I enjoyed how it explored the idea that maybe the thing you've dedicated your life to isn't the thing you want to do anymore, but it didn't get grossI enjoyed how it explored the idea that maybe the thing you've dedicated your life to isn't the thing you want to do anymore, but it didn't get gross about it. Sophie Flack presented a shy but powerful novel about what it means to be alive.
I liked it for its shameless quirkiness but I felt like I didn't get enough sense of the main character to become truly embroiled in the flow of the pI liked it for its shameless quirkiness but I felt like I didn't get enough sense of the main character to become truly embroiled in the flow of the plot.
It wasn't what I was expecting, but I can see the brilliant threads of genius that so many of today's dystopian wriOriginally posted on The Authoress.
It wasn't what I was expecting, but I can see the brilliant threads of genius that so many of today's dystopian writers have fastened onto and expanded on. Short, brilliant, remarkable. A reminder that even small things like color are exceptionally important.
It was almost as if I were reading the "original" of something, as if Lois Lowry single handedly crafted the template for young adult dystopian literature. The Giver featured an overly controlling, seemingly perfect world without proper emotions or color, and fields of work are chosen for you, as well as the person you would marry. These are aspects that many of today's writers have taken and toyed with, trying to pick apart and decipher. It was amazing to see what I now consider to be the "original" young adult dystopian.
I was a bit dissatisfied with its length, though. I have become so conditioned to three hundred plus page novels, that it was a touch startling to see a story begin and end all within a hundred and eighty pages. For this reason, I thought things could have been greatly expanded on. (Really, though, that's what today's dystopian has done: expanded on the bare-bones idea laid down by Lois Lowry.)
I didn't connect with it on a visceral level. It had the kind of chaotic, ethereal style that I associate with older books and while I liked the main character, Jonas, I didn't totally connect with his story. I saw it, and appreciated it, from the point of view that this was the book that most likely inspired today's dystopian writers. So while I didn't enjoy it enough to be giddy and excited over it, I appreciate...more
Maggie Stiefvater brought me to this story. When I found out that she would be writing a middle grade novel for a multi-author, multi-platform series, I had to get in on it. (I mean, hello. Maggie Whose-Mind-Is-Made-Of-Awesome Stiefvater.) I didn't have a lot of experience with Brandon Mull outside of the thirty pages I read of Beyonders. (I will finish that book, I promise.)
Before I go into all the things that made Wild Born great, I just want to note my one complaint: the length. Come on! This book exemplifies why I dislike reading tiny books: I'm skeptical that any sort of real plot or world building can be shoved in any satisfactory way into a book less than 300 pages. While there was plenty of world building and a delicately woven plot, I could sense its potential roaring right under the surface, desperate to break out and shine.
Despite the unsatisfactory length, I loved so many things about Wild Born:
The characters were diverse without being obviously polar opposites of each other. It's so easy with a four-hero template like this to be overly obvious. Brandon Mull did an excellent job creating interesting dynamics between each of the characters, so that while they didn't trust each other or necessarily get along, they were a group knitted together by their individual ties. (Think the character set of The Avengers.)
I love the world of Erdas and how distinct each culture is from each other. Again, though, I wish that it had been longer so that there could have been more time spent on the settings of each place. Despite this, Brandon Mull did a fabulous job establishing the feelings of each place.
The plot was interesting, if a bit cliche and easily predictable. It still kept me engaged and entertained. The ending was that of a fantastic adventure story, leaving plenty of room for another journey.
I also had the chance to try the online game. (Though I haven't actually done anything besides create my profile and animal.) I love how this is multi dimensional. If I had read this as an eight-year-old, I would have been all over it.
