An absolutely fabulous second installment in this breathtaking trilogy. Renews my faith in the YA genre with its swift plot, cheer worthy characters,An absolutely fabulous second installment in this breathtaking trilogy. Renews my faith in the YA genre with its swift plot, cheer worthy characters, and swoony romance. Loved every page. Could hardly put it down.
By long practice, I am not an avid memoir reader. (I can't say I don't read memoirs at all because there were all those assigned readings at school -- something, I think, that put me off reading them in my leisure time because really, all those books they assigned at school were depressing.) I don't read nonfiction in general. But whatever invisible hand or inner compass that prodded me to check out this book out at the library, I thank it. (Or Him, or them.)
Eat, Pray, Love surprised me in a pleasant way. Here, I found myself relating to someone who has had markedly different life experiences than myself: she's old enough to be my mother, lives in New York, has a sister, was married and divorced, and traveled outside of the US even before the events of this book. Despite all these differences (I'm not even out of college and I've never lived or been to a city with more than a quarter of a million people in it), I found myself understanding her.
Perhaps it was the beautiful writing style. So full of wit and charming insight -- the way it nonchalantly imbued enthusiasm and despair and terror, sometimes all at once. It is not outside the realm of possibility that I felt a sort of kinship because the writing transported me so fully into Elizabeth Gilbert's head.
Though I cannot say for certain what connected me to her, it does not erase the astounding fact that I was happy -- truly, giddily happy -- for a someone I had never met and yet was actually real. (Or, as real as anyone who's ever given a TED talk can be. It's plain to see that Ken Robinson is a freak occurrence of Nature, like Stonehenge or something.) My best guess to say what facilitated this connection is that Elizabeth Gilbert was open and honest in a way that didn't hide the worst parts of her, or downplay the best. This kind of attitude forged my respect for her from the get-go, and so allowed me to fully immerse myself into her transformational story....more
Captured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. FinisheCaptured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. Finished it within two days. If I had a hat, I'd tip it to Ruta Sepetys....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
I don't like vampire books. Just a little quirk of mine. So the one and only reason I picked Drink, Slay, Love up was because it was written by Sarah Beth Durst, who blew me away with her unbelievably wonderful fantasy novel, Vessel. People told me, "Oh, you liked that? You'd totally love Drink, Slay, Love." And I just thought, "It's...a...vampire book." But I did pick it up. Thank God.
I love books that make me laugh. What surprised me here was the way humor was used. Drink, Slay, Love was not some light, fluffy spoof. So while it was a lot of fun, the humor was more along the dry and sarcastic side rather than ridiculous and unbelievable. (But okay, I'll admit the unicorn thing did push a limit or two.) I didn't expect something deep and rich with complicated feelings, nuanced characters and a plot that actually challenged the characters instead of being conveniently inconvenient. But that's exactly what I got.
Another expectation busted? Pearl's awesomeness. Huzzah for awesome vampire main characters. I thought she would be irritating and shallow, but she never even gave my nerves a mean glance. Not even for a second. That rocked. I loved how her transition from soulless predator to vulnerable teenager was portrayed as a slow evolution that was believable and sincere. I backed Pearl up 100%. I wanted her to live (so to speak), to find her happiness, and succeed at her mission. Having so much sympathy with the main character let me sit back and enjoy the story.
I was thinking the plot might be a little on the sketchy side. I mean, there's a unicorn. But only a few things warranted an eyebrow raise. The stakes were well defined (no pun intended) so I understood from the get go what Pearl stood to lose if she pushed the boundaries of her world. There was constant motion and conflict, always something to move the story forward, and the plot twists challenged the characters, didn't let them slide by with only a few scrapes.
All of this was accented with a great sense of humor and underlined with a sweet romance. I liked how the humor was more sarcastic and snarky than goofy and unbelievable. And the romance. Ah, amour. I think that I saw the signs of a Durst trademark. In Vessel, the romance built up naturally and here, too, in Drink, Slay, Love, the romance did not take center stage but instead was something else the main character had to work through. I really liked how this wasn't a romance, but more of a coming-of-age story.
Sarah Beth Durst has finally given me the opportunity to say that there is only one vampire book I like, instead of declaring I dislike them in general. Drink, Slay, Love was a fun tale of vampirism, action and a dash of romance, all laced with a snarky humor that had me giggling from start to finish. A great read....more
Rules of Attraction was an incredible story with two cheer-worthy main characters bundled together with rib-cracking humor. While this book wouldn't win any awards from me for writing style, Rules of Attraction was teeming with undeniable wit and a great story of romance.
Rules of Attraction is a rehashing of Perfect Chemistry. It was set up the exact same way as the first only with a "new" situation: the plot progressed the exact same way and, since it dealt with a lot of the same characters, it made the similarities more recognizable. My main problem was the climax. This quote by Robert McKee put my issues with Rules of Attraction's plot exactly:
If [the climax] fails, the story fails... If you fail to make this poetic leap to a brilliant culminating climax, all previous scenes, characters, dialogue, and description become an elaborate typing exercise.
Coupled with Simone Elkeles's a little too-simplisitic writing style and her tendency to tell and not show, the supposed "action scene" to cap off the book really fell flat and left me with the bitter taste of disappointment.
