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Diamond Dee Loves to Read

My life is books.

Currently reading

Lumberjanes Vol. 1
Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #1)
Chris Grabenstein
Resonance (Dissonance)
Erica O'Rourke
The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers
Henry James, Anthony Curtis

The Fire Wish

The Fire Wish - Amber Lough I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I'm continually lamenting the fact that YA fantasy rarely is rarely centered in the Middle East. As a proud Persian-American, I wonder why our myths are never included in mainstream YA. I really hope this is the start of that change. I mean, djinn are fascinating! Arabian nights, can you say book of mythology perfect for YA? Suffice it so say, I was super pumped about this when I saw it. Maybe my expectations were too high, because I was invariably disappointed. Let me tell you why.

The first 10% of the book was superb. The world building had me hooked, and I loved her description of the setting. I was fascinated by the dual POVs and they were different enough that I could keep the chapters straight. Unfortunately, it started to plummet soon after.

This is very similar to (or maybe it is) a sliding doors plot. We have two girls: one is a djinn (Najwa) living in caverns hidden from humans, the other is a human girl (Nayele) who lives in a village but is on her way to marry the prince in Bagdad. I couldn't stand Nayele. She was selfish, bratty, and even bullying in some instances. Najwa, on the other hand, had my sympathies. She was loyal, determined, and fair. Soon the girls switch places and everything goes up in smoke. This is where the real problems began for me.

We have a nice juicy story. Nayele, as a human, is disguising as a jinni in an entirely jinni village with nothing but her own cunning to protect her. When she meets Najwa's friend Shirin and crush, Atish she doesn't really panic. Instead, we have a nice steaming pile of insta-love between her and Atish. They just meet, but his gaze is searing hot and he kisses her and just immediately likes her. How convenient. Oh, but wait! We have Najwa set to marry the Prince in Nayele's place, but fortunately, the Prince and Najwa have an attraction to each other too. I guess it's a perfect thing that the girls switched spots with each other, huh? Although Prince Kamal and Najwa don't have insta-love, theirs is a bit more drawn out, I still found it to be way too convenient.

I also have to say another big reason why I didn't love this book was the lack of cultural explanations. Maybe I'm being unfair. But, as a middle eastern gal I was excited to read all about our culture from an outsiders perspective. Would she get the meanings right? The food? The clothes? And, to be fair, there was nothing glaringly wrong about any of it. I just felt it was whitewashed. What was different wasn't explained. Do we ever learn that Shirin's name means "sweet"? Do we ever learn that the Alef that was part of the jinni wards is actually the first letter in our alphabet and looks like an " i " with a hat instead of a dot at the top? I can't help but think there should've been more integration. But maybe that's just me, wishing to read more about my culture that is never present in YA lit.

Although the ending was predictable, I wasn't as annoyed by the characters at the end. Why? Oh, because the annoying one, Nayele (with her selfish tendencies), immediately changed her ways. See, the thing is, her change wasn't gradual. I didn't buy it. I just accepted it like so much of this novel I just accepted. You may be wondering, with all my criticisms, why the two stars? Why not 1? That's easy. The extra star is given because as problematic as this story was, the author was courageous in writing it. She's writing about a culture that isn't her own, and she didn't get anything wrong. sure, there were tons of omissions, but nothing was wrong. That's a feat, and I commend her for that. Also, until I read another fantasy set in the Middle East, I'm going to keep an eye on this series. I have hopes that with the second book it will get better.

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale - Francesco Francavilla, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa This was awesome! It was so dark and had an excellent story. I actually got teary eyed when Archie's dog, Vegas, sacrificed himself for Archie. It was so sweet and heartbreaking.

I recommend this for zombie fans and all Archie fans! It's completely different from any other Archie I've ever read, and in a good way. If this is where the franchise is headed, I'm all for it. Keep it coming, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa!

Btw, if you liked this you should read his other fun rendition of Archie: [b:Archie Meets Glee|16071892|Archie Meets Glee|Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356151456s/16071892.jpg|21865898], by the same author.

