This is what I hoped Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist could have been. This is the type of c...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This is what I hoped Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist could have been. This is the type of contemporary YA that I wouldn’t mind reading every day. Kind of like how the Asian-ness in me wouldn’t mind eating rice for every single meal until old age renders me toothless and unable to chew. (Hopefully that sad, sad day will never come.)
Now, I don’t think an extended and super girly squeal would qualify as a review, so let me attempt to explain with the wonderful English language why I adored Graffiti Moon.
1) I actually like all the characters, even the secondary ones. Each of them had their own little moment in the spotlight, and you can’t help wanting to pinch their little cheeks and coo endearments at them. This might not have been appreciated, as all the characters were either high school seniors or older. But psh, details, details.
2) Lucy and Ed get to know each other inside out -- not physically inside out; get your mind out of the gutter -- before attraction appears. This concept is so obscure in YA nowadays that I feel like giving medals to every author that takes the time to develop relationships.
3) The graffiti described in here makes me want to fly to Australia and go on some sort of wild graffiti tour through the streets. Maybe I just live in a different sort of neighborhood, but I’ve only seen about two pieces of graffiti in my entire town, and they were simply uninspiring words drawn out in gigantic bubble letters. I would love to see painted, sleeping birds and lonely boys standing with blankness in their faces on random walls as I walk around.
Doesn’t Graffiti Moon just sound like a gorgeous read? Well, the reason the novel received 5 stars is mostly because:
4) I want this to happen to me, too. (Hmph, laugh all you want… I give you permission.)
I’ve already picked up a copy of Ms. Crowley’s A Little Wanting Song and am excited to read another one of her lovely novels.
Book Source: ARC from Random House Children's Books via NetGalley(less)
This novel should come with a free one-way ticket to Guatemala, a ragged backpack, and a male...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This novel should come with a free one-way ticket to Guatemala, a ragged backpack, and a male companion who just so happens to be a cute diving instructor afflicted with Wanderlove.
Umm hmm, where can I get me some o’ that?
Although in all seriousness, Wanderlove is a perfect story for your typical escapist. Those familiar with Central American geography will recognize the countries Bria (what a lovely name) and Rowan (what a lovely boy -- Do I sound pedophilic? He’s older than me, OK?) trek through on their eventful two week journey. The descriptions make me want to jump into my (nonexistent) car and drive down south. One particularly striking scene is the Río Dulce, or sweet river, which apparently resembles the white flower-filled sea in Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Visiting that river is now on my bucket list.
Our two main characters -- Bria and Rowan -- are beyond endearing. Both are trying to run away from their pasts, and their chemistry is undeniable. We are spared any sort of desperate pining from either of them, which is a relief, since no one enjoys pining characters anyway. The two argue, they exchange stories, they list taboo subjects, and they have a fair share of comfortable silences. The girl with the lovely name and the lovely boy with the ponytail make a lovely couple.
To add on to that all that loveliness are the drawings included in the book. Since Bria is an aspiring artist, Ms. Hubbard supplied some of her own sketches to supplement the novel, and the pictures are gorgeous. She could probably draw her own Wanderlove graphic novel if she wants.
Anyway, I’ve obtained a copy of Ms. Hubbard’s debut novel, Like Mandarin and can’t wait to read something by this author again.
Book Source: ARC from Random House via NetGalley(less)
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall wa...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
To adopt the slang of the stereotypical blonde, blue-eyed SoCal surfer dude: “Ashfall was hella legit, man!” It features an epic adventure of survival in the face of natural adversity, adaptation amidst chaos, and a frantic love that is equal parts desperation and need. Ashfall is going to appeal to a wide variety of readers, as it has something to offer every single one of you out there.
I would have liked Ashfall a lot more, too, if not for the beginning. We are dumped right into the middle of a volcanic eruption and the series of unfortunate events -- you see what I did there? -- that follows, and yet, the novel seems to drag on and on. It literally took me 7 days to read the first 1/4 of Ashfall and 1 day to read the rest. So yes, pacing was a problem.
Besides that, I enjoyed the novel. There was a good balance of gore, fighting, starvation, and discovery. Our protagonist Alex is brave and foolish and horny (like most teenage boys), and the love interest Darla is the definition of kickass. She’s the one stitching up axe wounds and smushing liquefied rabbit brain on animal hides -- don't ask -- while Alex struggles not to puke in the background.
Ashfall is an intense new post-apocalyptic novel that falters a bit in pacing but is otherwise a very engrossing read. It’s a great way to heighten your chances of surviving the next supervolcanic eruption, too!
Wait, looks like Californian surfer dude is back with a bit of reassurance: “Since no supervolcanoes will erupt for probably another few million years, you can chillax, OK? Here, have a beer.”
Book Source: ARC from Tanglewood via NetGalley(less)
Penelope has known no world beside the video game universe Edda her entire life. Living as th...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Penelope has known no world beside the video game universe Edda her entire life. Living as the only human avatar in a land of electronic beings, she bears the title Princess and scripts weapons into digital existence for Lord Scanthax as aid for his expanding empire. As a young girl, she was eager to please the cold Lord father figure. But as Penelope matures and discovers her lack of freedom and the reality behind her emaciated human body, fed through tubes and always plugged up to a game console to access Edda, she decides to exact revenge on the beings who have taken advantage of her trust and innocence. While Edda readies for battle for yet another conquest, another band of travels led by Cindella and Ghost from the universe Saga are gathering forces. Nothing is resolved until peace is achieved.
