I picked up Gone because it has been described by many like a young version of Stephen King's The Stand. The Stand is one of my favorite books ever, s...moreI picked up Gone because it has been described by many like a young version of Stephen King's The Stand. The Stand is one of my favorite books ever, so I wanted to see how true that statement was. Having read the book, I definitely think that comparing it to The Stand is over-exaggerating Gone. It was good, but it was nowhere near the excellence that is The Stand. Still, it was very enjoyable.
Gone is basically about the world gone awry. Every person over the age of 14 suddenly just poofs. In a world where there are no adults, you have kids trying to run the FAYZ and a handful of them are either murderous psychos or evil kids hell-bent on gaining power and then you have the heroes who are trying to save the FAYZ. It's a pretty standard plot.
Gone is an extremely fast-paced thriller and due to this, it was a page-turner. Considering that this book was 500+ pages, that was really a must for me. The main character was likeable enough, but I didn't really care for much of the characters except for Edilio, Lana, and Patrick. I did love the idea of an alternate universe and looking into how kids would cope in a society with no order or rules. In fact, my favorite parts of Gone were when the kids reached a new hurdle and kept questioning how they would survive.
However, my main gripe with this novel is that I invested 500+ pages in this and none of my questions were answered. I don't care that this book has no closure, but it seems like this book was written with the clear intention of a sequel and if I don't want to read the sequel, I'm basically screwed because I'm going to have no idea what happened. Also, the romance between Sam/Astrid was highly improbable. I don't care what circumstances you're in. No 14-year-old is going to fall in love with someone they've only known well for a week. A lot of the characters also seemed to fall into their stereotypes. You have the hero: Sam, the pretty, brainy girl: Astrid, the little brother: Petey, the sidekick you can't really trust: Quinn, the power-hungry villain: Caine, and the beautiful bad girl: Diane. These characters were anything but original. The book was also way too long. It should've been at least 100 pages shorter, especially the author wasn't going to solve anything.
Anyway, while I did like Gone quite a bit, I felt that its flaws were too much to overlook. Plus, I'm still pissed at the whole 500 pages and no resolution thing. Maybe I'll pick up the next one in a while, but not anytime soon. So, while Gone is recommended, I definitely suggest you don't read it unless you want to devote yourself to reading the other 5 of this planned series.(less)
I picked up The Girl Who Chased the Moon because of Sarah Addison Allen's first book Garden Spells. I thought Garden Spells was truly amazing and it m...moreI picked up The Girl Who Chased the Moon because of Sarah Addison Allen's first book Garden Spells. I thought Garden Spells was truly amazing and it made its way to my "favorite books ever" list. So, I set extremely high standards for The Girl Who Chased the Moon. While the book didn't live up to these expectations, I thought that it was a pretty great book.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon is an enchanting novel. Magical realism is something that Allen seems to do really well. Her books are deeper than chick-lit, yet retain the perfect summer read feeling. The Girl Who Chased the Moon was filled with quirky, loveable characters that are in a whimsical little town.
Every thing in this book is infused with touches of magic, yet it wasn't really a fantasy or supernatural read. The magic was a bit understated and it wasn't that focal to the plot. It was mostly in the background (except for really one part where it was out in the open). These characters weren't magical, they just happened to live in a town where strange, yet wonderful things happen.
The reason why I'm giving The Girl Who Chased the Moon four stars instead of five is because while I liked the characters quite a bit, I didn't love them as much as I loved the characters in Garden Spells. Since the book was so short, I didn't really get attached to the characters. I did want them to get happy endings, but I didn't really care how they got there. Also, the subplot with Win and Emily, while it was sweet, seemed to have happened to quickly that I didn't really see how we got from Point A to Point B.
Anyway, regardless of these minor flaws, I thought that The Girl Who Chased the Moon was a great. It was a very comfortable and quick read. It not only made me crave cake (seriously, I have a terrible sweet tooth and this just made it worse), but had me craving for the familiarity of a tight-knit town. This book is recommended, yet I recommend Garden Spells way more.(less)
Matilda was (and still is) one of my favorite childhood movies. I remember going to watch it in theaters when it came out and watched it endlessly whe...moreMatilda was (and still is) one of my favorite childhood movies. I remember going to watch it in theaters when it came out and watched it endlessly when it came out in VHS. So, when I found this book at my thrift store for a dollar, I absolutely had to pick it up.
