Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mini Reviews: Every Other Day, The Dead and Burned, Magisterium and Girl of Nightmares

As these things will go, from time to time I get badly behind on reviewing books I read ages ago.  Often because I have slightly ambivalent feelings on them, neither passionately for or against.  Generally speaking, I firmly liked them, but they did not make such a lasting impression that I could talk about them to any real extent.  So they sit while I try to come up with enough to fill a post about them.  Alas, I think it's fair to say, 5 months in, I'm not going to come up with oodles of insight.  So I thought I'd do a few mini reviews.

From Goodreads:
Every other day, Kali D’Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She argues with her father. She’s human.

And then every day in between . . . she’s something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her, and unfortunately she’ll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive . . . and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.

I greatly enjoyed the concept of this story.  I liked how it had a paranormal/superhero-y storyline without being overtly anything, and although it had a somewhat open ending it read as a satisfying one off.

The sub-characters, Skylar and Bethany were good fun, and Bethany's family of overprotective brothers were a nice touch.  The twists at the end were intriguing and heart wrenching, but overall Every Other Day was a nice quick, easy read.  Fast enough paced to keep you page turning, but not really dealing with any issues that made you think after you put it down.  This book isn't going to rock your world, but it will get you through an otherwise uneventful day, in an enjoyable way.

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by Egmont, December 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Every Other Day on Amazon


From Goodreads:
Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

I liked a lot of the elements of this story, though I found it was a bit too easy.  Too easy for Jade to decide there was a ghost, to easy to have everyone else convinced, to easy to get rid of the problem in the end, to easy to figure out the mystery, too easy to get the boy. You see where I'm going.

Also the whole evil stepmother thing is a bit trite isn't it?  Maybe that's just me, but honestly, a little more depth to the relationship would have gone a long way with these characters.  But then I felt that way about Jade's relationships with almost everyone in the book, the boys who are chasing her, the girls who are envious, everything seemed to stereotyped and none if it seemed to go deeper than the stereotype surface.

Although I didn't outright dislike this book, it did have a enough that rubbed me the wrong way that I'm not entirely sure I would recommend it without warning.  So beware of flakiness, this is not a book of depth, though the story is not terrible. Sometimes a silly read is what the doctor ordered though, and it was not a bad silly read, though be prepared for some eye-rolling.

The Dead and The Buried, by Kim Harrington
Published by Scholastic Point, January 1st, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy The Dead and Buried on Amazon


From Goodreads:
On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

This was an awesome departure for Hirsch who wrote The Eleventh Plague, which I greatly disliked.  Not only is it a very different story but it is much more masterfully done.  That being said, it just wasn't a story that left an impression on me.  I really enjoyed it while I read it, but shortly after putting it down it started to evaporate in my memory, until I felt like I could read it virtually fresh again now.

It was an intriguing blend of fantasy and dystopian, and it seems to me it was left open to a possible sequel, but again, it's a bit of a fog.  Glenn and her best friend Kevin had a somewhat confusing push and pull relationship where I didn't entirely feel like he was likable or trust worthy, which proved a bit problematic, but Aamon more than made up for this.  As per usual, it's hardly surprising I was won over by the cat.  

I did really dig the mix of magic and madness, and what that meant to Glenn, her mother and her family.  It added an intriguing dimension to the whole thing.  In the end I thought it was an enjoyable read, a big step up from The Eleventh Plague, and showing signs that this author is getting his legs under him. Although I can't put my finger on what made this book forgettable to me, I imagine it would be the lack of dealing with anything that left you thoughtful when you finished.  Though I suspect it would also be a lack of truly compelling relationships too.

That being said, it was an enjoyable read, and certainly one that would appeal to the MG demographic it's geared for.  There was certainly nothing outright wrong with it, it just didn't rock my world.

Magisterium, by Jeff Hirsch
Published by Scholastic, October 1st, 2012
My copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Magisterium on Amazon


From Goodreads:
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

This book was disappointing for me.  It wasn't a bad book, but it just didn't live up to Anna Dressed in Blood which was compelling and chilling, yet still filled with great characters.  Truly I think Anna Dressed in Blood was a complete and well rounded one off, Girl of Nightmares seemed like an after thought to try and cash in on the popularity of book the first.  Granted there were small amounts of interesting background that comes to light, where his athame came from, how exactly his father started doing what Cas now does in his stead.  There were some chilling reveals, and some trippy twists, but it wasn't a solid and cohesive story.  It felt like several thoughts roughly stitched together.

Also, to be honest, I was over Cas's angst about Anna by just a few pages into the book, so it was hard to get on board with some of his crazier attempts to see what was going on with her.

Again, this was not a bad read, just sadly paling in comparison to Blake's first book.  If you can't get enough of Cas, Carmel, Anna or Thomas, then read on, but if you felt satisfied at the end of Anna Dressed in Blood then leave it be.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen, August 7th, 2012


  1. Oh no I haven't read Girl of Nightmares yet. Now I'm not feeling as enthused. Still giving it a go though.

  2. I was really disappointed by Girl of Nightmares as well. :(

    I have The Dead and Buried and Magisterium at home to read and I am excited for them. But I will keep my expectations in check!

  3. I read Magisterium and found the story to be lacking. I enjoyed the magic and the cat was awesome, but I found myself not as interested in the story at times.