I cheered for the romance, though. Despite how inevitable the progression of the characters' relationship was, the two of them made me smile and laugh and sigh with frustration. Carlos and Kiara are definitely not a boring couple: their constant banter, their power plays, the give-and-take... It all culminated into a relationship to cheer for. Also, I think Simone Elkeles did an excellent job in alternating between the two main characters. (Quite a few scenes made me blush, though. Maybe not an issue for readers who're seasoned in the more risque side of romance novels, but I'm still in denial over slowly losing the innocence of my childhood.)
I wouldn't pin any writing awards on the cover of this book. While the style (mostly) worked to set a humorous and heart-breaking tone for the story, it wasn't as in depth as I would've preferred. I was mostly drawn in by the humor because almost any book that makes me laugh is considered a keeper on some scale.
I think, for all its faults, Rules of Attraction would make an excellent movie. It's a bit more original that Alex and Brittany's story in Perfect Chemistry and more enjoyable a story overall.
I hesitated slightly about picking up Chain Reaction, the third book, right away, but then I read the excerpt that came in the back of Rules of Attraction and was instantly hooked....more
The last Artemis Fowl book. What a thrilling end! This book marks the very first to make me, Amelia Robinson, shed a tear. Part of me always worries about what kind of hell the author will put their characters through in the series finale, and with these crazy MG authors anything is possible. In Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, I really enjoyed the maturation of the characters set off by Eoin Colfer's signature humor. Colfer pulls out all the stops to create a fast-paced, intriguing topper to his beloved Artemis Fowl series.
As is the case of book eight of any series, there's some preconceived ideas about how awesome the book is going to be -- and if a reader is eight books into a series, we're gonna assume the series is awesome. So there isn't much to add that hasn't already been said before. It's established that the Artemis Fowl series, which has been in my life since I was ten, is justifiably the definition of awesomeness. Moving on...
This final installation was sheer genius. Colfer opens with a bold and exciting conflict -- I mean, maybe that's a bit of an understatement when the "bold" conflict was the utter destruction of the known world. The stakes were upped like never before, creating a nail-biting ride. I liked that Colfer went into this kind of territory: most books, dystopians especially, take place after the world has been destroyed and been refitted into a semblance of order. The Last Guardian takes place during the destruction. I really appreciated Colfer's imagination.
I liked how there was a definite maturation of the characters. While Artemis Fowl has always been credited for speaking and acting a decade older than he should've been, emotionally there was a step up. There was a wealth of history to draw upon and the characters had (finally) truly accepted each other. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between them -- especially when it's accented with Colfer's signature humor.
The ending...was sheer brilliance. Sheer, utter brilliance. I have never seen a full circle executed so beautifully in the very last paragraph. And the climax made me cry! Me! Cry! Maybe I wasn't sobbing like a baby, but the words did go a little blurry and I had to wipe a tear away. But, of course, what would you expect from the last book in a series?! Ironically enough, the only other book that had me on the verge of tears was The Supernaturalist also by Eoin Colfer.
As sad as I was to see this beloved series come to an end, I really enjoyed it. It was funny, exciting, satisfying... If you haven't ever read the Artemis Fowl series, I'd highly suggest you try it out. It's middle grade, but it's short, enjoyable and terribly clever and imaginative.
My only regret, to those of you who have read the whole series: Seriously? Why was Minerva never brought back in? She was brilliant! ...more
My first experience with Libba Bray's work left me skeptical that I would ever pick up something of her's again. A Great and Terrible Beauty bored me. I found it unenlightening with a picky, uninspiring main character and dull plot. Southern Book Bloggers changed things. I got a week to slave over the immensity that was The Diviners. Chockfull of brilliance of every kind -- from amazing, deep prose to a chilling antagonist -- my experience with The Diviners restored my faith in Libba Bray. I am psyched to find out what the rest of this series holds in store.
I can't help but compare my thoughts on A Great and Terrible Beauty to The Diviners. Given that A Great and Terrible Beauty was published in 2003 and here it is, nearly ten years later, there was an incredible maturation on many levels. This is evidenced mainly in the exponential increase in the page count of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series: A Great and Terrible Beauty (403 pages), Rebel Angels (548 pages), and The Sweet Far Thing (819 pages). Now, The Diviners at 578 pages. By the page count alone, Libba Bray certainly gained some polish from her work on A Great and Terrible Beauty.
The Diviners was told in an elegant, haunting style that perfectly suited the plot. Written in large swaths of detail and description, Libba Bray's prose was concise and easy to understand. Five hundred plus pages might suggest that the story amounted to a whole lot of nothing, but every word carried meaning. Occasionally, I thought that a scene was a bit out of place a time or two, like it was put there merely to better paint the backdrop of 1920's New York City. It didn't much affect my overall opinion, however. Paired with subtle humor and a keen eye for lively details, Libba Bray is a study in beautiful language.
Language became a bit of an issue for me during some parts of the plot. While I was impressed and deeply appreciative of Libba Bray's immense knowledge of 1920's lingo, I thought sometimes it was a bit overused. The excessive use drew me out of the story a time or two, like I was suffering from sensory overload.
