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[Review] The Retribution of Mara Dyer Levels Out The Series But Doesn't Redeem

The Unbecoming brought mystery, intrigue, and what felt like something different. The Evolution was a drag where characters ignored the obvious and the story became tortuously formulaic. The Retribution had some great elements again from the beginning and ended in a standard foreseeable clean way. It had the best and the worst elements from the first two installments, which landed it right in the middle: 3 stars. Enjoyable to a point, but I was relieved it was over.

Content Warning: Attempted Rape/Murder, Gruesome Horror Violence

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Throwback Thursday: The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield

This weekly meme is hosted by Casual Readers and comes with the rules:
  1. Feature a book that was published more than a year ago, the older the better.
  2. It must be a book that you have re-read at least once.
  3. Explain to your readers why this book is worth reading over and over again.
  4. Tag four people in your post to share their favorite throwback the following week.

But I don't re-read books (No, really not ever.) and don't tag people to play along. So I'm going to mix and mash Throwback Thursday with this awesome but now defunct meme, Backlist Mondays. It's the same thing but more flexible. The prompt is simple:
On Backlist Mondays, we post reviews (or just whatever impressions we can remember) about books we read before blogging OR reviews of books from publishers’ backlists. Basically, books that aren’t considered “frontlist” reviews for your blog.
Please post a link back to the signup page in your post and add your blog name to the linky widget so everyone can find your backlist recs!

This week's throwback is the fantastic series Uglies by Scott Westerfield. I remember being in the store browsing books and picking the first one the series is named after, Uglies. I remember feeling like a fugly teen that's never had a boyfriend and wondering WTF could possibly make you pass up a chance at being pretty.

I'm pretty sure this is where my love affair of YA Dystopians came from, it's certainly the first I remember reading. To say it had an effect and lasting impression is an understatement. It's been around quite a while now but in case you need a refresher or haven't heard of it before....

Series: Uglies #1
Genre: Dystopian, Action/Adventure, Romance,
Age: YA
Format: PB, 425 pgs.
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars
Recommendable? Hell Yes

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world-- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever...

This tetralogy packed a wallop of action and romance amid a dystopian world that I found so refreshing. There's character progression galore. Tally's journey is un-fucking-belivable. And the kicker is the 4th book is set after Tally's main quest with a new protagonist: Aya.

I remember thinking "Where's my Tally damnit?!?" when I first read the blurb. But holy shit, I love how this ends up. The world building continues as it evolves, which I love to death. I hate when fantasy worlds stay stagnate when people are forever reaching forward. Aya's tale is just a good in a short amount of time and no worries, Tally keeps rolling and her ending is awesome.

Everything about is is fantastic. Of course, it's been years since I read it as teen and I can't give content warnings from recollection alone but I highly recommended the series. If you love YA and/or dystopians, it's a must read.

And yes, I love the author Scott Westerfield so much for this series and have continued reading his work proudly. My next review up after the final Mara Dyer novel this Saturday is his latest Afterworlds.

Do you have a Throwback or Backlist review to share? I'd love to read it!
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Teaser Tuesday #7: Slated by Terri Terry

Brooke Banks | 4:00 AM | | Please comment!
In my quest to clear off my shelves and finally read all those books I promised to long ago, I've chosen Slated as my next read. It's actually an ARC copy that I cannot find any documentation for, I'm sorry. :(

The good news is I've devised a system to use once I start entering giveaways and such again. After I finish the hard copies that I have, of course.

I do remember why I wanted this one though: the cover and I love my YA Dystopians. It's been a while since I've delved into one so this should be a good time. *crosses fingers*

The Meme Curator & Rules:

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

So, without further ado:

My Teaser:

"What are you drawing?"
I show her. Half Mum, half dragon. In a variety of poses. Breathing fire, flying over the house.
---Slated, pg. 45.

Series: Slated #1
Genre: Dystopian, Mystery, Thriller, Romance,
Age: YA
Format: ARC PPB, 345 pgs.
Source: Given, no idea who anymore :(
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

As always, I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading and I'd loved to hear about yours. :D
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[Review] The Evolution of Mara Dyer Is Dead In The Water

As much as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer had me by the seat of my pants, The Evolution of Mara Dyer had me flailing and bailing. Where's The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was tolerably saturated with Mara's and Noah's mutual obsession, romance dominated and subdued The Evolution of Mara Dyer. Mara made The Unbecoming  but undoes in all Evolution.