Serpent's Kiss

Serpent's Kiss - Melissa  de la Cruz 3.5 -4 stars
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the first, but I still love these witches! I liked the story better when they were all communicating. It felt sort of disjointed otherwise, going from character to character and all that. I can't wait to read the next book! In fact, I already have it and will want to start it soon :)

The Athena Effect by Derrolyn Anderson

The Athena Effect  - Derrolyn Anderson

I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

 

This was a very good read. The concept: a girl, Caledonia, is raised in complete isolation is left orphaned. She has the power to see people's auras/feelings and manipulate the, (including animals). She is transferred to the outside world to live with her aunt and her aunts creepy molestor boyfriend Phil. Once In high school she just tries to blend in, and avoid notice. But she's special. Eventually she meets bad-boy troubled soul Calvin, and a friendship and crush develops. Soon though, sinister forces that had her parents running for their lives 20 years ago; find Caledonia and want to take her away. An evil Dr. Reed enters the picture and Caledonia meets twins with similar abilities as her own.

 

As crazy as it sounds, I didn't find this predictable or cheesy. A major feat, considering how often the "girl with special powers" thing has been done in young adult. I thought her personality was charming, and her powers fascinating. Oh, and the fact that she keeps a knife on her person at all times, wielding it with such bad assery even Katniss would be impressed. I really liked the relationship that developed with Calvin, and her strength which was juxtaposed nicely with her naïveté due to living in complete isolation. Towards the end I simply couldn't put the book down. It felt like a thriller at the end, but the book had a contemporary feel to it that I enjoyed. It was nice that the supernatural elements didn't overwhelm the story. The only reason I'm not giving more stars is because sometimes the romantic dialogue became repetitive between Calvin and Cali.

 

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to others. It's unique plot and characters had me hooked. I was left surprised at the end, and I am definitely curious about where the story will lead in the sequel.

Source: http://diamondlovestoread.blogspot.com/2014/07/book-review-athena-effect-by-derrolyn.html

Yup

Reblogged from Derrolyn Anderson:

Cinderella Stays Late

Cinderella Stays Late - Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams *I received a copy of this book in the Goodreads first reads giveaway program*

I've been a fan of Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams for awhile now. Their Goddess Girls series is so delightful I buy it for my niece on every occasion (she loves them)! So when I saw their new foray into middle grade lit, this time with a fairy tale spin on it, I definitely wanted to read it. I can safely say that this is another fabulous world they've created, and fans of Goddess Girls are sure to love this new series.

Grimmlandia is a place where all the people from fairy tales live. Cinderella is starting her first day at Grimm Academy, and she's very nervous. Her two older stepsisters are mean and making everything hard for Cinderella. But Cinder makes three new girlfriends; Red, Snow and Rapunzel. Together they try to figure out what the Steps are plotting before it ruins Prince Awesome's ball.

The story reminded me a bit of [b:The School for Good and Evil|16248113|The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)|Soman Chainani|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1369559695s/16248113.jpg|21599439], but for a younger audience. There were heroes and villains, and a lot of references to the original stories by the Grimm brothers (also included were Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Perrault). I liked how Cinderella was timid, but in the end she stuck up for herself and did the right thing. The story is very easy to follow and it's length is good for that age group (4-6). I'm definitely going to buy these books for my niece and recommend them to others! If you like good stories and fairy tales, you'll love this book.

Rocky & Bullwinkle

Rocky & Bullwinkle - Mark Evanier, Roger Langridge *For the full review [with gifs] see my blog Dee's Reads

I received a copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

I was born in 1987. I grew up watching VHS tapes on a continual loop; specifically, Rocky & Bullwnkle. Rocky & Bullwinkle holds a special place in my heart, along with Dudley Do-Right and Peabody and Sherman. I have the old VHS movies, but since I don't have a player I invested in the DVD of Season 1. When I saw this graphic novel I was excited but not too excited, it would take a lot for me to feel they kept it true to the original spirit of the show. The thing is, they did a great job.

All the cheesy jokes were on point, and the artwork was so good, I'm convinced the original animators must have been raised from the dead to create this graphic novel. It's possible, right? With Boris and Natasha up to their usual tricks (including jokes about how they never recognize Boris in his costumes), and Dudley Do-Right, stupid as ever I was really impressed with this graphic novel. It's hard to take a show as old and famous as this one and turn it into a graphic novel that is relatable for the modern pop as well as the old fans with the same good old jokes.

If you're a fan of the show, you need to read this graphic novel. I'll be buying it and I'm crossing my fingers they make another one!

Shadow Spell

Shadow Spell - Nora Roberts I enjoyed reading this. I didn't enjoy it as my as the last one, because it was a bit predictable, but I still love this story and the characters.

Did anyone else notice the dialogue was supremely rhyme-y? Like verse? It kind of bugged me. I really wanna find out how the trilogy ends with Cabhan.