Saying that, I do understand why the book is so short: because it is targeting a much younger age than I happen to be. I feel like I've been set up by MG authors like JK Rowling, Eoin Colfer, and especially Rick Riordan. But Brandon Mull told a great story in a very short span of time. I'm excited to see what Maggie Stiefvater has to add to the adventure, and how this series is going to grow the older the characters become....more
My friend TOTALLY set me up to fall for this one! I snagged it off her shelf, started reading it for the heck of it, and when I got into it she told mMy friend TOTALLY set me up to fall for this one! I snagged it off her shelf, started reading it for the heck of it, and when I got into it she told me it was her favorite book ever. Well, I was into it alright, and when I finished? WHAT AN ENDING. SERIOUSLY. When I rounded on her, she was like, "I TOLD you it was melancholy!" It was. In spades.
It was a great book, though. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the main character. But steel yourself for this ride. ...more
The Dead Girls' Dance wasn't a huge step up from Glass Houses in my opinion of it. The characters were good, but not exceptional; the world was expanded well enough; and, luckily, it wasn't a rehashing of the first. It was still very superficial and "bubble gum" like, but what made this installment distinctive for me was how the stakes were high. (No pun intended.) But I'm still not finding it "oh my goodness" amazing.
Like the first book, Dead Girls' Dance lacked a sense of depth. It left me wondering, "Why should I find this important?" I did feel more of a connection with the characters, though, because I'd already read a book about them, but while their quips were hilarious, their dynamics weren't thrilling me. That was my issue with most of the story: I was left utterly un-thrilled.
Claire was my central issue in Glass Houses. Here, she was fine. Still a complete flake, but not wholly useless, either. Although, I certainly raised my eyebrows over her desire to still head to class when she knows full well that leaving the house will get her killed. With Claire, I was always thinking, "If you're going to get threatened, kidnapped and potentially sucked dry by a bunch of creepy vamps, it might as well be for a better reason than wanting to go to class."
I thought the plot for Dead Girls' Dance was much better than Glass Houses. It had a bit more cohesiveness; I understood the stakes better. What I didn't understand was why the title was "The Dead Girls' Dance" when the dance didn't mean a whole lot in terms of how it impacted the story. Besides that, it was exciting and interesting and packed a few twists.
What I loved most, hands down, was the humor. Kudos for books that make me laugh. Glass Houses was excellent in the humor department, and The Dead Girls' Dance continued that excellence nicely. So if I got anything out of it, it was a great laugh.
I'm a bit on the fence about whether or not I'm going to continue with the series. I've been told they get better with time, but after two books that were only "meh," I'm a bit skeptical about putting a lot of time and effort into the series. Still, I'm interested, and that counts for something....more
I picked up Miss Fortune Cookie in response to seeing it everywhere -- on blogs, on people's profile picture, on Goodreads status updates. Out of sheer irritation, I looked it up to see what the heck all the commotion was about, and I was surprised to see that it looked like a very promising, cute book. I immediately checked it out from my local library and buzzed in anticipation for the moment when I would finally be able to read it. It was worth the wait. Miss Fortune Cookie won me over with its instantly likable main character, Erin, and the passion behind the presentation of Chinese-American culture. But what really got me was that it felt true.
Truth in fiction may seem, at first, to be a bit of a paradox. Readers will tell you, however, that fiction is the best gateway to the truth. Miss Fortune Cookie, despite its...creative elimination of swear words (s***!), felt like something that could really happen in a way that differentiated itself to me from other contemporary novels. There was something there that really connected with me. Maybe it was the nerdiness of Erin in the way she compacted truths down to equations, or the love for her family and culture, or struggling with college choices. Whatever it was, there was a shard of truth there, and it resonated with me.
I think what won me over wholly, though, was the main character, Erin. I loved her innocently sarcastic and self-deprecating narrative, as well as her sarcastic and self-deprecating humor. And although she had some dim moments, don't we all? Things that generally irked me about a character made me love Erin all the more.
Lack of passion in a novel is the bane of my existence, but Lauren Bjorkman has passion in spades. From the details that neatly frame Erin's tiny, shoebox apartment to the way Bjorkman carefully crafted Mrs. Liu's speech, I could sense the painstaking effort and heart that went behind the story. It made the exotic culture of Chinese-American lifestyles to come through loud and clear for me. (Also, I got a kick out of the presentation of Asian stereotypes that happen to be very true. One of my good friends from high school is Asian, and would probably get a real kick out of this book.)