I don't care if that was the point. With 100 pages left, I was seriously frustrated and kicking myself for not quitting already. I would've bailed had the action not finally ramped up into climaxing. Then I was stuck with another cliffhanger.

I was resolved to only start the final book, The Retribution, because I came this far. If it didn't pay off, I was abandoning ship early. From 4.5 stars to almost DNF, how pathetic.

Content Warning: Ableism and PTSD from Attempted Rape

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[Review] The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: A Dark, Horrific Mystery Thriller That Tackles Mental Illness In Teens

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer blew up in the kind of way every debut author dreams of and after reading it's easy to why. It's gripping and intense. It's a dark, creeptastic, haunting tale that doesn't treat teens as stupid babies.

Mara makes this book. She has to, since it's all about her. And her love affair with Noah, but I'll tackle that in a minute.

We only pick up pieces of her though like The Velveteen Rabbit being her favorite book. Music is brought up occasionally but it's general, besides Death Cab being a jackass's favorite. But that's at least something. Mara's personality though is in the spotlight and nails it.

Her voice is authentic and I love her fucking language. The teens feel realer because of this addition, the tale more grounded. That's no hyperbole either. There's still that made-for-viewers, all too on-point conversation but that's a necessary divergence. However, these teens I could see, believe and hear speaking as they did out in meatspace.

Mara's experience and narration is intense. She's unreliable (beyond being human) but unintentionally. She's telling the truth...as she knows it. It's fascinating. It works building the suspense and horror. Add in the writing creating a creepy, dark atmosphere and it's a smash hit.

Trigger Warning for Rape.

Highlight For Details:There is a very descriptive and disturbing scene. Then there's dealing with the after effects. It lies at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer's core and is laced throughout, there's no way to avoid or deny it. Reading was occasionally hard (the scene and flashbacks) and often frustrating (her denial: “He's not a rapist because he didn't succeed in raping me!”). End.

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[Review]Throwback Thursday: The Sano Ichiro Series by Laura Joh Rowland

This weekly meme is hosted by Casual Readers and comes with the rules:
  1. Feature a book that was published more than a year ago, the older the better.
  2. It must be a book that you have re-read at least once.
  3. Explain to your readers why this book is worth reading over and over again.
  4. Tag four people in your post to share their favorite throwback the following week.

But I don't re-read books (No, really not ever.) and don't tag people to play along. So I'm going to mix and mash Throwback Thursday with this awesome but now defunct meme, Backlist Mondays. It's the same thing but more flexible. The prompt is simple:
On Backlist Mondays, we post reviews (or just whatever impressions we can remember) about books we read before blogging OR reviews of books from publishers’ backlists. Basically, books that aren’t considered “frontlist” reviews for your blog.
Please post a link back to the signup page in your post and add your blog name to the linky widget so everyone can find your backlist recs!
This week I'm doing a series I've loved for 15 books and will be catching up the latest pubs Soon™. There's 3 more for me to read, making the series clock in at 18 at the moment. And it all starts with...

Series: Sano Ichiro #1
Genre: Historical, Mystery,
Age: Adult
Format: MPB, 437 pgs.
Source: Borrowed from Friend
Rating:4 stars
Recommendable? Yes
When beautiful, wealthy Yukiko and low-born artist Noriyoshi are found drowned together in a shinju, or ritual double suicide, everyone believes the culprit was forbidden love. Everyone but newly appointed yoriki Sano Ichiro.
Despite the official verdict and warnings from his superiors, the shogun's Most Honorable Investigator of Events, Situations, and People suspects the deaths weren't just a tragedy; they were murder. Risking his family's good name and his own life, Sano will search for a killer across every level of society determined to find answers to a mystery no one wants solved. No one but Sano...
As subtle and beautiful as the culture it evokes, Shinju vividly re-creates a world of ornate tearooms and gaudy pleasure-palaces, cloistered mountaintop convents and deathly prisons.
Part love story, part mystery, Shinju is a tour that will dazzle and entertain all who enter its world.

Adult IconCrime IconHistorical IconMystery IconDiverse IconBook Love Icon

Of course, after so long and without any notes I can't review the individual books or give content warnings. :(

But without a doubt, each book rated 4 stars for me and  I can't wait to get back to reading this series. Long series often have trouble with getting into a rut, doing the same thing with zero growth (*cough* Stephanie Plum *cough*) but not Sano Ichiro.