Matilda was just an amusing, captivating read. At once, you have a heroine you can root for and just love to pieces because she's so unique. As I was reading, I kept picturing the parts happening in the book as they were in the movie. (For example, the part where one of Matilda's classmates are singing the 'difficulty' poem and Trunchbull yells "Why are all these women married?!" That's seriously my favorite part of the movie and this part of the book had me in stitches, too.) The book was not only cute, but it was pretty funny. Some parts had me chuckling a little, but most parts had me laughing out loud.
Even though I enjoyed this book immensely, I still have to say that I love the movie a little bit more. I think it's mostly a nostalgia thing. I just loved all the actors who portrayed the characters in the movie. I also loved movie"Miss Honey" more than book"Miss Honey" and I sympathized more with movie"Matilda" than with book"Matilda".
All of that being said, Matilda is still a keeper on my shelf. I think this is one book that I'm going to find myself re-reading for comfort (just as I rewatch the movie) and on those rainy days when you just want to read something familiar. I definitely can't wait until my sister's a little bit older so that she can read Matilda. I definitely recommend this book to children and adults (especially if those adults have kids...). It's really an enjoyable read for all ages.(less)
I have this intense love of books about people who have died (or are about to die) and are narrating their story through the afterlife (or some sort o...moreI have this intense love of books about people who have died (or are about to die) and are narrating their story through the afterlife (or some sort of limbo). Morbid? Maybe. Fascinating? Abso-friggin-lutely! The ones most well-known are The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and If I Stay by Gayle Forman (the last two particularly in YA circles). While I think that In a Heartbeat wasn't as amazing as these three reads, it was still pretty damn good.
I found In a Heartbeat to be an eye-opener of sorts. The grief that the families of organ donors suffer is something that's always been in the forefront of my mind when I read articles about this subject or see documentaries on TV. However, I never really thought about the families of those patients who receive the organs. I guess I'd always assumed that they'd just be happy because of what's happened. So, I was kind of shocked when I read that Amelia was feeling guilty about receiving the heart. I guess it hit me hardest with this quote, "But the fact remained that someone else had to die for me to live. Someone else had to grieve for me to be happy. And every night at dinner, when my family prayed for a new heart for me, we were praying for that to happen." I never thought about it that way, so that definitely struck a chord with me.
However, maybe due to it's length, I never really felt like I connected to any of the characters. I felt like maybe Eagan and especially Amelia should've been a bit more fleshed out. We never really got a sense as to who Amelia was and how her life was before the operation. I think this book should've been just a tad bit longer, hence why I took away one star.
Anyway, I thought In a Heartbeat was a great read. It was compelling and emotional read, which had me tear up more than once. I'm definitely looking forward to more from Loretta Ellsworth as it seems like the YA genre has another fantastic author in its midst.(less)
Due to the ratings here on Goodreads and on Amazon, Her Fearful Symmetry seems to be one of those books were most people either love it or hate it. No...moreDue to the ratings here on Goodreads and on Amazon, Her Fearful Symmetry seems to be one of those books were most people either love it or hate it. Now, I didn't LOVE it, but I didn't fiercely HATE it either. In fact, I really, really liked Her Fearful Symmetry and was kind of surprised by that considering that I never made it through The Time Traveler's Wife (although to be honest, I don't think I gave it a fair chance. I put it down after about 10 pages in the middle of a reading slump. I will be giving it another try, though). However, I think that worked out in my favor considering many people were comparing this book to TTTW. I, on the other hand, had a clean slate, so to speak.
First things first: I think the atmosphere had a lot to do with why I enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry. I love the whole gothic, spookiness that the book had going for it. So, it seemed fitting for the weather outside to match. I read this book in the middle of a snowstorm (I was safely inside, though, so no worries) and I think it added a bit more to the story (considering that the best time to read anything even remotely spooky is on those cold, snowy days). I think if I would've read this in the summer, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.
Now that I got that little weird tidbit out of the way, I'll go to the next thing. What I noticed almost immediately was the beautiful writing. Again, I couldn't make it through TTTW and I didn't really notice the writing then, just the thrumming in my head and my inner voice yelling "It's a romance...You WON'T enjoy it!" However, in Her Fearful Symmetry, I was captivated by the prose from the first sentence. It was raw, emotional, yet it did all of this with a quiet intensity.
