romance apocalyptic book for you, that could actually have chilled me to the bone if it wasn't for the poor characterization and dialogues. It's so sad it wasn't better, because it had such a good feel to it, especially after having watched the book trailer. My appreciation for the book could actually be described like a roller coaster. It went up and down, up and down.

I loved the plot. Postapocalyptic times, where humans have to fend for themselves and protect their village from the zombies roaming in the surrounding forest while living in fear and death. Ye good old zombies that nom on you. The story picks up well, we're already pushed into Mary's terrifying world and we don't wait for drama and action. My mood just fell when I realized how flat all the characters were.

It's as if none of them were developed. Mary, the protagonist, is pretty much two dimensional and you don't know what to think about her. In the first part of the book, I was tired how the only thing Mary did was sulk around and do mindless things without actually using her head. Afterward, I was irritated how she could never be happy with what she got, and how she always complained, and how she sometimes acted simply stupid. At those moments, when she stood there doing nothing while something should obviously have been done, I felt like smacking her. It's really at the end of the book when she started decapitating all those zombies that I thought 'about time you did something!' I actually liked how she kept searching for the ocean, and how she pushed herself to go to the end of it all.

But then again, the rest of the characters aren't better. I never saw why Travis was the love interest. Except for his good looks, there isn't much to him, and you don't see why Mary even likes him. You can't properly frame his personality, and it irked me all along. I think that the most developed character was Cass, for at least you get to know her better, and she actually stands out. In the end, you don't really fall for any of the characters, and thus I didn't really care about how things ended for them.

After that comes the dialogues. Pages and pages can pass without words being exchanged, and when characters finally interact, it's to say something meager, something that doesn't help us define them better. It could have been endurable if we didn't get so much of Mary's inner sulking. I don't think I've ever read a book with such a low amount of interaction.

I also realized that the author left a lot of sub plots behind, without developing them. It's as if Ryan started up with and idea, and than forgot about it, letting it rot away.

On the good sides, the story was good. Lots of action, lots of feelings. With those pages filled with descriptions and Mary's thoughts, you really get into the horrid mood of the story. At the end, I was starting to feel all the pressure that the Unconsecrated (aka zombies) pushed upon the characters, I was starting to share their desperation.

I ended up liking the book at the end, seeing as how bad endings meet most of the characters, and how there is a lot of drama. The ending didn't quite satisfy me, and it made me want to know more, to know what happened with everybody at the end, and I guess that's a good thing.

I wonder if this is a debut novel, because it sure does look like one. It could have been such an amazing book without all those lacks. Too bad, I guess. But it would do a good movie.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Rating: 7,8/10

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.
But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets. Or are there?
Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he's going to have to run...

This is the first installment of the Chaos Walking series. Though at first I was slightly skeptical about this book's quality, I have to admit it is an undeniably good book and a plea for freedom like none other. It is comparable, in terms of themes and mood, to Feed by M. T. Anderson.

It took me some time, at first, to get used to the strange writing of certain words. It is said, later on, that the protagonist, Todd, doesn’t know how to read very well, but that isn’t a reason to confuse the reader with weird words, faltering grammar and impossibly long sentences. It kind of threw me off until I got used to it, though I have to admit it did serve its purpose well, and installed the mood very quickly.

Todd, being the youngest man on New World, is quite lonely at the beginning of the book. He annoyed me greatly, mainly because his swears were so strange and his way of speaking so... bizarre. It felt like he had a perpetual head ache clouding up his head, which, in a sense, he did. Since everyone hears everyone’s thoughts as soon as they are thought, it must get quite hellish inside one’s head. This phenomenon is called Noise.

Of course, the perpetual Noise brought many emotions, but I felt like there were too many at times, and this gave me a headache. It felt more or less saturated with feelings at every single moment. Therefore, when a truly sad or more emotional chapter came along, I didn’t quite feel any difference between it and a normal, non-emotional chapter, like when Todd was picking apples at the very beginning of the book. This truly disappointed me, seeing as some chapters really felt like they could be beautiful, and some gave me the feeling I should be crying. I just couldn’t bring myself to appreciate this feel.

