Game by Barry Lyga: review

Game (Jasper Dent, #2)Game by Barry Lyga
Series: Jasper Dent #2
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: April 16th 2013
Synopsis: I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

Meanwhile, Jazz’s dad Billy is watching…and waiting.

My Thoughts:

I Hunt Killers was filled with bloody murder, dark humor, intriguing characters, and just downright incredible. The story of a boy who is afraid of becoming the killer his own father raised him to be was intriguing, and I couldn’t resist the darkness and suspense that surrounded the book. I was seriously excited for its sequel, Game. But, even though my obvious love for I Hunt Killers runs for miles, I ended up having an up and down kind of relationship with Game.

I want to start this review with the good: Lyga definitely delivered a story that gives a lot of entertainment, keeps the reader on the edge of his seat, and has many moments of surprise. Reading about Jazz take on the task of helping the police hunt down Hat-Dog, a serial killer who brutally kills his victims and carves hats and dogs on their bodies, and trying to get closer to finding his father Billy Dent was thrilling and I really had trouble putting the book down. The investigating that Connie did herself was pretty great, too.

Jazz, the son of a serial killer, is still a deep, interesting character, and getting a look into his psyche is still awesome. The doubt that Jazz has towards his own feelings–does he really love? Does he really feel guilt? Is he just copying what others feel?– and the worry he feels because he thinks that something might trigger the killer that may or may not be inside him felt believable and is often wrenching. “Excellent” doesn’t even begin to describe how well Lyga had written Jazz.

The supporting characters, like Connie and Howie, will practically kick their way into your memory. They are colorful, unique and have plenty of shining moments. The prose is clear and gets the job well done.

And now for my quibbles: I felt that more attention could have been dedicated to the internal conflicts happening within Jazz, because the depiction of a boy who fears what he is capable of becoming is what I read this series for. Game focuses more on the mystery and that’s fine, as the mystery us pretty darn amazing. But, Jazz’s complex character is what I desire to read about the most and I don’t think that giving his internal struggles more page-time would have hurt.

Lyga’s use of multiple point of views could get a little jarring and redundant. Sometimes the transitioning between views weren’t smooth and the amount of different point of views was a bit ridiculous. Game could have easily been told through just Jazz and Connie’s point of views.

I also think that Connie’s chapters could have been polished up more. Her feelings and thoughts don’t fit her character and her relationship with Jazz at times. For example, there was one moment in this novel where it is mentioned that Connie feared for Howie’s life for an instant after Jazz jokingly said something about kidnapping him.

I understand that one could get scared if a son of a serial killer said something along the lines of, “yeah, let’s kidnap a my best friend,” but Connie is portrayed as a strong, confident girl that loves Jazz and doesn’t fear him. Her feeling scared and uncomfortable when Jazz attempts to be funny doesn’t fit. (And if she really is scared, she should break up with him. Being scared of your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t a good thing, guys)

Another example would be when Jazz freaks out and falls out of the bed when Connie tries to take the kissing and groping up a notch. She is hurt and confused, which is reasonable. What is not reasonable is when she goes on to thinking about how other people who have gone through horrible trauma aren’t afraid of connecting to people and that Jazz might be being unfair to her. First of all, Connie should know that people react to trauma in different ways. Second, Connie should know, or at least try to understand, that Jazz is deathly scared of things that might trigger him, sex being one of those things.

Maybe I am being nit-picky but I loved Connie in I Hunt Killers and want a character like her to be written as good as possible. Lyga does get the hang of things around the two hundred page mark, though. And when he gets the hang of things, Connie is awesome 🙂

More time with Howie and Jazz together would have been nice. Howie and Jazz have a good chemistry and dynamics, and they always have me laughing when they interact with each other. Game doesn’t even have Howie and Jazz in the same town as each other for the majority of the story, which made me sad.

The dark humor is another thing I missed in Game. I Hunt Killers had tons of it, but Game only had a handful of sarcastic, dark comments and jokes. Lyga has skill when it comes to dark humor so seeing that skill not being displayed much is a little disappointing, to say the least.

Now that I look at what I wrote, I realize that it looks like Game is only a barely above average novel. But that isn’t true. Game has lots to offer and has a high entertainment value. Yes, it is flawed but also pretty kick butt with its gruesome murders, unpredictable mystery, and amazing main character. I really do think that Lyga will be able to do great things with the Jasper Dent series and am really excited for the third book.

