Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (60)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Reborn by C.C. Hunter (4/14/14):

Description from Goodreads:
Stay tuned for an all-new series about Shadow Falls' favourite vampire, Della Tsang!
Why I’m wating:
Um…What a seriously lame description. They can’t tell us anything more?? Also, I’m not the biggest fan of the cover. It kind of reminds me of the Vampire Diaries covers, and why couldn’t they come up with something just a tad bit more unique? On the plus side, there’s going to be a new series about Della (probably one of my all time favorite YA vampires). And no matter what the description or cover, I’d definitely pick up any YA by Hunter. I absolutely loved her other series, and was so sad to see it end. And now I get more. It’s kind of like when a really yummy dinner ends, but then you’re surprised with dessert.  I can’t wait for this treat!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Summary (from Goodreads):
It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both. Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.
There will be spoilers from book 1!
At first, I wasn’t quite expecting to like this one. I almost liked book 1 as is, as a stand alone. I was even postponing reading this, dreading a cliché/blasé book 2. How could anything compare to the awesomeness that was the first book? But, I eventually gave in because I loved Aria, Perry, and Roar too much!
And I’m so glad I gave in. Because I got so much more Aria, Perry, and Roar! Though, I think out of everyone, Roar is my favorite. I love Perry and Aria, I really do. It’s just sometimes I get a little tired of the storyline of two soul mates who have everyone and everything going against them. And this couple literally has no one on their side in this sequel.
Aria is gossiped about, made fun of, not trusted, and then eventually poisoned (almost to death) by Perry’s tribe, and that is with the whole tribe under the impression that Aria is just an ally and not actually Perry’s soul mate. So of course, Aria leaves Perry’s tribe. Technically, she has a mission to accomplish. At the end of book 1, she made a deal with her prior leader that she would find out where the mysterious Still Blue was in trade for Perry’s nephew, Talon. She also wanted to find the Still Blue so her people (who weren’t exactly her people any more) could have safe place to go to.
Aria ends up leaving with Roar (whose received some new information about Liv) and the two friends don’t even say goodbye to Perry who has a new tribe to worry about and take care of from an onslaught of new attacks, tribesman abandoning camp and his leadership, and terrifying storms that are getting worse and worse.  The book goes back and forth between Perry’s hardships and Aria’s. The two characters are constantly thinking of each other.
And it all comes down to a rush for time against evil leaders, against apocalyptic storms, against the utter collapse of both Aria’s and Perry’s societies, and the ability to save as many lives as humanly possible. This book had all the harshness of book 1. But, it also had a lot more sadness. There’s a lot more death. There’s more battling for survival. There’s more hunger and more explosions. It ends with some smart thinking, a clever deal, a narrow escape, and a small smidgen of hope. I almost gave away the epic ending, but I stopped myself just in time.
I loved the mission that Aria and Roar went on! They have such a wonderful and entertaining friendship! And I love that there was never any awkward love triangle things to worry about. For once, there was just a boy and a girl in a YA book that were actually just best friends! Thank you, Rossi for doing this!
I also loved getting to see Perry as a leader. He has grown so much in this book. Every time he dove in to save someone, I was biting my nails, hoping his heroic actions would turn out okay. And Aria is stronger now too! She takes needles in her arm like a pro. She jumps off cliffs and fights for her friends. And really, I guess she and Perry are very much alike.  I loved the action in this one. I loved the suspense and the rush for time, and I really didn’t feel like this was too much of a blasé book 2 because of this storyline.
The only slightly not awesome element of this book was the heightened cliché “all things are against us” romance. And normally, I’m a sucker for romance. Seriously, I love the stuff. I just kind of felt like Perry’s and Aria’s relationship in book 1 was a little more real, a little less Romeo and Juliet, and a lot more interesting. I’m interested in seeing though where things go for them in book 3. And I’m definitely interesting in seeing the Still Blue, and actually learning if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. I give this one a 9/10.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Sara Shepard

Summary (from Goodreads):
My sister wants the truth.