Beautiful Chaos

Beautiful Chaos  - Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia More like 3.5 stars.

First half was slow, but then it got very good. This book was the darkest in the entire series so far. I can't imagine how it's all going to wrap up.

Prisoner of Night and Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog - Anne Blankman I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to start this book. The cover had me entranced with it's beauty, and the premise had me very excited. I thought of how amazing this book must be, to deal with all these different elements! Set in Nazi Germany, Gretchen Müller is a German girl like any other. Except her father was murdered and her "uncle" is Dolf, as in Adolfo Hitler.

I was expecting a very twisted story of a girl who was the niece to Hitler, and how she must have lived her life brainwashed into Nazi idealogy. I figured she would fall in love with a Jewish guy and by the end question her long held beliefs. I also figured there would be a murder mystery involved as well. All of this against a backdrop of Germany during the period of time culminating in Hitler's rise to power. Unfortunately, I simply couldn't finish this book. I went from enjoying the first chapter and seeing the promise, to being more and more disappointed with each passing page. I'm going to try to explain why:

The main reason I think this didn't work was because of what I call "busy" syndrome in a book. When the story has too many elements to juggle, it can be a huge problem. The book can become too busy if we go from one plot point to another, or one character to another and another. The reader can get confused. On the flip side, the elements may not be overwhelming but underwhelming instead. In my experience with this book it was the latter. Each prospect gleamed in the blurb/synopsis was stretched too think or wasn't fleshed out enough at all.

For example, Gretchen was a German, Jew-hating girl brought up to idolize Hitler. After believing this for many years she meets a Jewish boy and instantly becomes infatuated with him. Really? Because someone who believed in something for so many years - and even has a girl classmate who she admitted she "wanted to like" but didn't even look at or befriend - suddenly has a crush on a Jewish boy. I just didn't buy it, it felt too contrived. I would've preferred her friendship to develop with the Jewish classmate first, and then for her to completely question her core beliefs, well, that takes time. It doesn't happen in an instant and when it happened suddenly I was put off.

Gretchen is also deathly afraid of her brother. He pulls pranks on her. Yes, pranks. He hidees her clothes, jumps out at her, etc. But the way she described him I thought he was raping her. No, just scaring her like any brother does. Granted, her brother does have serious issues and he does end up doing some sick stuff to her, I felt it was downplayed because in the beginning she seemed to make a huge deal of nothing.

Let me also say how much I disliked the character of Gretchen herself. I know not every heroine is going to have admirable attributes. It's important to have flaws, but to be consistent with them as well. She'd be flawed on one page and then overcome it on another. She's incredibly naïve, kind of dim (you haven't figured out yet after Dolf proved to you several times he won't go against your brother?), weak willed, and wishy washy. I just didn't really like her half the time. She seemed like a frail little doll who couldn't think for herself, which is what I expected, fine...but then she would suddenly do something completely (seemingly) out of character; like flirt and touch the Jewish guy she just met. It just didn't add up.

It's very rare for me to read 1/2 of an entire book and put it away unfinished. I rarely mark books DNF, and I can't remember the last time I didn't just suck it up and finish at the halfway mark. So what was different this time? It's summer. I'm reading a ton of fun books and doing a bunch of buddy reads I have scheduled. I'm also catching up on so,e review books, but mainly I'm looking to enjoy myself by reading some of the large number of books on my bought-TBR shelves. How can I continue to read a book I'm not enjoying when I have so many other books waiting? Well, I can't. I know a lot of you loved this book. I tried, but it just wasn't for me.

Get Lost, Odysseus!

Get Lost, Odysseus! - Kate McMullan I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So this was my first foray in the Myth-O-Mania series. The books can be read in any order, and combined with the fact that I'm a huge ancient myth enthusiast, was the reason I requested this book. Unfortunately, the book really wasn't to my liking. I finished it though, which has to count for something (right?).

If you know the story of Odysseus, you know it's quite the page turner. Or at least, it can be depending on the rendition. I was expecting a middle grade version of the epic adventure I had previously read in The Odyssey by Homer. Instead I got a watered down version, made for kids, but without any notable differences or successful attempts at humor. The story is told from Hades perspective. He helped Odyseuss, and was there watching throughout his journey. The thing is, I didn't really understand why it had to be Hades. At the end of the story, it didn't make a difference which god helped Odyseuss, it just had to be one who could observe the entire journey. This bothered me. There was a sideline story about Hades' dog Cerberus, and how he was upset with Hades for spending so much time away from the Underworld. Again, what was the point of this? It wasn't funny or amusing, it just seemed like there needed to be an additional plot with Hades so it was added on.

