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)
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)
It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve cried this hard over a book -- at two different spots,...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve cried this hard over a book -- at two different spots, too. Ms. Sheehan, I demand my tears back immediately in an aesthetically pleasing and preferably crystalline container so my future children may have the option of putting it into a Pensieve and learning about all my failures and secret loves and whatnot.
Right, now that that’s over…
Readers looking for a genuine science fiction novel with a complete setup and intricate technologies will be sorely disappointed with A Long, Long Sleep. If I had to attach only one tag to this novel, it would just be romance. Not dystopian or adventure or self-discovery; just romance. This book was more of a 2-star if one only takes into account the characters and plotline. However, the slightly weird but still passable romance really tugged at my heartstrings and receives 5 stars from me. A 4-star rating was settled on because I tend to prioritize my emotions over logic (I am a teenager after all; blame the hormones). And I think the last time I cried for a book was during my third re-read of The Book Thief. It’s about time something else had the same effect.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Rose is an idiotic heroine, even she admits it. She acts idiotically. She thinks idiotically. She runs away from her problems idiotically. You get the drift. Weirdly, when Rose converses with Otto, a blue-skinned genetically-modified alien-human, she uses words that otherwise would not be part of the average idiotic teen’s vocabulary and sounds mildly intelligent, if not at least self-reflective and mature. In short, Rose sounds nothing like her usual self during these conversations, which bothered me to no end.
A Long, Long Sleep also explores parental abuse, something I found to be very surprising, given the sci-fi setup. You can’t help yourself from feeling growing sympathy for Rose, and I suppose that subtracts from her idiocy just a tiny bit. At least Rose is, for the most part, loyal to Xavier -- stupid Xavier. Now, Xavier isn’t necessarily a dull young man. I actually know nothing about Xavier’s intelligence since it was never mentioned. But Xavier, you stupid, stupid boy.
I will be looking out for Ms. Sheehan’s future books, as I’m willing to overlook some aspects of her novels just so I can enjoy other parts of it. Really, that’s just another way of conveying how much of a sap I truly am...
Book Source: ARC from Candlewick Press via NetGalley(less)
Yes, you read it right: nothing happened in the entire 400+ novel. Oh, mundane events occurred, all right. Laurel went to school. She went to her therapist. She cried on her bed. She got a job at the animal shelter. But nothing of significance appeared on the horizon. The novel was a gigantic blob of nothingness. I don’t know about you, but when I pick up a piece of fiction, I expect to be dazzled or touched or experience some sort of change in the way I view the world. If I really wanted to bore myself with blobs of nothingness, I would pick up my Physics textbook instead.
I do realize that 1-star ratings are quite harsh since an entire team of people dedicated time and money on this piece of writing, only to have it hated on by a reviewer they kindly provided an ARC to. But hey, we have standards, and any book I think was a waste of time to read receives only 1 star.
OK, since Laurel’s parents and brother pass away in a car accident near the beginning, you would expect the novel to be about healing and dealing with grief. But no, Laurel basically mopes around for a while and then dives into an entire vat of boy drama. Would you be worrying about boys when your entire family has just passed away? Sending flirty emails to your next-door neighbor, whose mother also died in the same car accident? No. No, you wouldn’t.
While the characters themselves don’t get on my nerves, their interactions are quite infuriating, with Laurel and David being the prime example here. It is understandable that both would be unstable after the deaths of their families and that seeking solace with someone who knows what you’re going through helps with the pain. But the romance between these two; I mean, really. Laurel obviously pines after David for a good part of the novel, and David isn’t even around half the time. But then one day, the author decided to wave her magic wand and poof, they’re a happy couple. Not every single YA novel needs romance, you know?
I understand how others might have been moved by The Beginning of After, but this novel was not for me.
Book Source: ARC from HarperCollins via NetGalley(less)
Willow has always been psychic. Simply grasping someone’s hand will give her access to a...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Willow has always been psychic. Simply grasping someone’s hand will give her access to a person’s possible futures, which Willow views as branchings off a tree. When her classmate Beth unexpectedly asks for a reading, Willow is plunged into a world of deadly, human-consuming angels and slowly begins to understand the intricacies of cattle farming -- or human aura trafficking, whichever term you prefer. As the angels become aware of Willow’s existence and decide that they want her dead, Willow is whisked off on a daring escape plan with angel assassin Alex, and the two set off on a road-trip to save themselves and perhaps the entirety of humankind. It turns out to be a trip filled with deception and gun chases and auto theft; after all, these aren’t peaceful little fluffy-winged angels we’re talking about here.
Angel Burn contains a set of very untraditional angels and two extremely cute main characters -- and here, I seriously stress the word cute. The evil angels’ background acted as a great hook, and the author knows exactly how to create enough suspense to prevent the reader from putting down the book. The alternating perspectives are slightly disjointed at times, but overall it succeeded in portraying the feelings of various characters. Willow is the only one honored with first person, and in my humble I’m-not-an-editor-but-it’s-ok opinion, the author would have been better off simply keeping her in third person like the rest of the characters.