But sometimes the truth hurts.

For months, my long-lost twin, Emma, has been living my life and trying to solve my murder. She's unearthed dark secrets about my friends, my family, and my tangled past. But when it comes to finding my killer, she keeps running into dead ends.

Until my body shows up in Sabino Canyon. Suddenly everyone knows there are two girls who look like Sutton Mercer—and that one of them is dead. At first the police assume the body is Emma's. But as questions and accusations start flying, it's harder than ever for Emma to keep playing me. The truth is bound to come out eventually. And when it does, Emma will be suspect number one in my murder investigation. If she can't find my killer before time runs out, she'll end up behind bars . . . or worse.

Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, finally reveals the shocking truth about Sutton's murder in this riveting novel about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.
Hands down, this last book was my favorite in the whole series.  Things have gone way beyond notes left on windshields, creepy Youtube videos, and teen girl pranks in this last book. For starters, a good friend dies in the book previous. And this book begins with a sad funeral, but it also begins with the knowledge of the girl dying because of something Emma did. Sutton’s murderer is telling Emma that all bets are off; anything can happen to someone who knows too much.
The stakes are so much higher in this one. Secrets are let out. And just when Emma could seriously use the help of her new, beloved family, they kick her out (they literally change the locks) because they assume (with the rest of the planet) that she killed Sutton! This book literally had me crying for a few pages. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I took myself out to dinner, and mostly ignored my dinner…I was the crazy girl glued to her book, in the middle of a popular Japanese restaurant on a Saturday night (but hey, I have a good lunch for today!).
Granted, while I was at dinner, Emma had discovered who the killer was and she was trapped in an abandoned house with him/her (I can’t tell you who or even what gender the killer is; I just can’t spoil this). And it does not end right when she discovers who it is! There is a lot of outsmarting, running away, and fighting back. There’s also a lot more supernatural moments with Sutton’s ghost.
This book seriously has it all. It’s one of the largest books I’ve seen by Shepard, and I’m okay with this. I rather it be large and get it all, than small and feel rushed. There were trials, attacks, funerals (2!), breaking and entering, revenge, pranks, parties, love triangles, family secrets revealed, and everything (literally everything) was out of the bag!
You can probably tell I loved it.  I kind of wish the killer was someone else because I totally guessed this in the beginning. However, I feel like I’m really good at picking up clues in these kinds of books (lots of experience reading them, and also lots of experience watching cop shows). And maybe not the whole world will guess who it is…but probably they will. But, on the other hand, this made so much sense. And it all fit together nicely.
I kind of wish that the middle books in the series read more like this last one. I feel like there were some definite filler books (where not much happens), and I would prefer to have a couple of good long books that cover everything I need, than have a whole series of books that don’t really need to happen. Each book before this one was about clearing the names of someone or other in Sutton’s life. And while it’s great that Emma can truly trust her new family, I feel like it was all kind of unnecessary. It was a little too much about trusting her family and not quite enough about the murderer that was after her.
This book was a great ending to an okay series. The suspense made it un-put-down-able.  The mystery was great. The drama hit the roof. And I actually felt really bad for Emma, a character I never actually had too much empathy for (despite her rocky upbringing). I wish the whole series read more like this last book. This book gets a 10/10 from me. Rarely, am I this okay with a series end. (But, I’d give the series as a whole an 8/10).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cross my Heart and Hope to Die by Sara Shepard

Summary (from Goodreads):
When I died two months ago, my killer told my twin sister to become me—or else. Now Emma has it down to a T. She tosses her hair with the signature Sutton Mercer flip and can lead a Lying Game prank with the best of them. She’s even repairing my relationship with my adoptive family. The only thing she hasn’t done is solve my murder.

