Monthly Archives: June 2012
In Die for Me, Amy Plum created a captivating paranormal mythology with immortal revenants and a lush Paris setting. Until I Die is poised to thrill readers with more heart-pounding suspense, spellbinding romance, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave them desperate for the third and final novel in the series.
Nothing makes me so happy as spending time with characters I love. I fully expected Until I Die to suffer from the middle book syndrome but, despite a few symptoms that were obviously present, Amy Plum managed to make the most of it. Of course it wasn’t as eventful as Die for Me, and I’m sure If I Should Die, the last book of the trilogy, will be much more exciting, but Until I Die was a satisfying read in every way.
The fact that I recognized the villain(s) right away and that I was able to see right through their schemes didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. I don’t read this for the mystery, I read it for the setting and the fabulous characters I’ve come to see as friends. I’m not just talking about Kate and Vincent here, the entire group of revenants is very dear and familiar to me, I feel like I’ve known them all for ages. I missed Charlotte a lot in this book, she was always one of my favorites, but I understand why she had to leave and I had Jules to distract me (and make me laugh) with his womanizing ways.
I hate it when a huge part of the plot is built on lack of communication between partners. Most of the problems Kate and Vincent found themselves in could have been easily avoided. All Vincent needed to do was tell the truth instead of constantly asking Kate to trust him and let him handle things. Even though he was just trying to spare her feelings and avoid shocking her further with grim facts of his existence, I thought it was condescending and just a touch stupid, especially because she handled everything he threw at her so well before.
On the other hand, a part of me is glad that Vincent has a flaw I can rant about. Everything else about him is just so perfect and he and Kate are one of the sweetest couples in YA literature, at least to me. I love that they never doubt each other and that they always consider each other’s feelings, even when it requires sacrifice. Their relationship is very mature and healthy, and the big moment they had in this book was handled elegantly.
The fact that I pointed out a few negatives doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. In fact, I remain a huge fan of this trilogy and I truly don’t know how I’ll wait a whole year to find out what happens to Kate and my poor Vincent. (Did I just write ‘MY poor Vincent’?! Hah, yes, I suppose I did. Shut up, brain!) Hurry up, Amy Plum. I’ll be OLD by May 2013.
Die for Me takes place in Paris, France. Kate, and her older sister Georgia, have moved to Paris to stay with their grandparents, Mamie and Papy, after their parents died in a car accident. Coping with this loss and trying to rejoin the living has proven very difficult for Kate especially; it’s almost ironic who helps her heal… an UNDEAD 19-year-old boy, Vincent.
Kate was easy to connect with and a great protagonist. She was REAL and honest. Her inner dialogue was relatable and understandable. I thought she had a good head on her shoulders and a great sense of humour. Her mother always believed she was a ‘old soul’… and that is clear in Kate’s personality and maturity level. Her reactions to most situations were realistic and believable. The following excerpt is one of my favourite snippets from Kate’s inner dialogue:
“I love him. I had been keeping those three words stuffed deep inside of me, for my own protection. But I was done with self-preservation and my heart was open. I had feared that love would make me vulnerable. Instead I felt empowered.” (pg. 340)
Kate’s relationship with the gorgeous, incredibly charming, chivalrous and enigmatic Vincent progressed beautifully and at a believable pace. Their romance had my heart melting left and right. Vincent is a very charming 19-year-old (in revenant years — how they age is explained in the book) who first catches Kate’s eye at a café, and they continually run into each other afterwards. (They later joke about stalking each other.) He was so very sweet and passionate. However, at first, I wasn’t sure about Vincent as he seemed too good to be true, but I think I fell for him right along with Kate.
Kate & Vincent’s love story was all about risk. Was Kate willing to risk her heart falling in love with a supernatural being who lives a dangerous life and was going to die over and over again in someone else’s place? Of course, she questions whether she can handle such a life with him. Her feelings were still so raw so soon after her parent’s death. But is Vincent worth it all? (view spoiler) I think when Jeanne (their endearing servant) told Kate he was worth it… that sealed it up for me.
For Vincent, he was taking a very big risk in bringing a ‘human lover’ into their lives. He also hadn’t opened up his heart to anyone since Helene — the girl he loved before he died his first death and became a revenant so many years ago.
Vincent’s ‘kin’ added more than their share of richness to the story… from the flirty Jules who seems to have more than a friendly interest in Kate, to the adorable and brawny Ambrose. Little Charlotte, the lone female in this clan of revenants, is just incredibly sweet but also a bit lonely, and her twin brother Charles, who is a little messed up. Kate and Georgia’s grandparents Mamie & Papy were just lovable and very progressive by traditional grandparent‘s standards. Gaspard–the nervous poet and capable advisor and mentor. And Jean-Baptiste (JB) served as the patriarch of this family of revenants… a cautious and more elderly revenant with reserved charm. The camaraderie between the household of revenants was wonderful… they are each others’ friends and family.