With the humor, charming cultures, and wacky adventures, Miss Fortune Cookie is a real gem of young adult contemporary literature. And at just under three hundred pages, it's a short, fun read for anyone who wants a good story....more
For a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! TheseFor a long time I've claimed that short stories aren't really my thing -- I don't read them, I don't write them. Now, I find myself doing both! These three authors have rekindled my faith in short stories. Each of their pieces are electrifying and exciting. Truly inspirational. Love it, love it, love it!...more
At least once in your life, a book comes along that forges an instant connection before page one is even started. Skinny was that book for me. I knew, from the moment I heard Donna Cooner give her story behind Skinny, that I wanted to read it. I have always had private issues with my self image, but what drew me to this book was the concept of the little voice in the back of your head having a name: Skinny. With a Cinderella-esque format, a brilliant main character held up by brilliant supporting characters, and a little shoulder devil, Skinny was the book that, for me, could do no wrong.
I say "Cinderella-esque" because it is not a retelling of Cinderella with a few shoddily hidden parallels. Cooner curves the story so that it is entirely its own creature. From the moment I started it, I couldn't put it down. I loved the main character, Ever (though I will forgive her for her name), with her edgy narrative voice that was tinged with a depth that went beyond the pages. My only issue was how I wished -- so wished! -- that she would stand up for herself more. But even when she didn't, I could deal with it, and move through the story with her without it diverting my attention.
I love Lauren Myracle's blurb for Skinny:
The best -- and truest -- depiction of the joys and pangs of transformation I've ever read. Deeply moving, totally addictive, utterly fabulous.
I love how Skinny wasn't about preaching the warning signs of obesity or low self esteem. It was a beautiful story of a girl who transformed inside and out, so it doesn't come off as depressing or heavy. While it dealt with a very big subject and showed the not-so-friendly sides of human interactions, I didn't feel weighed down when I closed the book. I felt enlightened! It was a book that I could fully identify with, and learn from. And I loved that.
Cooner's writing style was simple and elegant, and effortless morphed between scenes of skipping and laughing happiness, to edgy betrayals and bitter anger. It carried along a story that built to a climax that had me grinning like a moron in my chair. Cooner packed a thrilling conclusion within a mere few pages. It was electric.
Skinny is a book that crosses boundaries. It's a book that can be read by anyone and everyone, because there isn't a person out there who doesn't feel insecure about something. Or who doesn't that that little voice of doubt niggling in the back of their mind. With its wit and universal message, Skinny is a book I'd recommend to anyone....more
There's a reason I never watched any of the Jason movies (weren't there seven of them or something?) or The Exorcist. Somehow, there's a huge difference between the urban fantasy world of Twilight and City of Bones with the vampires, werewolves, and warlocks and what Debra Chapoton brought to life in Sheltered.
I was glued to the pages, but mostly out of fear of stopping than morbid fascination. I am a total scaredy cat, but this was a whole different kind of creepy. It was psychological. Debra Chapoton paired the physical demons with the mental ones and the effect was spine tingling. Maybe my lack of spooky experiences made me uber vulnerable to suggestion, but regardless, the effect was immediate and lasting. I almost couldn't get through it because I didn't want to be freaked out.
Sheltered surprised me with how it appeared to be ordered chaos: a string of seemingly linear events tossed in with mystery but all told with an omniscient POV that I haven't seen outside of the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. In a single scene, the POV would switch between three different characters seemingly at random. At first I was a bit put off by this because it would happen without pause: no marker that said it was now being told from Ben's POV. An interesting style that, I think, worked for the story.