Then our birth mother, the woman who abandoned us, showed up in Tucson. Emma hasn’t seen Becky in twelve years, but Becky recognizes Emma immediately—as Emma. Is it a mother’s intuition . . . or does Becky know I’m already gone?
So, I know I keep saying that I’m done with this series…But, I have learned recently the book after this one is the last one. And I really want to know who the killer is! I’m starting the last book today (I got them both from my library). These books have been both compelling and interesting, and also repetitive and annoying. I sort of have a love/hate relationship with this series.
I love that it’s from the point of view of the twin that’s already dead. I love that there almost appears to be nothing supernatural at all whatsoever in any of the story except the dead twin’s ghost following her live sister around. And just the idea that this is the one fantastical thing in a book of normal, really makes this stand out. This is no ghost story or witch story. It’s more about family and contemporary YA issues. And I like this slight mixture of the two genres.
I don’t love the repetitive Scooby Doo type mystery solving. Each book is about Emma (and the ghost of Sutton) suspecting someone new and then clearing their names by the end. Does everyone really have to be cleared? I kind of think I’d like it better if there were a few people Emma was unsure about for longer than one book.
 And while I love the tv shows for Shepard’s books, sometimes there feels like something is actually missing in the text. Like it just makes so much more sense for Emma not to confide in more people in the show (thought she does), but in the book, I’m constantly asking myself, “Why can’t you just explain things???” And it gets so frustrating. Emma, in the books, just isn’t as confident as Emma in the show.
Any way, this book is about Emma/Sutton suspecting their birth mother, Becky. She returns to town in style –going almost immediately to the psych ward at the local hospital. There’s a new girl at school who gets the ultimate Lying Game treatment from Emma and Sutton’s best friends. There’s a party. And there’s actually a lot of violence from the male characters. There are at least two fights between Emma’s boyfriend, and Sutton’s boyfriend (who doesn’t know that Emma isn’t actually Sutton).
It’s always interesting to see the memories Sutton receives in small doses at random moments. And it’s becoming easier and easier for Emma to take Sutton’s place. But we all know this can only go so far. What happens when people realize that Emma isn’t Sutton? Who killed Sutton? And why is Sutton’s ghost attached to Emma so deeply?
Shepard is so good at laying the hints down thick, and I have my suspicions about a certain character, but I’m really hoping to be surprised in the last book. I have a feeling a lot is about to go down. And I’m so excited for this conclusion, and hopefully some answers. I give this one an 8/10.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hereafter by Kate Brian

Summary (From Goodreads):
Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She's also made friends with a local clique--including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.
But Rory's world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn't what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory's every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she's ever known ends.
So, Book 1 had one of those, “What??!!” type of endings. It wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but I was so thankful for the ARC of book 2 that I acquired (signed) at BEA because before even writing my review for book 1, I had gotten through most of book 2. I seriously put down the first book, and then went and found the second.
Please stop reading if you have not read book 1. It’s just two hard to review book 2 without talking about book 1. This book is all about Rory learning what it’s like to be a “lifer” on the island. She learns about the other lifers (and their various years of existence). She learns about her job helping people pass over. There’s a process that involves coins, connections, and seeing images of people’s past lives.
Too bad for Rory, the two people she first receives coins for are: her best friend on the island and then her father. Not to mention that there is a lot of weird, creepy stuff happening to add to the already weird, creepy island. For starters, things are changing. People are getting sick, there’s bugs, there’s dying plants, there’s a lot more people going to the shadowlands (“hell”) then ever before. When Rory sends her best friend on the island to the shadowlands, she knows something is seriously wrong. He’s the sweetest guy ever. It just doesn’t make sense.
It soon becomes clear that there is no way Rory will help her dad cross over because she is taking no chances in him going to the wrong place. She also can’t tell anyone in her family about where they are and what she does, etc. because that would give them a quick, one-way pass to the shadowlands as well.
This book maintains all the creepy suspense of book 1. There’s no serial killer after Rory any more, but there is all the weird stuff happening on the island. And instead of all the awesome, random interspersed chapters from the serial killer’s point of view, we have random interspersed chapters from the point of view of the person who’s responsible for tearing up the island. And it’s so fun and mysterious to not know whose thinking the horrible things here. The other book was clearly about the killer. You don’t know who’s messing stuff up here (who is the evil character) until the end. And it’s so much fun making guesses.
I loved all the teen drama in this book. The big issue between the two sisters is actually addressed. There’s all the fun parties, bar scenes, and crushes that book 1 had. But there’s also more couples, more sisters-getting-along-moments, and more questions answered. I was so intrigued by the society of lifers and all their crazy traditions. I want to know more about the mayor.
And again, I loved the ending! This time, I guessed the big twist so it wasn’t as much of a shock. However, book 3 is looking to be more and more a rescue story and a story of revenge. And man, do I love those stories! All in all, this book had an interesting storyline that I have not really seen before (at least in this context), believable characters, a lot of drama, and just the right amount of suspense. Brian seriously gets props for keeping the suspense thing going for so long (even after the serial killer is gone). I liked it more than the first book, and I have a feeling I’ll like the third book the most. Some of the boy stuff/romance/love triangle things seemed a little forced, and a little cliché. And neither book was quite as romance heavy as I thought they would be, which is a good thing. I just feel like the romance that is in them could use a bit of work. This gets a 8/10.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

