Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book Review: Destiny Binds by Tammy Blackwell

Wow, it's really been a while since I last posted a review, huh? Senior year at school has been pretty busy lately, so I've only been able to slip a few chapters here and there throughout the week. Now that the long four-day weekend is here, I've been able to devour the rest of the book I was reading--"Fate Succumbs" by Tammy Blackwell. The unfortunate thing is that this was the last in the self-published Timber Wolves trilogy, so since it's a little strange writing a review for the last book when I haven't reviewed the first two, I've decided to review the first book instead! I re-read "Destiny Binds" quickly this morning, just to freshen up my memory so I could share with you this great, compelling trilogy.

Scout Donovan will never be the picture definition of 'normal'. Born with white-blond hair, pale-as-ghost skin, and ice blue eyes, Scout isn't a social butterfly at high school, and her smart-alecky attitude doesn't help with that either. Scout Donovan is a girl who believes in logic, rules and her childhood love for Charlie Hagan. Alex Cole is a boy who believes in magic, destiny and Scout. When he introduces her to the world of Shifters and Seers, Scout discovers that every single thing in her life--her family, her friends and herself--is about to change.

Now before you think, "Oh geez, not another werewolf book," stop. It really isn't. It doesn't have a sappy love story you secretly want to live in but detest at the same time. What really sets "Destiny Binds" apart from the other paranormal werewolf novels is the protagonist herself. One of the most important things for me in any novel, and especially in young adult novels, is the narrative voice. Scout isn't one of those annoying, whiny, my-life-is-about-to-change-and-this-guy-has-soul-sucking-eyes heroines. Instead, she's a witty, kick-ass girl who you wish you were friends with. Her references to pop culture made everything more relatable, and her humour, which worked wonderfully in her interactions with Alex, had me giggling and snorting throughout the book.

As a matter of fact, I loved pretty much all the characters. The relationship between Jase and Scout was incredibly believable, and made me wish I had a brother myself! Talley is just such a sweet girl, and Angel--oh, Angel--is just a mischievous bundle of evil that reminded me of my own sister. The one thing that was a little iffy for me was the relationship between Charlie and Scout. Maybe it's because I'm a die-hard Alex fan, but it seemed a little awkward to me. Having read the rest of the books in the trilogy, however, I do see a more believable development in their relationship, so I have no qualms there.

Plot-wise, the story was a little predictable at times, but unavoidable in that respect. In fact, isn't that what paranormal romances are kind of about? Again, though, he trilogy as a whole is definitely not predictable at all, and even the ending--the ending!!-- of "Destiny Binds" had me gasping and crying the whole way through.

There were a few punctuation and grammar mistakes (sorry, this is the editor in me speaking!)--I'm pretty sure the past tense of "drag" is "dragged" and not "drug"--but it wasn't enough to interfere with the well-written storyline.

All in all, "Destiny Binds" is an incredibly fun, great read with a fast-paced plot that kept me flipping through the pages with unbelievable speed. The characters are awesome, and I guarantee that Scout's wit and personality will coax out more than a laugh or two. I strongly, strongly recommend the entire trilogy. Trust me, it will suck you in and keep you there.

Rating: 5/5

The other two books in the trilogy--aren't the covers beautiful?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

That is one seductive cover. That was my first thought when I picked up this book. The black and red, the rugged guy caressing his jaw, the fanned out dress--everything about the cover oozed dark passion. Unsurprisingly, "Sweet Evil"by Wendy Higgins is about sin in all its forms: greed, pride, envy and, of course, lust.

Sixteen-year old Anna Whitt is your typical good girl. She doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs, doesn't swear--the whole package. The one thing that sets her apart from everyone else is that she was born with a sixth sense to see and feel other people's emotions. And, despite her goody two-shoes nature, she knows there's an inexplicable pull towards danger within her. Everything changes when she meets danger incarnate in the form of Kaiden Rowe, who reveals to Anna her true heritage.

I really liked the new take on the angel/Nephilim story in "Sweet Evil". The deadly sins are physically embodied by demons, who live disguised among humans, and their entire society as crafted by Ms. Higgins is ruthless, cruel and intriguing. The plot was engaging and fairly up-there, though I wish there had been more of a climax or a moment where my heart  revved up to 100 miles per hour. Overall, though, it was fun to read.

The characters were all rendered believably and were likable, which is key especially in YA novels. I didn't find Anna annoying at all, which is a possible danger at times for 'goodie goodie' characters who come to face danger and evil. Everything about her was realistic, and following her as she was pulled into the dark world of demons was fun and interesting. I also almost, almost fell for the tormented, sizzling Kai. The one thing that prevented me from gushing over him was the fact that there wasn't enough believable interaction between Anna and Kai, especially in the beginning. Why did Kai fall for Anna so quickly? Don't get me wrong, there was some definite tension between the two, but I wanted more!

Every character in "Sweet Evil" had their own quirks and their own story, which drew me in and made me invested in each of them. I particularly liked Marna, because she's actually sweet and friendly, despite her horrible past and the work that she has to do as a daughter of the Duke of Adultery. The dynamics between the Kai's group of Nephs--Kopano, Blake, Ginger and Marna--was realistic and enhanced the relationships and events that unfolded.