Though The Diviners was told from multiple points of view, it centered on Evie. Evie was a great main character. She was inspiring because she had the ability to be unbelievably irritating at times with her selfishness, but the fact I found her irritating and likable says to me that underdevelopment or poor character-building wasn't to blame. Rather that she was presented in such a human-like way that I could accept her, rough edges and all, because I could relate to her on some levels. Still, there were moments that I just couldn't believe how selfish, self-centered, arrogant, mean and downright stupid she could be. Those moments were backed up quite convincingly by Libba Bray, so I was left shaking my head and hoping she'd remember her mistakes, as if I were a friend admonishing her for her recklessness rather than a judgmental stranger.
Above all, The Diviners scared me half to death. It's as if Libba Bray had personally snuck inside my head, withdrew all the tiny things that made my skin crawl, and fit them into words. I learned, the hard way I'm afraid, why reading The Diviners before bed was a bad idea. Coupled with the fact that I was sleeping on my grandmother's couch at the time, overall was not conducive to sleeping. Especially since I was looking over my shoulder into the darkness every few seconds, to see if Naughty John was standing there, ready to start whistling while he chased me around the house. Bray made a clever move by putting several of the murder scenes in the point of view of the victim. It brought creepiness to a whole new level.
I'm excited for this new journey that the Diviners trilogy has in store. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters that seasoned this haunting read -- Memphis, Theta, Sam, Jericho and Will -- and I anxiously await the continuation to their story....more
Pushing the Limits had the blogosphere foaming at the mouth before it even hit shelves. Normally, I steer clear of books like this -- the ones that explode so drastically that it makes me just a little bit suspicious. (No, seriously, Twilight anyone?) I bought Pushing the Limits after reading the first two pages in Barnes & Noble. No book can be that good, right?
Wrong. So wrong. Pushing the Limits totally deserves the hype. It was amazing from start to finish. I was delightfully surprised by the depth and clarity of each main character, and by the stakes they faced. I was never once pulled out of the story by insincere or sloppy writing. Everything about it makes me conclude, This is how a good book is supposed to be written.
Besides the dynamic main characters, my favorite thing about Pushing the Limits was the writing style: McGarry didn't preach anything. Information came out naturally, because the circumstances required it. There was none of this boring the reader with paragraphs of explanation. McGarry shaved away all the excess writing baggage that has become the staple of young adult literature. Each sentence brought the respective character more and more to life, adding depth and clarity instead of adding mindless prose to equate to a whole lot of nothing.
McGarry didn't shortchange the characters, which made my emotional connection with them stronger. Echo and Noah were independent, but inextricably linked -- the more they learned about each other, the more they learned about themselves, and I think that's what makes their romance so great. (Of course, some blush-worthy make out scenes certainly help a great deal.) I'd predicted that Echo was going to be whiny, but I was wrong. I was impressed with McGarry's ability to build motivations and thought processes into the character's prose so that every triumph and complaint is justified. This aspect really made the characters pop off the page for me.
Pushing the Limits has the revolutionary feel of a book that sets new standards. McGarry took two issues that are very real, relevant things in today's society, and brought them out of their dusty corners, showcasing them in a way that made them easier to approach, and to understand. Katie McGarry set out to do something:
I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves... Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing overwhelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.
McGarry's passion shines through the prose; her cleverness, through the playful, witty banter between her two main characters. Pushing the Limits is the physical manifestation of stark honesty and brilliance. Katie McGarry certainly put herself on the map with this one, and I think she's going places....more
I was in a bit of a bind when I started Sapphire Blue. In the nine months since finishing the first book, Ruby Red, I had nearly forgotten what was going on. With only a slight memory of how the first book ended, I plunged back into Gwen's story of heinous extended family members, impossible boys, and mind-boggling time traveling excursions. Thanks to Kerstin Gier's carefully built in reminders of how the characters got to where they were, I was able to settle back into the world with minimal hardship, and fully ready to enjoy a good story.
Sapphire Blue was a good continuation from the first book: an awesome main character armed with her signature humor, an exciting plot, and exquisite writing style. It was all business as usual. Until you're forced into a fancy corset and sensible shoes to visit a possibly evil count who, upon your last meeting, tried to strangle you. Points to Gwen, the feisty main character, for not flaking. Much. I love her slightly self-deprecating humor, even though I wish she would stand up for herself when some of her family members start railing on her. Her narrative was fun and easy to understand.
The only thing I couldn't really understand was the plot. Time traveling makes my head hurt, which is why I generally steer clear of all the time traveling adventures. I couldn't really see a connection between most of the events. Something was decided and I was left thinking, "Why?" Because I was enjoying the narrative so much, I just went along with it. Though I came out of the other side with a question mark still hovering over my head.
If there's one thing Kerstin Gier does extremely well, though, it's dialogue. It seems to be her main mode for setting the tone of a character. Why bother with copious descriptions when a single line of speech could tell you just as much, if not more? Gier really brings characters to life and presents them in a dynamic way that give them a 3D effect. I loved the two main characters, Gwen and Gideon, as well as Gwen's best friend, Lesley, and her demon ghost friend, Xemerius. Peppered with such lovable characters, I could really settle into the story.