So, I kind of felt like this book started awesome, and ended awesome, but had a lot going on in the middle that just wasn’t that awesome. The first chapter is about the main character being chased down in the woods by a serial killer, and then escaping. Like seriously, how awesome is that beginning. I was actually sitting on the beach with this book and my friend was sitting next to me starting a different book. She told me that not much had happened in her first 50 pages. I said in like the first 10 of mine, a girl was attacked by a serial killer.
I just kind of had a hard time getting to know the main character after the attack. And then I kind of had a hard time believing all the things that followed. The main character’s family gets put into witness protection real fast. And they were given little to no direction. And then they were given no way to contact the FBI. It all just felt a little too rushed to be believable. Wouldn’t the FBI give more rules/direction/explanation? And why was it so hard for them to track down this guy, but it was so easy to know that the guy who attacked Rory was the same one responsible for so many other girls’ murders. Also, no attention was put on the high school who hired him…Can we say stricter hiring policies?
And then I hated Rory’s family.  Can anything be worse for a girl who was attacked then to have a family of people doubting her every sentence? Seriously, I underetand the elephant in the room with Rory and her sister, Darcy. But, the dad just never came off as a decent human being. And neither of them ever listened to Rory or took her seriously. And then the animosity between the sisters dwindles down, without them ever really dealing with the issue at hand. Add their issue to the dad’s issues, and the whole plot just seemed kind of rushed. Then in enters the new boys. And it kind of seemed like both sisters went on to new crushes really fast, considering how much drama was spent already on a different boy.
What the middle of the book did have going for it though was the mystery. I thought I had solved the mystery 3 different times with different ideas for the conclusion, and I was always wrong. While the character development was a little non-existant and the plot had some loopholes, there was this ever-present suspenseful mystery.  And you have no idea how happy I was to be surprised at the end for how it all concluded. I literally yelled out loud, “What???” And then I of course had to go back over certain scenes and make sure everything worked out, which it did.
Seriously, this was one of my favorite YA suspenseful endings! It’s the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, and I know I’ve said that before, but this time I seriously mean it. I loved this ending!
So, in all in all, I loved the beginning and I loved the end. I loved the general suspense; I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I thought the characters were a little two-dimensional and that there were some seriously rushed pieces of the plot. I did have fun with the mystery, and I literally finished the book in a few hours.  The end was also so good that I started the sequel immediately after finishing. I give it a 7/10.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (59)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Offering by Kimberly Derting (1/7/14):

Description on Goodreads:
True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.
Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.

When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.