I am going to admit that I was a little annoyed by some of the actions of the characters. I spent most of the book agitated with Julia. She was just so bossy and controlling. I then spent the remainder of the book agitated with Valentina and wanting to tell her to grow a friggin' backbone and stand up to Julia. The twins' relationship was so stifling and exhausting (seriously, if this is how every twin relationship is, I feel sorry for the both of them). However, their relationship was also the most interesting part of the book for me.
Another confession is that I sort of loved Elspeth (which is weird considering how everything ended up playing out). I just felt so sorry for her, being alone and stuck in the flat with nothing to do. I was also very endeared by her, like one would be with a puppy who has done something it wasn't supposed to. You want to scold it while simultaneously petting it. I think, despite my inital annoyance with the twins of hell, that I really liked every single one of the characters found them all necessary. I liked Martin and Robert and Edie, just all of them.
So, I definitely recommend Her Fearful Symmetry. It was a beautifully written (I seriously didn't think the writing would affect me that much) ghost story with twists and turns. It was just an all-around great read.
Oh Lordy, I tried so hard to like Going Bovine. Why? Because I absolutely loved and adored the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. It's one of my favor...moreOh Lordy, I tried so hard to like Going Bovine. Why? Because I absolutely loved and adored the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. It's one of my favorite young-adult series (along with Harry Potter). So, I took a chance and decided to buy my first Libba Bray book (the Gemma Doyle books were library reads for me even though I have gotten the first two from PBS) on the week it came out. 16 bucks for a new hardcover. But I didn't mind because, again, it's Libba Bray and I loved her previous books. So, 16 bucks and my past experiences with Libba Bray are the ONLY reason I finished Going Bovine.
When I was around page 50, I was getting a little anxious to get the story going. Sure, Cameron was semi-funny and he had a sarcastic personality (I love sarcastic people), but I wanted a little bit more plot. I got it around page 175. That's when I started enjoying it more. But then the book would lag. It would be 10 pages of bizarre (I like bizarre most of the time) then 50 pages of coma-inducing boredom. This was pretty much the pattern until I got to page 300. And then I decided I was going to skim towards the end. Now, I'm not a skimmer. At all. If I'm not enjoying a book, I'll put it down. If I'm not enjoying a book, but still want to know how it ends, then I'll take a look at the last page to see how it ends and then put it down. But I don't skim. However, I skimmed Going Bovine because it was a Libba Bray book and I kept hoping beyond hope that it would get better. It didn't.
The ending. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone, but I do have to say that it was very, very predictable. By page 200, I knew exactly how Going Bovine was going to end. Add that to the fact that Cameron's humor was wearing very thin, you then have me very annoyed. But again, I can take a predictable plot (I am a notorious mystery reader, after all), but I cannot take a boring one. I don't recover well from boring not only because it is in fact, boring, but because reading a boring book tends to screw up what I plan on reading next. If I'm reading a boring book that I want to end very badly, and lined up is a book that's probably going to take a while to get into, that book goes by the wayside. Instead, I pick up either a fluffy read or a series read (in this case it's Sacred by Dennis Lehane which is replacing Her Fearful Symmetry as my next read).
The very few reasons why Going Bovine is getting two stars as opposed to the dreaded one is because it had some funny parts (before Cameron started to wear thin) and because it was written really well. It did bring up some philosophical points, so I could sort of see where Libba Bray wanted to go, but wished she could've chosen a way that was actually interesting. Oh yeah, I also liked the pink-haired, punk-rock angel, Dulcie. My favorite character by far.
So, I don't think I recommend Going Bovine by Libba Bray. I'm sorry, but I felt like it was just one bloated (my God is this a long book. And it felt like every single one of its 480 pages), boring book. I just couldn't take it. Libba Bray's newest book is going to be a library read for me.(less)
I absolutely loved and adored John Connolly's fairy-tale for adults fantasy novel The Book of Lost Things. Due to my sheer love of that book, I expect...moreI absolutely loved and adored John Connolly's fairy-tale for adults fantasy novel The Book of Lost Things. Due to my sheer love of that book, I expected to love The Gates as well. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I spent the majority of the book in like with it. Meaning, I thought it was okay, but nothing to write home about.
The main thing I did actually like about The Gates were the silly demons, especially Nurd. I adored Nurd. While he wasn't exactly cute and cuddly (He is a demon after all), he did have that "kicked puppy" attitude that made you want to hug and cuddle him. I thought his friendship with Samuel was the greatest thing in this book. It was so aww-worthy. It was certainly much better than the half-assed attempt to make Samuel have Harry Potter rip-off friends. I also did the philosophical and religious discussions that came up every once in a while. They were very intriguing and I loved that Samuel asked those kind of questions even if they really aren't the norm for eleven-year-old boys. And that is the extent of my likeness with The Gates.
