Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment by Lauren Kate.jpgTitle: Torment
Author: Lauren Kate
Series: Fallen, Book 2
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover: 452 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Hell on earth.

That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.

It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m grateful my friends told me to stick with this series, because I definitely liked this book better than Fallen. There was still a lot of teen angst, which I guess you have to expect from a book like this, but the story was more believable, which I appreciated.

With all the stuff that’s going on, Luce is finally becoming a little less whiny and helpless and is taking charge of her own life. Thank goodness! I wanted to see this in the first book, but I’m glad that it came about eventually. One thing I didn’t like about her was that she seems to be a bit stupid at the beginning. I mean, she just went through this huge battle with people trying to kill her, yet she doesn’t listen when Daniel and Cam tell her to stay at the school where she’s safe. This cluelessness on her part is an attempt at conflict, I think, but it just irritated me.

Another thing that bothered me was the tension between Daniel and Luce. Again, I feel it was forced. Daniel using phrases like, “Don’t disobey me!” to Luce doesn’t make any sense to me. He knows her personality and knows how she’d react to that. And why can’t he just explain things? It doesn’t help the suspense at all, because the reader pretty much knows what’s going on and it bothered me a lot.

Despite that, I really did like this book. I liked the new characters we were introduced to, though Miles is a bit annoying. And Shelby is definitely my new favorite. Seeing children of angels and demons and learning what they can do was a highlight. It was also strange to see how popular Luce is in the angel/demon world. Kind of a Harry Potter moment for her.

The story itself was fast-paced and interesting. I kept wanting to know what would happen next and what Luce would figure out about her past that would shed some light on what’s going on in the present. I loved the ending and how it gave enough information to satisfy my curiosity, but not so much that we now know all that’s going on. It answered some questions, and made me ask a few more. I thought the final battle at the end was a little unrealistic — really, nobody saw that? But I can get over it.

If you found yourself on the fence about Fallen, don’t give up on the series! Definitely give Torment a try before you decide not to like it.

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Audiobook Review: How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

how-to-eat-fried-wormsTitle: How to Eat Fried Worms
Author: Thomas Rockwell
Publisher: Listening Library
Narrator: Jay O. Sanders
Duration: 1 hr 53 minutes
Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Billy must eat 15 worms in 15 days–but the reward will be worth it: $50 for a shiny new minibike. Luckily, Billy’s friends cook up these fat juicy grubs in a variety of appetizing ways–drenched in ketchup and mustard, fried in butter and cornmeal, and the pièce de résistance, a Whizband Worm Delight (an ice-cream worm cake).

 

 

Review:
This book was short, sweet, and hilarious! I can just imagine 10-year-old boys making this sort of bet with each other. I admit, the part where he at the worms was kind of gross, but I enjoyed all the ways he tried to make the worm appetizing. It was also funny seeing how the other two try to trick Billy into losing the bet (and there are a couple of good tricks).

I do have to say that this book is somewhat dated. Written in 1973, some of the phrases used and attitudes of the parents/children just don’t fit in with how today is, but it still a great read. When it comes down to it, it’s all about dealing with peer pressure and that will stay relevant forever.

I thought the narration was phenomenal. Sanders really brings the characters and the story to life. However, I’m not a big fan of background music in my audio books, and there was a decent amount in this one. It wasn’t enough to really bother me, but I did find myself wishing they would cut out the music and just let the man tell the story!If you have a couple of hours to spare (whether for reading or listening to an audio book), then go for it and pick this one up. It’s worth it!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family.jpgTitle: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10
Publisher: Ace
Hardcover: 311 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry..

My Review:

Dead in the Family starts off a bit darker than the other novels in the series, but considering what happened in the previous novel, I would have been upset if it didn’t. Sookie has lost a lot of her innocence and naivete, and I think this is a good change from the beginning books of the series. After hanging around the vampires and the weres, something had to happen to make her less soft.

From when I first started reading it until it ended, I couldn’t put this book down. What I love about Harris’s books is that they are so well-constructed and developed. There are a lot of things going on, what with the political business concerning the weres, Alcide’s pack adjusting to the new rules, her relationship with Eric, Eric’s maker coming to visit, and the aftermath of the Faery War. Needless to say, it was packed with conflict and problems. The characters are awesome, as always — Claude was particularly hilarious in this novel, and I’m glad we got to see more of Sookie’s telepathic cousin, Hunter.

This book was a lot calmer than the rest — less tension, less conflict. I didn’t mind it at all, because I feel like this is just the calm before the storm. Victor seems to have it out for Sookie and Eric, something different is happening with Bill’s character (not going to say what due to spoilers!), and the fairy situation is finally starting to wrap up — or so it seems. I think the next few books are going to be very interesting and exciting.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Arm of the Stone by Victoria Strauss

arm of the stone.jpgTitle: The Arm of the Stone
Author: Victoria Strauss
Series: The Stone Duology, Book 1
Publisher: Phoenix Pick
Paperback: 358 pages
Summary: (Taken from Goodreads)

Long ago, when the worlds were one… So begins the Tale, the ancestral legend Bron’s family has guarded for a thousand years. Once, they were the keepers of the Stone, the most sacred object on earth, from which all the powers of Mind are drawn. But when the conflict between Mind and Hand split the worlds apart, the Stone was seized by an ambitious sorcerer. To keep the new world from contamination, he created rigid Limits circumscribing which tools might be made and which knowledge might be pursued-laws brutally enforced by a group of Guardians known as the Arm of the Stone. ** For centuries, Bron’s family has concealed the secret of its heritage. But when Bron’s brother invents a new kind of plow-an unpardonable heresy in the world of the Guardians-the Arm of the Stone reaches in once again to tear them apart. Fleeing for his life, Bron vows revenge. To strike the Guardians down, he will become a Guardian himself. But Bron cannot know how much that choice will change him. Nor does he anticipate the hatred of a powerful enemy, or the love of a beautiful Guardian named Liliane…whose mission is to destroy him.

