Mini Reviews: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout & The Minnow by Diana Sweeney


Today I’m reviewing The Minnow and Half-Blood. Both two very different reads. One I liked, the other . . . not so much! I’l start with the positives.

22908923Title: Half-Blood

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Format / Length: Paperback / 383 pages

Publisher / Date Published: Hodder & Stoughton / August 14th 2014

Category / Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

Source: Library

| Goodreads |

Description: The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi – pure-bloods – have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals – well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem – staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

When I opened Half-Blood, I knew I was in for a fun ride—and I wasn’t proven wrong. I’ve now read quite a few JLA novels, including some of her NA ones, and I’ve found they all contain the same thread: They. Are. Fun. So enjoyable to read. An easy writing style, swoon-worthy love interest, and usually a twisty (if not sometimes predictable) storyline.

I only have one complaint about Half-Blood, and that is the similarities between this and Vampire Academy. Okay—so they’re not the same. And I’m not labeling Half-Blood a “rip-off” because I genuinely don’t think it is. Half-Blood is unique in its own way. I won’t go into the details because some of it contains spoilers, for both novels, but there were a few times I found myself thinking the storyline stayed too close to VA’s for my liking. One thing I will say, though, is that our main character—Alex—did remind me a lot of Rose. (But in the best way possible.) Sassy, strong, and completely loveable.

But I’m not going to ramble too much about the similarities. I loved Armentrout’s inclusion of Greek mythology—because hey, who doesn’t like mythology? It was woven into Half-Blood in an elegant, subtle way that I loved so much. And okay, so maybe I did guess every single plot twist miles in advance, but who cares? This was fun. I know I’ll continue to read the series, and probably enjoy it all.

Overall? Fun! JLA’s writing style is fantastic.

20765752Title: The Minnow

Author: Diana Sweeney

Format / Length: Paperback / 256 pages

Publisher / Date Published: Text Publishing / May 28th 2014

Category / Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary

Source: Library

| Goodreads |

Description: Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it’s time to move out—Tom is pregnant with Bill’s baby.

Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings.

And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

The Minnow is a moving and powerful coming of age story with a whimsical element that belies the heartbreaking truth of grief and loss. Tom is a character you will never forget.

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney was not what I was expecting . . . and not in a good way. If I’d been prepared for a teen pregnancy book then perhaps I might have enjoyed it better, but the description given on the back of my copy left a lot to be desired from its lack of anything, really. It’s not that The Minnow was a bad book. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.

funny animated GIF

First let’s talk about the writing. In one sense, I’m sure that it could be described as beautiful and evocative—because it was. Yet I found some of the novel a bit tedious, and not to mention confusing as it flicks from past to present, back and forth, back and forth, constantly swinging between the past and present in a confusing manner. The plot moved forward in a bit of a tedious way, too, not helped by the fact that this isn’t something I’d read.

I also felt like the pregnancy was glossed over most of the time and the issue was never really dealt with.

I’d describe this whole novel as being surreal. Tom (real name Holly) talks to dead people. And her unborn baby. Both of whom talk back. I should point out, though—this is not a paranormal novel in the slightest, more just the main character mentally substituting what they’d say if they were alive. So I’m guessing that emotional  and mental trauma was the cause of this. (Or at least this was what I guessed from reading the novel . . . nothing was ever explained.) I think this is the sort of novel where you’ve given certain pieces of information, and you’re left to fill in the blanks. Which is fine—but there were so many left over blanks in this novel that it was hard to string storylines and characters together in a way that was easily understood by me.

Hence why this was a It’s-not-you-it’s-me sort of novel. For me, it just didn’t work. I do, though, have to commend the cover designers / artist on that cover! It’s simply stunning.

In the end, The Minnow just left me with a feeling of “meh.”

Have you read either of these? Let me know what you thought of them? Agree / disagree with my reviews?


6 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout & The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

  1. I’m not really into teen pregnancy books, but The Minnow sounds like it doesn’t really focus too much on that. I’ve heard from just about all the reviewers that it has really beautiful writing, and that’s something that I love to see. Maybe I’ll end up checking it out.

  2. The Minnow left me really confused as well. No doubt is was beautiful, but her talking to ‘Minnow’ and it being a two sided conversation, was it imaginary, magic realism? I think the magic is probably in each reader interpreting this one in different ways, sadly it didn’t really work for me either. I appreciated how beautifully written it was though.

    I actually read Half Blood long before Vampire Academy and was shocked at how similar they are. Even the overall feel of both books is pretty much the same. I started out enjoying the series, but unfortunately it became stale for me after a while. Interested to see if you continue on with the series. Lovely reviews Kara <3 Really enjoyed them.

  3. I haven’t read either of these, but I keep hearing great things about books by JLA (especially the Lux series), but I might start with this one first. In terms of The Minnow, I’ve heard things about it seeming really metaphorical/confusing, and though the subject matter could be confronting, the writing style does sound interesting.

  4. I’ve not read either of these, but I am planning to read Half Blood very soon. So I am very happy to see that you enjoyed that one. I avoided The Minnow because I’ve seen quite a few reviews similar to yours, and it doesn’t sound like a book that I would enjoy.

  5. Surreal is a good way to describe the Minnow, it was just so beautiful and unusual and so weird as well. Oh yes, that’s the reason why I can’t read any JLA books, because the copying other authors thing just makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I read Obsidian and it was just way too close to Twilight for my liking.

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