Monday, September 29, 2014

Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
Review:
I had mixed feelings going into this one. So much of the beginning of the book was like Vampire Academy that to me it read a lot more like fan fiction than it did its own story/novel. There are just so many rules, world-building elements, characters, and plot devices that are directly the same. Just swap out vampires for Greek mythology.
However, despite some incredibly obvious similarities I never was able to put the book down. I love Armentrout’s characters. I love how sassy Alex is. I love the whole concept of the appolyon. I love the forbidden romance. And I was beyond terrified of the idea of the half-bloods being turned into mindless, submissive servants if they couldn’t work as protectors.
Also, as the book goes on, more and more differences from Vampire Academy happened. It did eventually become its own story. It will most likely though have a lot of the same world building facts the same through out the whole series. I also feel like I can easily predict where things are going (and where they would go by the end of this book) because of my knowledge of Vampire Academy.
Moving aside from this, there were a lot of fight scenes, training sessions, parties, political discussions, power struggles, violent attacks, and romance. And I guess, no matter the circumstances, these things are always fun to read about. I loved the Lux series and I feel like I have an understanding of how Armentrout’s storytelling goes, and I know I will absolutely have to continue with the series. I can’t wait for a certain 18th birthday to happen. And I also am dying to see where things go romantically for Alex.
The mixture of Greek mythology, magic, and almost dystopia-oriented physical combat training certainly made this book a quick read. There was a lot of action and a lot of plot. I read it remarkably fast. And I did have a lot of fun reading it. I give it a 7/10. And I look forward to starting book 2. Yay for reading books after the series is completed!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan


Summary (from Goodreads):
Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.
Review:
Ahhhhh. I don’t even know what to do now that this series is over. As I said on Goodreads, this book and this series is the kind you finish with a big exhale and sloppy smile. And then you feel the need to clutch the book itself to your chest in a weird, youthful book hug, not wanting to ever let it go.  
Unspoken was my favorite book of 2012. Untold was one of my favorites of 2013. And now Unmade is also up there on my list for 2014. Reading this book was just so refreshing. It was like having my first pumpkin spice latte of the fall. It was like a really great phone conversation with my mother. And it was like meeting up with old friends I haven’t seen for a while, but am always wanting to see.
Brennan has character development down. There are few YA writers out there who can write characters like she can. All of the side characters own a piece of my heart. And Kami like is my heart. Then of course is the problematic romance. I love that this defies the YA paranormal romance stereotypes. Nothing is easy for the ship of all ships. And I like that the couple has problems. Things go from one insanely sizzling, button popping scene to moments of pure heartache. And I feel like this is so quintessential teen. This is real. It’s not about finding your soul mate at 16 and never having any problems. It’s about not knowing what the person you’re in love with is thinking (usually). It’s about changing your mind and not always thinking with your mind.
This book definitely gave me a case of the feels. Not everyone survives by the end. It’s definitely a lot darker than it’s previous books. There’s kidnappings, torture, grave digging, public sacrifice rituals, death, and lot of power struggles. There’s also a lot more relationship drama. There’s more danger for Kami’s little siblings. There’s more family drama between Kami’s parents. Yet, through all the drama and all the darkness, the same wit and humor pulled through everything. In fact, I think this was the funniest and snarkiest book of the series.
I found myself laughing out loud one moment, gasping in shock in another moment, crying for a wonderful character at another moment, and just having the full gamut of emotions here. Brennan is the kind of writer who holds the puppet strings to your feelings, and she’s not afraid to pull the strings tight enough to induce pain.
As with the other books, I found the plot/action to be nowhere near as great as the character development, dialog, and drama. Sometimes, I just don’t care as much about the plot as I do about the people, and that’s okay. I definitely care more about the characters in this series than I do for most other fictional characters, and that in itself is saying something. I am so beyond attached to these guys.
I’m so sad the whole thing is over. I’ve actually already gone back and re-read my favorite moments (definitely including the button popping scene!). And now I’m contemplating re-reading some scenes for a third time. The book is sitting right next to me. I don’t really have to say goodbye quite yet. I give this book and this series a 10/10.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