But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I’m a huge Kimberly Derting fan. I’ve been loving this dystopian series by her since the first one came out. And I was so happy to finally see a cover for this third installment. And it’s a cover that isn’t all dark and gloomy like the others! I just love how Derting writes suspense and romance. And I know I won’t be disappointed in this one. What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Summary (from Goodreads)
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Wow. This is my favorite book of 2013 so far. Just wow.
This book just spoke to me, personally, on so many levels. For starters, it’s a twins story! And you know I love those. But more than that, I just connected so deeply with Cath. My first semester of college was terrifyingly similar to hers. And, I so know what it is like to grow up with someone who is bipolar. And I also so know what it is like to be drastically worried about a parent you leave behind. And more than that I know what it is like to be a fan.
I never really got as deep into fan fiction as Cath. Truthfully, I didn’t even know it existed until I went to college, though I guess I’d already written some-just not knowing what it was called. But, I enjoy reading it sometimes (and almost always feel like I’m admitting to some guilty pleasure when I mention it). But, as Cath was a Simon Snow fan, I was/am still a Harry Potter fan (the obvious Simon Snow counterpoint). I was the president of my college’s Harry Potter club. I’ve re-read those books possibly more than Cath had re-read Simon Snow. And my first big budget, adult vacation that I’m taking without any family is to Universal Studios (in the fall) to go to the Harry Potter island of adventure. Thankfully, at my college I was able to find a lot of other Harry Potter fans (enough to have a giant club of movie marathon watchers, midnight release partiers, Tri-Wizard Tournament attenders, etc.) And I felt so bad for Cath for not having such an accepting fan-based club of friends like I did.
It actually took me longer than a day to read this book. It was a little tough for me to read about how awkward, embarrassing, and introverted Cath’s life was in the beginning of college because again, I connected with her so deeply. And it brought back some awkward memories. Thankfully, I never felt like I couldn’t ask someone where the dining hall was; I seriously cannot imagine living on protein bars for as long as Cath did. And I actually went out with my roommate my first night of college instead of saying no a thousand times. However, it did take me a semester to find my footing socially, and actually make some of the best friends a girl can make, friends I’m still close with now.
Everything was just so hard for Cath. And this made reading her story a little hard, a little too close to home for me. But, as most main characters tend to do, Cath grows with her new experiences. Every page, ever conversation, every lunch with her roommate was just pure writing beauty. Seriously, Rowell’s words are just genius. She gets young adults like very few people do. She can write serious, funny, and remarkably unique, intelligent characters that I can only really compare to the characters of a John Green novel. They’re flawed, but wonderful. And even the somewhat slutty, mean, and rude roommate become someone with a heart –someone real, someone you might actually wish to be friends with. There were conversations that I had to re-read a few times  just to soak in their awesomeness.
And poor, poor Cath has nothing easy. Her dad is bipolar. And she’s afraid for him as she soon as she’s at school. Her best friend and actual identical twin has left Cath and Simon Snow behind for frat parties and alcohol poisoning. Her boyfriend breaks up with her over the phone for someone else. And she kind of possibly might be interested in a boy that is taken. Add this to the drama of a returned mother (who left them when they were little), a crazy deadline to finish her fanfiction saga before the actual author of Simon Snow comes out with the last book, the inability to write her own story with a completely new world that doesn’t already belong to much-beloved characters, and this deep-rooted fear that all of her strange quirks are just signs and foreshadow of her oncoming craziness, and this book is just impossible not to like.
Each chapter starts with either sections from Simon Snow’s books or sections from Caths’ fanfiction. And when I say Cath writes fanfiction, I’m saying she is huge. She has thousands of people reading her work every day. And you’d think someone with that many followers would be a little cocky, but Cath isn’t cocky at all.  I loved watching her struggle with her writing. This book definitely shines light on the fact that writing isn’t easy, that writing for a particular audience can be the least easy thing possible. And the way Rowell understands fandom is remarkable.
I loved that this was a YA that had college as the setting! Can we have more please? I loved that it was a twin story, but that it also wasn’t –it was kind of a separate life story. I loved the language, the dialog, the emergency dance party, and the romance. I loved how Rowell wrote mental illness and family. I loved the side characters (though I really hated the mom and I kind of hated Cath’s twin sometimes). I loved how smart everyone was. Even the character who couldn’t really read came off as remarkably intelligent. And while I can see some people not loving the ending, I did. I kind of went back to make sure there wasn’t any more (like you would in a fast food bag looking for spare crumbs of French fries), but I’m happy with it. I’m happy with this as a whole.
I recommend this one to fans of Harry Potter, to readers of fan fiction, to introverts, to girls going away to college for the first time, and to pretty much anyone who is looking for a good, moving, powerful, coming of age story. I can only give this a 10/10.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Summary (from Goodreads):
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason.