Sheltered took on a different kind of story for me. I was more concerned, mentally, for the creepy things going on than for the development of the characters or the world-building. Only upon reflection did I think about how much I didn't really like one of the characters, or the romance. It was the tiny details of the possessions that I found myself focusing on, not the characters themselves.
While Sheltered was not a story I would seek out myself, I think anyone who wants a good spooky read for Halloween has found a good one....more
When I first started into What Happens Next, I didn't know that it was a book with a strong theme of weight loss and self image running through it. Frankly, I didn't know quite what to expect. Certainly it wasn't the multi-dimensional main character, or the absolutely amazing romance, or the fantastic story. Of course I wished for all those things, but I was glad when that's exactly what I got.
The main character, Sid, had her flaws. But it was her flaws that gave her that third dimension. She was realistic by being many different things, not just a one-sided, cardboard cutout heroine. She was chaotic at times and had her hypocritical moments, but I felt she had a good heart because she was incredibly loyal to her brother, and family was important to her. As were her friends, even though they weren't stellar to her. And she was feisty! There's a single scene that sticks out to me where Sid is particularly (and hilariously) vindictive and it makes me laugh just thinking about it. That kind of lasting impression is the result of her awesome character.
What I loved most about the romance in What Happens Next was that it didn't get in my face. It took a backseat to the main theme, and having an emotional theme take the spotlight was a breath of fresh air. It also didn't carry that feeling of inevitability. From the synopsis, it's easy to deduce that Corey "The Living Stoner" Livingston is going to be a love interest, but it wasn't presented that way in the book. There was no insta-love. It felt incredibly natural. That kind of slow-growing romance let the arc of the character development shine through, so I saw how the romance shaped Sid instead of overwhelmed her.
Sid's story was amazing. Colleen Clayton doesn't focus on the horror (which I appreciate) but rather on the aftermath -- hence the title What Happens Next. It isn't depressing like a lot of close-to-home topics are (for example, Dreamland by Sarah Dessen or Willow by Julia Hoban) but instead it's an inspiring and hopeful story of how a teen can recover after a physical and emotional trauma.
I had a few issues with the writing style. It was distracting in the beginning, like it took Colleen Clayton a while to find her stride. I could see where it started to improve because the number of diamonds in the rough started to multiply exponentially. By the end, except for a few cheesy moments, I was very impressed with the way the writing style allowed Sid's story to flow effortlessly.
A great story that would definitely appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti and Laurie Halse Anderson....more
Perception presented an interesting concept: GAPs (genetically altered person) who live on expanded life spans and reside in glorious cities that give no reason to venture into the "outside." Technology is all there is -- ComRings replace cell phones and circular clocks are a thing of the past. I loved the world and the idea that this is what we could become, and I enjoyed the thought put into how technology has created a mass rift between social classes. However, I didn't enjoy much else.
The writing was extremely unpolished. It allowed for little depth, making the characters superficial and the plot haphazard. It was all telling and no showing, and while there were little gems hidden, they weren't nearly enough to sustain my interest alone.
At first, I thought that my dislike for the main character, Zoe, was based on the fault of the writing. As I read, however, I started to frown at her actions: her inconsistencies and selfish, conceited thoughts. I feel that, had there been more depth, I could've understood why she did what she did, but there was no thought process behind her actions. Zoe was incredibly underdeveloped. She reacted to things in a predictable (if dramatic) way, and was constantly fluttering between beliefs. I couldn't get her at all.
While I liked the world, I couldn't fathom the plot. Something was wrong, I understood that, but I didn't really care. Her brother was missing, but that didn't explain all the things Zoe did to try and understand why he was gone. It got boring. There seemed to be a whole lot of nothing going on.
Ultimately, the story wasn't for me. While I liked the idea and the world, I couldn't get past Zoe's antics or get into the plot....more
I've always been a huge fan of Patricia Briggs, ever since I picked up the first Mercy Thompson novel (Moon Called) at my good friend, Smash @ Smash Attack Reads, request. This short story in the On the Prowl anthology is the prerequisite story to the Alpha & Omega series. I've already read and fell in love with the Alpha & Omega series, so starting in on a short story where that series began was a sure win for my affection.
