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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author(s): Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Page Count: 576 pages
Summary: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. (From Goodreads)

Review: I’m just going to start this review by saying: this book is LONG. I usually read pretty fast, but this took me about two weeks to read, which is very, very rare. It’s strange, because long books never seem daunting to me and I’ve read 1000+ page book in a few days without batting an eyelash. I think it just has to have substance and everything has to matter and it has to keep me entertained.

Beautiful Creatures did that… well, sort of. I’m not going to say I didn’t like it, but I didn’t love it either. It feel between mediocre and good on the scale of book awesomeness. I definitely feel that it was too long; I understand that the romance aspect has to be developed, as did the supernatural, but I don’t think it should’ve been quite as long as it was. There were definitely some things that could’ve been taken out.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things I enjoyed. I liked Lena and her quirks; she and Ethan made a very good couple. I also liked the small-mindedness of the town and the fact that they pretend like the Civil War ended with the South taking the high road. I think that just describes the South ridiculously well; people around where I live wave the Confederate flag as a symbol of southern pride, not as a ‘let-go-lynching’ type of thing.

The things I didn’t like, however, seemed to almost outweigh the things I liked. Like I mentioned before, it was unnecessarily long and most of the characters were like cardboard cutouts, aside from a few like Link and Lena. His father we never really got to know well enough; even his character was a bit cliched.

Overall, Beautiful Creatures had some good parts, but overall I wasn’t blown away with it as a whole.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Title: Cracked Up to Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Page Count: 214
Summary: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault. (Summary from GoodReads)

Review: I read Cracked Up to Be in one sitting because the power in my house went out all day and I didn’t have anything else to do but read, but I definitely don’t feel that my time was wasted. Lately, whenever I’ve read books that received a lot of hype, I haven’t understood why they were so popular. With Cracked Up to Be, it was totally the opposite.

From the moment I started reading, I was thrown into the life of Parker, who is probably the most real character I have ever encountered. She was funny and rude and bitchy but at the same time, I couldn’t help but like her and I was so intrigued as to why she was broken. I read this book in one sitting (which may or may not have to do with the power going out and no internet for me browse) and that’s something I haven’t done in a long time.

I think it’s kind of funny because I related to Parker so much: she doesn’t hold back what she thinks, even if it’s rude or not something that should be spoken aloud. And she was hilarious. She has the kind of dry humor that I strive to perfect. I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m too much like her, because she was a real bitch, but I don’t know.

Cracked Up to Be was short, at only 214 pages, but it definitely packed a punch. That is why I’m going to give it my first ever, in the history of Read Sam, Read, perfect rating:

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Title: Heart’s Blood
Author: Juliet Marillier
Page Count: 402
Summary: Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.

But to truly free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life-and their love…

Review: Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite fantasy authors, right there next to JK Rowling and Cecilia Dart-Thornton, so when I found out she had a new book coming out, I made my sister get it for me for Christmas. She wrote the Sevenwaters series, which is a must-read for anyone who likes fantasy.

At first, Heart’s Blood didn’t capture my attention, but most of Marillier’s books take a little while to get into. The main character, Caitrin, is a bit hard to relate to at first, but her character becomes very well-developed as the book goes on. All of the characters, in fact, are very well developed, and the plot is really interesting and unique. One thing that did annoy me, though, was that Caitrin came from such a terrible situation and she was so hopeful and optimistic that it didn’t seem real to me, at least in the beginning.

One of the best characters, in my opinion, is Anluan. Marillier’s love stories always tug at my heartstrings and the fact that Anluan was so flawed made it all the better. At first, I didn’t like him at all, but, since the story is in first-person, I got to like him as Caitrin did. Still, I thought their love story was a bit underdeveloped – there wasn’t enough of them bonding for my tastes.

The ending was amazing. I’m trying to so hard not to give anything away, but I will tell you this: the ending made me cry. (Well, almost. I was holding it back so I’d keep my dignity.) It was super sweet and made me feel all gushy and happy inside.

Overall, Heart’s Blood is definitely one of my new favorite fantasy novels. The love story is cute and the plot, though a bit slow in the beginning, definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat near the end. I’d recommend this to any fan of fantasy.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Title: The Dark Divine
Author: Bree Despain
Page Count: 384
Summary: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared–the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood–but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude’s high school. Despite promising Jude she’ll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel’s shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy’s dark secret…and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it–her soul.

Review: Let me just say, when I bought this book, I didn’t really know what it was about. I didn’t know that there’d be anything paranormal at all; I probably didn’t read a description about it. I’d just heard it was good. So when I started to get an inkling that this was a paranormal romance and not just a “Hey, I have a dark past,” type of thing, it kind of threw me off. The world that Grace lives in seems to normal to me. It doesn’t seem like a place where monsters could be running around out of Bible legends and such. It seems like the world I lived in.

I didn’t like how easily Grace accepted the fact that there were monsters running around. She just went on with her day. I think that that’s the reason I don’t read a lot of paranormal fiction; a lot of the time, the world created seemed too fantastical for someone who’s been conditioned to believe that there is no such thing as monsters or magic. Personally, if someone told me or showed me that things like that were real, I’d go a little insane. I wouldn’t be like, “Okay, so what do we do?” I think it’s just a personal preference, but sometimes things like this get a little too unbelievable for my taste.

That aside, I enjoyed The Dark Divine. I read it in two days and after the first hundred pages or so, it gets pretty fast-paced. Daniel was pretty steamy, but I didn’t get into his character as much as other reviews I’ve seen. Their romance was sweet and Grace was a very good character; she was afraid for her life at times, but willing to do anything for the boy she loved. There are inevitable comparisons to Twilight, of course, but I don’t feel like she was too passive or she purposely put herself in danger. She was understandably naive, because she was a pastor’s daughter, but I thought that her character was portrayed very well.

Overall, I did like The Dark Divine, but perhaps not as much as the other reviews I’ve seen on it. That seems to happen with me and popular fiction; I hear the hype and I want the book, but then when I read it, I’m kind of like, “Eh.” I think that exception to that rule is Graceling and I totally hated the prequel, so I don’t know. Maybe the hype ruins it for me.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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