Kudos to Miss Weatherly for giving Alex and Willow time to get to know each other before proceeding to the lovey-dovey stage. However, once they got to that stage, the cheesiness began to overwhelm. Now, I am generally a proud enjoyer of cheesy romance novels; still, there were some scenes that morphed my aww, they’re so adorable into an ugh, guys, please stop before I start puking rainbows.
All in all, this novel was a surprisingly great read. I am looking forward to the sequel, Angel Fire.
Book Source: ARC from Candlewick Press via NetGalley(less)
April Bowers is Miss Invisible. Well, Miss Invisible with an oddly incurable bra stuffing add...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
April Bowers is Miss Invisible. Well, Miss Invisible with an oddly incurable bra stuffing addiction. She dreads starting sophomore year without her best -- and only -- friend Haley by her side. However, after a surprising incident that involves a cute skirt and some borrowed lip gloss, April finds herself invited to enter the exclusive clique of popular Britney Taylor. The thing is: no one gets to be that popular without a couple of haters. And April, desperate to attract the attention of the new boy she nicknames Mr. Hottie-Body Brentwood, is willing to try anything to improve her abysmal social ranking. But does that anything include tolerating the controlling Britney?
This book made me chuckle, at least at first. I was charmed by April’s snarky narrative and attitude. She was endearing in a younger sibling sort of way -- weird, considering the fact that she and I are both high school sophomores. As I got deeper into the book, I ended up getting more and more annoyed at April. She felt so artificial, along with all the other characters in the story. April’s friend Haley seemed especially fake. I would physically wince each time the two girls conversed on the phone. Their stilted conversations remind me of the script of some badly-written teenybopper TV drama.
The plot also lacked development. I know it’s impossible to fit every little detail into 200+ pages, but I felt that the humongous time skips in the story weren’t incorporated well enough. It was like walking down a flight of stairs and suddenly stepping through a missing step. Whoosh. Quite an uncomfortable feeling, you know?
Overall, The Lipstick Laws is a cute and slightly fluffy story about facing the mean girls of high school and accepting yourself for who you are.
Book Source: ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley(less)
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had me...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
After reading a whole slew of horrible reviews of The Girl in the Steel Corset, I had mentally prepared myself for a train wreck. Well, I confess: the novel didn't turn out that badly for me. It wasn't exceptional, but it didn't enduce fits of hair-tearing frustration, mostly. Perhaps I've been desensitized by the unhealthy amount of mediocre YA I've been reading lately.
The characters here are pretty much your standard set of YA heroes, although Finley managed to annoy me quite a bit more than the average heroine. That girl, for the life of her, just doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind about anything. Oooh, Griffin is so handsome. But wait, Jack is hot, too. I'll just blame my attraction on the two warring parts of my personality! No. Just no. And guess what? In case one love triangle isn't enough, we've got two! Aren't you excited? Ugh, at least the two triangles don't overlap. Imagine what a mess that would make. A love hexagon?
The background of the novel comes across as completely random. There are beasties that have cool powers and are apparently harvested from the center of the earth and machines that do your chores or suddenly turn evil and just attack people. Add the Aether, a spiritual plane inhabited by the dead, to all that, and you've got an overload of fantastical elements that don't really coexist nicely with each other.
The Girl in the Steel Corset does not succeed in distinguishing itself from typical YA despite its steampunk flare and gorgeous cover. However, it is still a notch above a lot of YA out there simply because it presents the stereotype in a slightly altered package.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a bett...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Kate enters the town of Eden with a mother who is on the brink of death and a hope for a better future that is fading bit by bit with the passage of time. As she drags herself through the motions of daily life, weird begin to occur around her. Her new frenemy is raised from the dead after an accident that definitely involved a large quantity of blood, and the only explanation Kate gets from the incident involves a certain dark-haired boy -- Henry, who later claims to be Hades, the infamous god of the Underworld. Kate soon finds herself participating in seven unknown tests to save her mother and help determine the future of the Underworld. A lot of responsibility for an eighteen-year-old, eh?
First off, gorgeous cover. The model’s white dress creates a nice contrast with the dark green fronds and plants in the background. Although that model looks like she’s 25 instead of Kate’s 18, that’s totally beside the point, right?
So here we go: Kate, Kate, Kate. If you existed in real life, you would be receiving death threats from readers of The Goddess Test. It’s one thing to be self-sacrificing and slightly clueless, but dearie, your lack of comprehension of life in general makes me want to go strangle some cute fluffy squirrel in the woods. I know you have a brain. Please use it.
And as various other reviewers have mentioned, the Greek mythology implemented in the plot was stretched just a wee bit too much. None, and I repeat, none of the Greek gods were virgins and/or particularly saint-like in any way. They cheated and murdered and raped and committed incest. Need I go on?
The Goddess Test presents modern twist of the myth of Hades and Persephone that strays a bit too far from the original. Combined with annoying characters and background inaccuracies, the novel was somewhat of a chore to get through. Although I suggest that you read the novel yourself and formulate your own opinion. Who knows? You might just end up joining the legions of reviewers who adored the book to death.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)