Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Dark Divine

Yup I'm fully into the YA now, and have finished another relative-newbie to the scene, The Dark Divine by Bree Despain - reviewed heavily already by other blogs, not to mention professional reviewers.  So why am I bothering?  Because I need to know what the fuss is about!  And I will spoil my own review right here and tell you that if you are looking for an original take on paranormal romance/YA, you might look elsewhere.

The Dark DivineGrace Divine, as evidenced by her name, is a do-gooder.  In fact, her entire family are do-gooders, father being pastor at their local church, her brother a saint in hottie's clothing, sister named Charity and baby brother who I'm sure would be godly if he could talk.  But Grace's family has a dark past that came about through her brother Jude and some ordeal in the woods with their foster-type, troubled brother Daniel.  When Daniel and Jude went into the woods that day, only Jude returned home, covered in blood, with no answers - only hatred for his former friend who mysteriously disappears thereafter.  From this Grace tries to reconstruct what went wrong that fateful, mysterious day with Daniel and with Jude - and the answers may be way more than she can handle.

This wasn't anything new for me, as far as supernatural YA goes.  I did like the relationships Grace has with her brother and with her best friend, but both were pretty incidental to the story.  The Daniel character seemed to me more like an Edward Cullen than I'm comfortable with - kind of tired of the brooding, dark and whiny woe-is-me type of guy, not that I appreciated that before The Dark Divine.  Point is, Ms. Despain got a few too many cues from Twilight, including the oh-so-dark-and-mysterious love interest which I also just saw in Lauren Kate's Fallen and was already bored with.  The supernatural beings (won't give it away just now) are never really explained in detail, so there wasn't much excitement there.  And I'm the type to read into the different mythologies presented in the different books/series so again, nothing new here.

Sorry for the bad news, folks, hope to read something I can give a positive review for next time!  Wow, just realized I badly need to update my Currently Reading widget... stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Heretic's Daughter

The Heretic's Daughter: A NovelDifferent, but not far from the usual story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 is that of Sarah Carrier, daughter of the supposed heretic Martha Carrier who was tried and executed as a witch.  Each section of the book is separated into time periods spanning a couple of years where young Sarah, during a rough childhood in early New England comes to learn that people are not who they seem. Sarah despises her cold-hearted mother who seems to have done everything within her power to make Sarah's life miserable.  The Carrier family struggles to stay together up until the inevitable end, the moment of truth when the lives of the Carriers change forever and old family secrets finally rise to the surface during this threatening, dark time in the history of America.

I couldn't help but compare this to Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt, which was terrific.  The Heretic's Daughter is a different book completely, I realize, but with the same background of witch hysteria and neighbor-accusing-neighbor.  It's just a dark, brooding story of relationship woes and the inner turmoil of one member of the Carrier family, Martha's small daughter, who only through extreme trial (sorry) and strife can come to terms with her family.  I'm not sure where the title came from, as the word heretic is not thrown around as much as I would've expected.  It's not so much about religious reasons for persecution as it is about society's ways of destroying the people that refuse to become the status quo.  Like I said, a different book.  But I would have to say DotWH was much faster-moving than this one, as I am determined to compare them, you see.  THD was pretty slow, which can be a real drag when the readers are already aware of the ending.  So I wasn't too thrilled with this, all things said, but the growth and realizations of Sarah's character throughout her ordeals was still interesting to read, and I'm glad the author chose an original slant on the witch trials of 1692 - this was the best aspect of the book.

Stay tuned for another review of a library book... guess which one...

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Stand

Now this is the kind of book I want to read with a book club.  Stephen King Book Club, anyone?

The Stand: Expanded Edition: For the First Time Complete and Uncut (Signet)I was sucked into this one from the get-go, as any reader of any genre would likely be.  Stephen King's characters are the most obvious reason for his success, that of course and the fact that he can write a damn-scary scene - this coming from someone who is not easily, if ever, frightened by text on a page.  I don't think there is a whole lot about King I can say here that hasn't been said umpteen times already, so if you are lacking some experience with his work, I encourage you to just read one of his better books upfront - you will know immediately whether you're going to like it or not.

And for those more seasoned, I'll give my list of favorite things about The Stand - and least favorites, to balance it out:
Favorite Characters:  Tom & Nick, Harold
Favorite Scene: all scenes with Tom, especially when he takes his trip (sniff), most scenes with Harold and his constant vascillating, soul-searching
Scariest Scene:  Larry going through (and even just considering it) the Lincoln Tunnel in New York
Favorite Writing Tidbit:  the various hilarious interjections of the characters, most of them I've never heard before but feel like I should start saying
Favorite Thing About Life Post-Plague: free beer!!
Least Favorite Thing about The Stand:  the ending - I found it a little lackluster, disappointing.  Not nearly as cathartic as you would expect after such a long journey.  Not even all characters were involved.
Next Least Favorite Thing: King's inclusion of his original material, especially related to Trashcan Man's past.  I know he added these things back into this unabridged version to beef up the characterizations necessary for to reach the ending, and I get that, but when the character's past is just not interesting, then it should be made more engaging (instead of just nixing it outright).  This was especially glaring because of TM's significance for the end.
And that's it!  That's all you get for The Stand.  It was a great book, make no mistake about that, and well worth your time (if you happen to have any!).  Happy reading, folks, and join me next time for a review of The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Still chuggin' along...