And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.
So this book was not at all what I was expecting it to be, or even what it started out to be…if that makes sense. It took me a long time to get into the story because the writing style is a little dryer and older than most YA books tend to be (let alone YA books aimed for the younger set, that this book seems to appeal to the most). Also, it kind of begins like a classic horror story, and when I say classic, I mean Henry James (not The Exorcist).
It’s very reflective and descriptive like a classic piece of literature, and normally this would super appeal to me (as a past English major), but I wasn’t feeling the whole horror story setup. I’m glad I kept reading though because it quickly became clear to me that this wasn’t a horror story at all, so much as a fantastic piece of fantasy!
I really don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I feel like the world has done such a good job of covering up what really happens in this book. And not knowing can be so wonderful sometimes.  The horror story ends in the first quarter though. Once Jacob is on the island, it’s pure magic. It’s time travel, special abilities, mystery, history, and pure amazing. There was just enough mystery in the beginning of the book to prevent me from putting it down. And I’m so glad for that mystery because, wow. This was so unexpected for me!
The photographs did add to the creep factor, and they continue to be creepy throughout the book, even with the not so scary context you receive as you plunge forward into the adventure. There were a couple of things I guessed at (particularly the big, important things about Jacob’s grandfather), but overall I was genuinely surprised throughout the whole story. I loved the characters (though I kind of hated Jacob’s father). I loved all the twists (and there were a lot)! And I super loved all of the crazy, out-of-this-world explanations for the craziness that is the island where the school is.
I felt so bad for Jacob in the beginning too. I wish I got to know his grandfather better, and I think that’s what the author wanted me to feel. I also loved all the children! It was kind of like a very messed up, school of witchcraft and wizardry. And this messed up school was tied in knots with World War II, current society, bullying, and so much more!
Ever since LOST, I’ve been a sucker for stories with time loops. And let me tell you, this time loop story was insane. The fantastical elements of this book were unique and addicting, and I was so anxious to figure them all out. I also loved the characters. And it really ended up being such a classic, coming of age story too. Jacob really becomes a man throughout his experiences here, and I loved him so much more for it.
And the ending blew me away. The author kind of ended it on a note for possibilities of a sequel (though the pub date is 2011 and I’ve had no knowledge of one yet). But I kind of like it for a stand-alone ending. Not all things have to have clear-cut endings. I like to think of these characters as fighting for what they believe in till their last breaths. All in all, the writing was excellent, the surprises were great, the characters were awesome, and I just loved it. You have to get through a slightly wordy/dry beginning, but it’s so worth it. I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (58)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Panic by Lauren Oliver (3/4/14):
Description on Goodreads:
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
Why I’m Waiting:
Oh man. Lauren Oliver. Enough said. This is an author I give full props to. Seriously. Everything she writes blows me away. She can never stop writing. I will probably be out buying all of her books the day they come out. And this one sounds so promising. I want to know so much more about Panic than that description is telling me. I’m hooked on the story when I don’t even know exactly what it’s about yet, and that’s saying something.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Summary (from Goodreads):
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
Wow! What a sequel. Seriously, this was a remarkably captivating book 2. And I was a little hesitant going into it. For starters, I remember originally thinking this story could have been one book (granted, there aren’t a lot of YA fantasy stand-alones any more), and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like where Bardugo would inevitably have to continue the plot. Also, Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I doubted anything could really live up to such an amazing start.
And for the first time in a long time, I was blown away by a sequel! Yes, the plot went the way I had a feeling it might. But, there were so many wonderful things that also actually did have me guessing –it literally kept me on my toes suspense-wise. I knew Alina and Mal would not be on their own for long. Besides the Darkling, the Grisha, the King, and the Alina-worshipping cult all out to get her, there’s also the key identifier about Alina that makes for a very poor disguise: her magical stag amplifer.
