Steven Arntson skillfully manoeuvres the topics of death and friendship in this relatively light-hearted supernatural read.
Gabriela has received notif...moreSteven Arntson skillfully manoeuvres the topics of death and friendship in this relatively light-hearted supernatural read.
Gabriela has received notification that she is going to "depart" (die) in one week. Before this happens, she has been generously provided the opportunity to write up a list of the things she hopes to accomplish before her death and hopefully figure out a way to escape it. Gabriela's voice shines in this first-person novel with sharp wit and dark humour.
Despite the morbid concept, The Wrap-Up List is actually a refreshingly light read. Gabriela's final days are filled with family, friends and laughter rather than despair at her impending doom. Her wrap-up list, the list of things she'd like to accomplish before passing, was wonderful and I loved how much she discovered about herself and the people she loved in the process of trying to fulfil it.
The supporting cast of characters is a diverse and wonderful group of people, all there to support Gabriela and each other in their own special way. It's clear to see the unique place each holds in Gabriela's life and a nice change to see that they actually have their own lives as well. The fact that these characters have their own concerns independent of their friend is a welcome plot point in my eyes.
Despite the inventive concept, The Wrap-Up List is a novel you will find both easy to believe and easy to read.
Cover Comments: I love that the wrap-up list is featured so plainly. It certainly managed to get my attention!(less)
Vampires. Maybe you're sick of these fanged creatures or perhaps you're like me and can't get enough of them, but either way, Jessica's Guide to Datin...moreVampires. Maybe you're sick of these fanged creatures or perhaps you're like me and can't get enough of them, but either way, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side provides a likeable and unique take on them.
I've heard different opinions on the tone of this novel ranging from more serious and probing to light and easy. Really, I'm going to say that this is one of those novels where it's up to YOU to decide how you want to take it. There were definitely some deeper issues about self-worth and coming into your own but if you want to take it at face-value as the wonderfully entertaining read that it is... go for it.
The novel is told in alternating perspectives with Jessica and Lucius at centre-stage. Both of these characters had strong, distinct voices and contrasted nicely with each other. I appreciated Jessica's analytical mind and loved Lucius' dry humour. Getting a chance to get into both of their minds was definitely an element that worked well for this novel.
Both of the these characters make some interesting transformations throughout the course of the novel. For Jessica, this means discovering who she truly is and learning to love herself. For Lucius, it's adjusting to a new life in America (however temporary it may be). In both cases, the characters are forced to change their way of thinking and watching that happen was one of my favourite things about the story.
A well-written novel that succeeded in making me both laugh and think.
Cover Comments: It's cute! Pretty standard but visually-appealing, I think.(less)
1. hot boys 2. hot boys 3. hot boys 4. hot boys 5. hot boys
Alright, fine, there's more than that. But don't tell me tha...more5 Reasons Why You Should Read Spark
1. hot boys 2. hot boys 3. hot boys 4. hot boys 5. hot boys
Alright, fine, there's more than that. But don't tell me that doesn't draw you in ;)
1. Loved the characters in Storm? Well here they get EVEN BETTER! I fell hard for the characters in Storm but even so, my love for them somehow reached even higher levels in the sequel! Many of them seem a lot more complex to me now than they did when I first started the series and I think that brings more of a sort of appreciation from me. I am so, so invested in these characters. One that I particularly LOVED in Spark was Hunter. I liked him in the previous book but there was nothing to make me love him. In Spark? Problem solved.
2. Meet Gabriel Merrick, the most wonderfully complex character ever. Oh my goodness, this boy. There are about seven thousand layers to Gabriel... he is remarkably like a real person. He misunderstands things, speaks out of turn and loses his temper easily. He doesn't make it easy for people to help him. And yet, it is SO CLEAR that he's trying to do the best that he can. There are so many fears and insecurities underneath the surface of Gabriel and all of them co-exist amongst the most beautiful, genuine and caring parts of him. I love love love love love loooooooove his character!
3. E-M-O-T-I-O-N I cried and I laughed while reading this -- for me, this is generally a good sign! Brigid Kemmerer has this ability to get right under your skin with her words and make you feel emotions for the things that seem so insignificant. The changing POVs in this story (Gabriel and Layne, who, by the way, is FABULOUS) worked flawlessly and really maximized the emotional connection that I had to the story. Also with the emotion? The romance. I could FEEL the chemistry between Gabriel and Layne.