Summary (from Goodreads):
From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
Review:
I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews for this one. So, I guess I went from being super excited about its release to then only being moderately excited. I put a request in to borrow it from the library and I was one of the first to get it. Now, I think I need to buy it.
I guess I’ve been craving a good middle grade fantasy. And I’ve definitely been craving a new series. There are so many series that have ended this year. Finally, it’s time for something new. There were so many great elements to this story: a magical world that’s hidden from most humans, underground magic school with mazes of creepy caves, fantastic friendships, magic, mysteries, a somewhat handicapped main character, also a main character who seems to normally be the kind of person to be a side character or evil foe, a crazy twist, and lot of adventure.
I love that not everything is explained right away. We have to learn why Callum’s father is the way he is over time. And then of course is the ultimate mystery of why so much was kept hidden or even exaggerated to Callum. I kept waiting for bad things to happen because that’s how Callum thought.
I like that there are different elements of magic and the one everyone is gaga about is chaos magic. I loved all the tidbits of historical information. I liked that the side character/best friend character was the typical hero character and the main character was a little more off-kilter.
The whole concept of where baby Callum was found as a baby was so compelling that I knew I would have trouble putting the book down. I read this book in a little more than a day. There were just so many questions I needed answered. I know a lot has been said about the similarities to Harry Potter; however, I didn’t find the similarities to be that strong. I’m a huge Potter fan. I’ve read the books a lot of times. I’ve been to Potter conventions and I even was the president of my college’s Harry Potter club. I honestly feel like this was a completely different story, with completely different elements to it.
The pacing of the book wasn’t as fast as I sometimes wanted it to be, but it does have that classic, book 1 introductory feel, which promises faster pacing, and higher levels of action as the overarcing storyline continues. I can’t wait to see where things go in the next one, especially after a certain decision was made toward the end.
Overall, this was a fun book! I loved the characters. I loved the magical world. I loved the twist that actually did surprise me (and I so thought I had it all figured out…). I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (110)


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 Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins (4/7/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. Really, I do. I love the mix of girly-ness, supernatural, sarcasm, and romance. I didn’t like the first book of this series as much as I liked her other series; however, I did have a lot of fun reading it. I know what to expect from this author, and I can’t wait for more.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige


Summary (from Goodreads):
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.
Review:
I bought this book a while back, on my NYC BEA trip. The children’s bookstore my friend and I located had signed copies. I love the Wizard of Oz (I’ve seen the movie a million times). I love Wicked (I’ve seen it twice). I read the books when I was a kid. I even did a report on the books for an assignment in Library school. And I like to think of my love for this story as rather open-minded (aka: please do more modern interpretations and musicals and anything else).
The premise of this one was so good that I didn’t even read any reviews. I just bought it. It wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. I did get completely sucked into the world, the setting, and the darkness that is this book though. And I loved how Paige could take such a classic, happy place and turn it completely upside down with PermaSmiles (permanent smiles that are applied like makeup), flying monkey torture experiments, forced labor munchkins, evil tin soldiers, and so much pain. Seriously, the scope of the darkness to the Oz Paige writes about is beyond awesome. It’s kind of what kept me reading.
I was not the biggest fan of the characters. Amy had a little too much self-hate. And I get that she did not have an easy life in Kansas with an addict mom, an absent father, and trailer home that prevented people from wanting to befriend her. However, I found it hard to be empathetic toward her. She never really stood up for herself. She kind of let people push her around. And whenever she complained about things it kind of seemed like borderline whining to me. I wanted her to be a little tougher, angrier, and stronger than she was.
She becomes stronger as she trains in magic and fighting skills, but even then she never quite toughens up enough for me. I do like that she thinks things through. She considers all sides of the Good vs Wicked war. She cares about minor characters that her “friends” tell her not to care about. But other than her rather big heart and tactical logic, she didn’t have much going for her. I wanted to like her more. She had no passions or hobbies in Kansas. She didn’t ever really seem to care about anything. And I just couldn’t relate to that all.
I also never really got to know the side characters well enough. The idea of them is awesome. I just never really felt like I knew them, so when one of them dies, I was more like, “Which one was that one?” then sad.
I did love the mystery. I still need to know so many things. Why did things get so bad? What is with the ruby shoes? How involved is the wizard? Will the monkeys work with the Order? Etc. And I feel like I will most definitely continue to read the series as it comes out because of these things I need to know. And I can’t wait to see more of this creepy version of Oz. The book had awesome world-building. I just wish there was better character development, and that I liked the main character a little bit more. I give it a 7/10.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Good Week in Books (86)