There’s wasn’t as much world building or magic in this one as their was in the previous book. But there were a lot of new characters and plenty of character development for Mal and Alina. I think I actually kind of liked Mal better in book 1 when he was the ladies man. It was kind of painful to watch him in this book. Everything he does is for Alina (who may or may not deserve such devotion), and while I’m no advocate for boys sleeping around all over the place, Mal did seem more realistic in the first book. In this one he was almost too devoted, too love-sick to seem quite so believable to me. Also, he was so doubtful and selfconscious. As if other boys (there are more than one -2 others kind of actually propose!) could ever compete with him. I missed his confidence! I missed his charm.
Alina had a lot going on mentally. She’s battling her love for Mal, her devotion to saving her country, her guilt for what happened at the end of book 1, her continuous rivalry with the Darkling, and her sort of mental collapse. The book begins with her going after another amplifier! And ever since she does this, she can’t stop seeing the Darkling where no one else does. She doesn’t want anyone to think she is crazy, but deep down she thinks she’s loosing it. However, instead of coming off as whiny, Alina actually comes off stronger with this slight mental blip. She takes charge of an army, works on conquering her Darkling fears, and goes after yet another amplifier that could make her even more powerful. She’s a bit power hungry, and I liked this side of her.
There’s also a new wonderful character: a pirate prince, who I’m kind of in love with. He reminded me a lot of George from Tamora Pierce’s books combined with Jace from Cassandra Clare’s books. And seriously, what an amazing combo! He brings all the wit and charm to a story that could otherwise easily become really depressing. This book is loaded with more death, destruction, and darkness.
I loved that the story didn’t stray too long from the Darkling. I also loved that Alina couldn’t ever really escape court life. Watching her interactions with the prince were amazing! All the characters in this book, whether poor, rich, magical, or non-magical were all so wonderfully intelligent and it was so nice to have a whole book comprised with smart main characters and side characters.
I guessed a few of the major twists. Bardugo left a lot of clues in the beginning about certain characters. And even though I read the first book over a year ago (months before it was actually released), I didn’t have much trouble remembering the amazing characters, story, or suspense. All in all, this book has it all: fabulous characters, lots of darkness, an epic war to end all wars, magic, romance, explosions, monsters, cults, saints, and mystery. Besides a slight disappointment in Mal, I can’t say one negative thing. This so gets a 10/10 from me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Summary (from Goodreads):
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!
So, I was beyond excited to learn that Hawkins was doing a spin-off series. I absolutely loved the Hex Hall books. And I was fascinated by the Brannicks in the previous books as well.
It wasn’t quite as good as I was so hoping it would be. All the wit, sarcasm, and teen angst was still there. And it was definitely fun to have such a kick butt main character. Just none of the original uniqueness was there. This story read almost too much like every other supernatural story out there. New girl at new school –check. Cute boy you might not be able to trust –check. Moment where you can be popular and bully someone or where you can side with the underdog and be a better person –check.
Things kind of ran a little too much like a Disney channel original movie and not enough like the stand-out series of the past. However, I still pretty much ate it up. Watching Izzy try to be normal reminded me so much of Evie from Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy trying to fit in too. And it was hard to not make a lot of comparisons.
However, it was adorable. And there are some bonus awesome details in this series that were not in the last one. For instance there is the prince in the mirror that only sometimes gives good advice. There’s hedge witches. There’s a missing sister. And there’s a mom who pushes more for hard training and exercise than she does anything else.
Also, this was another case where the description of the book was kind of false. Izzy and her mom did not under any circumstances take a break from their job. They moved because of a job. And they moved to find out more details about Izzy’s missing sister.
I thought the romance was cute. I liked the friends Izzy made. I liked that Izzy fit right in with the ghost-hunting club, and how she had to undermine her club at each step because in actuality supernatural things did exist and were much more dangerous than her teen friends could ever know. There’s first dates, basket ball games, ghosts, witches, magic, talking mirrors, high school drama, love spells, and plenty of family drama and mystery.
I read the book rather quickly. I loved the characters. And I loved it’s cuteness. It was just missing some of the originality that I was hoping for (that the earlier series had). It was a little too formulaic for me with not enough surprises. Overall, I still did enjoy it. And I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (57)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Cress by Marissa Meyer (2/14/14):