4. Brigid doesn't skirt around the tough stuff Just like in the previous novel of the series, there is some focus on a very serious issue. Bullying is a prevalent topic in the novel and I found it very well-written. It honestly broke my heart to see some of the things that were going on in the school and it's hard not to feel the horror and disgust that they actually do happen.
5. Family <3 I have probably said it enough times to make you all sick but I LOVE FAMILY STORYLINES. The Merrick brothers don't seem like the most perfect family in this book but oh, it killed me to watch them. All of their interactions seem so personal and charged with a dozen different emotions. Just as with the individual characters, the dynamics of this family unit are layered and complicated and I wouldn't have it any other way. Well, okay, maybe I'd be up for a nice big group hug every now and again.
(bonus: hot boys!)
So basically: This author needs to be on your to-read list if she's not already. The Merrick brother await you!
If you've been searching for a break from your typical reads, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is the way to go!
From start to finish, this novel is pac...moreIf you've been searching for a break from your typical reads, Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick is the way to go!
From start to finish, this novel is packed with action and excitement. Images will be shattered, punches will be thrown and bullets will be fired - all in a very short time. This is the kind of book I can totally picture becoming a movie. It's not exactly a complicated plot - more direct lines from Point A to Point B - but it was fun to read nonetheless.
The characters for me were... pretty good. Perry is responsible and good-natured. I liked the genuine effort he made to be a good person. I'm not really quite sure what to make of Gobi. There were things I liked about her personality and things I found a little under-developped. Overall, Perry and Gobi were interesting to read about but not incredibly memorable.
I really liked the inclusion of the college essay questions. I thought they were a creative way to kind of guide what in the following scenes to focus on and besides, they were so interesting! It was definitely cool to see what different universities had asked and the wide range of topics that were explored.
An adventure that is both fast and fun!
Note: While this is technically YA, I would say it's intended for an older audience, perhaps even better suited for adults. Just a thought!
Cover Comments: Hello NYC! Looking nice and bright there. Not quite sure what you're wearing, Gobi, since I distinctly remember the outfits you wore (trust me, you will too) and a brown leather jacket doesn't seem to fit the bill, but whatever.(less)
Fast, fun, and just plain adorable... there's three words to describe Annabel Monaghan's fiction debut, A Girl Named Digit.
Farrah, code name nickname "Digit," is a secret math genius. She's tried to keep it secret from her normal, popular friends lest she get labelled as the numbers freak again, but there's no denying that she scored perfect on her math SAT. Now, as far as I know, Annabel Monaghan doesn't share Digit's genius-level affinity for numbers (WHO KNOWS) but she does do a wonderful job of setting the scene in Digit's head. This girl eats numbers for breakfast, breathes in patterns and trends like air and still manages to be a character I could connect with. Digit's wired for math, yes, but she's also into bumper stickers and boys (correction: one dedicated and likeable rookie FBI agent boy).
A Girl Named Digit is a short but action-packed adventure. I had high hopes for a light read that involved terrorist codes and secret hide-outs, chase scenes and romance, and Monaghan met them all. There was never a chance for me to worry about some of the more far-fetched concepts because I was having too much fun to notice!
With a romance that will keep a smile on your face and a plot that will keep you on your toes, A Girl Named Digit is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Cover Comments: Fun and SHINY... what more could I ask for? I was seriously surprised when I looked at the size of it though... So much fabulous in so few pages! :)(less)
Meg Haston has created an entertaining story of fitting in at the middle school level - even if you're faced with the unfortunate problem of braces an...moreMeg Haston has created an entertaining story of fitting in at the middle school level - even if you're faced with the unfortunate problem of braces and glasses.
Kacey Simon appears to have it all - her own weekly segment on the school's TV station, the lead role in the school play and all the popularity she could want - until she gets braces and glasses. Before she can blink, her friends have deserted her and the entire school is mocking her after a YouTube video of her goes viral. Kacey isn't a character I can really claim to like, but I think that was the point. She's brutally honest to the point of bullying but she really is under the impression that she's helping.
