Amidst the chaos and ruins of the city around her, Araby liveThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Amidst the chaos and ruins of the city around her, Araby lives a relatively privileged life being the daughter of the scientist who saved humanity. Her father invented the masks that everyone must wear to protect themselves from the disease; at least, everyone who can afford one. Surrounding herself with glittering nights at the Debauchery Club with her best friend April, she immerses herself in this night club designed to help those lose themselves for a night and give in to temporary oblivion. That is, until she attracts the attention of two – very different – guys, both with their own agendas that they want Araby a part of.
I was not familiar with the short story by Edgar Allan Poe of the same name, but you don’t need to be to fully enjoy this story that Griffin has told. She has used Poe’s work as inspiration to concoct a full-length novel that tells the other side of the story. Where Poe’s story features Prince Prospero, Griffin’s shares the other point of view, from his “subjects” and the commoners.
The dystopian world and all-consuming fear of a disease in Masque of the Red Death reminded me at times of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. The narrative captured the widespread panic, chaos and suspicion among a decimated community trying to live their lives as best they can, given their circumstances. While there are two guys vying for the attention of Araby, their distinctive qualities and personalities is sure to divide the readers on who is better for Araby. The dilemma Araby faces, of whether she should follow a life of being successful in love or in wealth while trying to stay alive makes for a compelling tale of survival, romance and intrigue.
With captivating characters, Griffin paints a vivid picture of a city in ruins, with paranoia running as rampant as the disease that they’re afraid of catching. With all the buzz surrounding this book prior to its release, I’m so pleased to have it meet my expectations for a phenomenal read. ...more
A re-imagining of the famous fairy tale, Cindertakes place in New Beijing - where itThis and my other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
A re-imagining of the famous fairy tale, Cinder takes place in New Beijing - where it's been over a century since World War 4 and humans & androids coexist precariously in a land where a plague runs rampant. Cinder, the best cyborg mechanic there is, is blamed by her stepmother for her stepsister's illness. Shunned by those around her, Cinder happens on a chance encounter with the handsome Prince Kai who becomes enamoured with her. Conflicted with her own feelings and finding herself tangled up in a larger political plot, she must figure out her role in all of this before it is too late.
I have been waiting to read this highly-anticipated novel by Marissa Meyer for the last few months. The cover alone drew me in, but the premise of the story equally caught my interest. What an imaginative undertaking, to make an iconic of a character as Cinderella be a cyborg. I enjoyed that the setting was not a commonly used one such as United States or England (even though the one mention of Canada uses "hesitant" in the sentence ;)), but I felt the Asian cultural aspect of New Beijing could have been more fully utilized.
Meyer's writing of her characters is descriptive, with a lot of detail and attention paid to their mannerisms and facial expressions. I couldn't quite get on board with Prince Kai's constant sarcasm though. It felt out of place to me, and didn't match the overall environment of the story. I loved this futuristic twist on a familiar tale, with enough variations on a classic to keep you guessing. Even though I saw some plot points from quite early on, it's the journey to get to that moment that kept me reading. The first in a 4-book series, Cinder has definitely piqued my interest to keep me wanting more. I'd be curious to see if the subsequent installments are still focusing on the Cinderella story, or whether other fairy tales make their appearances too.
This, an interview & giveaway and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Violet thought the biggest problems facing her as she turnThis, an interview & giveaway and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Violet thought the biggest problems facing her as she turns 17 was the constant reminder that it was the anniversary of her mom's death, and whether there was anything going on between her & her friend Lincoln. Little did she know that what was waiting for her was the discovery that there were angels of different rankings all around her, ready to wage a war on each other. She finds herself caught between the light & dark, trying to figure out the good & evil as she struggles with whether or not to accept her destiny.
Embrace starts off like a contemporary YA story before spinning into quite a complex web of angel hierarchy. To be honest, some of the intricacies lost me along the way throughout the middle portion of the book, even though I could absolutely appreciate the in depth details that Shirvington worked into this world she has created. Don't let the beautiful cover fool you into thinking it's just another angelic love story either, there's a substantial amount of action-packed fighting in these pages which breaks up the love triangle storyline - and in some cases, adds to it - quite nicely. While it is paranormal in that it deals with angels, there were moments of the book that were definitely easier to suspend my disbelief than others. Personally, I think I can get on board with the angels and all the otherworldly aspects but once it gets spiritual, it loses me.
Overall though, it's a fantastic set-up to the next few books. The writing & research into the hierarchy is greatly detailed and the steamy love triangle definitely will have fans starting up teams for their favourite guy. Looking forward to seeing what the next installment will reveal!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling shares hilarious &aThis review can also be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost.