I guess my main problem with The Gates was that it took a while for me to get into it and even when I was into it, I didn't have a strong desire to pick it back up once I had to put it down. Sure, while I was reading The Gates, I was semi-enjoying it. But once I had to put it down, I tried to rationalize my way out of picking it back up. Maybe it was the endless footnotes (even though these were the most interesting parts of the book) or the sort of patronizing way Connolly speaks to the readers when it comes to the meanings of "difficult" words. Or maybe it was the fact that this is clearly a young adult novel, but is categorized as "Adult Fiction" and therefore has the price of an "Adult Fiction" book when it really should have the price of a young-adult book (which are much cheaper especially if you're comparing Hardcover prices). But either way, I just couldn't love this book.
So, I thought The Gates was just okay. I did chuckle out loud through some parts, but it wasn't that guffawing, laughing out loud kind of book for me. I thought it was pretty cute and I'm sure the younger set will love it, but (and I am so shocked about what I'm going to write considering my love for Young-Adult books. Seriously, check out my bookshelf...) I thought that The Gates was just a tad bit too juvenile for me. From the description of the book, I expected a dark, creepy, adult tale that was mildly funny. But I didn't get any of that except the mildly funny. Oh well. I'll still read whatever Fantasy book that John Connolly publishes in the hopes that it'll be half as good as The Book of Lost Things. (less)
I also, as I'm assuming countless others did the same, picked The Princetta up solely because of the cover. Seriously, the book's marketing department...moreI also, as I'm assuming countless others did the same, picked The Princetta up solely because of the cover. Seriously, the book's marketing department deserves major kudos. I remember browsing through the YA section of my local B&N and thinking what last book to pick up (since I already had three must-haves). It was between this and another book (whose name currently evades me), but for some reason (mainly the cover), my eyes kept glancing at The Princetta. So, I decided to buy this one. Of course when I got home, I searched for the reviews on Amazon and thought I had made a terrible mistake when I saw that it was given an average rating of two and a half stars. All these reviews kept saying how terrible the book was particularly the ending. So, I was imagining that this book was going to be horrific, so I put off reading it for a while. Well, I finally picked it up and since my expectations were so incredibly low, I actually ended up really enjoying it.
I didn't think I was going to like the whole voyage storyline (yes I read the synopsis before I bought it and knew that a voyage was essential to the plot, but again I say, hello, look at the cover! Never underestimate the power of a beautiful cover...) because everytime I read a book about a sea voyage, I tend to get mildly seasick. (I'm well aware that this is weird and all in my head, but really I can't help it.) But I got sucked into the voyage like you wouldn't believe. I found myself looking forward to what island they would go to next and what terrible monsters they were going to face. I felt like a kid again who was always looking at those fantasy island maps and thinking, "I'd love to go there and fight monsters with my sword". Heh, even then there were no dreams of being a princess for me. I wanted to be right in the action.
Now the characters. I really loved Malva at the beginning. She was assertive, sure of what she wanted, and she didn't seem like the typical, whiny, pathetic, YA heroine that's sort of the norm in supernatural/Fantasy YA novels. However, after a while, she started getting all my nerves with her spoiled behavior. Seriously, you're saying that you don't want to be a princess anymore, yet you get annoyed when you're not getting the perks of the princess you so desparately don't want to be... Can you sense my confusion? But luckily, there were a slew of supporting characters that made up for the annoying princess. I loved them all. The smart, medicinal-knowledged side-kick, the mischievious yet loyal dog, the giant with the huge heart to match, the lovable twins, all great. I was a bit "meh" on Malva's romantic interest. I just didn't click with him and as a result, didn't click with their romance. But the good thing was that the romance didn't really make me roll my eyes the way others do. I guess because the big focal point of the book was the voyage itself and the romance was a subplot. Big plus for me!
I mentioned before that I thought the book was going to be terrible due to other readers' reviews about the ending. I'm not going to say what the ending is as to not spoil anyone. But I do have to say that I don't understand what's so terrible about it. Call me cynical or whatever, but if you're reading a book where a slew of characters go on a dangerous voyage, I kind of think that it's a bit obvious that not all of them are going to make it. Maybe Harry Potter 7 ruined these types of things for me (seriously, that book was bloodbath) so that I'm not shocked anymore when something like that happens. The only time I get annoyed at endings is when they come completely out of left field and you start thinking "How in the world could that possibly happen?!" But for adventure books like this one, I think that the notion that not everyone is going to make it is always a possible outcome. Plus, I don't really need the sweet, sappy, ending.
