Review: Dark Companion by Marta Acosta

dark companionInfo:
Title: Dark Companion
Author: Marta Acosta
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Tor/Macmillan
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? No
Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal
Page Count: 368

Summary:

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She’s even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper’s cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something’s not quite right about the school — or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She’s also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school…and be bound to Birch Grove forever? (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I liked:
♥ Unique twist on vampires.
♥ Jane is a great character. I loved that she was dedicated to schoolwork, and even to STEM. I was disappointed when she fell in love so quickly, though. She seemed stronger than that.
♥ The prologue starts off with a fantastic line: “On the night that I die….”
♥ Mary Violet is one of the best supporting characters I’ve read in a while. She’s hilarious, and just what Dark Companion needs to keep from being too dark and gloomy.

I didn’t like:
— I think there’s a little bit too much packed into this novel. So many heavy subjects made Dark Companion feel longer than it really is.
— The fairy element wasn’t described very well, which made me feel like it was tacked on.
— The bloodletting made me sick. That could be because I have a weak stomach for blood, however, vampire stories usually don’t get to me in that way…

Favorite thing:
Jane. I really liked Jane, and even though I got pissed at her when she fell for Lucky Radcliffe’s bull, I could understand why. I just wished I could slap her and make her come back to her senses a little earlier than she did. I think what I liked most about Jane was her dedication to schoolwork, and to bettering herself through her own hard work.

Second favorite thing:
I liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, all from classic works of gothic literature. They nicely set the mood for each chapter, and I hope they introduce some readers to gothic literature.

I also wrote a review for Dark Companion for Amazon Vine.

Rating:

Socialize with the author:
Marta Acosta:
Website
Twitter @martaacosta

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Girl by Sarah Diemer (@sarahdiemer)

the bone girlThe Bone Girl by Sarah Diemer
Release Date: August 28, 2012

In a world where snow never falls and flowers never grow, the animals have learned to speak, and the people change their skins as easily as they change their clothes. But while Skin Peddlers sell fleshy wares in corner shops, the radical Church of the Skinned preaches against the impurity of selling one’s most precious possession.

One night, a greedy Skin Peddler steals the most beautiful skin he’s ever seen, leaving a girl of bones behind. Lutese wakes up skinless–and though other people would simply buy and slip into another skin, Lu refuses. As a bone girl, as a freak, she ventures into the wild, dying world to get her skin back.

Unbeknownst to Lu, there is a prophecy about a bone girl whispered among the animals. It foretells of an ending to the world, of an everlasting winter. As Lu draws closer to End City, the rumors grow stronger, following in her wake. But she doesn’t care about anything besides getting her skin back…

Until she falls in love with an outcast girl named Mara, one of the reviled Low. This simple act sets events into motion that could destroy the world…or save it. (summary from goodreads)

I found The Bone Girl after I looked up Sarah Diemer’s website. I read a free story of hers, The Witch Sea, and wanted to learn more about the author. I like supporting indie authors, because I hope to be one some day soon, and they’re doing cool stuff that isn’t always easily available in traditional publishing.

The summary for The Bone Girl caught my eye immediately, and it sounds so different! Plus, I really like the cover. It’s cute, in a Tim Burton sort of way.

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter @sarahdiemer

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten TV Characters

I snagged this from Sarah at Breaking the Binding. I had intended to post it last Tuesday, but I had an Internet outage at home, and then coming up with a list of 10 was hard!

I didn’t used to be much of a telly watcher. When I was younger, we only had the three basic channels — cable didn’t come out far enough in the country. After going away to school, I started using it as background noise, and now that we have dish at home, I watch a lot more. It’s still background noise a lot of the time. I write listening to TV instead of music. Lots of History Channel, Discovery Channel, NatGeo — that sort of thing. And, I’ll admit, I do indulge in some horrible reality TV every so often, too.

Aside from all of that, though, I’ve got some favorites. As I said, I had quite the difficult time compiling this list. Most of my favorite characters really do come from books, and a few from movies.

