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)
I think it's been about five minutes since I read the last word of Battle Royale. My heart is...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I think it's been about five minutes since I read the last word of Battle Royale. My heart is still pounding abnormally fast, and every few seconds, I have to take a break from typing to watch the French countryside rushing by outside the train window instead.* The view is strangely soothing, and I definitely need some calming right now.
So. Battle Royale. Was. Epic. Dare I say it? It was better than The Hunger Games, and The Hunger Games is one of my favorites. Both have similar settings: a dystopian government that forces children into an arena and makes them kill each other off one by one. But Battle Royale ended up as the more striking, more intense, of the two. The novel grabbed me, strapped me to a poodle, and threw me off a cliff. How does a poodle save a person from a fall off a cliff, you may ask. It doesn't. That's why I kind of feel like an insignificant smudge on the ground right now.
Unlike The Hunger Games, which focuses only on Katniss's narrative, Battle Royale jumps around from one student to another. I didn't find that disorienting or discontinuous. The skipping around revealed quite a lot about each participant of the Program, as the government calls this bloodbath. Such intricate lines bind all the classmates together, and it's so saddening to watch it all fall apart. There are love interests and friendships and histories and their own survival to consider as the 15-year-olds wander around an island with machine guns, scared out of their wits. What a story Takami-san has dreamt up. What a story.
And the ending, too. Wow, if you thought The Hunger Games's ending was jarring, you will be totally unprepared for Battle Royale's. Takami-san wrote it with the flare of a pro, although I kind of want to punch him now...
The only thing I disliked were the gory scenes. Battle Royale was a lot more graphic than I'd imagined. So instead of puking up the contents of my stomach, I just skipped the paragraphs describing blood and bashed-in brains. The human imagination is always a lot more vivid than a movie scene. Normally, that's a good thing, but now, not so much.
I would say that I'm now a fangirl of Battle Royale, but given the book's subject matter, I don't think that'd be entirely appropriate. Apparently, Takami-san is writing (or has already written) a second novel. I must hunt it down.
But it’s a good kind of tired. Like after you run a marathon. Or after you finally finish taking all your finals. You’re exhausted but content and your heart is just a teensy bit heavy.
Saving June details Harper’s life after her older sister June commits suicide. Unable to bear it all anymore -- the hurt, her mother’s tears, the unfamiliar pats on the back by random strangers -- Harper escapes to California with her best friend Laney, her sister’s apparent acquaintance Jake, and June’s urn. California was June’s dream, and fulfilling it for her seems like the only way Harper can come to terms with what happened. But a place is just a place. Mostly. And the journey there is only a road trip. Sort of.
Man, I cannot stop myself from pausing every once in a while, picking up Saving June again, and re-reading some of the standout passages. I’ll probably be willing to shout the title of this book from the rooftops, and it’s coming out in paperback. Seriously? Saving June deserves a hardcover edition and a few weeks in a comfy spot on the NYT Best Sellers List.
Why all the enthusiasm? Our protagonist Harper has backbone and doesn’t take crap from anyone. Puke on her, and she’ll puke on you. Jake is a sweetheart with a music obsession and a spiny exterior. Laney is fun and flirty and fiery and I’m running out of adjectives that start with “f” to describe her. This is what all fictional characters should strive to become. They should have a life and a heart and a soul and a personality. Physical attraction isn’t a bad trait, either.
Really, this book was about healing and maturity and dealing with death. I feel like reading it has made me a different person (that’s what all great novels should do, in my opinion). But it also made me chuckle and sigh. And this weight on my chest just won’t disappear.
I recommend Saving June to anyone looking for truly beautiful YA contemporary fiction. I was actually going to host a giveaway for my ARC but changed my mind after finishing the book. I love it too much; I’m not giving it away.
Two broken people, destroyed by circumstance and the irreversible passage of time.
There is Tom -- the uni drop-out who spends his time pining for the girl whose heart he broke so many winters ago. Drowning in regret, he finds solace in escape, just as his alcoholic father blots out the world when life becomes too much to handle. And then there is Tom’s Aunt Georgie, confused and yearning for understanding after that one little event that fractured her life, even though the one person who can mend her is the one who broke her in the first place.
This is the story of the rediscovery of hope, as bits and pieces of Tom and Georgie’s lives continue to chip off and crumble in front of their weary eyes. This is where the healing begins.