So, I have to say that I really liked The Princetta. Sure, the heroine was kind of annoying, but the awesome adventure that had me turning the pages more than made up for it. It's not my favorite YA book by any means, but I don't think it's quite deserving of the two and a half star rating it has on Amazon. If a book manages to entertain me and not throw something completely out of left field in order to "shock" the audience, then I'm happy. Maybe I'm just easy... (Not in every sense of the word, thank you very much!)(less)
Who else is getting sick of this whole new craze of supernatural young adult novels? Is it just me or are those YA novels the only ones that are being...moreWho else is getting sick of this whole new craze of supernatural young adult novels? Is it just me or are those YA novels the only ones that are being pushed lately? It's just me? Okay... I admit, yes, the whole supernatural thing is grating on my nerves just a bit, but Once a Witch, while a supernatural YA novel, is just unique enough to work and not seem like a knock-off.
Tasmin comes from a long line of witches. She's supposed to be this huge beacon for all the Talented, as predicted by her grandmother (one of the most Talented herself). But instead of having this huge power, it doesn't show up. So what's Tasmin to do? Well, go to a boarding school in the city and pretend to be normal, hating going back home because she's the black sheep in the family.
I think any teen can relate to this book. Relate to a book about witches and spells and potions, you ask? Well, yes. Every teen has at least once felt like the black-sheep in their family or at the very least felt excluded. Who also hasn't felt bad for not living up to your family's expectation of you? Carolyn MacCullough has exceeded in making a very remarkable heroine in Tamsin. She's relateable, likeable, witty, and everything that I believe a young adult heroine should be.
This novel has everything any young adult book fan would wish for. Intrigue, wit, sarcasm (or maybe that's just me?), witches (I've always loved anything to do with witches, starting with my anything, but brief obsession with the tv show "Charmed"), mystery, romance (one that didn't make me roll my eyes and that has to be a first with me), quirky and amazing characters (Tamsin's family is just deliciously weird) and an enchanting, yet action-filled plot that will have you rooting for the main character. And while I'm also a bit tired of almost every novel having a sequel (seriously, what's so bad about a stand-alone novel? I quite like those...), this one is just begging for a sequel, if not more than that. If you're a YA fan, pick up Once A Witch...it's an amazing light-hearted read.(less)
Garden Spells was an excellent surprise! I only heard about this book because I'm participating in a reading challenge and one of the challenges was t...moreGarden Spells was an excellent surprise! I only heard about this book because I'm participating in a reading challenge and one of the challenges was to read a book with an apple in the cover. So, after reading the flap of this one, I decided to use it. At first I thought that this sounded a little bit too much like Practical Magic. And while I love the movie, I found the book really disappointing. So, I thought that Garden Spells would be just as disappointing, but it wasn't.
This book had a smidge of drama in it, some humor, and a lot of whimsy. Yeah, I think that word best describes this book. It was whimsical. The magic in the book wasn't obvious, which I liked. It was mostly understated. It wasn't like black cats and love potions, but mostly energy and orbs, and a really loveable apple tree.
This is something that I say in almost all my reviews, but I have an intense love for supporting characters and I tend to like them more than the main characters. The supporting characters in Garden Spells were great. They were loveable, eccentric, and unique. That's not to say that I didn't love the main characters, Claire and Sydney, because I did. It was interesting to me that neither sister was regarded as the "bad one". Usually in books with troubled sibling relations, you have one that's sort of saint-like and one that's clearly at fault for how the relationship has turned out. This wasn't like that. Both women had their faults and tried to mend them and their relationship as much as possible.
My absolute favorite part of the book was the aforementioned apple tree. It was a character all on it's own. And what a marvelous character! This tree's personality, I feel, was stronger than it's more human counterparts. It was an affectionate, stubborn, and best of all, mischevious tree. It's escapades truly made the book for me. It also added a bit more to the magic angle and made me understand some of the characters a little bit more.
Anyway, so this has definitely gone on my list of favorites for this year and of all time. If you want to read a book with great characters, a touch of magic, with a loveable tree, and more than a smidge of whimsy, pick up this book. Trust me when I say you won't regret it.(less)