Likeable characters but too many gods in Starling

Thank you to HarperCollins for giving me a copy of Starling in exchange for an honest review.

Out of my massive bag of goodies from the Ontario Book Blogger Meet-Up, I picked up Lesley Livingston’s Starling first. And to be honest, there was no particular reason for this – I was heading out to a specialist appointment and I knew there would be waiting. And well, the doctor didn’t disappoint. After two hours in his waiting room, I was half way through the book. Gotta love YA.

I thought Starling was pretty good – not amazing, but good. The cast of characters are likeable enough. Mason Starling’s amazing fencing skills and extreme claustrophobia (which comes with a pretty awful back story) made me want to root for her. I even liked Calum, the beautiful boy who will now have to live with a scar on his face from fighting weird monsters.

The nod to Norse mythology and the Ragnarok a.k.a Viking apocalypse also added a few nice twists especially towards the end. And there is BIG cliffhanger at the end.

But I thought the writing was really awkward in the beginning – to the point where it was hard to understand the plot. Also, one of the main characters and love interest, Fennrys Wolf is ridiculously boring.

I also thought Livingston tried too hard to work in the mythology. There was just a crazy smattering of deities and monsters from Norse, Greek, Egyptian and Celtic mythology worked into the story and some of them didn’t seem to contribute to the plot in any specific way.

One of the magical things about Harry Potter is that even though JK Rowling introduces you to so many new things, you know they all come into play later in the story. But with Starling, you’re stuck asking yourself WHY you had to read those pages.

But thanks to the big cliffhanger, I will have to read the next book. Seriously, either kill off the Fennrys Wolf or make him more interesting, k thx.

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Move Over Tinkerbell, These Fairies are Evil

I apologize for going MIA on you. I took a brief hiatus from reading because I had an inner ear infection. Unlike other ear infections, these don’t hurt – they just make your head spin and make it extremely uncomfortable to read.

But I’m back to tell you about Jennifer McMahon’s Don’t Breathe a Word – a really creepy story about a little girl that goes missing in the forest. Legend has it that the town of Reliance once existed in the forest but the villagers slowly disappeared because they had crossed over to the fairy world.

Don’t Breathe a Word is a page-turner. I couldn’t put it down. McMahon does a fantastic job of tipping the balances between coincidence and the supernatural. It keeps you on your toes and it makes the story that much more believable. Every great scary movie has you wondering if it all could have been true – and so does this story.

The main character is Phoebe, a girl who has a troubled relationship with her tough, alcoholic mother. But Phoebe finds herself unbelievably lucky when she meets Sam, a younger man who seems perfect. It just so happens that Sam’s sister was the girl that went missing in the forest years before. Sam receives a letter from his sister saying that she’s back from the land of fairies.

And these aren’t Disneyland fairies – these are mean, scary fairies kidnapping underaged girls. Although, Tinkerbell had a temper too no?

Don’t Breathe a Word isn’t so scary that it kept me up at night. It’s more suspenseful than anything else. With Halloween around the corner, I definitely recommend cuddling up with this creepy read.

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The future looks bleak in Wither – a dystopian page-turner

I decided to read Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither” because I received “Fever”, the second novel in her “Chemical Garden Trilogy”, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Wither starts off with a bang. Rhine, a New Yorker in the distant future, is kidnapped and thrown into a van. It’s the future and boys live till 25 while girls only reach 20. There are no diseases, no illnesses but everyone dies in their twenties and no one knows why.

DeStefano’s future is also polygamous. The pretty ones, like Rhine, are often kidnapped at an early age and made into a “sister wife” in attempts to continue the human race. Rhine finds herself launched into a life of glamour only to be forceably married to Linden Ashby, the son of millionaire Vaughn (“Housemaster Vaughn”) who is researching for a cure to save the young ‘uns. Two other girls face the same fate. The ugly girls are killed or forced into prostitution. I’m not sure if it’s more or less comforting to know that even as the human race dies off, women are still judged based on appearances!

Rhine, like any kidnappee and New Yorker (stuck in Florida, no less), wants desperately to get home. Linden Ashby is a dull character. While he begins with a sinister presence, he slowly becomes the boring heartbroken boy. Instead, it is Vaughn that takes the cake for being super creepy. In fact, the whole novel just oozes eeriness. While the setting is also beautiful, it’s always unsettling because much like their marriages, the Ashby’s castle is not quite right. The relationship that develops between the young “sister wives” is intricate and unpredictable as well.

Overall, Wither is one of the best novels I’ve read all year. It’s a heart-racing adventure and a story about friendships that stick as opposed to the fraudulent ones. I can’t wait to read Fever – which will be out on February 21, 2012. Stay tuned for the review!

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Waiting On Wednesday: Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan

This my first edition of “Waiting On Wednesday”! I recently discovered that Breaking the Spine features an event where bloggers say which books they are eagerly anticipating / checking out over and over again Amazon and Indigo websites. At least that’s what I do.

I’m really excited for Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan! There’s a touch of romance, a touch of supernatural(?) and whole lot of Paris in this story so it’s already sounds pretty good. Paperback release date is November 22 but it won’t be out on Kindle until December 5. Here’s the synopsis:

Everyday Mathilde takes the Metro, then the commuter train to the office of a large multi-national where she works in the marketing department. Every day, the same routine, the same trains. But something happened a while ago – she dared to voice a different opinion from her moody boss, Jacques. Bit by bit she finds herself frozen out of everything, with no work to do.
Thibault is a paramedic. Every day he drives to the addresses he receives from his controller. The city spares him no grief: traffic jams, elusive parking spaces, delivery trucks blocking his route. He is well aware that he may be the only human being many of the people he visits will see for the entire day and is well acquainted with the symptomatic illnesses, the major disasters, the hustle and bustle and, of course, the immense, pervading loneliness of the city.
Before one day in May, Mathilde and Thibault had never met. They were just two anonymous figures in a crowd, pushed and shoved and pressured continuously by the loveless, urban world.

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