One by Leigh Ann Kopans

leighann kopans“One” by Leigh Ann Kopans

2 3/4 out of 5 stars.

Merrin Grey is a One. She lives is a time and place where Supers and Normals live together. Normals are you average everyday human, but Supers are gifted individuals whose genes have been mutated; yes, they have super-powers. In the United States, Supers and Normals live peaceably together, no need for segregation (unlike before) between the two different groups of people. But Merrin Grey is even more different from the Normals and the Supers. She’s a One. Being a One means that your powers have only half manifested; not very many are Ones, but there are others out there who are like her. She has always wanted to get her Second, and everyday just before dark she practices using her One: she hovers. Inch by inch she gets higher and higher off of the ground, but she has never been able to fly. What’s the point in being a genetically mutated human if you don’t have a power? What does that make her? A freak, that’s what it makes her! Life is hard enough as it is, but adding “freak” to the mix makes it a lot worse. And Merrin can’t take it anymore, she wont take it anymore. Something has got to change. And she wants to be the One who changes it.

They say war is hell, well Merrin thinks high school is hell. After a few bad experiences, she has learned to blend into her surroundings; don’t get noticed and nothing bad will happen. But Merrin has always wanted recognition, not at school, but  somewhere where it matters, where she can be of value to others and make a real difference. The Hub is her dream. Both her parents work there, and she wants to be apart of it one day, too. Science is the key to the Supers’ genetics, and also her’s. She wants to help those like her, help fix them so they get their Second and can be worth something. She wants to fix herself. But if you want to work for the Hub you have to be a real Super, and her One just wont cut it. Although the odds are against her, Merrin is determined to get her dream job, and she wont stop until she reaches that goal. All she needs is to survive high school, get into the Hub’s internship, and impress the people there, not with her powers, but with her competence in the field of chemistry. Soon, though, her carefully laid out plans are derailed when a boy named Elias enters her life. His kindness disarms Merrin, and she finds herself falling, quite quickly, for him. The two of them share a secret that could help bring them closer together, or make others want to pull them apart: their both Ones, but together, they can be Supers. Can the two of them put their plans aside in the name of love, and what about the Hub, which seemed so perfect before but now appears to have some very unsavory plans for the Supers? Can Elias and Merrin work together to help others like them, and take down the Hub before it’s to late to protect the ones they love, even themselves?

My sister and I have been fawning over this book for quite a while now, and both of us have wanted to read “One” by Leigh Ann Kopans but never got around to purchasing it. Months later, and here we are! I have finally bought it! This is probably what I looked like when I saw it being pulled out of the bubble-wrapped envelope it was sent in:

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Yay!!!! So pretty! And for being a self published book, it has a really well done cover; when you open it the softcover does not crease and the binding hasn’t cracked despite the fact that it is a fairly large (350 pages) book. Victory!!! I love a well built and durable cover! Okay, so enough of what’s on the outside. Let us see what is in this book…

Leigh Ann Kopans is a good writer and I could see that from the very first chapter. “One” is well written and Merrin has her own voice. Yes, it is first person present tense, so you are in her head, but some books have the problem of individuality. The point is, they have non. With some books I can’t seem to remember which character belongs to which story because all of them sound the same and think alike. I never had that kind trouble with Merrin. I felt she had her own voice the whole time, and although she wasn’t my favorite heroine, I could read her perspective just fine. She is a fairly well developed character, so that is another plus.

One of its downfalls of this book is that it has insta-love. Yes, I said it, insta-love. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good romance in a book, but insta-love just rubs me the wrong way. I love it when characters get to know each other, then they start to fall for each other. I can even handle a weird curiosity between the good-girl and the bad-boy in a book. Okay, I can handle that. What bothers me is when the two characters feel an “instant” connection, and the next chapter they fall in love with one another. Pooh, pooh! Three days after their first meeting in the hallways of their school, Elias and Merrin are all lovey dovey. ahhhhhhhhPlease, just give it three weeks, two weeks even! You don’t even know anything about the guy except he has a nice music room (yes, she went home with him two days after they met. No, not like that! Get you mind out of the gutter, people!) and he’s rich, and yet you two are cuddling! Why? Maybe I’m too logical, but that just doesn’t make sense. You don’t even know him!!! That just spells out trouble in my opinion.  Is it so hard as an author to add ten pages to a book, just so the main characters can get to know each other before they say “I love you”? I could accept that, but three days is a little bit too much to ask of me. I guess this kinda makes me a bad person, but insta-love bothers me.