If you've never read anything by Patricia Briggs, taking a look at this short story would be a good test drive to see whether you, dear reader, would enjoy pursuing her work. For patrons of the Alpha & Omega series, this short story really set up the series nicely. Though the events were alluded to in the first book, Cry Wolf, it was merely given as background information to provide a foundation for the story.
The one thing I absolutely love about Patricia Briggs' writing is how she can pack so much character into a few paragraphs. There's an immediate sense of both Anna and Charles's characters as the POV switches between them and this skill, though very helpful for writing an appealing short story, carries over into her full length novels as well.
Even though I've read the entire Alpha & Omega series, reading this short story makes me want to read it all over again. (Which, as a matter of fact, I'll be doing since I read them before but never reviewed them.) Patricia Briggs created a well-balanced, well-rounded story with nothing forced or sloppily done.
So, dear reader, try this out for a test ride and see how far you can get without completely falling in love with the story....more
This was...amazing. I don't know if I would necessarily recommend this to someone who has yet to read Under the Never Sky, simply because the story is set up under the assumption the reader knows what is what and who is who, etc. However, if you've read Under the Never Sky and loved it, I have a strong conviction that you'll love this, too. Roar was a beloved character in Under the Never Sky for many readers, so given that this novella is set entirely in his point of view will appeal to the many fans Roar has accumulated.
I loved the insight. Veronica Rossi created a whole new voice. Roar was given a breadth that we readers didn't get to really see in Under the Never Sky. There was a whole swath of vulnerability and longing underneath all that wit and bravado. Though I would never have thought Roar underdeveloped before, I still loved the further depth that came from a story from his point of view. He seems much better fixed in my mind now.
With her brilliant writing style, Veronica Rossi captured, and gave depth to, the already-explored world of the Tides, making it come alive within the sixty pages. The world of the Tides had become faded in my mind in the time since I'd finished reading Under the Never Sky. This novella brought it back to life almost instantly. Veronica Rossi has created a world that I absolutely would love to live in.
Roar and Liv is a great sampler of Veronica Rossi's work. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Under the Never Sky....more
Salvation set a fire under me the very moment I found out that it existed. I fell head over heels in love with Anne Osterlund's previous books, Academy 7 and Aurelia (and later, Exile). So I knew beforehand that Salvation was very likely to win my heart. And it did. From page one, I was captured. Enthralled, really, by the main characters and the story that wove around them. I liked how Romeo & Juliet it was without seeming like a cheesy remake, and also how the plot was slightly predictable, but exciting all the same. Salvation was a fantastic read, with a set of characters I'd love to have lunch with. Over...and over...and over again.
I was already familiar with Anne Osterlund's envious talent for crafting such depth-defying, lovable main characters, but it still blew me away how much I fell for Salva and Beth, both separately and as a couple. Both had characteristics that I could identify with -- like Salva's loyalty to family and culture, and Beth's need to take her life onto a higher plane. When the two came together, it was electric, though not perfect. The imperfections were what drew me into their relationship like an obnoxious third wheel. Even when they realized their feelings for each other, it didn't magically lay a smooth path before them, and I think that was my favorite part about the book. It made their relationship deep and more realistic.
I love the wealth of culture imbued throughout the story. Reminiscent of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, there are bits of Spanish thrown in. Which, if you're a veteran of the Fuentes brothers, you know is completely hot. But besides that, there was the topic of how Mexican immigrants live in this country and I liked how Anne Osterlund presented and handled it. It gave the story a core of truth that I really enjoyed.
I also enjoyed how the plot progressed. With the essence of a Romeo & Juliet style romance, and fraught with just as much tragedy, I was glued to the pages as the story unfolded. What a breathtaking ending! With an expert hand, Anne Osterlund brought each of the characters to a climax that was both split with tragedy and filled with hope. And while some of the scenes were a bit of a cliche, I was too much in love with the characters to really see them that way.
