Book Review | Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author(s): Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Release Date: December 1st 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 563
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"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."

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book! I loved how unique the romance felt, not just two character smushed together but an actual relationship that develops. Although its initially clear from both the blurb and the first few pages that the main theme of the book is all about romance it didn't feel that at all. The plot line was nicely woven in between so that you aren't overcome by typical couple "mushy-ness". It wasn't all about how much the main character Ethan was madly in love, it didn't seem like the be all and end all of the book. That's not saying the characters didn't love each other  it was more to do with Lena's 'claiming' (whether she turns dark or light on her 16th birthday).I loved the fact that the paranormal element of the book is about 'casters' (basically witches), other than Harry Potter I haven't had much experience with plots based around magic so this was a pretty much new territory for me and I feel it worked so well! 

I really loved the characters in this book, every single one. They all were developed just the right amount, no one was just mentioned once then left out, even characters that were only mentioned and never seen had their own part. I really liked having a male narrator for a change in a seemingly female driven genre of YA, I also loved the fact that he wasn't made as an 'outcast' character that is found with most characters, I liked the fact that he was initially popular at school, it just made Ethan more real. I also really loved Lena, however I found some of her 'poetry' a little bit cringey. One of the main things that irritates the hell out of me in books is when authors make female characters into this annoying stereotypical 'tomboy' that hates anything girly (example: Katsa from Graceling). Major kudos to Kami and Margaret for not doing this in the slightest! What they have done with the character of Lena has made her really relatable in my eyes. Even though she will wear combat boots with dresses she also wants to do the normal 'high school' stuff like going to dances, which in a lot of YA the 'tomboy' female would be horrified at the idea of this. Not to mention Twilight, but yeah like Bella from Twilight. Other supporting characters such as Ethan's best friend Link and Lena's cousin Ridley fit SO well into the story it was amazing! It's so easy for secondary characters to be forgotten but these two were so well woven into the plot, it was really refreshing to read.

The main negative for me with this book is the pacing, it's far to jumpy with the faster parts more limited than the slower ones. I think this is also due to the size it's over 500 pages long (the longest out of the series I believe) and in my opinion it doesn't need to be, there were definitely portions that could have been removed or shortened that, although enjoyable to read, detracted from the story and slowed it down. The main one being the massive focus of the dreams that Lena and Ethan keep sharing. It's mentioned far to often and past the first couple of times it isn't really that necessary as you understand the purpose of them, yet it's repeatedly being shoved in your face. 

It's 4/5 due to some times I felt myself being a little bored as they plot wasn't moving on as well as I'd liked, but overall it was a really great read and makes you want to continue on with the series.

Book Review | Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Title: Warm Bodies
Author: Isaac Marion
Release Date: October 28th 2010
Publisher: Vintage
Genre: Adult, Horror
Pages: 240
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"A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

 R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn't enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead."

My Thoughts
I really wanted to like this book, but unfortunately it just didn't push all the buttons for me. I'd seen this title on goodreads a while back but never took any interest as I don't read much 'horror' novels, then when I saw the trailer for the film it really changed my mind about it as it looked very different from normal zombie books. With this story I had the kind of 'saw the movie first and expected the book to be similar' complex, much like I did with Stardust, but in this case I haven't even saw the film?! I think this was because based on the trailer it looks more like a light hearted zombie film that has serious elements, but I found the book to be a lot darker than the portrayal of the film. It's as though I was constantly waiting for this love story to happen that never really does. I think maybe if I'd read this book before seeing any trailers I may have enjoyed it more, as the writing was really amazing in it, but it was the plot that really didn't take off.

R, our narrator, is a character that you really do come to love and start to forget he is a 'zombie'. You can see the growth that he has throughout the novel, with both his speech and thoughts, and its really nicely done. There isn't a great big rush all at once of him totally changing, but it's a lot more gradual and realistic. The other main character in the book Julie was a little bit hit and miss for me, at the start I really loved her, she was so kick ass and it fit well with the life she lives. However towards the end of the book when she returns to the stadium I found that she got a bit soft and seems to just have been made soft and vulnerable and everyone kept comenting how shes 'been through a lot' but I didn't think there was enough background to it to make you feel that sorry for her.

Other than the on-off feelings I had for Julie, the other thing that irritated me about this book was the flashbacks, it wasn't the flashbacks themselves but it was how confusing they were. Sometimes the start of a new chapter would be a flashback and it would take until character names were mentioned to realise that we were in the mind of Perry and not R. I found this was a bit distracting when reading as when parts like this happened it took a while to focus back onto what was happening, as when I read if I get confused I tend to stop paying so much attention or start to skim read.

Overall it's an enjoyable read, I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I gave it 3.5/5 due to the fact I probably would have liked it better if I'd read it without any comparisons to the trailer.