There's character and series progression galore. Sano gets married and has a family, who join with great success and make it that much better. His wife that I won't name for those who haven't read any, is brilliant, subverts her cultural norms in subtle and livable ways, and genuinely contributes to solving cases. Her eventual motherhood isn't the typical, trope-spurred irritating display either.

It has court politics, intrigue, and sabotage done better than any other historical or fantasy novel (The Song of Fire and Ice, for instance) I've read before.  As Sano moves up the chain, it only becomes more perilous.

There is of course a main antagonist, but not everything wraps back around to him at all times. Boy, does he make a good villain when he does though. He gets depth and growth as the series moves along as well.

*happy sigh* Time to put those last three on my library hold list and get cracking.

Recommended for:
if you want historical Japan, great crime mysteries to solve, and want a series that can go the distance.
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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Things I Want To Or Have Quit

Brooke Banks | 4:00 AM | | | | Please comment!

Top Ten Tuesday is Hosted By The Broke and The Bookish

This week's prompt idea is described as:

 ten book series I think I'm going to abandon, ten bookish habits I want to quit, ten authors I quit reading, ten types of books I'm quitting, ten tropes I want to stop reading about, ten books I marked as DNF (did not finish) recently, etc. Get as creative as you want)

And I'll be doing a mix of them all and a little something more at the end.

DNF Book: The First Pillar by Roy Huff. 

I won or was given a free autographed copy in exchange for an honest review. Now if only I could find the fucking email to thank people properly. Grrr. But at the least, I can thank Roy Huff for the opportunity. Sorry it took so long! And I'm sorry I didn't like it :(

Series: Everville #1
Genre: Fantasy,
Age: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 189 pgs.
Source: Author(?) for an honest review
Rating: DNF
Recommendable? No
Icons: Snoozer
Starting on page 4, I noted the narration was emotionless and how odd our characters reactions were. You'd think there would be some, at least some questions and internal thoughts but they just blindly followed.
Owen Sage is the emblematic college freshman at Easton Falls University. With all the worries about his first year in college, he was not prepared for what would happen next. His way of life was flipped upside down when he mysteriously crossed into another dimension, into the beautiful land of Everville. His excitement was abruptly halted when he discovered that there was a darkness forged against both the natural world, which he knew well, and the new land which he discovered, Everville. He must devise a plan to save both worlds while joining forces with the race of Fron and The Keepers, whom both harbor hidden secrets he must learn in order to gain power over the evil that dwells in The Other In Between. With a race against time to save both worlds, his short time at Easton Falls did not quite prepare him for the evil, dark forces he must fight in order to conquer The Other In Between.

Of all the books I've read while I wasn't blogging, this is the only one I've DNF'd. I felt awful for doing so but couldn't make it past page 87.

From there it was mostly question marks on pages where things seemed off and not fully explained. And I couldn't get a good grip on my mental picture. Describing The Keepers as “tall” and “impressive stature” isn't enough, for instance.

The good news was it starting picking up on page 76. We finally got some facts about what's happening and things get moving. But I didn't last much longer. It was just boring and dull for me. The writing was lifeless and common sense issues kept popping up.

Add in the fact I didn't care for Own and found Carywn's tale more interesting (but not interesting enough) and it was time to throw in the towel. It just became too much of a slog without any hope of getting better and I couldn't force myself to care.

The Trifecta of Quitting: The Omen Machine, The Sword of Truth, and Terry Goodkind (Book, Series, & Author, respectively)

Oh fucking boy. First some background. I ate up Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series when I was barely old enough to drink legally. The last few books got repetitious and preachy, but I just starting skipping the bullshit and happily finished it anyways.

Then came his Law of Nines, set in our world created in a long ass arc from the Sword of Truth's world. That at least had an interesting premise. Though what it was Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth #1) reduced to a platform to preach libertarian politics and parading cardboard cutouts around as an example. Hell, just read Eric Allen's review, it's hilarious and on point.

But that wasn't enough to stop me from reading The Omen Machine (Sword of Truth #12, Richard and Kahlan #1). I thought since it picked up right after the Sword of Truth's 11th (and thought to be last) Confessor, he'd be back to enjoyable. I was so utterly wrong. I didn't even finish it.

For All My Wasted Time

I tried 3 times to finish it and couldn't take it. All the characters I loved (and I name several fantasy game characters based on Kahlan) were flipped upside down and around. I kept expecting it to be case of the Pod People or something. And it just kept getting worse. I didn't even bother really reviewing. Just threw up a paragraph about being done and quit. (Again Eric Allen's review of the book fucking nails it.)