Salvation is a fantastic addition to Anne Osterlund's repertoire. It was so much fun to read with its subtle humor woven amongst brilliantly devised characters and an exciting plot. Even knowing that I was going to love it, I'm still taken aback at just how much I would turn out to love it. I can't wait for Anne Osterlund's next book....more
I'm a big fan of Rae Carson's debut, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. When I saw this one, I immediately rushed to buy it, even though I've never bought anything on my Kindle before. This historic buy was not disappointed. Rae Carson packs a lot of plot and character development into the equivalent of 54 printed pages. This time, we see Elisa through the eyes of her sister, Alodia as they encounter a problem in a remote part of their kingdom.
I was struck by the immediate sense of character. Within the first few pages, I felt well acquainted with Alodia, and because she is so self righteous, it was with a put-upon kind of amusement that I observed her character. She had so little faith in Elisa, it was disheartening, but I liked the transformation that goes down throughout the story.
And the story was a well-rounded one at that. Well-rounded, yet leaving a taste for more. The plot was exciting and coupled with Rae Carson's eloquent writing style, the shock factor of some of the twists actually made me gasp.
A reader doesn't have to have the history of The Girl of Fire and Thorns to get a grip on this novella. For those of you who have read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, this novella provides a great insight into Alodia's character, something that isn't really offered in the full-length book. It isn't exactly a refresher course of the book, however, since it takes place when Elisa is younger and her journey hasn't really started.
An amazing story; I don't regret the three bucks I spent on it....more
I'll probably be the first to admit that I have a total girl crush on Jackson Pearce, but with Purity, I'm a bit torn about how I feel about it. On the one hand, I loved the honesty and gentle humor brought into a story borne on the concept of racing to lose one's virginity. On the other, I thought it lacked a cleverness that I've come to expect of Jackson Pearce's work. Despite that, Purity was a good read with a great cast of characters and memorable, heartfelt story.
Right away the main character, Shelby, establishes her style. I love how honest her essence was -- it made it easy to connect with her and to sympathize with what she was going through. I also loved her friends, Jonas and Ruby, and how she interacted with them. They formed a truly cohesive unit that didn't seem forced or rehearsed, so it was fun to have them in the story. I also like how Jonas and Ruby influenced Shelby. They weren't petty or high and mighty when Shelby made a mistake. I liked how they worked.
I also liked how Jackson Pearce didn't get preachy about the whole sex thing. I think it would be pretty easy to start preaching from the pulpit about chastity, but Jackson Pearce showed real tact and finesse. It felt like an honest take on how a teenage girl felt about losing her virginity. I also really liked how the topic of God was interwoven throughout the story. Again, wasn't in-your-face spirituality philosophy, but felt like an honest to goodness account of how a girl questions the existence and workings of God.
My issue was that, while heartfelt, there was something missing. It's something small, something I would define as "cleverness," but has no real source. The result is that I enjoyed the story but there was something niggling at me just below the surface, and it kept me from going out to buy a copy for myself.
Laced with humor, it was a great story and even though the outcome was predictable, it was satisfying. It reminds me why I like reading contemporaries....more
A guilty pleasure kind of story for me. I don't go for angel stories because they follow the same vein as vampire stories and vampire stories irritateA guilty pleasure kind of story for me. I don't go for angel stories because they follow the same vein as vampire stories and vampire stories irritate me. The writing has a lot of potential, but seems to just capture the bare bones. The main character, Penryn, took me by surprise with her tough as nails, steel resolve. But she was still vulnerable and stubbornly human. The trajectory of the romance didn't surprise me, but I could more easily follow along with it because it wasn't a soppy romance like I'd been expecting. Penryn had a goal outside of a guy: she had to find her sister. It made it easier to like her since her life didn't revolve around an unearthly being of ambiguous morals.
Overall, an enjoyable read! I think I'll pick up the sequel....more