My Review:

The beginning of The Arm of the Stone was really rocky for me. Honestly, it got to the point where I thought about giving it up; however, I didn’t and I’m glad I stuck with it.

I thought the beginning was rather drawn out and overloaded with characters, history, etc. Also, the conflict didn’t seem very interesting to me: Bron’s family swears to take back the Stone, which was once theirs and reclaim their power from the Guardians who now hold it. I thought this was too simplistic and it didn’t really hold much promise. However, there is a huge turning point in the novel, and that’s when the novel picked up its pace and started to become interesting.

What I love most about The Arm of the Stone is the story and the world. Strauss does an excellent job in making the story seem straightforward, and then she throws a curveball at you, completely changing your perspective of what’s happening. Also, the world is extremely well-constructed. When I read the novel, I was completely immersed because of the level of detail Strauss includes.

Another thing I liked was that I felt that the characters showed a lot of growth. The Bron we meet on page one is completely different than the Bron we know on the last page, which I think is one sign of a successful book. The same goes for many of the characters in the novel, including Liliane and Goldwine, to name a few.

There were times when I got confused about jumps in time and it did take me a long time to finish this novel, because it’s loaded with so much. I don’t think the latter is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely not a quick summer read. It is, however, one of the best fantasies I’ve read in awhile and I’m greatly looking forward to the sequel.

I would recommend this for fantasy fans who enjoy coming-of-age adventures.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke – From Me to You, Vol 1 by Karuho Shiina

From Me To You Vol 1.jpgTitle: From Me To You, Vol 1
Author: Karuho Shiina
Series: Kimi ni Todoke, Vol 1
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Paperback: 216 pages
Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine…for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she’s often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she’s sure to make more than just that—she’s about to make some enemies too!

Review:

I have never read a manga book before this. It seems surprising, since I watch anime and I’ve always been interested in the stories, but I guess I’ve always thought reading novels would be more satisfying. However, I’m glad I decided to read this one.

It’s such a cute story. I finished this book in about three days, even during finals week. I like how the author takes time to really develop the characters and the story. It’s not a fast-paced romance, where both of the main characters instantly fall for each other and can’t live without each other; rather, it’s more real. It’s obvious that they like each other, but they don’t immediately fall in love. Instead, they talk and hang out and get to know each other.

Despite the fact that this is paced slower than most stories, I still really enjoyed it. It’s very funny — some parts even had me laugh out loud. I am definitely going to read the rest of the series.

All in all, a very good introduction to the manga world.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Soldiers of Halla by DJ MacHale

soldiers-of-hallaTitle: The Soldiers of Halla
Author: D.J. MacHale
Publisher: Aladdin
Series: Pendragon, Book 10
Hardcover: 608 pages
Summary: (Taken from Goodreads)

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon’s heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere.

This is the war for Halla.

Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed.

The final battle has begun.

My Review:

You know what makes a great book? Authors who aren’t afraid to get dirty; authors who don’t hold back on tragedy. This is especially true in adventure books — if your characters are frequently put in dangerous situations, bad things should happen. Yes, maybe they’re able to get out of those bad situations and rise above it, but it shouldn’t be easy for them. D.J. MacHale is one author who definitely doesn’t hold back and definitely doesn’t make it easy for his characters in the final battle.

I am very satisfied with the conclusion of this series. All the characters showed tremendous growth and the final battle was pretty awesome. MacHale did some careful planning with this series, because I noticed things that tied back to clues given in previous books, which was fun. This is the point I was waiting for throughout the entire series, and like I said, MacHale doesn’t hold back. The stakes are high and it gets dangerous for Bobby and his friends.

The only thing I didn’t like was the explanation of what makes them all Travelers and how the gates were formed. I know it’s a fantasy/science fiction novel, but it was just a little too far-fetched for me. I’m not going to go into detail due to spoilers, I’ll just say that I think there could be far better explanations to the one MacHale chose.

However, this was a satisfying ending. It got kind of shaky for me around book 6 (The Rivers of Zadaa), but I continued with it because I was invested in the characters by that point. Around book 8 (The Pilgrims of Rayne), I was feeling it again, and now I’m glad I stuck with it. Soldiers of Halla is a great book full of excitement, danger, adventure, friendship, and everything that I love about the Pendragon series. Honestly, I think it’s the best book of the series because the stakes are raised so high and the characters really have to struggle.

I recommend this entire series to lovers of young adult adventure/fantasy. They’re imaginative, exciting books that don’t disappoint.

Overall Rating: 4/5