I really liked, though, how nothing was ever explained. Since everything is seen from Todd’s point of view, he doesn’t unnecessarily say things he already knows. The reader has to deduce everything from snippets of information given from time to time. It keeps you on the edge and always craving for more.

It was a very harsh vision of a faraway world, and I like harsh visions of faraway worlds. This one was well built and furnished, though I did long for more information about it. Though, as I said earlier, explaining things raw would’ve broken the mood too much.

Overall, I was really impressed with this book, even though it took me about half the novel to actually get into it, and the emotional overload annoyed me. I recommend this to science-fiction and action lovers. When I find the second book, I will read it, even though the novel could be considered a stand alone with a really, really frustrating ending. . I need to know what happens next!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ross
Rating : 8.2/10

Monday, April 19, 2010


Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

So, everyone was pretty excited to read this book. I was glad when I got my hands on it, but I must say I didn't find it as amazing as I thought I would.

This book has two points of views. Alek's and Deryn's. First good point is that you see very well the differences between the world of Clankers and Darwinists. The dialogues and the mannerism is well adapted, and so when you have interactions between Alek and Deryn you see Deryn's strong tendency to curse and use slang-talk, and Alek's polite and fine way of speaking. I personally preferred Alek's point view, maybe because I have a liking for nobles and their fanciness and I liked Alek's royalty drama better than Deryn's i'm-a-boy-not-a-girl acting. The one thing I disliked in the character crew is that both Deryn and Alek look like children. They also act like ones, look like ones on the illustrations, and the things they say make you imagine them as 12-year-olds. I don't mind younger protagonists that much, but in this context it was a bit queer, and not what I had expected from Westerfield.

Even if finely described and furnished with at least two illustrations per chapter, the story didn't pick up until half the book. Well, I can't say it didn't 'pick up', because from the beginning of the story to the end action is rolling on. I just mean that the story didn't hook me until about the 250th page, which is when Deryn and Alek finally meet.

I found the concept of the story very interesting, and I love this war between Darwinists and Clankers, but I didn't find much alternation between the real World War I and Leviathan. Except the main concept and the characters, there are no new governmental systems, no new countries, nor a new 'world' that acts differently from ours but that still relates to it. All those beasties and the way they work are fantastic though.

In the end, I enjoyed this book, but it didn't send me over-the-heels. I didn't mind putting it away to finish some other books. I'll gladly purchase the second book, or simply borrow it as I think I won't feel the need to re-read the first or the second. The cover illustration was really nice, though, and I loved the caricature map.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Rating: 8,3/10

Monday, April 12, 2010


Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years' war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps's mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov's greatest weapon. But now one of its more unruly members is at the center of the city's rumor mill, causing a distraction that may turn the tide of victory." "With Volstov immersed in a scandal that may have international repercussions, the Ke-Han devise an ingenious plan of attack. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save the kingdom they love: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student - and the unpredictable ace airman who flies the city's fiercest dragon, Havemercy." But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it.

The first sentences drew me into the book with an intensity I had not suspected. I thought this would be the book of the year, but it turned out rather plain, even if there are some quite good elements about it.

The four main characters were okay, I guess. They were quite lame at times, though they were very well characterized and acted as their character dictated. All four of them, sadly, lacked a background. The problem with having 4 different protagonist, and therefore 4 different points of view, that mingle in 2 completely different story arcs that take place in the same world, is that you inevitably prefer one story arc and one character. This happened to me, and all the switching around sometimes confused me, and always annoyed me. I’d be (almost) drooling over a page because it was so full of love and caring and beauty... and then I’d be brutally projected into the brutal Airman. More than once, this made me teary-eyed with frustration. Consequently, there were many, many cliff-hangers, though too often they fell at exactly the wrong time.

The premises themselves were rather classic, a century-old war between two countries over a strip of land. The way it progressed, though, was quite original. There were dragons (though they were only introduced rather late) and they were made of metal. The people who flew the dragons were pigs. The magic was tightly controlled, and the way it worked was original too. There was also a couple of interesting things that happened, but overall it was quite classic.

The authors wrote quite well. Each character had a very different way of thinking and speaking, and their individual parts were as different as can be. The vocabulary used, consequently, was relative to each of the man’s level of education.