I also loved the relationships between the human characters… especially Kate and her polar-opposite older sister, Georgia. They are each others best friend–they argue but they also have the others back. I liked that we saw a very real sisterly relationship between them.
And what is a story without some bad-guys, huh? In this story, the bad guys are evil revenants called the numa. They are bent on destroying lives… not saving them like Vincent’s kin.
As an aside… I have to make a point about the book’s cover… it’s simply stunning! And I was further thrilled that the pages inside definitely lived up to this gorgeous cover.
Die for Me ended on a lovely note–ending so nicely without a major cliffhanger. Amy Plum’s great writing made me want to read the next book, well before I was even finished, without being dependent on an unresolved plot. I did not want to throw this book against the wall… in fact, I hugged this book. It made me happy!
P.S. This book was even better the second time around! Spectacular and I’m still hugging it!
The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them.
Wicked: Resurrection (Wicked #5)
I don’t wish to give out any spoilers, from any of the three books, so I won’t go into deep details. However, I will say that Resurrection manages to keep you guessing until the end, throwing out new twists and characters just when you think you’ve managed to figure it all out.
Darkness and corruption is zeroing in on Amanda, Nicole and Holly, but with the right knowledge and by working together, only they (and Owen) can turn back the malicious Merlin from destroying the world and killing them. Yes, it may sound like ‘just another save-the-world’ kind of book, but if you read the series, starting with book one (very important for understanding and enjoying the series completely!), you’ll soon find out that it’s nothing like what you’d expect.
And to top it all off, besides the demons and magic and darkness, oh my!, Wicked: Resurrection has a nice dose of romance in it as well, between three separate couples. They may not have the perfect connection, and they all go through some really hard times, what with having ghosts from the past possess them and what not, but in the end, they stay together. And to me, that’s what makes a romance more believable– face it, none of us will ever have a relationship that doesn’t have a few problems along the way, speed bumps that make us wonder ‘Is it even worth it?’. But in the end, if you can survive the trip, the conclusion is well worth it.
5 STARS! Wicked: Resurrection is a stunning finale to a delicious fantasy series. I’ll definitely be recommending this to friends and family, and anyone else whom I think would enjoy the darker elements in the book.
Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Tris is a kickass sort of person, and there’s no denying that truth. Not only is she Divergent, but she’s also a particularly strong type of Divergent, which we had all the clues for in Divergent but were not pronounced clearly until now. She is inherently strong, but she isn’t invulnerable; she shows weakness when we expect her to, just like any human and regardless of her Dauntless faction. She’s strong, but she’s not overly ambitious, unlike Jeanine and other people who will rise up to power and take advantage of the chaos. What sets her apart from others is that she has all the capabilities of a leader, yet she shows enough humbleness and humility to know when to step down. I was feeling iffy about the polarization of characteristics between the different factions, but Tris’s multiple affinities make her more well rounded and more admirable for what she chooses to do instead of what she can do with the capabilities she has.
FOCUS OF THE NOVEL:
Come on, I didn’t read Insurgent for its romance. It’s obviously a perk, of course, but the romance between Tobias and Tris isn’t the main focus of the novel, not at all. The conspiracies, the conspiracies within the conspiracies, and the struggle between choosing what feels right and what logically is right is oftentimes employed here that makes you want to read further and further to see who’s really the good guy. And then somewhere along the way, you realize that the good guy may not be the nicest guy. I think Roth aptly puts this to justice when she writes: “And while he has done cruel, evil things, our society is not divided into “good” and “bad.” Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind.” The multilayers to every action and every character makes you stop and think of the macro events, which is what I believe books should truly be about.
REALISTIC OUTCOMES AND PLOT DEVICES THAT MAKE YOU WIDE EYED FOR MORE:
Stemming from what I said earlier about events that occur in this book, I just want to say that Roth really does know how to set her pacing for the trilogy well. Just reading the revelations that each page brings shows the careful thought and planning that was placed into the creation of the Divergent world. People you thought you could trust to be on the “good” side suddenly aren’t so clear anymore; everyone falls into some gray, fuzzy area on where their loyalties lie. The aptness of the adage “the road to hell is often paved with good intentions” fits in with this world, and many people think that the end justifies the means of their actions. This strikes out to me not only for the complexity it brings to the series, but also the reality of the situation that no matter how much you’re a part of Abnegation, in the end human instincts demand that you take a look at the grand scheme of things and figure out how you’re going to survive. It’s not necessarily saying that people are inherently bad or good, it’s just that everyone takes action for their own survival, and that ultimately pits people against each other, both realistic and true. Who you trust ends up affecting what actions you take, and quoted from Roth: “People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.” Roth doesn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops with layers upon layers of events that make Tris change her mind about which course of action to take countless times. It’s the sort of thing that makes your brain freak with the constant flow of new information while it simultaneously processes what it just learned.