Kacey meets and re-connects with some great people in Paige (woot!) and Zander AKA Skinny Jeans. Both of them really helped to steer Kacey on the right path and I found both of them charming.
I feel like this book requires a bit of suspension of disbelief. Look, I know that years ago, having braces and glasses were a call for mockery, but I really do think things have changed. At least where I live, almost every student has/had either braces or glasses and oftentimes both. It's not such a huge deal! Overlooking that, the storyline itself is a lot of fun. In particular, I loved the scenes where Kacey was with Zander and the band. You could see her opening up and changing for the better in a way that rings true. It was in one those scenes that I found myself starting to like Kacey - I can see the potential!
Here's the thing though. In the end, it didn't really feel like the moral of the story (a very important one!) was learned because there isn't that big moment. Not that it lacked it entirely, but I expected more of an emphasis on the fact that braces and glasses don't make you a loser. What's more is that Kacey seems to regain her popularity primarily through manipulation, rendering the entire movement a little pointless. It's still fun, but kind of shallow.
On a somewhat random note, I'm glad this is being made into a TV show! The book is one I can definitely see being translated to TV for fans of say, The Clique.
Cover Comments: It reminds me of the random doodles I draw everywhere :) Nice! (I'm guessing it will get a makeover if the TV show really takes off?)(less)
Sarah Rees Brennan was always a favourite author of mine from her Demon's Lexicon series, but now? After this book? I'll read anything she ever writes...moreSarah Rees Brennan was always a favourite author of mine from her Demon's Lexicon series, but now? After this book? I'll read anything she ever writes... period. It was that good.
Kami Glass was a wonderful protagonist. She was so loud and determined, never hesitant to go after what she wanted. Her character leaped off the pages at me and I really felt like we were friends! Jared was amazing as well. I don't normally go for the brooding, gloomy type but something about Jared's character clicked with me. Seeing him from Kami's mind as the 'imaginary friend' gave him another layer and a depth that just resonated with me.
The writing itself is magnificent. The humour is spot-on and it wasn't uncommon to see me laughing my head off (in public places) at it. I wouldn't hesitate to hang out with any of these characters or visit Sorry-in-the-Vale. Such an atmospheric setting!
And then... the plot. Seriously, this book did no wrong in my opinion and the storyline is definitely included in that! There's a balance in the tones of the novel that make it fun, spooky, hilarious and exciting all at once.
So, here's the deal. I love a lot of books. Perhaps I'm just easy to please and uncritical but whatever the case, the fact remains. The books that I honestly and truly adore, the books that I can feel in my soul and reduce me to ripping up paper to calm my emotions* are a bit more rare. Unspoken is one of those books.
Cover Comments: I love this. I really wish that there were more illustrated book covers because it just... works.
Although the idea of heartbreak is nothing unheard of, the concept of actually having your heart split into two pieces after love goes wrong is a...more4.5/5
Although the idea of heartbreak is nothing unheard of, the concept of actually having your heart split into two pieces after love goes wrong is a new one. Jess Rothenberg explores exactly this though and manages to pull it off spectacularly.
When I first heard of what The Catastrophic History of You and Me was about, I was mega excited. This is such a crazy, unique idea and I was jumping with anticipation at how it would be executed. Once Brie dies, she has to go through the five stages of grief until she ultimately accepts her fate. The book is basically divided into sections by stage but instead of just having 'stage: anger' and all of a sudden Brie consumed with burning rage, it all connects into a believable, enthralling story line.
The pacing is excellent as Brie explores the afterlife as well as the life she has left behind. And oh, the things she is missing! There is secret after betrayal after shocking revelation thrown out and it really keeps you guessing about what will happen next. The reasons for and the aftermath of Brie's death are not simple and reading to find out about them is a seriously enjoyable experience.
This book is funny and touching and sad and so many other things that are made of win. Reading it is really an emotional rollercoaster that you take with Brie and by the end of the book, I felt a connection to a number of the characters, all of which are so multi-layered and complex.
Take Brie for example. There are all these quirks about her that make her very endearing -- her love for Disney movies, the Your Mom Jokes she passes with Patrick, the sincere affection she has for her little brother. She wasn't a characters whose choices I always agreed with (that thing in the Anger stage - I was kind of ready to smack her!) but I could see where she was coming from and understand her. Then there's PATRICK, who is dreamy in that 80s way of his. He was supportive, helpful and funny and I thought his scenes with Brie were the best. Especially when he made the cheesy cheese nicknames (Cheeto, String Cheese, you get the idea) because tell me, who didn't love them?