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: review

Eleanor and ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Stand Alone
My Rating:
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Synopsis: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

My Thoughts:

The first two-thirds of Eleanor & Park had me absolutely smitten with the book. It was a joy to read even only one page of Eleanor & Park. The story and romance were lovely and I couldn’t help but utterly fall in love with the characters of Eleanor and Park, our two misfit protagonist. You could say that I was just completely dazzled. But then I turned from being completely dazzled to being completely furious by the ending part of the book came.

Eleanor & Park is a story that tells of the romance between two misfits, Eleanor and Park. Eleanor being a misfit and always standing out because of her weight, bright red curly hair, awkwardness, and funky outfits. Park being a misfit because of the fact that he is the only Asian kid in the entire school. I was immediately struck with a feeling of love for these two characters. They felt vibrant and real.

And if the two leads themselves felt vibrant and real, the romance between them was a hundred times that. Rowell wrote an amazing romance that started as a reluctant sitting arrangement, to quick exchanges every now and then, to becoming a couple. Every small interaction, every little word exchanged, every time they listened to music or read comics together, only made Eleanor & Park shine brighter. It was all very sweet and lovey-dovey, and I can’t resist anything very sweet and lovey-dovey.

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

My heartstrings were also inevitably pulled when Eleanor and Park started to really help each other with their issues and learn to accept them. They became each other’s source of happiness. Park was Eleanor’s way of escaping her dysfunctional family and terrible school-life and Eleanor was the person who made Park feel comfortable in his own skin. I wouldn’t say that I am quite sure that this “first love” couple will survive, but it felt true.

Rowell’s handling of words in Eleanor & Park is a bit foul (swearing, some racism), because it aims to portray the way a number of teenagers think, and will no doubt offend some people. But personally, I thought it was gorgeous, and I loved it very much so. Yes, it could be foul, but it could also be beautiful with passages that made my heart beat faster.

I was sort of bursting with love for Eleanor & Park. I would still be bursting with love for it, if only there wasn’t the tedious, unneeded drama and butchering of Eleanor’s character toward the end of the story. The love story that Eleanor & Park contained was fantastic, if not perfect, for the first two-thirds of the novel, but the final chapters absolutely ruined it for me. I hated the lazily-written drama and couldn’t understand why Eleanor did what she did. Add to the mix an unresolved ending and you have me in rage.

Eleanor & Park could have been my favorite contemporary novel of the year of 2013 and maybe even all time. Really, it could have. The romance, cultural references, characters, and writing had me wholly enamored with the book. It’s just that I passionately despise the ending, which was horrible. The cute and fitting cover is a hundred percent perfect, though 😛

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston: review

Black HelicoptersBlack Helicopters by Blythe Woolston
Stand Alone
My Rating:
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Thriller
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: March 26th 2013
Synopsis: A teenage girl. A survivalist childhood. And now a bomb strapped to her chest. See the world through her eyes in this harrowing and deeply affecting literary thriller.

I’m Valkyrie White. I’m fifteen. Your government killed my family.
Ever since Mabby died while picking beans in their garden — with the pock-a-pock of a helicopter overhead — four-year-old Valley knows what her job is: hide in the underground den with her brother, Bo, while Da is working, because Those People will kill them like coyotes. But now, with Da unexpectedly gone and no home to return to, a teenage Valley (now Valkyrie) and her big brother must bring their message to the outside world — a not-so-smart place where little boys wear their names on their backpacks and young men don’t pat down strangers before offering a lift. Blythe Woolston infuses her white-knuckle narrative, set in a day-after-tomorrow Montana, with a dark, trenchant humor and a keen psychological eye. Alternating past-present vignettes in prose as tightly wound as the springs of a clock and as masterfully plotted as a game of chess, she ratchets up the pacing right to the final, explosive end.

My Thoughts:

Black Helicopters is a brief novel that I have no doubt will puzzle a person a bit if the person just simple read it. There are hidden details that can be hard to spot– even I don’t really know if I truly understand the story that Black Helicopters offered. And I think that it was meant to be that way. I think that Blythe Woolston wrote this story so the reader could experience the feeling of being hallow, unsettled, and shocked.

One of the things about this book that surprised me is the very story itself. I would reckon that there aren’t many YA books out there in the world containing the topic of suicide terrorist, much less have a main character who is one with a bomb currently strapped to her chest. But the bleak story isn’t just about a teenage girl named Valley walking around with a bomb. No, it is about the reasons why she is the person she is in the now and how those reasons came to be.