I don't want to make a long review with all the negative reasons I had for not liking this book. So I'm going to wrap it up by saying this:
If kids had never read or heard this story read it here first, well let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if they never take a Myths class in college. The story was too bland for my taste.

The Athena Effect

The Athena Effect - Derrolyn Anderson I received this book from the author in exchange for a review.

This was a very good read. The concept: a girl, Caledonia, is raised in complete isolation is left orphaned. She has the power to see people's auras/feelings and manipulate the, (including animals). She is transferred to the outside world to live with her aunt and her aunts creepy molestor boyfriend Phil. Once In high school she just tries to blend in, and avoid notice. But she's special. Eventually she meets bad-boy troubled soul Calvin, and a friendship and crush develops. Soon though, sinister forces that had her parents running for their lives 20 years ago; find Caledonia and want to take her away. An evil Dr. Reed enters the picture and Caledonia meets twins with similar abilities as her own.

As crazy as it sounds, I didn't find this predictable or cheesy. A major feat, considering how often the "girl with special powers" thing has been done in young adult. I thought her personality was charming, and her powers fascinating. Oh, and the fact that she keeps a knife on her person at all times, wielding it with such bad assery even Katniss would be impressed. I really liked the relationship that developed with Calvin, and her strength which was juxtaposed nicely with her naïveté due to living in complete isolation. Towards the end I simply couldn't put the book down. It felt like a thriller at the end, but the book had a contemporary feel to it that I enjoyed. It was nice that the supernatural elements didn't overwhelm the story. The only reason I'm not giving more stars is because sometimes the romantic dialogue became repetitive between Calvin and Cali.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to others. It's unique plot and characters had me hooked. I was left surprised at the end, and I am definitely curious about where the story will lead in the sequel.

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl  - Eoin Colfer I enjoyed this book. I liked the badass fairies, and genius evil mastermind, 12-year old Artemis Fowl. I will probably be continuing this series.

Shadow Kiss

Shadow Kiss  - Richelle Mead Really more like 4.5 stars.
Pulled an all-nighter to finish this one. It was kinda hard to watch Rose fall apart in this book. I admit I wish Lissa had reached out more while it was happening and confronted her about it..I also wish rose would've trusted her best friend with her issues, not all of them, I get that, but some of them.

I'm officially hooked on this series. With each book I get more and more invested. I doubt I'll be waiting much longer before I start the next one.

Oliver and the Seawigs

Oliver and the Seawigs - Philip Reeve, Sarah McIntyre I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"‘No, this is a completely different place," said Iris. "It's called the Sarcastic Sea, and sailors fear it because the weed keeps making horrid, hurtful comments about them.'"

This was an incredibly adorable book. When I first got invited to read this book, I had no idea what it was about. I saw the title, cover, and that it was middle grade, and said yep I'll give it a shot. I'm really glad I did. Because even though sea-wigs are not some type of fluffy animal, they are still a very cute and amusing concept.

The book is about a boy, Oliver, who grows up with parents who are adventurers. He's excited because they've finally adventured the world enough to have seen all they wanted to see, and are about to settle down and live in a house (with beds!) and he can finally go to school (for the first time). Oliver's pretty darn excited when they arrive. But, as his parents go off to explore the surrounding islands, something happens. They don't return. Oliver goes in search of them and, as you can imagine, an adventure ensues.

The book is short, so I don't need to say much more about the plot except that it is perfectly paced. The illustrations are really amazing. It's not often that I see a book with illustrations as riveting as the actual story. I found myself admiring them for several moments and having to force myself to go back to read and stop giggling over the cute pictures. It helps that the story includes wonderful characters to see drawn: such as a chubby mermaid who is nearsighted, little monkeys, sarcastic sea (made up of sarcastic comment-throwing seaweed) and islands that talk and move. What are sea-wigs, you might wonder? Well, they're the "wigs" these roving islands create for themselves by piling junk on their shores. They're made up of numerous things...wrecked ships, animals, plants, chests of treasure, etc. Creative, eh?

I will definitely be purchasing this book for my niece and nephew. Heck, I will probably end up getting myself a copy too just to see it on my shelf. The thought of being able to open up and see that chubby mermaid makes me very, very happy.

Frostbite

Frostbite - Richelle Mead Amazing. Read it in one sitting. This is fast becoming one of my favorite series.