The concept of “One” is good. There were a bunch of wars that happened inside the U.S.A, and the Uranium (or whatever) caused the Great Lakes up by Michigan to become polluted. People drank the water and died, but there were those who lived. These are the people who turned into Supers. Mutation, man. Lovin’ it! In eccense, it is a great concept. I love science, so I was super (no pun intended) excited to see where Kopans went with it. But sadly, for me, the science wasn’t well explained. I’m definitely not a whiz at Chem or Bio, but I have taken a few classes that I really enjoyed, and I did okay. But with this book, I was lost. Leigh Ann Kopans, when she did explain it, didn’t go into much detail. It felt to me as if she either didn’t understand the science herself, or she was writing to a Chem major who should just understand what she is talking about. I wanted it to be more thoroughly explained. It wasn’t, and for me, it was hard to get into the book because I felt so distant from the concept. It would have been better for me if she hadn’t even gone into it all, because then I wouldn’t have cared. But I do. I have read a couple of authors (Myra McEntire is one) who built this whole world of imaginary science with a just a touch of truth to it. They explained it soooo well, that even though it was complete fantasy, I felt like it could be real. There was a shelf of truth they built their imaginary world on, and the foundation held it steady. With “One” I felt that the only Scientific Fact was that cells do mutate. Maybe I’m a moron, but I felt like it didn’t make any sense. I understand the concept, but it was too glossed over for me to really get into it.

One thing I did like about “One” was Leni and Daniel, Elias’ friends. They were really nice, and good friends to even Merrin who they barely knew. They were in it very little, but I enjoyed the moments I had with them. “One” by Leigh Ann Kopans is a well written book, and it has an interesting concept; Super heroes who only have half of their powers makes for an intriguing story. But “One” just wasn’t my favorite book. I think that for me there were too many draw backs (there a was a bit of language, too) for me to LOVE it. I think if the romance had been better or if the scientific facts had been explained more, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. There was just too much insta-love on top of the science thing (or vice versa) that I couldn’t fall in love with the story or its characters.

Alright, I am going to rate “One” a bit differently than I have in my other reviews. So, here goes nothing.

 1.The writing is worth a three (out of five). The romance and chemistry between the main characters is a low two to a one for me.

2. The characters by themselves are worth a low three (Leni and Daniel are a three and a half).

3. The execution is a three because, in this book, Leigh Ann didn’t delve that deep into the past, and I felt that it almost would have been better to just NOT explain any of the science than only a little bit of it.

I feel bad, but I thought that it was just an okay book. I know a lot of people loved “One”, but I guess it just wasn’t for me because by the time I finished it, I looked like this:

tired supernatural

Leigh Ann Kopans is a talented writer, this book just wasn’t my favorite. Sorry!!!

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I’m soooooooo SORRY!!!!!!

Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

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“Still Star-Crossed” by Melinda Taub

4 out of 5 stars.

Romeo and Juliet are gone, their love affair having wreaked irreparable damage on the beautiful city of Verona and her people. Too many souls were lost in this fight between love and hate, and the broken pieces must be put back in their places, hard as that may be. Love didn’t succeed the first time, but second times a charm…

Rosaline, who had spurned Romeo’s advances, feels the heavy weight of guilt upon her shoulders. Little cousin Juliet is now gone, lost to this world because of a bitter and seemingly endless feud; no one even remembers the cause for its birth anymore. Rosaline feels like it was, is, her fault, and maybe if she had accepted Romeo the toll of the death bells would never have echoed down the cobbled streets of Verona. But, still, she is a Capulet, if only by half and that is more than enough to cause a riot; Montague and Capulet could never be friends, only foes and certainly never lovers! Rosaline could feel as guilty as she wanted for as long as she wanted, but that truth would always remain steadfast, immovable as in the generations before her and those to come after. Not even love could break this feud.

Benvolio, friend and cousin to Romeo, now walks the streets of Verona alone. No hot-headed Mercutio to tease Romeo with as they would strolled the city’s streets looking for trouble; no more of Romeo’s poems which had declared his love for Rosaline, then eventually Juliet. The laughter he had once shared with his friends is gone, and now it is only a haunting memory for Benvolio, the sound of it echoing inside his head on an endless reel as he walks the cobbled pathways alone. Friend after friend seemed to have been consumed by this hatred of Capulet and Montague. People had always said that time healed the ache of lost loved ones, but Benvolio has doubts about that theory; when you invest your life in those you love, when one of them dies, a piece of you dies, too. But much to Benvolio’s distain, life does goes on, and the earth will continue its circuit ’round the sun as if his world had not ended the moment his friends and family had taken their last breaths. Sadly, like the sun, he must, too, keep moving forward in the land of the living.

Life goes and so does love. At least Prince Escalus hopes that this is true. Peace seems to slip from his grasp every time he thinks he really has it, then the Capulets and Montagues do something else, and his dreams for a peaceful Verona are dashed to pieces. Can’t they get along for just two minutes? Impatient for rest within his city and among his people, Prince Escalus devises a plan and it involves two very unwilling youths; he will find out, much to his chargrine, his plans will not be easily accomplished.