Valley (now called Valkyrie) is a character that I was saddened by. She felt hallow and unhopeful, and that made my heart sink. In the chapters that tell of when she was a child, she was happy and innocent, but as she grew up in an environment that was gradually going completely rotten, she became a person whose only purpose was to destroy Those People. Woolston’s characterization of Valley is excellent and I couldn’t ask for anything better– no matter how much Valley made me want to cry.

Another noteable thing about Valley is the fact that she is an unreliable narrator. Her perception of everything is tricky, clouded by what her father had drilled into her about Those People who fly inside the black helicopters. It’s hard to tell if something she believes is true is actually true and not a lie. And while I don’t believe there can be a large number different interpretations of the ‘truth’ that stay within a realistic spectrum, it can be hard to form an interpretation amongst the could-be lies and could-be truths. Unless, of course, you accept everything that Valley knows as the truth.

An aspect of Black Helicopters I especially liked is how Woolston connects her story with the game of chess. There is just something so powerful about building up a plan and strategy and comparing the obstacles and the things you control to the pawns on a chessboard.

Woolston’s use of words is very simple and has a literary feel to it. This causes some passages to be nothing but lovely. Unfortunately, despite all the loveliness, the writing wasn’t able to really capture me and create a strong emotional connection to me and the story for the majority of the novel until the end. I was definitely affected by the story, I felt sad, hallow, and I felt the bleakness, but I didn’t feel particularly attached.

The novel has an odd ending. It ends everything in the middle of one important action, and action that could kill, making the reader just assume what happened. And I don’t know how I feel about it. There are two different endings that one could accept, one ending being an ending that blows everything out like a candle, another one being a hopeful one. I love that. But I also love knowing how a story ends. So I can’t exactly give a solid opinion on the ending…

It’s hard to write a review for a book that I have such of an ambiguous opinion of. And Black Helicopters is one of those books. It’s a book that is unapologetic for what it is though, a bleak book that makes a person feel empty and at the same time desperate. This is a story that is worth picking up and reading through only a little below two hundred pages, so I recommend it. Just be prepared.

Penelope by Anya Wylde: review

PenelopePenelope by Anya Wylde
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Adult/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Humour, Chick Lit
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 17th 2013
Synopsis: Leaving behind the rural charms of Finnshire, Miss Penelope Fairweather arrives in London with hope in her heart and a dream in her eye. The dowager, no less, has invited her for a season in London, where she will attempt to catch a husband.

Thus begins our heroine’s tale as she attempts to tackle the London season with all her rustic finesse. Unfortunately, her rustic finesse turns out to be as delicate as a fat bear trying to rip apart a honeycomb infested with buzzing bees.

What follows is a series of misadventures, love affairs, moonlit balls, fancy clothes, fake moustaches, highwaymen, sneering beauties, pickpockets, and the wrath of a devilishly handsome duke.

My Thoughts: 

Penelope was a book I started to read in hopes of funny moments and just all-out good fun. Not only did this book give me those things, but it also gave me some truly random but also charming characters and moments. The laughs, fun, and randomness made this very playful book filled with boisterous merriment (yeah, I totally wrote that) that is endearing and addictive.

The story that Penelope tells might seem pretty simple at first: a tale of a girl named Penelope that goes to London is order to catch a husband. But that idea is immediately shattered once Penelope arrives at arrives at Blackthorne Mansion with a goat and also with a true story to tell that has something to do with meeting and befriending a highwayman called the Falcon after he tried to rob her awhile she was traveling to the mansion.

And that isn’t even the beginning of all the hilarity. The story after Penelope’s arrival is filled with fake moustaches, awkwardness caused by a certain goat, falling in love, pretty dresses, chaos caused by Penelope, the fury of a duke that can probably fuel a train for a few years, and more!

Penelope‘s story is something that requires the reader to have the ability to just go with the flow. If you don’t like moments that are dosed with a lot of randomness, you may not be a fan of this book. I found the randomness that is not so different from the randomness of The Princess Bride to be utterly charming.

The title character, Penelope, is truly a character that is impossible to not love. Yes, she does leave disorder, confusion, and chaos in her wake and she is a little clueless and daft, but she is upbeat, quirky, and has so much determination that I became an instant fan of her. She is incredibly sympathetic and the reader can probably relate to her feeling of disappointment in herself when she makes horrendous mistakes. Plus, she has a pet goat. Nobody can not like a person with a pet goat.