"Sweet Evil" is an alluring beginning to what promises to be a fun trilogy. I can't wait until the second book, which seems to be tentatively titled "Sweet Peril". Check out the book description here (spoiler alert!).

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

I remember the feeling I got after I finished the first book of the "Wicked Lovely" series by Melissa Marr. I knew I hadn't picked up an easy, simply fun paranormal YA novel about faeries; I could tell by the sort of unsettled feeling that resided in my chest. The faeries in Ms. Marr's world weren't giggly and glittery. No, instead they were dark and cruel--and I mean really cruel. But that made it interesting and all the more intriguing.

When I saw that Melissa Marr was coming out with a brand-new series, I did a little happy shimmy and jotted down the release date on my calendar (hey, it's helpful!). The speed with which I downloaded it onto my Kindle must've astounded Road Runner himself.

"Carnival of Souls" is just as dark and alluring as its predecessors, yet unique in its own way. Ms. Marr crafts a world of daimons and witches, two races sworn to vengeance and hatred against each other. In the City, inhabited by daimons, Marchosias hosts a deadly competition. Aya and Kaleb are two of the contenders, seeking a better life in a society where the caste system is rigidly in place and sin is all too prevalent. In the human world, Mallory has grown up being taught by her adoptive witch father to defend herself against daimons. Little does she know that her life is about to be sucked into the beguiling--and misleading--charms of the Carnival of Souls.

I loved the characters in the novel, who were all so different in their own ways. I especially liked Aya--who doesn't appreciate a kick-ass heroine? I also liked the relationship between Kaleb and Zevi. The loyalty and bond between the two packmates was so believable and touching at times. The one thing that didn't ride with me as well was the budding romance between Mallory and Kaleb. On Kaleb's part, it seemed a little too sudden and forced to be realistic. I wish we'd seen more of why exactly he was attracted to her in the first place before making things between them more serious.

Ms. Marr's way of telling the story through the viewpoint of four characters worked well this time too. I was able to really get into the heads of the protagonists, and it's an effective way of revealing plot points or surprises as the story unfolds. There are so many subtle things that you pick up on through these different perspectives, and I feel like Sherlock Holmes when I flourish my finger and go "AHA!" when I notice something sneakily (or blatantly, whatever) revealed in the chapters.

The plot was fairly engaging throughout, and a lot happens, especially with Aya and the competition. One thing that dragged it down a little were the parts with Mallory. It really seemed forced at times to be truly realistic. Maybe it's because we didn't spend as much time with Mallory as with Aya and Kaleb, who are actively a part of the Carnival of Souls. With the ending, though, I'm sure we'll be in Mallory's head a little more in the next book of the series!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading "Carnival of Souls", and it's definitely worth checking out, especially if you enjoy urban fantasy without the whole thing being centered around sappy romance (though I'm not complaining!). The dark yet beautiful world interwoven with the human one in which we live in is entrancing and compelling, and I can't wait until the sequel comes out.

A little side note/fun fact: Evelyn is Adam's calculating witch-sister. She's pretty ruthless. And Evelyn is my middle name! It's so weird reading about a character with the same name as you, though I guess it'd be weirder if there was a character named Yoon-Ji, which has never happened to me before. I wonder whether it makes it more personal or engaging. Huh.

Also, check out the video trailer of the book!

Rating: 4/5


I've never really been good with introductions. They usually end up sounding awkward, or the title of my first ever post. I tried, really. So I'll just get right to the juicy, important stuff now!

I'm Yoon-Ji, and I'm a 17-year old bookworm. I am never, ever not in the middle of the book. Once I've read the last page, I give it a couple hours to digest, maybe even overnight, and then it's onto whatever new adventure the next book will bring me! I think I decided to start a book review blog because I'm always reading, and I always end up writing short little reviews on (such a helpful site!), so why not make it somewhat more official? Plus, this way I get to share my favourite books with the rest of you on the Interweb, and I mean, it does look kinda cool.

I'm probably beginning to bore you with all these words, so let me just wrap up my spiel with interesting facts (yay!) about me:

  • I love creative writing too! I've entered short story competitions and even wrote a 50-page historical fiction novella. I think I want to study creative writing or English lit when I head off to college next year.
  • I'm pretty into fitness and health too--I love and I even had my first kickboxing lesson yesterday! It's ridiculously intense and fun, definitely worth giving a go at. Plus I get some self-defense in with exercise, which my mom has been hounding me about before I move halfway around the world to the States and possibly get mugged (or worse!).
  • Oh yeah--and family! My parents are both Korean, and contrary to popular belief, they're not deathly strict! I have a younger sister who's 15-years old, and we have a cute little Maltese puppy called Cupid! He's so adorable. Whenever we get home from school, he'll be waiting at the top of the stairs wagging his tail. Sometimes he gets too excited that he loses control of his bladder. Yup.
  • I'm also a secret romantic, as all teenage girls are wont to be, so don't roll your eyes if you see me gushing over a guy in a book I review! And don't worry, paranormal teen fiction isn't all I read.
Wow, that was quite a mouthful. I hope that readers of this blog (if there are any at all) find my reviews interesting and helpful in choosing new books to read, and also hope you guys have gotten to somewhat know me a little better! I don't want to be a shifty, elusive (Nabokov's words, aha!) anon.

And as a totally random closing remark, I present to you our nation's pride and joy. It had to be done.