And that's why I'll never read another Terry Goodkind book again. I've renamed or deleted my Kahlan characters and am honestly ashamed I ever fucking liked his shit in the first place. It's so damn embarrassing. That's how fucking bad his writing, his series, and his books have become.

My advice is to stay the fuck away; Don't go down like I did.

Here's a palate cleansing cute kitty video: (found via Daily Squee)

Bookish Habits I want to Quit:

1. ??? The habit of reading slow enough that I could never finish all the ones I want to, I guess?
2. OH! Being so disorganized and lazy when trying to overcome it. But that's a whole life habit...

Tropes I want to Quit Reading Least to Greatest:

1. Insta-love
2. Love Triangles
3. Insta-love Triangles
4. Especially in YA
5. Bigotry. (There's too many to name...)

Bookish Shit I Want To Quit Hearing:

1. Pressure to read, enjoy, and praise The Classics. I can understand and appreciate what the book did when published and still not enjoy reading it today. Shit, I can fucking hate reading the book (and not because I was forced to!) and that's okay. Not only are reading preferences different and your Classical tastes are no better than mine, but the context of reading it today is different than when it was published. Some last and rock on, others made me loathe reading.

2. Pressure to read, enjoy, and praise Literary work. Good gods, the ones I've tried were fucking awful. Maybe I've been picking the wrong ones. Maybe they aren't for me. But people can shove that holier than attitude about it up their ass. Fuck all this elitist bullshit.

3. Authors Can't Be Reviewers. Um, what!? Authors are readers and any reader can review. Yet it's like being a traitor if an author does it like everyone else. And gods fucking help you if your review is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are some authors I really like as people and I would love to hear their thoughts. But it'd be disastrous, unless they're giving nice words for a book cover. Which just makes me sad and comes off as so fake. Which leads me to…

4. People Need To Get Over DNF, Negative and Low Star Reviews. I seriously doubt people who don't have negative reactions to any books. Comes off as fake. Online I understand why people are hesitant and downright scared to post them, shit I am too. But to pretend there aren't books we don't like, books we wouldn't recommend to friends in meatspace, and sweeping it all under the rug online is ridiculous. Yet we do so and then hand-wring about author's feelings and income. Pah-lease. I hardly remember authors but I sure as shit remember bad books. And all I care about is picking up a good book. Negative reviews are so helpful to me when picking a book, sometimes I'll even chose a book because the bad reviews are talking about stuff they hate but I'd love. And the high star reviews are vague hyperbolic descriptions that do me no good. Stopping the line crossing vengeance that is raged upon those that do post DNF, low stars, and negative reviews is so fucking obvious, I shouldn't have to say it.

5. “Keep your Feminazi Racist Against Whites Liberalism Agenda Out Of My Fantasy/Sci-Fi!” (etc,.) Good fucking lord. Besides the whole “no one's stopping white male fantasies”, it's also historically ignorant. The authors, subjects, and books have been around since the get-go. It's just more visible now to the privileged who's never had to question themselves, and their media. Which is a good thing! No one is saying they have to like it or the books (thought I do wish they'd get hit by a clue-by-four) but they can't stop it. Hence all the “The World IS ENDING!!!” cries and outrage. Bleh.
And that's all I got for now. I'm curious what everyone else is posting and of course if you've got thoughts on mine, please join in commenting.

 Via Animal Captions
More Squee! Please to have met ya :)

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[Review] Heat Wave: Solid Alternative Castle Darker Crime Novel

For those that don't know, Castle is a fantastic police procedural on TV with protagonists Kate Beckett and Richard Castle. Kate is the tough woman who's been personally touched by a murderer and rocking it in a man's world. Richard Castle is the funny, geeky successful crime novelist that has poker games with the real big boys of his genre, including cameo appearances.

Starting out they've got the will they, won't they attraction down like Molder and Scully. (No lie, my first time typing that I used fan-contractions “Sculder” and “Moldey” XD) Of course, now Castle is in its 8th season and it's obvious how these two turn out. But believe me, the ride getting there was so enjoyable. Their OTP status is cemented.

Richard Castle tags along with Kate Beckett for inspiration for his next novel series. And what do you know, his protagonist is based off of her! During the show, his novels are mentioned throughout and it's a lot of fun. Someone had the brilliant idea of writing and publishing those novels as if Richard Castle is real.

This is great for the shows fans like me. Brilliant, really. Makes me want to kiss whoever thought of it. But what about everyone else?

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