Update -- Okay folks, I will tell you right now, look for a lot of giveaways from here this coming year because I am SO gonna get reading!  I swear.  After my class is over March 5th, it's back to the books.  Er... the fun ones anyway.  I'm still making progress with The Stand, so bear with me in this Time of Craziness.  And even in this ToC, I am thinking, eating and breathing books.  I have considered getting myself an e-reader once the year is over and I have finished most (if not all) of my currently-owned books.  Anyone here have an e-reader?  Pros/ Cons?

Well that's it for now.  Stay tuned for a new giveaway and a couple of reviews for long-awaited reads, The Stand and another early-review book I received recently...


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Of course I had to pick up Fallen by Lauren Kate, as I said, just to find out how wonderful or terrible it is based on the reviews I've been seeing.  And you know what, it wasn't wonderful.  It wasn't terrible either.  It was overall just a re-hash of what I'm already familiar with from the Twilight novels:  a pretty bland, sad heroine who for some strange reason I will never know only wants for a pea-coat-wearing, brooding, whiny and somewhat effeminate supernatural yang to her yin.  And I still don't get it.

FallenLuce is a troubled girl, whose (dis)ability to see supernatural, terrifying shadow-things has led her to dark and depressing reform school, Sword & Cross in Georgia.  Normally I am *such* a fan of the southern gothic, so I was psyched about this surprise in the story.  The atmosphere sure is dark and brooding, and the reform school is brimming with secrets, eccentric characters and other creatures that we don't really learn about until the book is nearly over.  This was a major problem for me, as I like my vampire, etc. mythology to build itself up and take on a life of its own.  However, Fallen's mythos involves nothing more than a few characters who eventually reveal themselves at the very end, and who for an even-still unexplained reason, seem to care about piny Luce and her dashing, debonair love interest described above -- all after the average reader has long given up hope of any loose ends finding each other.

So you can put me in the negative-review camp for this one.  The atmosphere started out very promising, and the writing was at least superior to the usual fare, although it did occasionally tend to veer on the side of confusing.  This is definitely Twilight-esque, so any reader who really enjoys the pining and what the rest of us might consider a 400-page-long teen love-letter should go for it.  I was ready for something new, though, and just hung on to the southern gothic, awesome-cover train for a tad too long.  Now I'm ready to finish The Stand - oh happy day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Sorry, guys, I'm back after a crazy weekend to announce the WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY for Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.  Congrats to...


I will be sending you an email now with the details.  Again, I apologize for taking so darn long, as I had planned to announce the winner on Friday evening, but there's been craziness as I'm sure you're all familiar with.  Anyway, I'm back now for the week, reading The Stand as well as another surprise book to review hopefully tomorrow!  And it's like spring outside!  Amazing.  Snow is melting, there is still black ice everywhere but instead of falling into a pile of snow on my way to work this morning, I splashed around in a huge puddle of icy water.  That was lots of fun.  But listening to the birds sing in the early morning hours makes it all worthwhile, so come on folks and help me enjoy our first day of pre-spring weather!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Words from the Well 10

Hello again with another WWTW here on the Reader's Well.  In blog-land it may be nice and cozy and dry, but let me tell you we have some nasty Northeast weather this morning - so I needed to blog and just complain about how much that sucks.  But also!  I will give you the list of the past week's acquisitions, hopefully as a sign that these will slow down sometime soon because I am obviously not reading nearly as fast as I should be to finish them all.  Thankfully most of these are

Borrowed/taken from the library:
The Graveyard Book
The Poison Eaters - Holly Black
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale - Holly Black (a coincidence!)

Now the taking of that last one from the Take-Pile implies of course that I will read the first two books in that trilogy, doesn't it?  Which means purchasing/obtaining more books.  So we can see already how long my moritorium on book-buying of the week is going to last.  It's a disease, I admit.  And no I haven't sought help yet, I've actually been enjoying the insanity thus far, and will continue to spread the wealth on the blog.  Thanks all, by the way, for entering the GIVEAWAY, posted below!  It ends this Friday evening which means I will count the comments on Saturday morning and select the winner of Silent Spring.  So exciting!