’nuff said. You don’t find multifaceted characters easily, and each one of these characters has something to give to the Divergent world as a whole. Remember, it’s a society where things were always a specific way when a huge wave of reform is about to strike violently at you. It’s a time of strife and war, something that most of us in first world countries can’t comprehend on a personal level. (I quote an example from Isabel Allende here: “Once my daughter said to me that feminism was dated, that I should move on. Feminism is dated? Yes, for privileged women like my daughter, but not for most of our sisters in the rest of the world who are still forced into premature marriage, prostitution, forced labor”). In such a setting, chaos is everywhere, and I can’t stress how good it was reading about the diversity of people who, at the end of the day, all wanted to just survive.
I would be cautious of reading Insurgent if I were you. The ending was the most terrible, horrible, jaw-dropping cliffhanger that I’ve read in a while. We don’t even have a specific date to look forward for the third book, either! I can’t (well, yes I can, but you understand my shock) believe that Roth would put us through such misery of revealing such a huge closely guarded secret, the truth of all truths to Divergent, and then end it right when chaos breaks out. Such a tease, and such a brilliant move. That’ll keep us fans holding on for sure.
Would I recommend this book? Heck yes, without a single doubt. It’s got action, suspense, adventure, mystery, and romance packed into it, and it was both cleverly and well executed. I couldn’t ask for more of a novel, and I sincerely thank Roth for sharing it with us.
The pre-review I had posted that gathered all the likes to this review:
WHO REVIEWED IT ALREADY??? I’m tempted to give death glares to any that did because at this point giving it a rating is just petty hate mail. Judging by the average rating for the first book and the FACT THAT THE SECOND BOOK ISN’T EVEN OUT FOR ARCs YET, there should be no ratings! How can you rate a book based on what you’re anticipating it to be???
What it’s rated now is by no means true, since we don’t even know what the book is about!
Holly will have to overcome unworldly obstacles as she battles to protect her loved ones — including Jer, a member of the rival House of Deveraux and her one true love. A war of magical proportions is being waged, and Holly is at the center of it all.
Lives will be lost, and sacrifices will have to be made…Review: I read Wicked 2: Legacy and Spellbound by Nancy Holder, and Debbie Viguié.This book is one of the best book’s I’ve ever read. In this one, there were many new characters introduced, hidden talents of old characters blossoming, new emotions or maybe unknown emotions coming forth from everyone involved, new adorable couplings, a strong, steady and consistent concept and two really amazing, shocking and huge plot twists. It’s got a lot of suspense, action, fight’s, comedy, and even some history of witches even though I don’t know if it’s real or not but I believe some of it is. They change the point of view from character to character and I love when a book does that. At first I thought it would be a bit much, but they both blind-side you so well and mix together deliciously that it was a “perfect” twist. They weren’t over bearing or obvious. They were subtle and snuck up on you, but didn’t trap the reader with a desperate feeling. The characters are also very interesting even the bad ones, and they describe them greatly and go very in depth with it. The only thing I didn’t like about it is that it’s a huge book because its two in one so it’s really intimidating to read it and I kind of felt like I was reading way slower than usually because of that. In Wicked 2 Holly FINALLY calms down, the character isn’t so intense which made for an effective and powerful ending because it tapered and all the right emotions were put in place by the authors. Speaking of the authors, by the way, they are phenomenal at creating endings that create a yearning as well as a deep sense of satisfaction. These books are really like a good meal. The first few bites are sheer bliss and hit all the right notes, then after the first draw you just start shoveling it in, hungry for more, then as it goes on you begin to tire a bit, wondering where the first spark had gone and by the end of the wonderful meal, you feel full and reflect on the taste, craving more but feeling heavy and satisfied. Best way I can describe their writing styles. The fight scenes are incredible and I am glad that in this story they actually put more of a distance between Isabeau and Jean, and Holly and Jer. The first book was great, don’t get me wrong, but there was such a heavy influence from their ancestors that it really took away from the two modern-day lovers which are more identifiable. The love scenes can be extremely cheesy and overdone, but the pagan influence makes it old world-y and strong, striking at the hearts of the readers. I also love that the two authors really did their homework. I absolutely love how ancient the magic and paganism felt while incorporating it with modern-day language. Inside the chapters they would have “mini-chapters” almost where there would be a heading saying where the person speaking was when thy were and who it was if it was present time, such as one of them was “Salem, Massachusetts: October 29, 1692.” When they do this, they go on to tell a story that ties in while the book or they continue the book when it is the main characters speaking. I’ve never heard of an author writing that way, and I think it’s really cool. All in all a 5 star read.There are many more reasons why I love this book so much, but I just gave a few examples. I think that if I would recommend this book to anyone (which I definitely would) I would recommend it to people in high school and even most adults because it’s such an interesting book. Anyone who likes fantasy books would love this one.