The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau: Review

The Testing (The Testing, #1)

Summary (via Goodreads): Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one. But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Review: This book was A LOT like the Hunger Games. Like so much so that I would find myself anticipating things that happened in THG to happen in The Testing. 
Now, the premise was good. The idea of having the smart kids go through a testing – that sounds pretty cool, very epic. However, the writing was just trying to be like The Hunger Games way too much. For the majority of the time, Cia was in the wilderness (how does that judge anything?) and she was going through some of the very same things that Katniss went through in the arena. 

Other than that – Cia was annoying. Well, not necessarily annoying, but she didn’t really have any strong character. She was selfless and caring, she wanted everyone to live, got everything handed to her, passed on all the tests, and figured out all the strategies her fellow Testers were throwing her way. Nothing bad really happened to her. I have no idea what was happening with Tomas. I never trusted him and it irritated me so much when Cia did, even falling in love with him. At the end…ugh, the end. Thankfully, the last cliffhanger gives me some hope for the second book. Will was my favorite character and all of the crazy stuff that happened in this book mostly belonged to him. Other than that, I didn’t really care about the other characters in the book. There were lots of little characters that floated in and out of the book. They were trying to be likable so we felt bad when they were eliminated/died but that didn’t really work either. 

Overall – this plot seriously would have been better written without trying to be like the Hunger Games. It was entertaining and constantly moving, but the characters and the world could have been developed a whole lot more. 

3/5 stars 

Beautiful Creatures Movie Review

Beautiful Creatures (2013) Poster

Rating: 3/5 stars

I have never read these books before, I’ve tried many times though. Before I wanted to keep pushing with them, I decided to try out the movie. This film stars Alden Eidenreich as Ethan and Alice Englert as Lena, the main two characters in the story. 
The movie focuses on Lena who is a Caster (aka witch) and is approaching the day when her powers will be claimed for the light or the dark, a process that only female Casters go through (males can chose). Ethan is going through the process of helping her, as well as helping Lena figure out a curse that dates back since the Civil War. It entwines their two destinies as the cast of characters all come to life. The side characters are all well developed, to varying degrees. Macon was okay, but I didn’t feel emotion towards him. Ridley was very drawing, as was Seraphine. 
The filming was very good, all the cinematography and contrasting of lights. The soundtrack was also good, but sometimes it would drown out the scene instead. The cast all delivered their lines very well and worked with the characters, but the script was lacking something. Some parts were a little confusing and left the viewer to create their own background for it. 
Overall, the film was okay. I would not watch it again, but it sold me on the overall idea of the books. I loved the Southern aspects and parts to it, which I really found adorable. The characters were friendly and witty; Ethan stole the show. If you have some extra time, this would be a good movie, or if you are having a night with friends. 

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans: Book Review

The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles, #1)

Summary (via Goodreads): In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

Review: This book was fun. And slightly cool in a thought provoking way. It was specifically mind blowingly-epic. The descriptions of the world were intense and cool, Appelhans put a lot of thought into their creation. The characters could have developed a little bit more, but overall they did a good job with transitioning. 

My favorite part were the flashbacks in the memory files to Felicia’s days on Earth. Her parents are diplomats and she lives an incredible and heartbreaking life. They all reveal parts of her life that better explain her attachment to certain people in the afterlife or why she works so hard to save certain people. They aren’t just randomly picked, but they are all chosen as she comes to term with each of them, the purpose of Level 2. 

This book is actually an angel book, which I did not expect from the cover and title. It just didn’t seem that this one would be about angels and a almost heaven like afterlife experience. However, there are various different classes of angels that are introduced, including the bad angels that are so often read about.

Level 2 was a fun and quick read and I suggest it to any one looking for exactly that. Don’t expect anything more, but I would suggest it to those of you who have time.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare: Book Review

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

Summary (via Goodreads): Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy. Tessa Gray should be happy – aren’t all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. 
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her. 

Review: The last book in the Infernal Devices series…and the last book with Tessa, Will, and Jem. For me, this book was a huge trial in how City of Heavenly Fire (the last book in the Mortal Instruments, releasing May 2014) would turn out. What kind of endings was Clare prone too? 

With this book, I found the disappearance of Tessa most disappointing. It was almost as if she had turned into Clary. Tessa was a mellow, level headed, sensible girl who fit in well with her time period. She was the character that I related to the most and was very fun to read about. However, in this book, she became rash and sassy, too much like Clary from the Mortal Instruments. Her character had a total shift and lack of development that was really upsetting in the last book. 

Will or Jem? Well, in all honesty, this didn’t really close well either. Some might say that she preserved both of their good character, but the ending was just too sappy for me. She didn’t really pick either, which really compromised both of their feelings. Much like Magnus, another immortal character, I expected her to have one person who she really loved, not too. It destroyed the reputation of either being a true love.

And as for our side characters, they were all pushed together in an insta-love mess. You know, characters can be single throughout an entire series. It’s a thing that can happen. 

This book was also much too long. It would have packed a bigger punch like the first two if it had wrapped up quickly and beautifully. However, the relationships and battles dragged out for too long without much to offer when they were all wrapped up. Including the epilogue. I’m probably the only person who didn’t like the way it ended, but I did enjoy at least having the little bit of closure that we got from all our characters. 

Did you like anything? Yes, yes I did. Namely MAGNUS and HENRY!! Favorites in the entire series. This book definitely had some things that kept me reading but it was altogether just not complete by the end. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

December To Be Read

Twelve books for this month! I have a nice long winter break for plenty of reading. Here’s what I picked!

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3) Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare – The last in the Infernal Devices. I think I’m ready.

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – With the recent movie release, I think this is something I have been missing out on.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) Angelfall by Susan Ee – This book has been getting a lot of praise, so I am interested to see if it lives up to the hype.

Shell Game (Kingdom Keepers, #5) Shell Game by Ridley Pearson – I haven’t been reading this series for a while and I want to get back up with this world.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – The Cover. Is. Gorgeous.

The Hallowed Ones (The Hallowed Ones, #1) The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle – I don’t even know what this is about. But it looks cool.

The Beginning of Everything The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider – I felt like I needed some happiness after the long string of darkness.

Beneath the Glitter Beneath the Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler – More glitter.

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard – Zombies!

Marked (House of Night, #1) Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast – I bought this book, so I should probably read it. I hate having books I haven’t read just sitting there.

Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #1) Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin – It’s named the same as my favorite Edgar Allen Poe story, so duh, must read!

The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine, #1) The Eye of Minds by James Dashner – Another one from James Dashner. I loved the Maze Runner.

That’s the 12! What will you be reading?