Overall, this book was quite pleasing, though I have a very mixed opinion of it. At times I was in love with it, but at others I got so mad at it I wanted to throw it out the window. I suggest this book to everyone who likes dragons, fantasy and who don’t mind serious cussing or gay characters.

Seeing as I am trying to keep my posts a reasonable length, that will be it for this review. If you want to hear more, don’t hesitate to talk to me! I don’t bite, I promise!


Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Rating: 8,4/10

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dear John

I'm back from Europe everybody! I brought only Dear John, thinking it would last for the two weeks, but it only did for 3 days. I finished it squeezed in a bus on my way back from Venice.

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else. "Dear John," the letter read...and with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives were changed forever. Returning home, John must come to grips with the fact that Savannah, now married, is still his true love--and face the hardest decision of his life.

Savannah is your happy, intelligent, kind and gentle girl that everyone loves and that everyone wants to hook up with. Because of her near-perfect characterization, I didn't fall for her as much as I did for John. I liked the fact she wasn't completely mary-sue because of her naivety and her faults, and it somewhat saved my appreciation of her before she ditched John.

I really loved John, on the other hand. He is this big gentleman army grunt that is at the same time mature and collected. I even liked his father, with whom he doesn't have the best relationship, and how it got to grow through out the story, and their interactions were really interesting and sometimes brought me to tears.

To me, what really makes a book great, is how much emotions it can pull out from you. I'm really indecisive about Dear John. I could say I hated the book. I could also say I loved the book. I'm stuck between the two, and I don't know what to choose, and so I'll say I both loved it and hated it.

I hated it because it was tragic.

I couldn't believe it when Savannah broke up with John. I completely hadn't expected that from the book, as I hadn't read any reviews of it before, and I was just plain mad. I mean, I thought she loved him? If you love someone, truly, you'd be able to wait for his return, right? Even if it takes many years, you would wait, wouldn't you? It may be hard, and blah blah, but I would wait for my love to return. Well Savannah didn't, and I was just tired by how she was always depressed that John wasn't there and how she couldn't just make the best of what she had until the time came for John to return from war. Instead of that, she fell in love with someone else, and John didn't have a reason to quit the army anymore. I felt so sad for him too, especially when he returned to see Savannah married!

I guess I somehow liked his decision at the end, and the moral he deduced from it, but meh. In the end, he is left with nothing, while Savannah goes out in the sun happy with another man while she could have been even more happy if it was John. I don't know, I didn't feel satisfied with the ending.

But then again, I loved it because it was tragic.

This is the first Nicholas Sparks book I read, and I've read from other reviews that he likes giving his books tragic endings. Well I like tragic endings, even if it really tears me apart.

When I think about it in another way, falling out of love is normal, isn't it? It's possible for two people to love each other with passion, and then to loose this passion. In Dear John, it's more like Savannah lost this passion because John kept on loving her, but still. Sparks probably wanted to keep away the notion of 'perfect love', which made the book realistic, but still heartbreaking.

The worst is that Savannah still loves John at the end of the book, but she chooses another life. Somehow, I feel like she molds in better with the life she choose than with a life with John, and I guess that's the tragic point of the story, seeing how passionate her love was with John before.

In any case, I'll try to put away my emotions to rate this book and use the standard criteria. I think you can only love this book, or hate it.

It's a very emotional book, too. I don't know if its worth for some to embark on this roller coaster and crash at the end, but meh. If you like drama, I guess this is for you. I'd like to read some other books by Sparks, though.

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
Rating: 9,6/10

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Van Alen Legacy

With the stunning revelation surrounding Bliss's true identity comes the growing threat of the sinister Silver Bloods. Once left to live the glamorous life in New York City, the Blue Bloods now find themselves in an epic battle for survival. Not to worry, love is still in the air for the young vampires of the Upper East Side. Or is it? Jack and Schuyler are over. Oliver's brokenhearted. And only the cunning Mimi seems to be happily engaged.

She did it again. A whole year has passed between Revelations and the Van Alen Legacy, and I was not amused when I read that. So much has happened since Schuyler and Oliver have been on the run, and yet the author skips this potentially interesting developpement?! I swear, I thought it would get even better what happened in the previous book, but I see now it can only get worse.