Behind dialogue, the world is absolutely amazing. It's a world with a defined set of rules and interlaced with details to make it pop off the page. It also reminds me why time travel doesn't appeal to me. (Really, it's all rather confusing and complicated, isn't it?) Throw on top all the British slang, and I feel as if the whole thing could be real. (As if I needed more reasons to want to go to England.)
Thus far, the Ruby Red trilogy has been an enticing read that continues to thrill. With the way Sapphire Blue left off on such a cliffhanger, I'm dying for the third and final book!...more
I have always loved dragon stories, and with one notable exception, I have never been disappointed. Rachel Hartman and her work with Seraphina has reminded me in no uncertain terms why I love dragons and dragon stories. She created a world so uniquely her own and wrote a story so full of detail and passion, I would've thought she were recounting something she herself had experienced. From start to finish, this story captured me; I loved every moment of it.
Passion, I think, is something that a lot of writers nowadays lack. Everyone seems to be writing books now, obscuring those few gems who write for the sake of writing and who, even if their stuff won't sell, will be writing because they have to. Rachel Hartman wrote with a passion that makes me infinitely grateful that I didn't pass it by because of the disastrous cover, and gave the story a chance to stand on its own. Seraphina's story connected with me on a personal level, but I think many audiences could see something of themselves in this tale, simply because everyone has something inside of them that they are ashamed of, and that they are afraid to show the world. The fear of rejection is a universal feeling. I loved the way Rachel Hartman captured that.
Seraphina was a fantastic narrator. She's the kind that shouts, "Here, here, look at me!" And then blocks your view when you try to look around her. Her voice was steadily entertaining in a self-deprecating, sarcastic way that made her endearing rather than irritating. Hartman highlighted emotions that are normally butchered or omitted entirely by most authors. For example, Seraphina's reaction to a compliment: while she might feel the compliment is true, her thought process is such that I don't feel she's being falsely modest with herself. Her vulnerability and shame, along with how she dealt with the ground shifting beneath her feet, made her a character that I instantly bonded with.
I also grew deeply rooted in Hartman's world. It's almost as if the descriptions could've only come from someone who had the knowledge of a world that was fully realized, things that I didn't understand and yet the character clearly did. Hartman set up a world that was uniquely her own, adding details to flavor (not bog down) the story in a style similar to that of Tamora Pierce, Christopher Paolini, and Cinda Williams Chima. So when I set the book aside, the world still sat in my head like a memory palace and characters still deigned to play around.
The plot was amazing, though I could see how a reader might think it slow and sometimes aimless. But the way Hartman just dove into it, I couldn't help but try and keep up. I was so engrossed in the story, my mind stopped thinking about, "Is this predictable?" or "Could this have been better?" The inner editor just shut off and I went along for the ride -- and loved every moment of it!
I recommend Seraphina to any fantasy lovers, but specifically to those who love dragon stories. May it take your breath away as it did mine....more
The Dead Girls Detective Agency is not my idea of a hardcore ghost story, mostly because at every twist and turn, it's an epic meeting of Cliches United. Take out the humor and you're left with a mass of predictability: mean, slow and slutty cheerleaders, brooding bad boys, a lead (ghost) detective with the brains of a geek princess and the tact of a nuclear bomb, and a main character who "just wants..." to within an inch of her death. And despite it all (even the totally sketchy murderer)... Dead Girls was a charming and entertaining book. It was four hundred-odd pages of fluff and questionable taste, but it was also incredibly funny and original.
I can't honestly say that I liked the main character, Charlotte, because she seemed way too cookie cutter for me. Nearly all of her reactions and responses were predictable to the point where I would smirk whenever she said exactly what I knew she would. I will totally give her kudos for her sometimes snappy comebacks, though. Her interactions with bad ghost boy, Edison, were like getting ringside seats to a high school drama and luckily, I brought along popcorn. The rest of the characters weren't much of a step up from Charlotte. Lorna was good comic relief, but I thought Nancy was a bit unformed. I kept getting her and Lorna confused in the beginning of the story, and character confusion isn't a huge turn-on.
Moving over that speed bump... the murder plot? The whodunnit? Pretty weak. I was disappointed at the climax because all the build up fell flat. I was expecting a more believable and definitive motive from the murderer -- I mean, if you're going to push a girl under a train, you'd better be outright unhinged (and insanity doesn't just go by unnoticed). The whole murder mystery just lacked a creative hand. Though that's not to say the ending wasn't interesting. There was a twist at the end that I liked, although now it has me unconsciously prepped for a sequel, evidence of which has yet to be seen.
I liked the world of Dead Girls. I liked how teen ghosts check in to a hotel and, of course, go through the Big Red Door when they get their Key from the confession of their murderer. They get to port places with just a thought, and they can choose when they appear to humans for the most effective haunting. They can walk through walls and possess humans (which is Cox's way of explaining deja vu) but the only drawback (besides being dead) is that they can't change anything about their appearance. It has to stay the same way it did when they were dead. So if you happened to be wearing your god awful school uniform at the time of the incident... Well... Nobody expects you to look all that attractive when you're dead, right?
My favorite part of this story was the humor. All kinds of hilarity floating around the afterlife. I thought it was a bit strange that Dead girls kept flitting between a fluffy, almost middle grade material to all of a sudden, hello, we're using swear words. I really expected it to be one or the other -- hardcore with big girl swear words or fluffy and middle grade. It's alternating style made it come off a little unconvincing but I still appreciated the humor. A lot of it was truly clever, and I'd totally share a fist bump with Suzy Cox for some of the stuff she came up with.