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling shares hilarious & often quite poignant observations and opinions on any topic that comes to mind. Whether it's a traumatic bullying experience in her childhood to trying to make it in NYC, Kaling brings just enough self deprecation and humour to her stories to let you laugh along with her.
I loved reading about Kaling, letting her true personality shine through since the only aspect I knew of her was her character Kelly Kapoor on The Office. It blew my mind to realize that she was behind the off-Broadway play Matt & Ben (and it wasn't until I saw the postcard for it that I realized I had seen those ads before!) and that she wrote my all-time favourite Office episode, "The Injury" - where Michael cooks his foot on the George Foreman grill.
This is an absolutely delightful book full of stories, memories, fun lists and (both fortunately and unfortunately) a selection of pictures. I say both because it's always fun to see photos of the celebrity that they've deemed fun and appropriate to share in their book, but Kaling doesn't overload her book with the typical pictures. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is a nice balance because it leaves you wanting more Mindy, without making you feel like you just bought a photo album with some captions.
My friend Jenn @ Writer's Block actually met Kaling at her NYC book signing, and she picked up a second autographed copy for me! <3 (click on her blog link to see the picture!)
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off. The oThis, and other reviews, can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5 stars)
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off. The old Lena is long gone and the new Lena struggles with the loss of everything she had ever known, left behind in her past life. As the new girl among a group of so-called "invalids", Lena has to adjust to this new life in the Wilds as part of the resistance. Told in alternating chapters between then and now, glimpses of Lena's adjustment to her new life are mixed in with the current situation she is faced with as the timelines piece closer and closer together.
Can I take back the 5-star rating I gave Delirium and apply it to Pandemonium instead? Because honestly, I thought I loved Delirium... but I loved Pandemonium so much more, if that's even possible! Where Delirium sets up the story, with it's build-up of the disease known as love, Pandemonium quite literally lives up to it's name. It is a darker, action-packed story right from the get-go and keeps you stringing along with both then & now storylines.
Where the first installment is set in Portland, Maine - a "safe" suburban city, reflective of the name Delirium, Pandemonium was mostly set in New York City. I really enjoyed the imagery between the "concrete jungle" with Lena's time in the Wilds. The grittier story filled with mystery, espionage and full-on fight scenes make for an exciting read that I couldn't put down. While I had a feeling where the story was heading, it still kept me on the edge of my seat on how it would get there. Oliver is a great storyteller, pacing out the narrative in a fantastic way, planting plot points and red herrings at certain innocuous moments only to bring it up again later when you may have forgotten about it.
I feel like I have so much more to say about it, but can't find the words to express those thoughts - especially not without giving anything away! Therefore, I shall leave it at this: READ NOW. Pandemonium = Phenomenal. ...more
Fifteen year old Katelyn is found dead in the bathtub on ChristmaThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Fifteen year old Katelyn is found dead in the bathtub on Christmas evening, a still-plugged-in espresso machine lying in the water with her. The circumstances surrounding her death are up for speculation, whether it was an accident, a suicide or a homicide. Hayley and Taylor, twins that possess a psychic ability of sorts, feel strongly that their old friend didn’t kill herself and set about trying to solve this mystery.
I often give many books a chance and I wanted to like this one so much. I love a good creepy mystery with a paranormal twist, even with the true crime factor to it as well, but this one just fell flat. The characters were not very well developed and there seemed to be so much detail on irrelevant things, like tangents that went into so much detail about how one guy loved his wife’s planked salmon. All the people in the town of Port Gamble felt like caricatures, painting the teenagers in such a superficial and frivolous way.
Like Kevin Ryan, the twins’ father in the story, Olsen is also a true crime writer and father of twins. Perhaps he was pulling from his own experiences in writing Envy (a true-crime writer, writing about a true-crime writer, writing about true crime!) I haven’t read Olsen’s other novels, but this being his first YA novel, I hate to say that it really shows. At first, I commended him on the specific detail and brand name references that he worked into the story as if to entice the younger generation, but what lost me was the attempt at teen text speak. The texting seemed so excessively truncated for the sake of making it look like how teenagers would text.
MIGHT NOT ACT BUT I AM. DON’T DO WELL. MAKS MY IZ PUFF ^ N L%K EVN SMALR THN THYRE.
Actual quote. One of many similarly written “texts” which were painful to decipher.
