Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: Snowed In, or, The One in Which the Actual Names Sneaux and Wynter Appear

Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne
Pages: 261
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 27th, 2007
Cover Comments: An adorable, snowy cover that perfectly matches the story within.

First Lines: "It'll be fun!" Those were my mom's words. It'll be fun. At the time, I'd thought so too.

Well, apparently I live here now—my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it's a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island . . .


"You can either dab or swirl," he said, leaning forward to show me. Which put him even closer, close enough that it was almost an embrace. So close that my mouth went dry. "Personally," - he cleared his throat - "I like the swirl."

I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for seasonal novels. I want the book scenery to reflect my own - there's nothing more cozy than a winter read when it's cold outside. As such, this book was exactly what I wanted, and probably makes my review a little kinder because there were definitely some elements of this book that were less than ideal.

First, the protagonist, Ashleigh, is one of those "not like other girls" girls. She's never had a boyfriend and never wanted one, loves horror films and watches them with her eyes open (gasp), and needs her coffee in the morning to be a functioning person (can't argue with that one). This is all well and good, except every time something different came up about Ashleigh, it was usually preceded or followed by something alluding to the fact that she's not like other girls. This is one of my personal pet peeves. Girls are human, and different from on another. Her differences don't make her superior to other girls, and I object to the idea that being "ungirly" or "not like other girls" makes you better. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, and not all girls act the same, so you may as well say she's "different from other humans". Well, duh. We all are. Kay? Kay. *rant over*

That pet peeve aside, I really enjoyed Snowed In. It's exactly what it seems: a cute, fluffy, winter romance. Our love interests Josh and Ashleigh have that love/hate relationship in the beginning, which is always fun. Some of the side characters were a little ridiculously immature, such as the girl who calls her boyfriend only "my boyfriend" instead of his name and starts snowball fights to get out grievances. But, all in all, its's a great read for a snow day and if you want to feel warm and fuzzy and embarrassed to be seen with it in public.

Josh Wynter and Ashleigh Sneax. Smooshy and a vomit-inducing level of cuteness and I LOVE IT.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review: Sunshine, or, The One Where Vampires Aren't (That) Sexy

Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Pages: 405
Publisher: Jove
Release Date: September 1st, 2003
Author WebsiteRobin McKinley

Cover Comments: The cover is really nice and atmospheric, and ties into the story with the setting. However, I think that it gives off a super serious vampire book vibe, when in reality, Sunshine is a pretty chattery, sort of sarcastically funny narrator.

First Lines: “It was a dumb thing to do but it wasn't that dumb. There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake in years. And it was so exquisitely far from the rest of my life.”

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it's unwise to walk. But there hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her...


Ever since I read Robin McKinley's Beauty and the Blue Sword, I've been hooked. I love McKinley's style of writing and her ability to write stories that keep me entranced. If you've read her previous work, Sunshine is a bit of a departure from her usual style. The story revolves around Rae, aka, Sunshine, who decides to take a trip to her grandmother's old house by the lake and has the misfortune of being abducted by vampires. The plot thickens when she is taken by the vampires to an old house and chained to the wall within reach of a mysterious vampire who appears to be a fellow (albeit, hungry) prisoner.

The first thing you should be forewarned about concerning Sunshine is that McKinley employs a very circuitous writing style. Girl loves her tangents. A huge chunk of the book is Sunshine talking to herself and pontificating on the world she lives in. This is nice for a bit of world-building and introspection, but I found it a bit annoying at times. The style of writing also makes it a little hard to figure out what's going on sometimes. Sunshine likes to use vague and confusing descriptions for how she's seeing the world or doing or feeling something. It creates an overall disorienting effect, which I think might have been what McKinley was going for, but I didn't really enjoy it.

McKinley has definitely created an interesting world here - one in which almost everyone is "half-blood", or a mixture of human and demon/supernatural creature, but vampires are the big bad. I liked the way other otherworldly beings were portrayed, like an old lady who is a were, but it isn't clear what she turns into- possibilities evidently range from a wolf to a Dachshund. There's a sense that anyone could be anything, and you wouldn't know it. I also really liked the idea of the SOF - Special Others Force, a sort of supernatural police.

Romance in Sunshine is barely present, excluding maybe three paragraphs total. This makes the description on the inside: "a mesmerizing novel of supernatural desire" a bit misleading. This is not Twilight. Romance is barely an aside and nothing actually ever happens except for a brief scene between Sunshine and her human boyfriend, Mel. I did enjoy reading about Mel and Sunshine's relationship though. It's the kind that could never be the focal point of a book because it's too normal and stable, but that made it very relatable for me. 

Overall, I liked the book, but a lot of Sunshine's babble could have been cut and I would have been quite happy. The whole novel seemed as though it were building towards a sequel, but there is none, and I think I would have forgiven a lot of the tangents and extensive world-building if Sunshine were not the endgame. I would say that if you're a fan of McKinley or not-so-sexy-but-a-little-sexy-vampires, give Sunshine a try.