Hey there, cutie!

The side characters, like Penelope, are all quirky and fun in their own way. They don’t have much depth to them and some of them are just there to be comedic, but I loved reading about them all. We have Anne, the girl who loves shopping and is always looking for something to cure her boredom and make her laugh, Sir Henry, the old man who absolutely insists on all men to be manly with moustaches (causing the whole household to wear fake moustaches whenever he visits), Jimmy, the highwayman that Penelope meets before that is well-read and quite emotional, and many other adorable, fun characters.

But as they say, there is always a rotten apple in the bin–and the duke, Charles, is the rotten apple. Before I talk about how much of a bully he is, I will say that I do believe that mean, sometimes cruel love interests can be written well and in a way that makes the reader like him or her. Anya Wylde just failed at writing the duke in a way that was done well.

At first, the duke’s plans to get Penelope kicked out of the mansion were comedic because they always ended up failing and/or getting his ego damaged. But after a while, he really starts to grate on the nerves. The duke constants insults Penelope, calling her an imbecile and much more, assumes the worst of her, and never listens to her. And when he does show kindness and he starts to warm up to me, he ruins it by insulting Penelope yet again. And oh, wait, it gets better (spoiler alert, highlight to read,) even after the duke marries Penelope, he is still a bully to her. (spoiler done).

I get that he has a lot of distrust towards women because he was burned multiple times in the past, but that gives him no excuse to treat Penelope the way he does. He definitely didn’t win me over and decreased my enjoyment of this novel overall. And since I didn’t like the duke, I didn’t like the romance either.

Anya Wylde has a knack for writing strong prose that fits in with the story’s time period and witty dialogue that never failed to make me giggle.

“Penelope glared at her, “Madame said that men love damsels in distress. She failed to point out that damsels in distress look wretched, miserable and downright horrid.”

“Men do love damsels in distress. We simply need to look lovely while fighting mortal peril.” 

Penelope is a lovely novel that one can read when one wants to have some good, nice laughs. The male love interest is terrible, but the rest of the characters are great, the writing is strong, and the story is fantastic brain fluff. Fans of humour and regency romance will definitely want to pick this book up.

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy: review

CriminalCriminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Stand Alone
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult/New Adult
Genre: Realistic, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Synopsis: A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

My Thoughts:

I believe that there are different ways to love someone. After reading so many books, watching so many movies and T.V. shows, I think that I have found out about many of those ways. But Criminal is the first novel that I have read that features such a dark, startling honest story about the consequences of being utterly blinded by love. But awhile this is a strong and solid story, I did have a few quibbles here and there.

The Things That I Liked–

— Criminal is super addictive. The story is tough to read through at times, but there is just something so compulsively addictive. Perhaps it is the yearning of knowing the characters’ fates. Perhaps it is the massive want of finally seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever it was, it kept me reading.

— I also have to say that Criminal packs quite a punch. There were times that I felt like it was hopeless. There were times when I celebrated. And then there were times when I just felt angry. McVoy did an excellent job at pulling just the right emotions out of me.

— The writing, although it is very minimalistic at times, is very good. McVoy’s prose matches the mood of the story perfectly, enhancing the dark, cold feel that I already felt all too well.

–Nikki is the type of character who needs to be written with a careful hand. She is very, very rough around the edges. She is desperate, blinded by love. But it is that terrible flaw that makes her transition from a girl who can’t see to a girl who can is incredible. Nikki’s growth as a person is a reason alone to read this novel.

— The side characters were given a fair amount of attention and written well. Bird, Priscilla, and the rest of the group were created with finesse. Awhile some like Cherry can be categorized easily, most of them can’t.

The Things That I Didn’t Like

— I feel massively disappointed by Dee’s character. As the reader, all I could feel towards him was hatred and disgust. I could feel nothing else. Nothing else at all. You see, I like antagonist who are fleshed out. I like feeling sympathy, even if just a fragment of it, toward them. The reader doesn’t learn anything about Dee, which is, to be blunt, disappointing.

— Open endings are not normally my thing. And the ending of this book is no exception. The end of Criminal would have been much more satisfying if it had an epilogue devoted to Nikki’s future.