The whole novel feels like de la Cruz had an epic writer’s bloc but forced herself to write and never got around to rereading herself and make the book better. The whole story arc is slowly lagging along and I don’t think it’s going to get any faster anytime soon.

There is one major problem: this has become your typical GOTTA SAVE THE WORLD!!!11!!ONE!

First of all, the runaway half-vampire is supposedly chassed by dozens of Blue Bloods, and by the dangerous demons too. She is the one who will save the world, after all. Yet her own kind and her enemies are trying to kill her, so she has to run instead of helping them.

Secondly, Schuyler and Jack hook up together... again. To Oliver’s great demise, of course. I wanted to stop reading then and there, but I forced myself to continue.

Little is actually revealed about the plot, apart from the fact that Bliss has Lucifer himself in her body. That nice, sweet girl has the dark prince inside her and he takes over her body from time to time. She speaks with her (dead) boyfriend Dylan in her head, because since she killed him in Revelations, he lives there.

The ending is quite impressive, or could have been if it didn’t involve absolute idiocy on Schuyler’s part and a bonding between Mimi and Jack. Yes, the gown of the bride as well as the clothes of everyone else there was merrily described.

Not many cliffhangers in this book, too, and only my dedication to this blog actually kept me reading. My reading pile is stacking high, and I don’t have time for any bad books like this. Don’t expect me to read the fifth one when it comes out, that would be sheer torture.


The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
Rating: 6,7/10

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

I was drawn to this book because it was marked as a steampunk zombie book. Though I found no zombies in the traditional definition of them, it was indeed a steampunk book, and a good one at that. Sadly, sometimes it felt like the author hadn’t researched the Victorian era enough, and there were some things that happened that made me unsure that it could’ve happened in the actual Victorian era.

Even though the vampires and werewolves made me wary at first because of all the terrible vampire books I’ve been reading lately, this is actually a vey nice and refreshing way of viewing the supernatural. In order to turn someone into an immortal, the person must possess enough soul to survive the turn. Otherwise, death is what awaits the one who tried their hand at becoming one of the supernatural beings.

Alexia Tarabotti, on the other hand, is a preternatural, and therefore doesn’t possess any soul. This doesn’t make her a mindless, idiotic being, but rather some sort of... Actually, I’m not quite sure what this does, other than that her presence cancels out the powers of the supernatural. She is a Victorian spinster and a very lovable character. Maccon is quite the typical Alpha werewolf, gruff, huge and strong, but still unique in his own way. Two other characters I absolutely loved were Lyall, Maccon’s Beta and a respectable professor, and Lord Akedelma. The latter is a “shiny” vampire, but only in the sense that he has a very bright and gay personality. The sun does kill him. He is a rove, a vampire in no coven, yet knows all the secrets and loves to gossip. What is it with the supernatural beings in books these days always being so glittery?

Alexia’s love story with Maccon is just about the most adorable thing I’ve ever read. It isn’t all lovey-dovey, and that’s what makes it so great. Her relationship with him grows over the course of the story, evolving from a cute bickering type of thing to an intense romantic relationship.

The story itself was sadly slightly eclipsed by Alexia and Maccon’s relationship. What I grasped of the plot was that Alexia was in grave danger because of her soulless state, but not much more. This was something of a disappointment, but at least the plot wasn’t nonexistent. Even though Alexia herself cannot participate in any battles (she is a Victorian lady, after all), the author managed to make the fighting scenes just as interesting as if she were fighting too.

Sadly, as the book went on, the story went from adventurous and mysterious to a romantic comedy. This switch wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t slowly but surely turned into an erotic fantasy. Not that I mind all that much, mind you, I was just disappointed because every part of the book seemed to be a scheme to get Maccon and Alexia into an overly sexual situation. That was not quite what I’d signed up for when I started this book, that’s for sure.

All in all, a cute and funny read, but if I’d known beforehand what to expect, I probably wouldn’t have been so eager to read it. I might review Changeless when it comes out, but it won’t be on top of my reading pile. I suggest it to those of you who like light stempunk romance and who don’t mind pretty explicit sex.


Soulless by Gail Carriger
Rating: 8,2/10