ShakespeareZombie

ShakespeareZombie

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman


"I wanted to be a predictable set of reactions to a finite set of situations; I wanted to know that I was a girl who would always make the same choices she'd made before. The thought of changing suddenly and randomly scared me down to my marrow..."

The Cost of All Things is about a world where a magic called Hekame exists. The practitioners, Hekamists, create spells for money. These spells always come with a cost, a cost that grows exponentially if spells are combined.

Ari goes to the Hekamist to forget her boyfriend Win. The pain of losing him is overwhelming. The spell ends up ruining her dancing abilities and her future plans of moving to New York for a dance scholarship. She also can't tell her friends that while they were mourning Win, she doesn't remember anything.

Win, before his untimely passing, narrates chapters about his chronic depression. He befriends the Hekamist's daughter, Echo. She creates a spell to help him even though he can't pay. The two grow close, and Win is her only friend. After his death, Echo ends up blackmailing Ari for the money Win owed.

Diana is Ari's best friend, though they drifted apart when Ari and Win started dating. She has always been passive around Ari, but starts to come into her own. This means dying her hair bright red and getting close to Markos, against Ari's warnings. 

Markos was Win's best friend, youngest of a family of brothers who have reputations as man whores. He finds himself falling hard for Diana. He also finds out that his mother was paying the Hekamist for spells for one of his brothers. Then he ends up messing up both of these things.

Finally, Kay became Diana's friend while Ari was busy with Win. She has major abandonment issues stemming from when her sister, who had just recovered from cancer, spent a year traveling the world and left her behind. As a result, Kay bought a spell that keeps her friends close. Ari and Diana have to stay within a certain distance from Kay and cannot be apart from Kay more than a few days. When they try to leave, bad things happen. Kay was by far my least favorite character. I felt a little bad for her at first, but when your issues start to hurt other people, you seriously need to reexamine your choices. Also, don't make your cancer survivor sister's stuff be all about you, and maybe talk to her instead of freaking out that she left you behind. 

The description calls this Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars, so I was definitely there. I was definitely surprised by the magic aspect. It took a little while to adjust to that idea. I did like the book. It's very emotional, and there's plenty of chances to exclaim over the teenager's poor decision making skills. The moral of the story: maybe don't use magic to solve your problems?

I received my copy of The Cost of All Things from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Brey. It's available for purchase now.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'll Have What She's Having by Rebecca Harrington

"So, are you what you eat? Well, it's hard to say. I think you can gain tremendous understanding and almost an odd compassion for someone when you eat like them. You learn their vulnerabilities and little oddities and obsessions. You fully enter their world and you don't judge it. So, no but yes, as with most things..."

Go Fug Yourself often included Rebecca Harrington's articles on trying celebrity diets in their Friday links. They were always interesting and amusing to me, so I was excited to read her whole book. They are a mix of previously published articles, which made me a little sad, but also new chapters.

The celebrity diets in the book range from Elizabeth Taylor to Marilyn Monroe to Gwyneth Paltrow. I am always interested in reading descriptions of food, which is probably why this was so fascinating to me. There is also some level of schadenfreude in that I sort of want these diets to be weird and difficult. This is why the success of Gwyneth Paltrow's diet disappoints me, although I do get some satisfaction from how unreasonably expensive it is. On some petty level, I want to think that the only difference between current me and fabulous, movie star me is a depriving diet that makes me feel like I'm starving.

Throughout the book, Harrington ends up eating many odd things, from quail eggs to sea vegetables to a hunk of liver. She tries to drink ten Diet Cokes in a day to emulate Karl Lagerfeld, does bust-firming exercise to emulate Marilyn Monroe, and becomes condescending to emulate Paltrow. In the end, it's an entertaining book about how celebrities sometimes ate/eat weird stuff and us normal people probably shouldn't try to be too much like them.







Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

"This story begins with endless night and infinite forest; with two orphaned children, and two swords made of broken bone.
It has not ended yet."