The Verdict

Criminal is a dark story with solid writing and a good group of characters that knows what story it is trying to tell– and is completely honest about it. Which is absolutely refreshing. I would certainly recommend this novel to people who are aching for a story that doesn’t hold back anything.

The Collector by Victoria Scott: review

The Collector (Dante Walker, #1)The Collector by Victoria Scott
Series: Dante Walker #1
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Synopsis: He makes good girls…bad. 

Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.

My Thoughts:

I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book all that much. But in the end, I really found myself loving it. I got caught up in the story and the dynamics between all the characters, and just kind of got lost in the story. And the lolz.

Let me explain. The Collector is just one of those books in which I just can’t read without laughing. And that is all thanks to Dante’s way of talking and thinking. Awhile the guy can be a bit exasperating at times, it’s impossible to say that he is not funny. Because he is one of the funniest characters I have ever had the honor to read about.  And if you don’t think that Dante’s attitude is funny, my only response is:

And since we are talking about Dante, I need to say that he is a cocky, conceited, flamboyant, self-superior anti-hero that thinks he is the sexiest guy on earth. So if you don’t like characters like him, you won’t enjoy this book much.

But Dante does grow into a better person throughout the novel. There was always good in him, of course, but the events and people he meets in during the story help that good part of him become more obvious and apparent. Sure, he is still conceited at the end of the story, but his development as a character is exponential.

Charlie, the female lead of the story, is also a character that I loved a heck of a lot. She’s awkward, names cars, keeps a bag of Skittles in her pocket, is insecure, and has a really loving heart. I couldn’t help but love her. The girl is one of those impossibly nice characters that are also realistic in their very own way.

The dynamics between the main characters and the side characters is what made the book for me. Every interaction Dante and Charlie had with Max, Blue, Valery, Annabell, and Gram pulled me into the story more. Victoria Scott really did good with this aspect of the book.

I do think that the first part of the novel was much better than the second. It was more fulfilling even though the Boss Man vs. Big Guy plot didn’t fully kick in yet. Not that the second part was not entertaining, it was definitely entertaining, but I just believe that the first part was more… tightly written.

Final Verdict: The Collector is a pretty awesome book with great characters, humor, and writing. It’s just that not very awesome second part that bothered me. I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining story.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard: review

That Time I Joined the CircusThat Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic
Publisher: Point
Release Date: April 1st 2013
Synopsis: Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose.

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake–and facing a terrible tragedy–Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi’s mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn’t there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus’s fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi’s ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it’s Lexi’s own future that’s thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

My Thoughts:

I can’t help but sort of love this novel. Sure, it’s flawed and can be a bit ridiculous at times but there is just something so charming about That Time I Joined the Circus that literally makes me utterly unable to dislike it.

Things I Liked: Okay, awhile I do wish there was more of this:

…. I did like the circus element of the story. The circus was more of the background than the main part of the story, but still. I love me some circus-y fun.

The protagonist, Lexi, is childish but she does have a very self-deprecating, slightly snarky voice that will make a person laugh more than a few times. I could also relate to her and her feelings of being left out by her friends Eli and Bailey in a big way. And I kind of loved that she sort of blunders about through a lot of things. Her growth and revelations throughout the story is a reason to read this book alone. And I really appreciated the fact that it is not just mentioned that she is bookish and likes music. She actually reads books and listens to music.

Most of the side characters are equally as loveable and colorful as Lexi. Lina and Liska may seem a bit cold at first, but further development shows that they are actually very sweet characters that provide Lexi the friendship that she needs. Jamie is very silly (more so towards the end than the beginning) and I found myself loving him almost immediately. And awhile I did get annoyed by him sometimes, Nick is a kind person who really shows that he cares about Lexi. Plus, he had a hilarious habit of picking Lexi up and carrying her away like a man would do in a cheap romance novel 😛

The rest of the circus crew, awhile not remarkable enough to describe in depth, have a very pleasant presence and they really do enhance the novel in their own little way.

And the humor! Oh the humor is definitely for the people who like snark and love reading book with snarky words and sentences. I couldn’t get enough of it! You did well on this one, J.J. Howard, very well.

