Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hedgie's Must Reads: January 2013

We're entering the second month of 2013, and so far nothing tragic has happened (as far as I know). January has always been a dark, uneventful, and overall boring time for me - nothing happens! - but it's also an excellent reading month, especially since I don't have to think about college anymore (yay!). So, here are the best books The Reading Hedgehog and I read through this chilling, wet, and depressing month!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Venom - Fiona Paul

Venom by Fiona Paul
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction, mystery, romance
Published on October 30, 2012
Published by Philomel
Pages: 435
Read From: 1.23.13 - 1.26.13

Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparking jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiance - yet she longs for something more. Ever since her parents' death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Crewel - Gennifer Albin

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Series: Crewel World #1
Genre: YA, dystopian, futuristic
Published on October 16, 2012
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 368
Read From: 1.18.13 - 1.19.13

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift - the ability to weave the very fabric of reality - they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don't want her to become a Spinster - one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: Unlocking the Spell - E. D. Baker

Unlocking the Spell by E. D. Baker
Series: Wide-Awake Princess #2
Genre: Middle Grade, fairytale retelling
Published on October 2, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 261
Read From: 1.17.13 - 1.18.13

When Princess Annie helped her older sister, Gwendolyn (aka Sleeping Beauty), wake up from that pesky hundred-year curse by finding her beloved prince, did life get back to normal? Not a chance! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Sophia's War - Avi

Sophia's War by Avi
Genre: Middle Grade, historical fiction
Published on September 25, 2012
Published by Beach Lane Books
Pages: 320
Read From: 1.14.13 - 1.17.13

It is 1776 
The Revolutionary War in America rages, and New York City is newly occupied by the powerful British army. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: The Kestrel - Lloyd Alexander

The Kestrel by Lloyd Alexander
Series: Westmark Trilogy #2
Genre: Middle Grade, adventure
Published on April 15, 1982
Published by E.P. Dutton
Pages: 244
Read From: 1.12.13 - 1.14.13

When Augustine, king of Westmark, sent Theo out to tour the land of which he would be prince consort, no one could have guessed what he would find. Mickle, who would one day be Queen Augusta, might know that he would discover great poverty. His old friend, the revolutionary leader Florian, would have predicted uncovering corruption within the aristocracy. But none of them would have foreseen a loaded pistol in the practiced hand of the pudgy assassin Skeit. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: The Diviners - Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Series: Diviners #1
Genre: YA, historical fantasy, mystery, supernatural, thriller
Published on September 18, 2012
Published by Little Brown
Pages: 578
Read From: 1.5.13 - 1.14.13

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City - and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Princess of the Silver Woods - Jessica Day George

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
Series: Princess Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, fairytale retelling
Published on December 11, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Pages: 326
Read From: 1.10.13 - 1.11.13

Princess Petunia has been kidnapped! Except. . . .it was really more like an accident. Oliver, the leader of a band of thieves known as the Wolves of the Westfalian Woods, didn't mean to do it. And now he must make things right. He will confess to the king and deliver the princess to the grand duchess's estate. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: By Blood or By Bond - Hazel West

A copy was provided by the Author
in exchange for
an honest review.
By Blood or By Bond by Hazel West
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on December 12, 2012
Published by CreateSpace
Pages: 452
Read From: 12.30.12 - 1.3.13

Which ties are stronger - those of Blood or those of Bond? 
Caolan, the son of a Celtic chieftain, awaits his first pitched battle against the Roman invaders, knowing that this is the moment in which he will truly become a warrior of the tribe. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Jepp, Who Defied the Stars - Katherine Marsh

Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on October 9, 2012
Published by Hyperion
Pages: 384
Read From: 12.30.12 - 1.2.13

Fate. Is it written in the stars from the moment we are born? Or is it a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands? Jeep of Astraveld needs to know. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Palace of Stone - Shannon Hale

Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Series: Princess Academy #2
Genre: YA, adventure
Published on August 21, 2012
Published by Bloomsbury
Read From: 12.28.12 - 12.29.12

When Miri and a few of the girls from Mount Eskel's princess academy travel to the capital to help the princess-to-be get ready for her wedding, they have no idea what to expect. Some are worried about leaving their beloved mountain for the first time, others are thrilled about going to the big city, and Miri is mostly just happy to see her best friend. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: The Death Cure - James Dashner

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #3
Genre: YA, post-apocalyptic
Published on October 11, 2011
Published by Delacorte Books
Pages: 325
Read From: 12.26.12 - 12.27.12

Thomas knows that WICKED can't be trusted. They stole his memories and locked him inside the Maze. They forced him to the brink of death by dropping him in the wilds of the Scorch. And they took the Gladers, his only friends, from him. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, futuristic, romance
Published on March 22, 2011
Published by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 358
Read From: 12.22.12 - 12.26.12

What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking time bomb - males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape - to find her twin brother and go home. 
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Yes. Though it has a “character impersonator” on the front, we’re given a side profile, and I do love how the cover uses the little circles to indicate that the girl is supposed to be the bird, and her wedding band is the cage the bird is contained in. I love the colors and the title font as well.