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rapunzel's tower is a satellite. She can't let down her hair - or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker – unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
Why I’m Waiting:
Um, hello, can you say epic? I have absolutely loved this series so far. I remember first being peeved that the sequel to Cinder wasn’t going to be all about Cinder. But then I fell equally in love with the other futuristic fairy tale characters. And now, I’m like dying to see how Rapunzel fits into this crazy, amazing, unique world! Also, I’m loving this cover! I’m so glad to have another series where the publisher doesn’t change the covers midway through! But more than that, the covers are all just so pretty –they all show just the right amount of fairy tale.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Summary (from Goodreads):
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.
So, I don’t know why it takes me so long to read these books I’ve been pining for! Seriously, I have like 3 sequels in my “TBR right away” pile that have come out months ago! What am I waiting for? I absolutely adored Legend. It was in my list of favorite YA dystopias. I guess I have to be in the right mood to read a book 2 in a series lately.
Any way, I was not disappointed in this book 2. I am such a sucker for these impossible romances. June is still used to her more well off way of life. And the money factor (even when both main characters have none) is almost always there. I kind of found this refreshing. It felt authentic whenever June had to accept her new way of living. And whenever Day saw her not eating something because she didn’t like it, I cringed along with him.
But more than the economic backgrounds of these characters, so much of everything is keeping them apart! The patriot group they finally get in touch with only helps them once they promise to help assassinate the new leader. And of course, the two love birds are separated when this happens. June is sent in to sort of seduce the new leader into trusting her. And Day is sent in on running/bombing missions.  There’s the constant threat of capture in the background. And capture now means torture and death.
Add that to June sort of discovering that the new leader is different, someone who actually hates the things she hates, and who has already been changing things (against the senate’s wishes) to gain the trust of the people. And then on Day’s side are all the stories of hope about the colonies, about a more unified country after the war is over. And the divide between the two main characters only intensifies.
There was a big twist (that I predicted only because I have read so many dystopias). And there’s a lot more action and drama in this book 2. The whole revolution idea was fascinating! Even more fascinating was actually getting to see behind the scenes of the standard revolutionary ideas/speeches. We saw the bombs being carried, the people dying, and the assassination being planned. Nothing was sugar-coated, and Lu really knows how to keep the suspense going.
The scenes that took place in the colonies were awesome and scary! The romance was sizzling in places, but for the most part took the sidelines to the action of the story –and this worked really well here. Things get a little more political in this sequel. And all of the characters are a little more broken and tired. There’s plane crashes, explosions, massive scheming, lots of pain, some love triangle beginnings (2 of them!), crazy escapes, and plenty of running for their lives for June and Day.
Again, Day has a different color ink for his point of view. It’s bright blue. And I’m pretty sure in the first book, it was gold. And both times, June’s point of view was normal or close to normal in color. And I’m still trying to put some kind of deeper meaning into why this is so. Why would the poor character have gold ink and then bright blue? Is the author trying to tell us something about his allegiances? Cause seriously, how expensive is it to print half your book in colored ink?
I read this book in one sitting. The action and suspense will have you up late reading. I liked the little bit of romance that was there. I liked getting to see more of this world. And the questions and dilemmas the main characters had to face were classic spot-on dystopia problems. I’m anxious to see where this all is going, and wow, that ending! I give it a 9/10, and I really recommend it to dystopia fans.