“Still Star-Crossed” by Melinda Taub was a beautiful and unique read for me. Melinda writes in iambic pentameter, which created a rhythm and beat to the book that I haven’t really experience before, especially in the young adult fiction genre. For those of you who are wary to try Shakespearian “things”, you should really give this novel a shot. The way Melinda Taub wrote her book makes this old style of speech feel completely natural; I’ll admit it took me about twenty pages to get situated, but after that it just became second nature to read this kind of language. “Still Star-Crossed” really stood out because of that, and I probably wouldn’t have loved it as much as I did if the style of writing had been different. I felt like I was in medieval Verona while reading this book because of the way everyone talked, and that really added to the allure of the story.

So, speech aside, I’d say the tale itself was a pretty tall, but Melinda pulled it off quite well. Some Shakespeare fans might not like this book, but I thought for taking a classic story (like the classic love story of all love stories) she did a great job of keeping it true but also recreating it into her own work of fiction. Another thing that was different and cool about “Still Star-Crossed” was how she divided up the book. It is not in chapters but in parts like a play would be. Each “part” or “act” has a quote that gives you a little taste of what will be in that section. I LOVE when authors do quotes or poems before each chapter, so this made me love “Still Star-Crossed” even more.

I think in the end my only issue was with the characters. No, no, no, don’t get worried now.  Rosaline, Benvolio, Escalus, and others were all strong characters in their own right. I admire Ms. Taub for creating characters that seemed to jump off of the page because they were so alive, as well as people who stayed true to themselves (very Shakespearian of her) but who also grew into better versions of themselves; growth within a character is what I search for most in the books I read, and I found that here. My issue was that I never really… identified with a particular character. I never found my “soul mate” or “soul sister”, so to speak. I enjoyed these characters and their story thoroughly, but there was something lacking there for me to truly fall in love with them. They were surely alive, but I just didn’t find my usual book “companion” or “comrade”. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t love this book or that they are not good characters, but just for me, I felt a tiny bit distant .

Overall, “Still Star-Crossed” is a great, great read for the young adult crowd as well as just the adult crowd. It is a fantastic and beautifully written story, and is a good retold version of a classic that has truly stood the test of time. This would be a fantastic read for anyone who wants to dabble in Shakespearian language before they jump with both feet first. Give “Still Star-Crossed” a shot, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

the fairest beauty melanie dickerson

“The Fairest Beauty” by Melanie Dickerson

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Young, fair Sophie has always lived with walls surrounding her; walls guarding the castle, and walls built around her by the Duchess. All her life Sophie has been a captive to the Duchess, as a scullery maid who has always been held in distain by the Duchess. Sophie has tried to be kind, responsible, and obedient, but it is never enough; love is something she will never be given by the beautiful Duchess. And she is tired of trying to be perfect, to be good enough for just an acknowledging glance from the Duchess. What Sophie wants now is to be free, to go somewhere safe and to live her life in peace. But how? When could she ever be freed from the only “home” she has ever known? Can she get out, and stay out, of this prison?

Gabehart is the son of Duke Wilhelm and the lovely Duchess, Rose. He’s never lived up to his parents expectations, Valten beating him to the punch every single time. And it’s no wonder, ever since the accident, Gabe has felt worthless, been worthless to those around him. So instead of trying to beat his older brother at a game he could never win, Gabehart has tried his hand at the game of revelry; he is quite good at those kinds of activities. But when news that Valten’s betrothed is not dead but very alive, Gabe gets an idea. Valten has been laid up with a broken leg for some time, and Gabehart knows Valten won’t go for the young lady for a while yet. But that doesn’t mean he can’t go and bring her to the castle. Maybe this was the opportunity he has always needed to redeem himself. He’ll go and be back before anyone notices and maybe then he will have beaten his brother at something other than archery. With his hopes high, Gabe sets out to retrieve the young Duchess, but he get far more than he bargained for in the girl as well as the journey.

“The Fairest Beauty” by Melanie Dickerson was a very enjoyable read. I had read the first book in this series, “The Healer’s Apprentice” a while ago and really enjoyed it. So when I heard that she was coming out with a third book (I haven’t had a chance to read Melanie’s second book) I was very excited, and then I saw the cover, and well, I have a weakness for pretty covers (yes, I am vain). I’ve wanted to read it forever it seems like but never got around to purchasing it. But thanks to my awesome older sister who was super sweet and bought it for me, I now have been able read it. Better late than never, I think? “The Fairest Beauty” is so darling, and is a great read for those who love fairy tale retellings.

I thought that the writing was good and the story itself was really enjoyable. The characters were well written and I thought that they had pretty good depth for it being such a short story. But my favorite part was the dwarves; there are a few that are really sweet and endearing, and they become friends and protectors of “Snow White.” Over all I think it was a very good book, but my only problem with it was that the book didn’t delve that deeply into each character; I felt a little distant from Gabe and Sophie. I liked them and thought they were good people, but I didn’t feel super attached to them; they were developed well, but I didn’t really “grow” with them, if that makes sense. I liked them, but I wanted a little more from some of the characters and their moments together. Other than that, I thought that “The Fairest Beauty” was a cute and enjoyable read.

I hope this review was helpful.