I had a nice, little book week. I received 3 new titles for review. Thank you, Macmillan! I’m also biting my nails in anticipation for a pre-order I have coming this Tuesday…And I’m in the middle of a fun book I had to pry myself away from.
Any way, here are the lovely books:

When the Sea is Rising Red
by Cat Hellisen
Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (109)


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 Ruby Circle by Richelle Meade (2/10/15):

Description on Goodreads:
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
Why I’m Waiting:
Um…why wouldn’t I be waiting? The only sad thing is this will be the last one! I can’t imagine this universe coming to a close. Tell me, she’s writing another side series! Any way, I the last book of course ended with a cliffhanger. I’m so excited to see how things work for Sydney and Adrian. And I’m beyond ready to see the Alchemists gets what’s coming to them. Please let this happen. Again, the cover is kind of terrible, but at least the covers are all consistently terrible. And there could be no cover for these books that would make not want to read them (and that is saying something coming from me).
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld


Summary (from Goodreads):
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
Review:
I think this book is genius. Pure genius. I don’t think it’s for everyone. It is certainly for YA bloggers and those really familiar with the YA world. It’s not something I could easily recommend to a teen. It’s more for the teen or adult who is obsessed with YA, and already has a tight relationship with the YA universe on Twitter and Goodreads.
It did take me a week to read (which is a very long time for me). And it took me a little while to fully understand all that Westerfeld was doing with this. He wrote a book about a teen main character writing a YA novel. It was super cool being able to read so much of the YA novel the character was writing –the chapters alternated between the contemporary YA writer and the paranormal romance the YA writer was writing. At first I liked the book within the book better than the contemporary parts. And then I liked the contemporary parts better, and even went as far as to question why Westerfeld’s book within the book was so lame… But then it all finally clicked.
This book does all you would expect it do (well), but then it also does so much more. This entire book was one, giant take on the YA world. And I feel like its just layered in satire, sarcasm, and wit. The somewhat boring paranormal romance book (within the book) wasn’t boring because it was bad. It was boring as a comment to the formula of all YA paranormal romance books. What Westerfeld has written in regards to opening chapters, plot devices, romance, etc in this book is his commentary on YA books in general. A lot of his commentary is harsh, and a lot of it is amazing.
Top that off with publishing parties, actual scenes at BEA(!), YA drinks nights, book tours, and ARCs, and readers are welcomed to look into this crazy, growing industry window that Westerfeld has created. I loved how realistic it all was. I loved seeing how agents, publishers, and other book business people looked from the inside. I liked that Westerfeld didn’t dumb anything down or explain what things like NaNo WriMo or BEA were; he just assumes you know.
I loved all the scenes when the YA writers helped each other with their writing. I loved the LGBT elements. I loved the Manhattan, coming of age setting. I loved Darcy’s little sister, and I loved all the elements of Darcy that highlighted how young she was. I loved that no one cared that Darcy drank at all the parties. And I found all the scenes on the book tour to be so beyond entertaining. (Did anyone else think there was a character who’s supposed to be John Green?) There were moments when I seriously questioned how Westerfeld was allowed to publish this –all of the moments were Wow ones where I was impressed. His take on the publishing world was fresh, honest, and fascinating.
I feel like this book is to book fans what Behind the Music is for music fans. We get all the behind-the-scenes moments of YA book writing. We also get satire and jokes. And they are only jokes YA people would get. Also, layered throughout it all are amazing writing tips. There are so many do’s and don’ts of book writing in here (in a very sly, non-obvious way). Compile all these great things together, and it’s hard to read this book and not want to just dive into writing something of your own.
I know there have been differing reviews for this book, and I know this makes me sound kind of cocky; but, I kind of believe that the people who really didn’t like this probably didn’t get it. And this book is not for everyone. I’m having a little trouble adequately describing all that this book accomplishes. Just know it accomplishes so many things.
Afterworlds is one of my favorite books of the year. YA bloggers, don’t be turned away by mixed reviews. Read it. Then talk to me about it? I’m dying to discuss it with people. Really, I was blown away. This is so a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (108)