Cover Comments: What an awesome dress. I really like this cover. I think you can see the whole afterlife thing playing a role and it's pulled off in a way that reflects the story. The only thing that bugs me about this cover is the fact that Brie isn't wearing her necklace! It's such a huge symbol in the story to me but then nothing is featured. Oh well :) Still pretty.(less)
Standing at the top of its genre, Article 5 presents a compelling, emotional read that you won't want to miss.
The action begins to unfold from the min...moreStanding at the top of its genre, Article 5 presents a compelling, emotional read that you won't want to miss.
The action begins to unfold from the minute this book is opened. The oppression and brutality of the new world is almost startling to read and I don't think I got quite used to it at any point while reading. That being said, it did feel remarkably realistic for a country ruled by violence and fear. There's something to be said about the fact that Kristen Simmons does not gloss over the harshness and yet still manages to evoke such hopeful feelings in me.
Those hopeful feelings were mostly thanks to Ember and Chase, the leading characters. Ember is everything I could hope for in a protagonist. She's strong in the face of danger and can stand her ground but still has that vulnerable side that's just desperate to find her mom safe and sound. Through all of the hardships Ember goes through, she remains resilient and gets only increasingly brave.
Right by her side for a good deal of the action is Chase, Ember's childhood sweetheart. Chase has been through his own share of traumatic experiences and is hardened because of them. That's why it's even sweeter seeing him with Ember where he's perhaps just a little softer, but it's a change that's noticeable. Watching Chase and Ember chip away at the wall that has come between them is a struggle (these two are way too good at keeping their emotions buried) but so definitely worth it.
This is the kind of book that you won't be able to put down. With constant action and characters that manage to worm their way into your heart, you'll want to keep reading until you've finished. At which point, of course, you'll lament the fact that you don't have the second book waiting for you to read. Article 5 kept me up late and had me thinking about it for days after - that's what I consider the mark of an excellent book.
Cover Comments: I don't have too much to say about this one. I think it fits the story reasonably well and it's cool to see Chase rocking that army wear. Nice!(less)
Before I start, I need to say this: I will not do this book justice. I tried my best but my...moreAmazing. Stunning. Unbelievable.
I need more YA like this.
Before I start, I need to say this: I will not do this book justice. I tried my best but my thoughts right now are more, "HEART HEART HEART LALALA." I am left amazed and inspired.
I like a lot of books. I would even say that there are quite a few books that I've loved. There are not, however, as many books that tug me in every direction, that lose me in the story, that win me over so completely that I spend all my time trying to sneak in an extra line or two. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of those books.
Karou is such a phenomenal narrator. She's tough and smart, seen as both fierce and mysterious to her classmates. She has blue hair and a sketchbook filled with only the magic of her own talent, but that's more than enough. Yet, she is not without her vulnerabilities. There was realness in her longing for companionship and the dull ache of what she feels missing from her life is hard to miss. I wanted to get to know her - I felt like I did to a certain degree.
Now, Akiva. Akiva, Akiva, Akiva. This boy is entrancing and sweet, sharp and stunning. As the book progresses, more layers are lifted from his past and present and you really feel like you can understand him. There is so much pain in him, but so much beauty as well, and I was just left feeling so drawn towards him.
Then there was the romance. It is a rare thing that I am so invested in a relationship. Karou and Akiva had my eyes glued to the page, pulse racing at the electrifying interactions between them and heart melting at their undeniable connection.
If romance isn't enough to get you interested, there is also a fantastical world that has been created. Alongside brilliant and diverse characters, there is an epic war. What seems crazy and out there is blended seamlessly with our own world, and you may even start wondering how possible the impossible could be.
Easily one of my favourite books of the year.
Cover Comments: I don't really know how I feel about this cover. On one side, I love the fonts that have been used. The contrast between the black and the bright blue grabs your attention, but then I'm not too crazy about the rest of the cover. I don't know, there's just something about it that seems off. To end on a positive note, I do think Karou looks kind of like a bird in that picture!(less)