01: Maura Isles, Rizzoli & Isles
Maura Isles has shown up on this blog before, and will show up again in the future. This is the one case I can think of where I prefer the TV version of something over the book version. I’ve read the Rizzoli and Isles books, and while Tess Gerritsen’s Maura is cool, TV!Maura is my absolute favorite. Why? Because Maura makes being smart and geeky and socially awkward cool.
02: Miss Parker, The Pretender
The Pretender is the very first show I can remember fangirling over. I recorded it while watching, and rewatched that week’s episode over and over again. It was the first fandom I was a part of. Miss Parker was a bad ass, sarcastic to the extreme, and carried a gun she wasn’t afraid to use. Her temper was just as bad. And despite the thorny exterior, she had a vulnerable side, and I may have written my first ever fanfics about her. >.<
03: Azkadellia, Tin Man
I like most of SyFy’s fairy tale retellings. Tin Man is my favorite. Azkadellia is the wicked witch, ruling the OZ from a really cool looking palace. Supposedly she was turned bad from being possessed by evil spirits. I would have loved to see a lot more of Tin Man focusing on her story, rather than on DG and the gang trying to overthrow her.
04: Lilah Morgan, Angel
It’s been a really long time since I’ve watched Angel — I should probably fix that — but I remember Lilah being one of my favorite characters on the show. I also remember liking her because she did whatever necessary to move up, and wasn’t afraid to be evil or a bitch.
05: Bo, Lost Girl
I haven’t finished watching the second season of Lost Girl, so no spoilers, please, if you share my love for Bo. Bo is every urban fantasy, paranormal romance heroine come to life. Yet another kick ass character for my list.
06: The Morrigan, Lost Girl
Again, I haven’t finished watching the second season of Lost Girl, but I don’t think my liking the Morrigan will change. Leanan sídhe are one of my favorite types of sidhe, and they’re something I would like to play with someday. The Morrigan represents humans in the artistic world, making them successful while thriving off their talents.
07: Number Six, Battlestar Galactica
Now we come to the BSG portion of the list. No surprise here that one of the bad girls of the series, Number Six, is one of my favorites. She’s the most interesting Cylon model, to me, with all the different incarnations and personalities.
08: Helena Cain, Battlestar Galactica
I wish we’d seen more of Helena Cain. A female Rear Admiral, super ruthless, and more than a bit crazy? Yep. Sounds like someone I like. I wish more had been shown of the relationship between her and Gina Inviere, because I couldn’t believe Helena would sentence her lover to such a horrible fate.

And I give up. I cannot think of two more, despite wracking my brain for a week. I’m probably overlooking someone super obvious. Clearly, I need to actually watch shows that are in my Netflix queue, rather than just adding more and more shows.

There’s a definite trend in my favorites — I tend to like the villains. I always like to figure out their backstory, even if I’m just imagining it, because they’re usually more interesting than the good guys. I’d love a book where the bad guy wins.

Some other interesting things I learned while making this list:
01: The writers/production team/directors of The Pretender wrote Tin Man! No wonder I liked it so much.
02: I forgot that I did a huge communications project on Battlestar Galactica. There’s another show that I need to do a rewatch of.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #15

Last Week’s Reads:

   
The Selection
by Kiera Cass
   

This Week’s Reads:

The Last Princess
by Galaxy Craze
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child♦♦
by Bob Spitz
Stormdancer♦♦
by Jay Kristoff

July is turning out to be a low reading month, grr. I finally did read The Selection, and I’ve already posted my review for it. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great, either. I should have taken a clue when it took me so long to actually start it. I know I mentioned it in several Monday posts.

I am almost finished with The Last Princess. So far I’m not sure what to say about it. It’s a different sort of book.

I keep thinking of rereading The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer, so that may show up here next week.

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

Instagram Photos for May/June

In lieu of a real post, I’m putting up Instagram pics. Ever since it was finally released for Android, I’ve become an Instagram nut. I’m always looking for more people to follow on there. I’m leeannac.

I tend to take pictures of books I’m reading, and random other things. I think it’s a fun way to “meet” the blogger behind the blog.

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

the selectionInfo:
Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Library
Series? The Selection #1
Genre: Romance, Dystopian, Young Adult
Page Count: 327

Summary:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I’m really on the fence with The Selection. It took me a few weeks to even crack it open, mainly because I’d heard it was a mix of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. I love The Hunger Games, but I can’t stand The Bachelor.

The cover kept it in my TBR pile. I’m a sucker for a “girl in a pretty dress” cover. I know, I know. I just am. But at least in “The Selection,” the girl on the cover matched the main character — a redhead, sort of shy — and so did one of the dresses she wore.

So, like I said, I’m on the fence. I didn’t hate The Selection, but I definitely didn’t love it, or really like it, either.

My biggest complaint? Not a lot happens in the book. The Selected spend most of their time either learning history or etiquette, talking about Prince Maxon, or on a date with Prince Maxon. I really thought I’d find out who he picks by the end of the book — but no. Why on earth The Selection needs a sequel I do not know. There’s not a lot of story to begin with, but to stretch it out … I yelled an expletive out after reading the last page.