So despite the hiccups, The Dead Girls Detective Agency was a fun and fast-ish read. I'm not really attracted to the ghostly side of fantasy, but this one was enjoyable and swayed me a little towards picking up something from the other side more often....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
This book was so ridiculous -- so dramatic, so poorly executed, so pitiful -- that there was no way I could take it seriously. It was shallow beyond compare; it even beat out ABC Family dramas in my eyes. But. It was a very entertaining read. A simple guilty pleasure for nothing but dramadramadrama. If you, dear reader, are expecting a Sarah Dessen/Kody Keplinger style serious story, this is not the book you're looking for. If you wanna kick back, go through the simple act of reading without getting emotionally involved, this is totally it.
My words might seem harsh, but I enjoyed the book. I finished it in two days. I liked reading it. I just couldn't take it seriously. It went from shallow but cute to absolutely, downright ridiculous.
Abby and Travis's relationship was formed and shaped by extremes -- extremes that could've been prevented by good ole common sense. But then it wouldn't be fun, right? Abby was a nightmare. I never bothered trying to like her character -- there was too much that I couldn't agree with from the get go. Didn't help that she was just plain dumb. And she strung Travis around like a broken kite. Their relationship was so messed up, I couldn't even...Good grief. None of it made sense.
If that's supposed to be the point, then kudos. This obviously wasn't the book that would win the gold in my eyes. By the time I'd surpassed the first third of the book, I knew the rest of it would be impossible to take seriously. The plot was predictable, shallow and sloppy. Constant ups and downs -- breakups and takebacks. The whole time, I'm going WTF? They'd break up, sleep together, break up again...and all the while, they're kissing and acting like they were dating regardless of whether they were or not. Two people who couldn't get their senses together enough to pick a decision and believe in it enough to stick to it? They deserve what they get.
The best part, though, was the dialogue. Jamie McGuire did a lot with dialogue -- very little with prose in general. A lot of the characters' personalities came out through what they said, which gave the book its own unique air. It was also hilarious. I loved the humor. I was constantly laughing from what the characters would say, though the rest of the time I was laughing about their stupidity.
This story easily fits any of the top pop love songs. Since it's so cookie-cutter, it fits to: "Payphone" by Maroon 5, "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida, "Glad You Came" by The Wanteds, "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars and even "Just a Kiss" by Lady Antebellum. Travis totally had that "That's What Makes You Beautiful" thing going on about Abby and Abby...she doesn't get a song because she was so unstable.
It was a crazy story, and I would recommend it to any of you, dear readers, as long as you try not to take it too seriously. Because it's ridiculous. And even though I knew full well it was ridiculous, I read it. It was like taking a break from reality in the best possible way. People doing stupid things, making stupid decisions, feeling stupid emotions. It worked out in the end....more
Here I am, eighteen-years-old, and still finding unbelievable enjoyment in Rick Riordan books. While, for me, the writing is the main thing that demotes it down to a "middle grade" level, everything else can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a good story. That's why I love it -- the story. I love the characters and the world and the magic and everything. I love picking up a Percy Jackson and Co. book because I can never know what to expect, except a good time and a lot of laughs. In this latest installment of the Heroes of Olympus series, Rick Riordan brings everything to the table to make it the best yet.
The plot kept me glued to my chair. It's always a good sign when the reader can't figure out how a character is going to wiggle out of their current dilemma. I'm left in awe by Rick Riordan's ability to slam his characters into corners that seem impossible to get out of and then, somehow, miraculously, they get out. Barely. And if something can go wrong, it does. Most of the time I'm left thinking, How does this story even work when everything goes wrong? But that's part of the beauty of it.
Much like Harry Potter, the Heroes of Olympus series has a whole cast of characters to fall in love with. Annabeth had always seemed a bit standoff-ish to me in the previous books (even the Percy Jackson series), but I totally cheered for her in this one. I still absolutely love how all the characters have their own subplots. All of them have something dreadful and wonderful going on in their lives and that makes them all real to me.
The Mark of Athena kept me glued from page one. I think this one might be my favorite, but it's a close tie. All the books are excellent for their own reasons. What makes The Mark of Athena stand out to me is how the climax of the story stayed with me. Even now, after having finished it, that scene haunts me. When a book does that to you, that says the author did something right in more ways than one.
Anyone can love the Heroes of Olympus series. There are characters and stories within the series that anyone can connect with, all connected by a universal humor....more
Girls Don't Fly was an awesome, short, cute story with an inspiring and heartfelt message. Myra was a relatable teen girl with a lot on her plate, still figuring out who she is and how she fits in. Kristen Chandler has a quick and easy writing style that says volumes. Girls Don't Fly was a great pick me up and a new contemporary favorite.
One preachy passage could have ruined this whole book (this statement still under revision, because this book had too strong a foundation to be rocked by one little paragraph of preachiness). Kristen Chandler, however, told her message (if she wrote with one in mind) through the main character, Myra, and her adventures and misadventures. She didn't sit down and go, "This will happen if you blah, blah, blah."