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 Fall by Bethany Griffin (10/7/14):

Description on Goodreads:
She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved this author’s other YA Poe retelling. And I super love the original The Fall of the House of Usher, so I cannot wait to see what Griffin has come up with for this creepy story. I’m not the biggest fan of the generic, creepy cover, but what can you do? This seems like the perfect book to read on a dark, rainy autumn night.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland


Summary (from Goodreads):
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.
Review:
This wasn’t what I was expecting. I was anticipating a nice, easy, light-hearted beach read. I took it to the beach with me (near where the book takes place, kind of). It was a little deeper than I wanted at the time, but I did enjoy it.
I was not the biggest fan of the main character. She was both a little too na├»ve for my liking and too aware of how everyone else thinks. Though, I guess the latter would make sense for a teenager, though maybe not to this extent. However, sometimes I love a good YA where I don’t immediately fall for the main character. Cricket is a character I grew to love by the end. She grew up some by the end, like all good YA main characters do in summer books.
I also never liked the best friend. She was awful to Cricket. Loosing a parent does not give someone the excuse to become an awful human being. I just don’t feel like there can be an excuse for the way Cricket’s supposed best friend treated her. On the other hand, this again was super believable and brought me back to middle school when girls would pick up and then drop friends like in style and out of style accessories. And I never want to sound like the person who goes, well the girl being bullied deserved it because she was really ignorant and stupid to all the signs. But, I did find myself wanting to slap Cricket in the face a few times because, hello!
I also feel like the romance could have been written better. I feel like it was pretty instantaneous. I wish I could have seen more of the two characters acting as friends first. I wanted it to build slowly. Instead, it felt a bit like the main character was taking any way she could to continue to attach herself to her friend’s life and family. So, while I hated how mean the best friend was, I could also continue to understand her anger. Neither girl was all too great (Cricket because she was blind to way too many things and Jules because she was terribly mean).
I loved all the side characters. I found the hotel staff where Cricket worked to be wonderful. I like that she found her own life for herself on Nantucket. I liked that her internship with the writer led to her mother’s history on the island. I completely immersed myself in the world of Nantucket. The author knows how to write a setting; that’s for sure. And I loved Cricket’s relationship with her mother.
I’m interested in seeing how the island affected Cricket later (in Nantucket Red). And while there were a lot of things that weren’t my favorite here, I did still get completely lost and hooked on this book. I do wish the teens were a tad bit nicer. And I wish I got more time with Cricket’s other friends. But all in all, I give it a 8/10.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Good Week in Books (85)


I had another nice, little book week. I received two finished books for review (Thank you, Macmillan!). One book is a middle grade I was thinking of buying (and have actually already bought for my library). And the other is a YA by an author I actually haven’t read yet, but have been meaning to give a try.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Drickwillow Place
by Julie Berry
Firebug by Lish McBride
How was your week in books?