I was interested in the caste system, which I suppose is what slots the book into the dystopian category. There are mentions of restrictions — no premarital sex, no birth control for lower castes, government committees that do stuff, and no history books. But there’s no explanation of how the castes came to be, or even what jobs they all do.

The only thing that saved this book for me was America’s desire to help others like her, those who are lower in the caste system. I did like that she didn’t forget where she came from, even after getting used to life in the palace.

But I couldn’t stand the love triangle, her moping over Aspen, or the friendship with Maxon. I never could figure out why America loved Aspen so much, other than that they grew up together and he’s a nice guy. I had a hard time believing Maxon would agree to America’s “deal,” and make friends with her. Their friendship developed very quickly, somewhat too quickly for me. I didn’t find it believable; actually, I didn’t find most of the book believable.

I can see why some people would love this book. It is a lot like The Bachelor TV show. But it’s just not for me.

Rating: 2 owls

Socialize with the author:
Kiera Cass:
Website
Twitter @kieracass

Once Upon a Time Read-A-Thon Wrap Up #OUreadathon

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

I didn’t do quite as good as I’d hoped for the Once Upon a Time Read-A-Thon. :( I only managed to read one book from my list, The Selection by Kiera Cass. Considering that I’ve had that book on my list forever, I am happy about that, although I do wish I’d had more time. I guess that’s my lesson that read-a-thons during the week don’t work that well for me!

I did have fun, though, and participated in a few of the mini challenges. I’m still on the lookout for more events like this!

Waiting on Wednesday: Neferet’s Curse by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

neferet's curseNeferet’s Curse by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Release Date: July 17, 2012

In the third House of Night novella, the secret history we’ve all been waiting for is finally revealed… Neferet, the Tulsa House of Night’s darkly seductive High Priestess, wasn’t always a powerful vampyre, but she has always been beautiful. Raised in turn-of-the-century Chicago in a motherless home, her beauty makes her the prey of unwanted attention and abuse, leaving her with scars that will never heal – and a Darkness that will eventually need to find its way out. But when she is Marked and gains strength, both physical and magickal, she turns her anger into power and looks for a way to regain what was stolen from her. From victim to High Priestess, beautiful young woman to powerful seductress, Neferet’s journey begins… (summary from goodreads)

I have to admit, the other House of Night novellas have disappointed me, but I’m hoping the third time is the charm. Neferet is my favorite character in the series, and I’ve been wanting to find out about her past for a long, long time.

Socialize with the author:
Website
Facebook

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #14

Last Week’s Reads:

 
Trafficked
by Kim Purcell
Incarnate
by Jodi Meadows
 

This Week’s Reads:

The Selection
by Kiera Cass
The Last Princess
by Galaxy Craze
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child♦♦
by Bob Spitz

I knew I was being too ambitious last week. I’m not sure what I did with the week, to be honest, other than not reading. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m rereading things again. Ugh. Must stop. I am wickedly behind on my July page count contest. I’m wickedly behind on a lot — imagine that — too bad I can’t count reading emails or news!

If I don’t read The Selection this week, I am giving up on it. I’m 12 pages in, and I’m doubtful. I also started Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child this morning. That may take more than a week to get through; it’s sort of dense.

Be sure to check back throughout the week — I’m participating in a Read-A-Thon, and I hope to get my reading going again. I’ll also be posting pics of what I’m reading and progress shots to my Instagram. I’ve been posting a lot of pics lately, and am finding Instagram fun. Come follow me, I’m leeannac.

♦♦ indicates books received for review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.

The YA linky list for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

Once Upon a Time Read-A-Thon

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

I’m participating in another Read-A-Thon! This one is hosted by Reading Angel, Candace’s Book Blog, and Pure Imagination Blog, and runs from July 9 to July 11. My goal is to read four books, which may be tricky because I’m busy during the day, but I’m going to try anyways.

The list:
01. The Selection by Kiera Cass
02. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
03. Stormancer by Jay Kristoff
04. The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze (not pictured)

I may change this list, and I probably will. Dearie is quite dense, so probably not the best pick for a read-a-thon.

I’ll update this post with my progress, so check back!

Progress:
July 9: An epic fail of a day for reading. I read maybe 15 pages of The Selection and 15 pages of Dearie. I checked out a new load of ebooks this morning, so once I put some of those on my phone, I may pick up speed.
July 10: I’m about halfway through The Selection. I had a prime reading opportunity tonight — an Internet outage in my area, lasting ALL NIGHT — but I gave up and went to bed. This is turning out to be a read-less-a-thon for me :/