Yet another gorgeous cover. Like Ms. Hodge's previous book, Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound is also a fairy tale retelling. However, it is not a sequel and isn't actually in the same universe. It's based a lot on Little Red Riding Hood, but there are also aspects of other fairy tales. Everything comes together quite nicely and makes a truly original book that sounds like it should have been written by the Brothers Grimm.

The book begins when Rachelle meets a forestborn, basically a creeper who hangs out to catch unsuspecting people. She is training to become a woodwife (They cast spells and protect people from the Forest), but she is also young and thinks she is invincible. Because of this, Rachelle lowers her guard around the forestborn, she takes off her cloak with the protective charms, and she is marked.

Once a forestborn marks you, you have three days to kill someone or you will die yourself. After you kill, you become a bloodbound. Eventually, your human heart will burn out and you become a forestborn. After resisting for three days, Rachelle kills her Aunt Leonie, the woodwife who was training her and the person she loved most.

Because of the guilt, she fled to the city of Rocamadour and joined the King's band of bloodbounds. While at the castle one day, Rachelle saves a young man from assassins. She is disgusted to find out that she saved Armand, one of the King's bastard children. Armand was marked by a forestborn but refused to kill anyone. After the three days, he didn't die. The forestborn cut of his hands but let him live. The people see him as a saint, someone who resisted the temptations of the Forest. Rachelle resents the implication that she didn't have to kill her aunt after all, that if she had been stronger she could have kept from becoming a bloodbound. She also detests his decadent silver hands and the saintly image that she sees as tricking the people. Imagine how upset she becomes when the King appoints her to guard the saint.

Meanwhile, the forestborn who marked Rachelle informs her that the Devourer (Master of forestborns, once ate the sun and the moon, will plunge the world into eternal darkness) will return soon. She has to hurry and find Joyeuse (A legendary sword made from the bone of a prince who once slayed the Devourer) before that happens.

The more time that Rachelle spends with Armand, the less she hates him. She starts to see the ways his father uses him as a pawn, how uncomfortable he is with his saint title. She also sees him answer her insults with a smile and they become friendly. Poor Rachelle is used to people resenting her for being a bloodborn, and used to feeling as though she deserves it for what she did. Armand and her friend Amelie (A young girl whose father was a bloodborn; she helps Rachelle with clothes and makeup while Rachelle guards Armand) don't treat her like a bloodborn. They notice how she does her best to save as many people as possible and see the good in her.

Can Rachelle find Joyeuse in time? Will she be able to defeat the Devourer? What is going on between her and Armand? Will she have the strength to defeat the Devourer if it means losing him?

I'm sorry if my review is confusing. It really is a great book, though the various characters and things make it a little hard to describe succinctly. I particularly liked the story of Tyr and Zisa, the last ones to fight the Devourer, woven in with the main story. Rachelle was an awesome, ass-kicking heroine.   Rosamund Hodge's books seem to just get better and better. I can't wait for the next one.

I received my copy of Crimson Bound from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. It's available for purchase now.





Friday, May 22, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley


"It's me in this body, thank you, snarled and screwed up and not going to make it; let's not go on about things we can't revise. I'm an edited version of a real live girl, or at least, that's what I say when I want to tell you something and I would rather not talk about it but have to get it out of the way so we can move on to better topics..."

Aza Ray has a "history of hospitals." She suffers from a rare lung disease, so rare that they named it after her. Despite all the hospital visits and new drugs and treatments, Aza is still dying, unable to breath properly.

Aza spends her days with her best friend Jason. They visit rare book galleries and watch videos of giant squids, normal teenager stuff. They are pretty adorable, and Jason obviously loves her, though she doesn't think it's possible.

Things take a turn for the weird when Aza sees a ship in the clouds. She thinks it's just hallucinations, that her brain is finally starting to fail. Jason tells her about Magonia, which is a legendary city in the clouds. There are stories of ships in the sky, sailors who drown on land.

Soon after, a bird flies down Aza's throat (I know, it sounds weird) and her lungs give out. During the ride to the hospital, a lot of action takes place. Icy roads, a helicopter crash, and then Aza dies...and she also doesn't. Jason and her family go through the process of burying Aza. Meanwhile, she wakes up in Magonia.