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing


Summary (from Goodreads):
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
Review:
So, I know this has mixed reviews. And while I understand a lot of the problems some people have with this book, I still loved it. I read it in one sitting. It was just what I needed at the time –a good, action packed dystopia. A lot of comparisons can be made to Wither by Lauren DeStefano, so if you didn’t like that series, you might not like this book. I kind of think it’s a mixture of Wither and The Selection. Side note: did the main character really need to have purple eyes? I seriously think more book characters have interesting eyes than actual people and it’s another connection that can be made to Wither.
It’s another dystopian world where women have the short end of the stick, particularly women who can reproduce. When girls become women, their blood is tested to see if they will be able to become serrogates for the royalty. Violet is one of the “lucky” ones who gets taken from her family, forced into a facility with other girls and is trained in using magic. Then all the lucky girls get auctioned off like slaves to the highest bidders. And then they are expected to birth children to the wealthy women of the Jewel, who either can’t or aren’t allowed to give birth themselves.
This book is loaded with politics, caste systems, and characters forced to sacrifice their freedom and their bodies to the wealthier classes. I liked Violet a lot because she doesn’t fall for the pretty dresses and the fancy food. She knows she is a slave. This is only emphasized more and more as the book goes on and her mistress forces her to do things like wear a collar and leash when they go out in a public.
I found this crazy, insane concept to be fascinating. This cruel world wasn’t exactly like other worlds I have read about before. It was both interesting and terrifying to see how many ways the wealthy could take away people’s humanity. The surrogates were also used as pawns in the ultimate chess game, and many of them ended up murdered by other wealthy houses.
I was hooked on the story from page one. The only thing I wasn’t the biggest fan of was the romance. I felt like it was a little rushed, and a little instant. And I am sort of exhausted with all our strong female main characters being incredibly intelligent except in regards to anything revolving men. Seriously, I feel like Violet was too smart for things to escalate to where they did. Why do our girl main characters have to be romantically dumb? Can we change this theme?
Any way, I read this super fast. I found the world both terrifying and fascinating. It was fast-paced, filled with action, and dealt with some interesting notions of slavery. I was not a fan of the romance, but I still really enjoyed this one. I give it a 9/10.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang


Summary (on Goodreads):
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Review:
First, I have to say this: this author is in high school??? I was a little blown away by the awesomeness of this novel. And normally when publishers compare books to other YA masterpieces, I’m super skeptical.  This was compared to If I Stay, Before I Fall, and 13 Reasons Why, and for once, I agree with the publishing company. I would definitely compare it to those three novels. I might even think it’s better than those three novels.
Like Lauren Oliver, Zhang wrote about a girl that is not easy to like. She wrote about a popular mean girl, who did terrible things to other people. But, like with Jay Asher, she also wrote about why this character came to the point in her life where suicide seemed to be her only option. Zhang wrote about Liz’s decline and depression. And the reason why I see it being compared to If I stay is because all the doctors and family member grieving over Liz’s not quite dead yet body, are all under the impression that Liz is strong enough to pull through –that it’s up to her to pull through her unconscious broken state because she wants to live.
I found this book to be remarkably strong and spot-on in regards to bullying and growing up. I had tears at several different moments of this book. I unfortunately found myself relating to many moments of kids being cruel to each other. I think one of the saddest elements to the whole story was that no one saw how deep Liz had fallen. Liz didn’t want anyone to think her suicide was a suicide. She planned it well –planned it to look like an accident. She even planned it to be on the same day that her father died, so her mother would only have one sad, mourning day of the year (instead of 2). And I guess that’s how readers know (before we even get to learn about who Liz is as a person), that the girl means serious business. She plans her suicide in advance.
I loved the whole concept of this book. I kind of loved that the main character wasn’t a good person (who just happened to be depressed). It would have been a totally different story if Liz wasn’t a mean girl. And I guess a part of me always loves the books about the villains and the bad guys. I like learning why people become who they are. I think it’s one of the reasons I love the show, Once Upon a Time. I love learning the back stories for the evil queens (and even Captain Hook). And we certainly learn how Liz becomes who she is, leading up the moment when her car crashes.
I even loved the main character, meanness and all. I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for all the kids she picked on. And I felt so unbelievably sorry for everyone who grows up in a world where teachers and mentors turn a blind eye on what happens in schools, and where girls need to throw up what they eat to be able to work in clothing stores at the mall, and where girls like Liz never get in trouble for the drastic problems they cause.
It was so hard for me to grasp that the author was only in high school, and yet she has such a sad, yet clear understanding of the world and how tragic it can be. I know the writing style isn’t for everyone. It’s told from an unknown, omniscient narrator’s point of view. I kind of loved it this way. I loved getting to see how other characters dealt with their pain and their grief (especially the mom and the two best friends). People have commented on having no clue who it is, but I kind of guessed who the narrator was immediately. Still, this did nothing to make me like the book any less.
All in all this book was a fresh take on depression and teen suicide.  And while it will most definitely keep being compared to other books in its genre, it also clearly is it’s own. I haven’t really read anything that accomplishes what this book does. My eyes were glued to the pages, and I read it in less than a day. I highly recommend it and give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (107)