Things I Disliked: Of course, there are a whole ton of flaws that are hidden in That Time I Joined the Circus‘s pages. And they are all only painfully obvious toward and in the ending. (Beware readers: This part of the review has some spoilery!) Here’s a list of all those bad, terrible flaws:

  1. Lexi’s reunion with her mother was mediocre at best. There was barely any poignancy  or happiness or sweetness radiating through the pages at all during the event. So I was very disappointed, especially since it was one of the most important events in the book.
  2. I don’t think it is ever acceptable to just throw away a nice, kind boy that is part of a love triangle in order to have the female protagonist end up with the other part. Even more so when the boy the female protagonist does end up with is selfish, stupid, and caused the girl a heck of a lot of hurt.
  3. There were so many convenient things happening to tie the story up in a neat little bow that it got really, really annoying.
  4. This is kind of nit-picky, but I’m just going to say it: One of the teenage girls that are a part of the circus is getting married to another teenage boy. First of all, teenagers should not be getting married. They should just have fun dating and doing all the stupid things us teenagers do.

Overall, this was a nice, short, and fun read that I will probably return to whenever I need a laugh. That Time I Joined the Circus could have been a favorite, but the flaws that are oh so apparent at the end were just to bothersome to ignore.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

Blood and Snow: The Complete Set by Rashelle Workman: review

Blood and Snow: The Complete Set

Blood and Snow: The Complete Set  by Rashelle Workman

Series: Blood and Snow #1-12

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Age Group: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Polished Pen Press

Release Date: February 17th 2013

Synopsis: Every thousand years the Vampire Queen selects a new body, always the fairest in the land, and this time she’s chosen Snow White.

Snow isn’t an ordinary girl. She doesn’t know that yet.

When Snow gets bitten by a Hunter, her life is thrown into a whirlwind of change where instead of worrying about what to eat, she has to fight not to drink the blood of fellow high school students. She becomes a revenant – not quite human, not quite vampire.

With the help of an eccentric old Professor, his seven adoptive sons, and her best friend, Snow learns to control her blood craving. Sort of. She drinks a bloodlust tea, but she’d rather drink from her Hunter.

Or, a human.

She also discovers a whole other realm, one filled with fairies, dragons, and magic. And not only does the Vampire Queen want her, but there’s a pendant called the Seal of Gabriel created for Snow by the Vampire Queen’s twin sister. And Snow’s supposed to use it to restore balance to all magical creatures. Including vampires.

My Thoughts:

I love fairy tales. I also love fairy tale retellings. There is just something so magical about being able to see a different version of the story I have always loved. Blood and Snow was a great retelling that was fun, exciting, compelling and unique (at least, for me, anyway). This wasn’t a perfect novel, but was a joy to read and I will definitely come back for more of Workman’s works.

Workman’s story is completely different from the original Snow White story. Snow White is still the bases, but there are many other things that make Blood and Snow a completely different creature. For example, the addition of the many magical creatures gave the story a different air. And the other little touches made the story original, even if it is compared to the well-known tale.

This novel is actually a collection of twelve novellas that make up a series. At first, I was a bit dubious about this aspect but than found that I loved that I could read the story in small chunks. Obviously, the fact that Blood and Snow is a collection of novellas gave it a episodic feel that worked very well.

The best part about retellings is seeing how the author has reformed the characters from the original tale. In this case, there are many characters that were reformed, and some original characters that were added in.

Snow, the main lead, has morphed into a clumsy girl who has some tom-boyish traits. For me, this was a welcome change. Awhile the ‘adorable clumsy girl’ thing has been put into play in many novels, I really liked Snow. She was relatable and it was really interesting to see how she adapted to the, ahem, supernatural situation she has fallen into.

I also have a feeling of fondness toward the characters that were at Snow’s side. Most of them are quirky and a bit strange at times, but I did love reading about them.

The Vampire Queen’s character could have been polished up more. There were times when I sincerely felt how menacing and evil she was, but there were also times when I found that some of her actions didn’t seem to fit her vain character.

Workman’s writing is lovely and enhanced the magic of the story. Her prose contains descriptions that have a beauty to them. It made the story come alive. Despite the episode one through episode two feel, the author is able to write a story that flows in a seemingly effortless way.

There were also some cute comics added in the pages of this book. The art is simple but nice to look at. I think that adding little comics was a great idea and I applaud Workman for deciding to insert them in her book 🙂

The verdict: Blood and Snow is a fascinating tale that allows the reader to escape in a world full of magical creatures. I had a grand time reading this and I am hoping that I will be able to read more of this author’s works.

This post is part of the Blood and Snow Blog Tour. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review.