 The beginning of Magonia was fantastic. I love Aza and how cynical she is, and I really love Aza and Jason's relationship. After Aza dies, even though I knew we were going to hear more from her, I cried. I thought it was a really good choice to switch to Jason's perspective. It really broke my heart, especially his alligator suit. The Magonia stuff is a little weird for me so I didn't like it as much as the beginning and the Jason chapters. Aza was taken away from her mother years ago and placed on earth to die. Now that she is in her true home, Aza must fulfill her destiny by saving Magonia from starvation.

Despite that, Magonia is a great story. It's very The Fault in Our Stars with a fantasy twist. I have heard that there will be a sequel, and I am definitely curious to read about the further adventures of Aza and Jason. I am predicting another great story in their future. 

I received my copy of Magonia from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available for purchase now.



Monday, May 4, 2015

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

When they were younger, identical twins Lexi and Ava made Alicia up to get out of trouble. If something was broken, Alicia did it. As they got older, the girls used Alicia as sort of a safety net for dating wilder boys. Ava only dates boys with potential and money, while Lexi is too focused on school to date, but Alicia has less standards. 

One night, Lexi as Alicia goes on a date with a boy who Ava as Alicia has dated before. He tries to rape her, she fights him off and escapes. Just one day later, that boy turns up dead. It seems like just a meaningless tragedy, then other strange things start to happen. They get sent speeding tickets for Alicia, and receive phone calls for hair appointments for Alicia. Alicia's Facebook page is full of pictures that neither twin took. Someone ends up changing the password and locking them out. Then another of Alicia's dates ends up dead.

Police want to arrest both of the twins, but Lexi takes the blame. They still need to find the killer. Lexi starts to suspect that it might be Ava. After all, Alicia isn't real...or is she?

The Third Twin was a pretty exciting mystery. It's an intriguing concept that kept me guessing through the whole book. Part of me wanted to just flip ahead, but I managed to resist the urge and read the whole thing. It was a fast-paced thriller, and a nice change of pace from what I usually read.

I received my copy of The Third Twin from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Red by Alison Cherry

Red is set in the town of Scarletville. In the future, redheads have become incredibly rare because of genetics and stuff. Scarletville is a haven for carrot tops. Anyone with red hair is given preference over blondes and brunettes, even strawberry blondes ("Strawbies," as they call them).

Felicity St. John is one of the most popular redheads at her school. Her mom has been pushing her to win the Miss Scarlet pageant, in fact her family's financial future depends on it. But Felicity has a deep, dark secret. She is really...a strawbie! Her mom has been having her hair dyed at this secret underground salon since she was a toddler.

Her future is jeopardized when Gabby, outspoken brunette and daughter of Felicity's hairdresser, blackmails her. Gabby wants to shake up the ginger hierarchy, so her first demand is a nomination for prom queen. After everyone loses their mind, Gabby demands that Felicity's boyfriend take her instead.

Gabby isn't in the right by blackmailing Felicity, but Felicity is WAY out of line for her retaliation scheme. She plans to reveal the location of Gabby's mom's salon, just destroying her life and Gabby's entire family's lives, including that of Gabby's cute little sister who looks up to her. It's worth it if you win a pageant though, right?

There's also a little side plot where Felicity falls the brown-haired school newspaper editor. He takes her out of town and she sees that the rest of the world isn't like Scarletville, and that might not be a bad thing.

The premise of Red is interesting from a genetics standpoint. The story is really more about using rare hair color as an excuse to be jerks to other people. It's hard to dislike Gabby for what she does, and she is pretty annoying on her own. Felicity, again, really needed to get her priorities straight with what she was doing. It made me really hate her. Red seems as though it should have been fun and bubbly, but it was full of social injustice and inequality. At least it was something to think (and rage) about?

I received my copy of Red from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Brief Interruption...

A brief interruption from book reviews to post some pictures of my cats with books:
Miss Gypsy

 Also:
Mr. Tiger

That concludes this interruption. Thank you. You may proceed with your regularly scheduled business.