Characters: While not the biggest fan of Rhine’s name, she is for the most part an okay protagonist. She’s practical and doesn’t waste a whole lot of time on tears. She has more loyalty to her sister wives than I probably would, and for all of Cecily’s jerkiness, Rhine tries to help her when she can. Jenna was my favorite, though. She just wanted to be left alone, behaves maturely, and helps Rhine with her escape plan with extreme risk to her own personal safety. The only thing that kept Jenna from being better protagonist material than Rhine was the fact that Jenna was completely resigned to her fate. And Cecily was the world’s brattiest, most annoying little pampered princess to grace the pages of literature (in recent years, that is). Even though Rhine kept insisting that the poor child was just innocent; that she hadn’t a clue about what was really going on, I never managed to like Cecily, not even in the very end. The Author tries to make Linden likable, but I struggled with my attachment. He was just so completely clueless. But she succeeded with making Vaugn creepy.

The Romance: The love triangle between Linden, Rhine, and Gabriel is, in all honesty, a little weird. I liked Gabriel well enough, and I hope Rhine ends up with him, but if only because Linden is too messed up. He may be an all right guy, but he’s completely clueless, and I’m sorry, but any guy who would sleep with a thirteen-year-old girl is just creepy! I don’t care if he’s been told it’s okay to do - it is still creepy! That fact alone obliterated my good opinion of Linden, and I just really don’t understand how Rhine could even entertain the notion that she might like a guy who claims to love her, but is perfectly all right with sleeping with two other girls.

Plot: I did actually really like the premise of the story: people’s lifespans being shortened considerably by a genetic defect. The storyline of Wither itself kind of lagged. Here we have a protagonist whose very first instinct is to escape her prison, at all costs. But Rhine does a whole lot more talking a lot less planning. She has a very, Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow kind of attitude when it comes to escaping. She goes on and on about how much she hates it there, and she has this grand plan of becoming first wife and gaining Linden’s trust so she can have more access and privileges, and run away. But it is in fact the other wives - Jenna especially - who get her what she needs in order to run away. Rhine doesn’t do much for herself but struggle with her weirdly growing affection for Linden and sigh over the loss of her twin brother.

Believability: The girls Linden didn’t choose for wives being gunned down in the back of a truck was a very grim and realistic touch, though I do have to wonder about one thing: if the society is trying to keep up human population by making girls produce as many kids as possible, why would they gun a bunch of them down? It seems a little counterproductive. I also failed to see the dystopian aspect of the story. Sure, science tried to make a genetically perfect generation - no illness, no deformities - but I didn’t get the sense that it was because they were trying to create a perfect world. They were just trying to eradicate disease, which isn’t the same thing as creating a utopia.

Writing Style: Present-tense, unsurprisingly. It was okay for this particular story, though for some reason I didn’t think it worked as well as it has for some.

Content: The girls have a lot of conversations about consummating their marriage with Linden, and the girls often ask each other what it was like to “do it” with Linden. While no details are ever offered about what’s going on behind the door, I did get very tired of it always coming up in conversation. I don’t need to know every time Linden visits one of his wives, thank you.

Conclusion: [Spoiler]Rhine’s escape from the estate is pretty uneventful, and almost too easy. I found it a bit disappointing.[End spoiler] Overall, I found Wither mildly entertaining. The concept with the genetic disorder was intriguing, and Rhine was an acceptable protagonist. The writing style was nothing spectacular, but it wasn’t bad, either.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, sixteen and up. Even though I do not classify this as a dystopian, fans of dystopian romances will enjoy this one.

Others in The Chemical Garden Trilogy:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island - Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Published on September 11, 2012
Published by Knopf Books
Pages: 305
Read From: 12.15.12 - 12.22.12

On remote Rollrock Island, men make their living - and fetch their wives - from the sea. The witch Misskaella knows how to find the girl at the heart of the seal. She'll coax a beauty from the beast for any man, for a price. And what man wouldn't want a sea-wife, to have and to hold, and to keep by his side forever? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Back on the Year

I can hardly believe that another year has passed, and we're into 2013 already! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve. I went to a friend's house and spent all night watching the BBC mini-series Little Dorrit (with Matthew Macfayden and Andy Serkis). That was fun. ;-) Now I have to start thinking about New Year's resolutions!

Last year, I said I would read 200 books; I read 211. I was going to learn 5 new fiddle tunes; I learned 4. I was going to finish buying all of the Alex Rider books; I bought 2, so I'm three books away. I figured buying the rest of Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy made up for that. I said I was going to walk every day, rain or shine; well, we all know that exercise vows are the hardest to keep. To my credit, I actually did a pretty good job. I would do it faithfully for a good month, then take two off, and then do it for another month.
But now with 2013, it's time to make some new ones:
  • This year, I plan to read 210 books. I was going to go for 250, but decided that I'll increase the number by ten each year.
  • I will finish buying the rest of at least 3 book series.
  • I'll go walking at least when it is sunny. The rain in my state is miserably cold, and it really is asking too much of a person to go walking in it, and not except to get a cold (and I personally don't want a cold).
  • I'll learn a new bowing technique and refresh some of my old fiddle tunes.
  • will start work on one of my other novels. Hopefully I'll finish The Birthright this year, but I'm not going to count on it, so the least I can do is give another story some attention when The Birthright is being difficult.
  • And most importantly, I will get a job! A paying one, that is. I do plenty of jobs for free, but now I need to get a "real" one. The job market is, not surprisingly, very slim right now, but I can try harder.
What are some of your New Year's resolutions for 2013?