Myra was an awesome main character. She wasn't completely naive--she had a rough home life and a sucky ex-boyfriend. But she had spunk. She also had a drive. What really drew me to her was her strength. I couldn't understand why she would put up with her family putting her down all the time, but I admired her ability to keep her chin high.
I love how the romance held an unexpected twist and how, when it finally crept up, it was realistic. They weren't perfect. They weren't horribly cliche, either, which was a nice plus. I cheered for them all the way.
From reading her debut, Wolves, Boys, And Other Things That Might Kill Me, spunky but misplaced teenage girls seem to be Kristen Chandler's style. She does it well. I think she still has to grow into her talent, but I can't wait to see what she does next....more
I think, whenever this series is mentioned, the proclamation is immediately followed by a dreamy sigh. I mean, really, who wouldn't sigh over any of the Fuentes brothers? It's such a shame to see their stories come to an end, but Chain Reaction was a great capper to the series: a steamy hot, but complicated romance, Luis and Nikki's relationship fell perfectly in the steps of the previous Fuentes boys, and although I think the writing still needs work, the power of the story shines through brilliantly. Chain Reaction was a great novel, and an excellent finish to the Perfect Chemistry series.
Everything about Chain Reaction (and really, the Perfect Chemistry series in its totality) was excellent. Except. I thought the writing style really needed work. There was way too much showing, and not enough telling, in every place except for the make out scenes. And while this is what makes the make out scenes so blush-worthy, I think if the same detail and sense of atmosphere had been put into the rest of the story, then it would have flowed better. As it was, I didn't get any kind of adrenaline rush when guns were going off and car tires were burning against pavement. However, it was rather easy to push the writing style aside and just focus on the story, because while the writing may be a little shoddy, the story had a powerful, passionate core.
There were a lot of great things about the story itself, but I think my favorite would have to be the characters. I like how Luis was portrayed as the more academically inclined brother in the first two books, even though his involvement in both prequels was pretty limited. I like how I could still see the academic in him (he did his homework, he studied before he went out with friends) and yet, there's this whole other side of him and a whole raft of struggles that he has to deal with. Same with Nikki: she had to deal with things that fifteen-year-old girls just shouldn't have to, but I liked the way it shaped her character. With both her and Luis, their motivations were clear. I understood where they were coming from, so it made the story much easier to follow, and to enjoy, even if their choices were obvious a mile away.
Despite the predictability of the plot, Simone Elkeles does not half-ass the drama. Normally, I steer away from unnecessary because it's just that: unnecessary. But this is drama that I can get into because I like and respect the characters. So even when everything hits the fan, I can understand why and not get pissy over it. Of course, a little dash of humor goes a long way. And Luis, like his brothers, has a wicked mouth.
Chain Reaction was a great addition to the Perfect Chemistry series, and ended the series well. I am so psyched to read Simone Elkeles' next series....more
By the summary, it can be accurately guessed what's going to happen. It's a predictable storyline. So it takes talent like Cath Crowley's to take a predictable storyline and turn it into a funny, enjoyable, unique book with great writing and even greater characters.
I liked the main characters, Lucy and Ed. Lucy had real sass—the kind country grandfathers tend to find charming, but she didn't come off as aloof because she had compassion. She was a visionary when it came to art and she was also fearless when it came to standing up for this passion.
Ed was really cool, too. He had a tortured artist's soul, but it didn't come off in this wimpy way. He wasn't this guy who was worldly and just happened to have a crappy life at home. Ed was the opposite: he was real thinker, passionate about art and actually had a good family situation with his mom. His bitter view on life ran deep. This believability really came off true.
The minor characters were also fantastic. They really added a great flavor to the book.
Cath Crowley writes these characters in a very real way. It's hard to explain how, but coupled with the atmosphere, the writing, and the humor, it came off as a great package.
The only thing that bothered me was how the chapters overlapped. I don't have a particular preference when it comes to choosing between alternating POV books and one-character POV books, but this really bothered me because Cath Crowley went back into a scene that had already been covered by another character and rewrote half of it in the other character's POV. I wouldn't have minded if it had happened once, but it was like that in most of the chapters.
I loved Cath Crowley's simple, gently sarcastic writing. Bookmarking on my Kindle is godsend because there were a lot of memorable lines.
The moment of clarity doesn't go any further than that because smacking into a tree in the middle of the night will knock clarity right out of a girl, every time.
Every now and then I think he's here because in the dark Ed looks like a shadow that someone else is casting.
Overall, Cath Crowley has the potential to be up there with Melina Marchetta. Her ability to turn around a predictable storyline and add on with incredible backstory will keep me looking for her next books....more
In one word: incredible. While only a single scene of Girl of Fire and Thorns stayed perfectly clear in my memory, I have a feeling that most of Crown of Embers will become ingrained in my mind for years. Rae Carson's quick but thorough writing style brings the romance sparkling to the surface, the world to life, and the action to a heart-racing climax. This was a fantastic second installment in the Fire and Thorns series -- I am completely primed for the third book.