Edda was quite a unique book. I am not an avid gamer myself (aside from the odd Pokemon game here and there), but the novel still managed to capture my attention at the very beginning. Well, to tell you the truth, the interest began to wan as I continued through Edda, and by the end, I was glad to finally read the last word and close up the book.
The novel was definitely written quite well, something I hadn’t originally expected, given the subject and setting of Edda. However, even the hard-core fantasy fan in me had trouble getting into the storyline. The viewpoint jumps from Penelope’s struggles in Lord Santhax’s castle to Cindella and the others’ journey through the electronic realms. What bothered me to no end was the lack of tension, I suppose. Penelope spends the entire novel plotting, and Cindella spends the entire novel traveling and killing things that got in their way. The resolution was short and took up only about 30 pages out of the 440 page book.
Although the novel was not my cup of tea, Edda will appeal to fantasy and sci-fi fans alike, and of course, gamers will enjoy the references to gaming spread throughout.
I love Karou: her eccentricities and her secrets, her bright blue hair and her drawings of mo...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I love Karou: her eccentricities and her secrets, her bright blue hair and her drawings of monsters. She is the exact opposite of those spineless heroines who act like doll-puppet hybrids and follow whatever the guy counterparts tell them to do. Karou instead attacks her guy counterpart with Chinese crescent-moon blades. The difference is obvious, yes?
Then there is the fact that the book centers around Prague. Prague! Some place that is not the US or England or France. Do you have any idea how refreshing that is? Although Karou zooms in and out of this city -- this reality, even -- throughout the novel, we still get to catch glimpses of lovely Prague and its “ghost tours” and cathedrals.
And of course, the plot is deliciously twisted and full of so many weird elements that they all somehow come together and successfully contribute to the novel’s uniqueness. There are rooms filled with nothing but jars and jars of teeth. There are scuppy necklaces that give you teeny, tiny wishes. There are puppet masters and dressed like the reflection of moonlight across the water. Really, I have never read anything quite like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It’s just so strange.
I love its strangeness.
This novel also features a wonderfully done star-crossed romance. Who knew that was even possible in YA? It’s a dark romance, too, full of sacrifices and misplaced trust. But it was also sweet and oh so satisfying.
Although the ending of Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not a cliffhanger, per se, I still want more. Now all I can do is shake my fists in the air and implore Ms. Taylor to publish the sequel as soon as possible. Or maybe I’ll take the less violent route and just read this book again. And again. And again.
Truth be told: this story could have been written in less than 100 pages. The plot was s...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Truth be told: this story could have been written in less than 100 pages. The plot was simplistic and anticlimatic. The conclusion just a bit too easily resolved for my taste. But I will read more from Ms. Morgenstern.
Because the entire book tasted like honey.
I'm serious; if you buy a copy of The Night Circus and lick the cover, it would be sweet. This book is beautiful writing at its finest, with amazing word choice and descriptions galore. it makes me pity my circus-less childhood. it makes me pity the world because Le Cirque des Rêves is only a figment of the author's imagination. It makes me pity myself, because the only way for me to experience Le Cirque is through the printed words across the page.
Reading this book was like dreaming.
Quite apt, since Le Cirque des Rêves does translate to the Circus of Dreams. However, if the entire novel was one long dream, it would be a very jarring and bumpy dream rather than a smooth one. For some odd reason, Ms. Morgenstern felt the need to jump from here to there to some other place and then back again in her narrative. It's like living some sort of weird parallel life at five different instances in time all at once. This contributes to the lack of tension in the novel, too. Whenever we get to the high point of a chapter, all of it suddenly disappears as we jump to another time or place with another set of characters.
Knowing what I do now about The Night Circus and its plot imperfections, I would still have read it. If only to walk through Les Cirque des Rêves through the characters. if only to visit the Ice Garden and the Anthologies of Memory and the Cloud Maze through another's eyes.
Book Source: ARC from Knopf Doubleday via NetGalley(less)
With gorgeous manga-style illustrations, Manga Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice is a compe...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
With gorgeous manga-style illustrations, Manga Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice is a compelling representation of the Bard's famous play about the Jewish moneylender. The three intertwined plots -- Antonio's bond with Shylock, Bassanio's suit, and Jessica's escape from her cruel father -- are all brought together in an undoubtedly less intimidating way than Shakespeare's original play.
Having read and thoroughly dissected almost every single word of The Merchant of Venice as a student recently, this manga still managed to provide me with new insights and details that might not have been noticed from reading the actual play.
An interesting aspect of the volume: word choice. It reads like Shakespeare's original, although it isn't quite the same -- yes, I dug out my copy of The Merchant of Venice and compared the two. The manga uses the same writing style, vocabulary, and similar sentence structure, but is slightly more condensed. I vastly prefer this method to a simple rewrite of the great Bard's words, as most of Shakespeare's lyricism was not lost.
Manga Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice is a great introduction into Shakespeare for those who feel the urge to curl up in a fetal position each time the Bard's name is mentioned. And for Shakespeare fanatics, the volume is a fresh new look at greedy Shylock, self-sacrificing Antonio, and beautiful and cunning Portia.