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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kindle Steals (2)

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Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Series: Dance of Shadows #1
Young Adult
Pages: 447
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Goodreads | Amazon
Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .
Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . 
Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .

*Digital ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review*

When I was a little girl, dance, mostly ballet and tap, were the main focal point of my afternoons. After about two years, I gave up dance. I was fed up with the time and effort put into it, and I really was peer pressured into taking classes by a childhood friend, and in the end, all I really wanted was to get an award for my efforts after the recitals. When I learned that I had to wait three more years for for an award, I quit. As a child, I was very impatient. But, regretting my decision after realizing that I did enjoy going to dance class, I had to accept that my parents weren't going to pay to send me back when they knew I would just fight with them on taking me to dance class every week. So that was the end of my career as a dancer.

The moral of telling this tale about my life was really to just elaborate that ballet has always interested me. Whenever I hear about YA novels that feature or encompass ballet I definitely take the time to scope them out to read. But, so it happens, ever since I read Various Positions last year, I had been really weary about getting myself into any other ballet books; I feared that I'd been scarred from reading that genre of books.

After taking a deep breath and almost falling out of my seat when seeing that gorgeous piece of eye candy that is called a book cover, I knew that I needed to get my hands on this novel. With Various Positions hot and bothering my mind in ever way possible when reading the word ballet in the synopsis, I entered the story on cautious feet.

A slow start was what we as readers are given with Dance of Shadows. Yes, it's a long novel, but the beginning does not have to be a dreadfully slow bus stuck in rush hour traffic. It came to a point that I threw all the genres (paranormal, mystery, romance) out the window and slapped contemporary in big, bold lettering over this work, because it takes Dance of Shadows a ridiculous amount of time to get the ball rolling in any of those catagories. In the beginning you learn that Vanessa had been following in her sister, Margret's, shoes, she goes off to the New York Ballet Academy to figure out what happened to her prodigal sister who'd disappeared after landing the lead role in an upcoming dance recital. But, honestly, that mystery is lost time and again when Vanessa is caught in a rush of dancing, roaming around the City, and trying to catch the eyes of her ballet instructor. Margret is lost within the temptation of this new world Vanessa is caught up in.

Once the incoming mystery and darkness sweeps up from under the reader's feet, Dance of Shadows really does grab you and suck you in, making you wonder what's going to happen next and what is really going on behind closed doors at this prestigious dance academy. 

Then another roadblock makes its way into the story and I just found myself gawking at the flat, one-dimensional supporting characters that Ms. Black had produced as Vanessa's friends throughout the story. And Vanessa is no piece of cake either. Though she is the strongest constructed character of them all, besides the dance teachers, I found myself red in the face at how incompetent she was in her choice of male love interest. I, with a sound mind and deep intuition about these things, could see from a mile away what mess Vanessa was getting herself into. The signs were all there. Right in front of her, LITERALLY. But she, like many oblivious YA heroines out there, failed to understand the intent behind the guy that she though she could trust. And at that moment in time I was ready to chuck my computer to the side, take a pillow, plant my face through said pillow, and let God know how I really felt at that moment in time. Characters: need improvement.

As the book went on, the more I really enjoyed the world building, the less I liked the characters and the info dumps and important-parts-of-the-story-that-should-have-been-brought-up-or-explained-earlier-in-the-story-rather-than-towards-the-very-end-confusing-the-shit-out-of-me and just the rush of the ending and the motives all in one final blow. I lifted my face from my screen, blinked numerous times, and asked my dogs sitting down at my feet "What in the Lord did I just finish reading?" and even they cocked their heads to the side, confused. There was so much confusion in that room that I just couldn't even handle it. So I went downstairs, went out to dinner, got back to college, and took two months to digest the novel. And I had knocked this book down from three stars on Goodreads, down to two after really getting into the gut of this large mess that I wish Dance of Shadows hadn't been.

Final Summation: There was major critiquing that needed to be done with this novel. Parts rearranged, information spread out, characters more developed to actually be considered characters. You know those stories where you just can't even remember a character's name after they had just been introduced countless times, you know they're not going in a direction you were really hoping for. Dance of Shadows was a huge let down, and I'm always so upset when a gorgeous cover goes to waste on a badly put together novel.

First Line: In the harsh glare of the lights, ChloĆ«’s shadow stretched across the stage.
Story: B
Cover: XS

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31): The Falconer

The Falconer by Elizabeth May
(The Falconer #1)
Publication Date: September 19, 2013
Lady Aileana Kameron can sing, paint prettily, and murder the fae as easily as dancing a waltz. But how far is she prepared to go for vengeance . . . ?

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

18-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.

A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.
I had been waiting on this one for ages. AND NOW IT HAS THAT ORGASMIC COVER. I have been waiting ages for this cover to come out and now I am dying, dying to get my hands on a review copy. And if I can't I will die to get my hands on a finished copy. But, in either instance, I am going to die. What do you all think of this? Pique your interest? Does that cover just makes you want to reach into the screen and read it now? Tell me in the comments below! Leave your links to what you're waiting for this Wednesday!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Random House for Young Readers
Series: Dualed #1
Young Adult
Pages: 304
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Goodreads | Amazon

You or your Alt? Only one will survive.
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.
Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
*Digital ARC provided by publisher for an honest review*

When you're a video game/action lover like me, Dualed sounds like a novel that can take you by storm. If only synopsis was enough to make me like this novel. I tried, read a good portion of Dualed only until I made it to that certain point where all the roads curved and multiplied and there was no sign that could lead me back to where the story had been filled with clarity.

In novels, I'm all for abbreviations and acronyms. I like them when they work, obviously. Where it fails in Dualed is when Elsie Chapman gives these video gameesque terms like Point of Origin, Revenge Kills, etc. and only relays the terms once before going on of an abbreviation frenzy. So, there I am, sitting and thinking to myself, "How am I suppose to remember all these terms when they're given to me once and just combined letters the next?" It's like having someone say your name one second and a nickname for the rest of the time that you know that person. All you'll remember is that nickname and not what that person is actually called. Then I though about all the acronyms in history like NATO or NAWSA or NAACP or YMCA. I felt lost enough that it had me jumping in and out of the story. You never want your reader to be flopping around like a fish out of water. As an author you want a story like honey that makes the reader have to physically tear themselves away from the sticky, sweet success that you have written just to get back to their reality.

There really isn't anything that I can say about characters since I didn't get very far through the book. Honestly, I was completely surprised at how fast a character was killed off. Wasn't expecting the brutality in a matter of a few opening chapters, but I guess that is why this novel is deemed "action-packed." And the only thing that I can say about West is that she is a very brash character, and that can be a huge downfall especially in her murderous world. Hopefully.

Final Summation: Well, it's sad to say that I just couldn't get into this novel. It does upset me seeing as I was really looking forward to getting my hands on it. Bittersweet is how I feel though. Sometimes things just don't work, not everyone can fall for the same things. So for anyone who has yet to read this novel, I hope that you can bypass what made me fall out of DUALED and you can use this time to your advantage, learn the terms that West throws at you left and right, and keep yourself from being tossed to and fro from the novel.

First Line: I've buried nearly everyone I love.
Story: DNF
Cover: A

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (15)

Good morning everyone. I hope you all had wonderful weeks and are enjoying yourselves and the bookish thing that you received.
Love your faces <3

Reviews and Updates:

For Review:
*Thank you to Scholastic Inc, Disney Book Group, St. Martin's Press, MacMillan Children's Publishing Group, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)  for everything this week*