I think my favorite thing about this book was Elisa's character. She's endearing in the way that she knows her weaknesses and she doesn't let them rule her -- she tries to shore up her strengths and, most importantly, tries not to let down the people she cares about. (Though there are some notable exceptions to that generality, of course.) I liked her humor and her will to press on no matter what, even if that tremendous willpower nearly got her killed a time or two (or five). Her stubbornness, rather than being irritating, was something I admired about her, because while she was hard-headed, she wasn't stupid. That, paired with her huge heart, made her a great main character.
Rae Carson crafts not only excellent characters, but a thrilling plot. From page one, I was hooked into a story chockfull of slanderous generals, city riots, assassination attempts, and Godstone mysteries. I read the first three hundred pages in one day; I was so into the story that I couldn't pull myself out of it for long. I liked how the story's plot made sense: I didn't have to take her for her word or give her the benefit of the doubt. I understood the stakes, I understood the goals and complications. By the time I got to the climax, I was buzzing with energy from "what's going to happen next?" Having finished it, I'm sorry I went through it so quickly.
What else Carson does well: world building. Similar to that of Tamora Pierce's universes, Rae Carson's world is one that I wouldn't mind getting transported into. (But only if I can get a run at Hector.) I loved the breadth of the geography. The transition from desert to green, rolling hills and sparkling seas gave detail and depth to the world that made it pop off the page for me.
All of this -- the characters, the plot, the world -- its magic was made possible by the simple yet elegant writing style. I loved how Rae Carson made use of every word, how nothing was wasted. Her style phrased things in a way I had never considered. It was straightforward and magical. It fit the story well; it made reading enjoyment that much easier to find.
Rae Carson is what I would call a master of the novel trifecta: she brings together characters, plot and world building to create a wonderful, magical story....more
This was a book that I wasn't supposed to like. Anna Dressed in Blood, from its shadowy cover to its ghost-killing main character, had every possible turn-off possible in my eyes. Fact is, I don't do creepy books. My sensitive but suggestible imagination can't handle it. Anna Dressed in Blood surpassed all expectations and returned me to a state of readership where I read it for the love of the story, and not because five million people were shoving in my face in an attempt to get me to read it. The main character, Cas, was captivating and memorable; his friends, seemingly ordinary people who are forced to do extraordinary things; a plot that kept me glued to the pages, and a romance that I cheered for... All wrapped together in an atmosphere layered with history and topped off with a dash of humor.
I think it was the humor that did it for me. Kendare Blake could've easily turned this story into one that left me unable to close my eyes at night by stripping it of any relief from the suspense. Instead, Cas's narrative is peppered with quips that had me giggling one moment, before the plot turned and I was left with a screwed up expression of disgust. Kendare Blake didn't rely on cheap tricks and overly described gory scenes to mess with the reader. She went past that, into the realm where (we normal people) don't like to go. Described with simple, skin-crawling details, the story made me cringe as easily as it made me laugh.
I loved Cas's narrative for more than just his wicked tendency towards gallows humor. His sense of vulnerability made him appear alive to me; he wasn't this fearless guy who sprinted in to slay mean ghosties. Every move to action was precipitated by a fear of losing something, like his family or his life. I liked that.
Also, his friends developed in a way that surprised me. For example, he makes friends with the school's queen bee, Carmel, and I thought she'd drop out of the story completely. Instead, she becomes one of the main characters and develops a force of her own. Each character was developed in this way, and it gave the book a unique flavor.
The plot was a straightforward adventure story, and like many of the contemporaries of its kind, it was fast and it was heart-pumping. Kendare Blake handled it well, presenting enough mystery to sustain the reader without riddling the entire story with lose ends to be gathered up within the last fifteen pages. The lack of hardcore mystery made it easier, I think, to slip into the world; my brain didn't have to restart itself and think back to the last thing that had happened. The action scenes were well described, so much so that I could see it projected in my mind like a movie. (This book would make an awesome movie.)
Even though the romance was entirely predictable and in retrospect, Anna came off as rather flat and one dimensional, I cheered for Cas and Anna all the way. Their romance wasn't like all the other supernatural pairings that are now a dime a dozen, where the "we can't be together" speech is worthy of an epic eye roll because it seems so melodramatic. Not here. I understood what stood in Cas and Anna's way. I wanted Cas to be able to make it past the obstacles, I totally cheered for him. Anna came off a bit one dimensional sometimes, but I didn't notice until I thought back on the book. Fact was, they worked for each other and for me.
I loved the atmosphere Kendare Blake created. Settled in its spookiness, it was easy to get lost in the world of Thunder Bay. It was equal parts creepy and intriguing. It makes me want more of the world, just as much as I want more of Cas and Anna's story.
Anna Dressed in Blood is perfect for those who love a thrill, as well as for those who don't. I'm so glad I picked it up -- a hearty "thank you" to those five million people who were dying for me to read it. I loved every page. ...more
I have always been wary of classics. I had the misfortune of starting and completing Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger shortly before I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird and it was one of many that made me question why classic books were "classic." But when I started To Kill a Mockingbird, I wondered if it was one big cosmic joke. Because To Kill a Mockingbird was good.
Of all the "classics" I've read, this was the only one I've seen that actually reads like a modern-day novel. The voice of Scout was clear as a bell and immensely enjoyable. I loved her sharp wit and stubborn streak and fighting spirit. I also liked how Harper Lee made the prose mature and the dialogue child-like, so it really did sound like Scout was narrating her life from a much older age. It also made the story so much easier to understand, and that's the point isn't it? To understand the story. Not something, I feel, most classics get.