The twin psychicness was bizarrely established and really vague in how it played out. Without giving anything away, the whole resolution of all the loose ends seemed unexplained and quickly brushed under the rug. Oh, that’s a problem? Nope, not anymore. (view spoiler)[I mean, even the whole espresso machine in the bath tub was glossed over. No reason WHY there would be coffee machine in the bathroom to begin with, but you're just expected to believe it and she grabbed for her towel and yanked it down into the tub with her?! Oh. Okay. (hide spoiler)]
While the main plot was “pulled from the headlines” of an actual story, the main redeeming quality that kept me reading was solving the mystery more than the paranormal factor. I liked that Olsen tackled the very timely topic of cyber-bullying and how twisted and cowardly that can be. I commend him for showing the outcomes of what those actions could lead to but I definitely felt that this could have been an even better book without the paranormal twist, focusing just on the cyber-bullying.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Inspired by Taylor Swift's song "Love Story", Remembrancetakes place in New Hampshire, whereThis review can also be found on my blog, Just a Lil Lost.
Inspired by Taylor Swift's song "Love Story", Remembrance takes place in New Hampshire, where Lizzie Davenport has a normal teenage life with her best friend Chelsea and jock boyfriend Jeremy. That is until Drew transfers to the school and Lizzie instantly feels a familiar connection to him. Pieces of a time long gone suddenly keep emerging into Lizzie's consciousness. She is inexplicably drawn to him and Drew seems to be experiencing similar feelings. Against all odds, the more they try to fight it, the more fate seems to be pulling them together.
I liked the premise for the story. The idea of a past life that's unknown until a trigger person or object is encountered. The question of whether people are capable of preventing history from repeating itself and offering themselves a second chance. Madow evokes some descriptive writing in setting the scene, from the rain-soaked sports event to the school's Halloween dance. The individual characters, however, I found really erratic. Save for Lizzie, who was the main constant, everyone else had such drastic changes in personality and behaviour that I found I couldn't feel connected to any of them and actually got quite annoyed with the mood swings from Drew or bad attitude from Chelsea. The apparent BFF-type friendship that Lizzie and Chelsea had didn't seem evident enough, and I found Lizzie connected more with one of the minor players in the story. The comparisons with Pride & Prejudice and the Regency era in Lizzie & Drew's fated love story seemed a bit forced at times. I personally haven't read P&P, but for those that have, it probably would seem quite obvious - right down to the same first letters of the characters' names between P&P, present day and their past lives.
I did love the focus on the arts, such as music, dance, and poetry. It seemed appropriate & reflective of the beauty of the arts back in that time period. Perhaps it was a combination of Lizzie's love of drawing and Madow's descriptive scene-setting, but it's been a long time since I've felt compelled to pull out my sketchbook to do some drawing of my own! I actually wish there was more about Lizzie & Drew's past lives rather than all the present-day high school drama and hopefully the past will be delved into more with the sequel.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5 stars)
Remembrance is currently available in stores.
I received this book from the author, Michelle Madow, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
The Future of Us takes place in 1996, when the world was just getting introduced to the inteThis review can also be found on my blog, Just a Lil Lost!
The Future of Us takes place in 1996, when the world was just getting introduced to the internet. Emma and Josh are best friends and upon putting an AOL disc into Emma's new computer, they find themselves on a strange site called "Facebook". Their curiosity gets the better of them as they view pages with their names on it and pictures of themselves looking older - 15 years older. They soon get caught up in seeing what their future holds, and how what they do today could change their future selves.
The idea isn't a unique one... it's like the theory of the butterfly effect; where the slightest change - a flutter of a butterfly's wings - could cause a ripple effect that changes more substantial events. What Asher and Mackler have done is to put names to this time-travelling-type story. By quantifying it with nostalgic mentions of AOL discs and Facebook, it allows the readers to feel more connected to the book.
My initial feeling on the book (all of 2 chapters in) was a bit eye-rolling. It felt that the authors were trying too hard to insert nostalgic references, just for the sake of mentioning "old" things. There was one sentence or two in particular where it felt really contrived... where, and I'm paraphrasing, Emma would put the AOL disc into the computer, tie a scrunchie in her hair and strap a Discman onto her arm as she goes for a jog. (Hm. I don't know about you, but Discmans were prone to skip quite a bit on its own let alone strapping it to your arm for a jog! Even the "sport" models!) Thankfully, the book's 90's references were a bit more spaced out and seamlessly used into the story as the novel went on. I wonder, though, how much of it might actually be lost on many of the Young Adult readers. Those who are in their early to mid-teens would have just been born in and around 1996 and probably have no idea what most of the nostalgia is all about.
The Future of Us is an entertaining, quick read. The characters are engaging and it definitely leaves you wanting more. For how much the book is about the futures of these two best friends, a lot of it is situated in their present. What's also interesting to consider is potentially how dated this book will be in another 10-15 years at the rate of changing technology now. There could easily be a sequel where kids are reminiscing about the days when there was some strange site called "Facebook" that everybody posted random stuff about themselves on!