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 This Shattered World by Amy Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (12/23/14):


Description on Goodreads:
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.
Why I’m Waiting:
The description of this book sounds so good that I’d read it even if I hadn’t already read and loved the first book in the series. Yes, YA writers, please write more sci-fi. I’m craving it and there never seems to be enough. I also feel like this topic of war could really resonate with readers today who are experiencing or at least learning about current wars happening on the other side of the world. Also, I just absolutely loved the first book in this series, and I can’t wait to see what else these co-authors come up with.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas


Summary (from Goodreads):
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
Review:
So far, I seem to be the only person who doesn’t absolutely love this one…I didn’t dislike it; I just think that it was nowhere near as a good of a read as the earlier books in the series. It always feels weird being the only one to feel a certain way about a book. I think my biggest problem was the lack of action. It took me over a week to complete this book! And I know her other books were close to being one-sitting reads.
The book is a bit of a monster, at 565 pages.  But, with me length is almost redundant. If the story is grabbing, the number of pages can whiz by. The story just didn’t grab me enough here. Not a lot happens for the first 85% of the book. I kept waiting for it to happen.  By the time it was almost over, and stuff was finally going down, I wasn’t that interested any more. Too much time was spent on Celaena feeling guilty.
The Celaena of this book was reminiscent of Katniss in Mockingjay and Karou in Days of Blood and Starlight. In other words, she was totally broken. And while I understand her character went through a lot at the end of the previous novel, I don’t think the extent of her guilt and broken-ness fits with her character. Where was the snarky, sarcastic, tough-as-nails girl from the first two books? I have always been a reader that dislikes the books in series where the main character is too depressed and mopey, so I know this is a part of my lack of love for this book 3. And not everyone hates these additions to series.
I might have accepted more of the destroyed Celaena moments though if more things were going down plot-wise. While Celaena is in a perpetual state of doom, she is also stuck in a training mode for her magic. She has to train with one of my new favorite characters in order to be able to ask the fairy queen her questions about destroying the evil king. And normally, I love books that deal with magic training. For Celaena though, it wasn’t so much about magic, as it was about her inner demons –and forgiving herself for her friends death– as well as pushing past the even darker demons of the deaths of her family.
I did enjoy the cast of new characters, particularly Celaena’s magic fairy mentor. And I loved all the chapters that followed the witches. At first I was annoyed that Celaena’s story kept getting interrupted, but then I came to love the witches and the wyverns too. I also liked learning about what was going down at the castle through the eyes of the prince, and a certain royal guard. However, like for most of Celaena’s story, not much actually happens in the castle until the last 15% of the book.
More is learned about Celaena’s history. More is learned about the magic that was taken away from the kingdoms. More is learned about fairies and magic in general. It’s clear the author has it all planned out. The scope of her story across all the lands and characters keeps improving and interconnecting, and I’m excited to see where it all leads. The book had a lot of planning and training (for a war to come). Also, there wasn’t a lot of happiness. Each character was so alone. Each character was suffering their own case of serious depression, and no one had a friend to lean on (including the prince).
This wasn’t the book for me. I needed more action and less planning. I would have loved a little less depression (from any of the characters…), and a little more friendship or hope. I’m not a fan of broken Celaena. Though, she’s less broken at the end of the book. I loved the last 15% of the book. And I loved all the new characters and paths pieces of the story are leading to. I do really enjoy Maas’ writing skills and I cannot wait to see where things go. I give it a 7/10.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Good Week in Books (84)


I had another great book week! I received 3 finished books for review. Thank you, Roaring Book Press, Feiwel & Friends, and Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux for all these gorgeous finished copies.

Starry Night
by Isabel Gillies
Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien
How was your week in books?