Even before I saw the movie, I had pictured what Maycomb would've been like. And with Harper Lee's excellent writing style, it was easy. She took her time with it and put in details that made the setting come to life.
The characters were just as life-like. I am a huge fan of Atticus and Cal and Jem. Besides Scout, that is. Scout was awesome. To Kill a Mockingbird was simply jam-packed with unforgettable characters that told an unforgettable story....more
Here is yet another example of when picking up a book on a whim is a good thing. I'd read one review of this book several years before finally picking it up at B&N, and it was only because I felt I couldn't walk out of the store without buying at least one fiction novel. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour may not be chockfull of surprises -- the fact both of their names are in the title kind of blows that plot twist -- but its story was sweet and engaging with touches of light, subtle humor that created a relatable and cheerworthy protagonist on an emotional journey.
Amy is trying to get over the death of her father, and one of the first things I noticed was that it wasn't said first thing. While it was obvious to me, I liked how Amy couldn't admit this fact out loud until much later on. This reluctance gave her a vulnerability that made her easier to relate to. She was subtly endearing, not desperate for approval or "in your face" about anything. A lot of her emotions were recognizable and so it allowed me, as a reader, to sit back and relax and enjoy the story. Amy did have her dull moments where she was a little slow on the uptake and she came off as incredibly naive, and she could've been a bit chiller about somethings, but overall, I liked her character.
While the arcs of the plot and characters were fairly predictable, Amy and Roger's story was amazingly unique and memorable. Complemented by the pictures strewn throughout the pages, the things that Amy and Roger experienced while on the road was fresh and exciting. (I may be a bit biased, however, since Amy and Roger stopped in Kentucky -- my home state -- and North Carolina, my current residence. Props to Ms. Matson for including Kentucky in all its glory, including the exciting fact that she corrected the pronunciation of "Louisville" -- Kentucky natives really do pronounce it "Loo-ville".) If you haven't picked up a copy of Amy and Roger and skimmed through the pages, you may not know that there are pictures of receipts, postcards, and actual pictures scattered throughout the book. These were an incredible addition, and fascinated me as a reader.
I imagine that some readers might find it a bit slow, though. There isn't action every single page, but that's not to say there isn't conflict. A lot of the story is dominated by Amy's emotional journey, allowing their physical adventure across the US to be more of a complementary aspect.
Even while their names are in the title together, Amy and Roger's romance didn't take center stage. It was a sweet, but not saccharine romance that developed naturally and realistically. I thought Roger was an excellent character and overall great guy. He never tried BS-ing Amy with the "you don't know you're beautiful" speech that seems commonplace in romances nowadays. I cheered as much for Roger as I did for Amy.
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was a great summer read that was light, but not superficial; heart-wrenching, but not depressing. I'm intrigued by Morgan Matson's talent -- so much so, I'm looking forward to picking up her newest book, Second Chance Summer. I have a feeling that she's in the running to be the next Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti. ...more
My expectation: something totally goofy. Sherman Alexie's blurb -- "This is a scary funny book or a funny scary book. In either case, it is a great book. I love it." -- was a fair warning, even if I didn't quite believe it. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a funny book. It was also a freaky as hell book, and teaches me to mind my manners when reading a book with Lish McBride at the helm. Just as good as Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake in the creepy department, though Anna pales just a bit in comparison, let's be honest. I enjoyed everything from the characters to the way it switched effortlessly between light superficiality to hard, cold badassery.
I loved Sam's character, but in a way that makes me think I wouldn't have the guts to approach him in real life because, while he may consider himself socially awkward, he's actually wickedly funny (and to a 20-year-old with the sense of humor as non existent as an unattractive Tom Hiddleston, funny guys are endlessly attractive). Sam was open and vulnerable, exposing his weaknesses but also his steel core. He could shriek like a girl at the sight of a severed head, but he could also take care of business like a BAMF. Sam is just the kind of narrator I'm drawn to: one who struggles with power. He held this book together excellently.
In fact, all of the characters brought this story to life in the way that well-cast Broadway productions seem to just work, even if you can't say exactly why. Lish McBride has me convinced that she has the ability to write good characters, which says to me that no matter what genre she chooses to write in, she will produce a work of enjoyable quality.
Really, when I say "enjoyable" I mean "holy crap I'm freaked out but I kinda like it." When I first cracked open Hold Me Closer, Necromancer I assumed that the "freaky" stuff was going to be hokey at best and schticky at worst, and I was not expecting to be left rolling my shoulders with unease and enduring a shudder that rippled all the way down my spine. Lish McBride has this ability to present something creepy in an off-handed way, sort of lulling you into a false sense of security until she snaps the comedy off with a healthy dose of skin-crawling reality.
Really, it's like a superpower. It's almost enough to keep me away from her work. Almost. I am super psyched to get a copy of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer for my shelves and to pick up the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, because the thing I loved above all else in this book was that no matter how much something appeared superficial and fluffy, there was a hard truth that came at you like a prize fighter. Lish McBride's way of kidding-not-kidding has me excited and apprehensive about her work all at once, but definitely willing to continue reading her books....more