I would never have given this book a second glance if shown its American cover: A boy guitarist in a striped shirt? Come on… How much more unoriginal can you get? However, I’ve had the luck to read a few of the brilliant Melina Marchetta’s works before and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one. To say that I was excited to start The Piper’s Son would be the understatement of the century.
Who would have thought that Marchetta could take something that resembled a cheesy Asian drama in character and plot and portray it as something so raw and real? You have your heart-broken protagonist with the messed-up family and the unrequited love and an adult counterpart with a marriage ripped apart by an affair. As usual, angst is always present, snaking its way through the story and leaving slimy trails of betrayal in its wake. It takes talent to write cliché into something of beauty and sadness and growth and forgiveness. Even though this book is as far from the fantasy genre as you can get, The Piper’s Son was magical. Yes, realistic novels can be magical, too.
And despite the almost depressing feel of the synopsis, there is also an abundance of humor – puns, sarcasm, and witty remarks about random things such as a certain grandfather’s bum in super short jogging shorts and the mortification that accompanies said shorts during morning jogs around the neighborhood.
A sort-of sequel of Saving Francesca but with a side character as the main one instead, The Piper’s Son is one of those rare books that deserves a re-read. Even the second time will be as engrossing as the first.
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.
It is not often that books induce episodes of hysterical fits and render me speechless at the end. I will have to congratulate Patrick Ness on achieving that. This trilogy has been one helluva ride, and I enjoyed every single moment of it.
AJSLKDFMVILJMOIJAISODNF (Please wait as my brain restarts)
The world that Ness created is real, the character's emotions are raw. Yes, the entire book is one big war and one big attempt at peace. One would think that a war dragged out across 600+ pages would be overkill, but Ness managed to make every single page of this book worthwhile.
I have to admit -- I did cry at the end. Quite surprising actually, since this is not a particularly tear-jerker type book. You could say that the ending was so overwhelming it elicited tears. Just go read the dang book and find out yourself.
Holy. Frickadoodles. (No, I don't say words like this regularly. They are reserved for specia...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Holy. Frickadoodles. (No, I don't say words like this regularly. They are reserved for special situations such as these...) This was one of the creepiest books I've ever read. A worn out doll with bright green eyes, a seemingly innocent little girl, and an antisocial pink-haired teenager together weave an intricate story about a malicious ghost hungering for revenge.
The plot is fast-paced, with little details that ultimately help unravel the mystery scattered randomly throughout. As major revelations occurred, I would go back and try to find the clues that answer the questions. Sometimes this helped, but oftentimes, it appeared to complicate the plot further. The author also did a wonderful job with characterization. Pink-haired Alexis has just the right amount of sarcasm to seem like a strong girl without being overly annoying. Her younger sister Kasey was marvelous, too, as both her needy and resentful sides were portrayed realistically. It takes talent to craft a 12-year-old with the level of terrifying grace that Kasey possesses.
Bad Girls Don't Die is an addicting paranormal novel that will leave readers anxiously waiting for the sequel.
Tidbit of random: I swear, this song was running through my mind as I read the last few chapters...
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day Saba...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Nothing but a ginormous orange sandstorm signals the approaching danger that fateful day Saba’s darling twin brother Lugh gets kidnapped from Silverlake and taken away bound up in rope. Desperate and broken-hearted, Saba -- with the unwelcomed and unshakable presence of her little sister Emmi -- sets out to bring Lugh back. When the two girls are temporarily detained in Hopetown, Saba learns of the Sun King and the reason for Lugh’s capture and allies herself with the warrior Free Hawks and the ever infuriating cage-fighter Jack. Renewed with hope and greater numbers, the group starts out on a trek through the land. Their one goal: Lugh’s freedom, and possibly liberation for all.
Holy crap in a cup (Young, 379). This novel was an exciting ride reminiscent of other great high fantasy novels; well, only without all the fantastical elements. The action picks up right from the start, and the story doesn’t slacken in intensity until the very last page. Great side characters and creatures like the hellwurm -- which totally reminded me of those sandworms in Frank Herbert’s Dune series -- combined to become a great backdrop for the adventure and the two main characters Saba and Jack.
These two had their fair share of aww moments. Saba is head-strong but obviously has a soft side for the guy. And Jack, cocky and teasing, contains just the right amount of magic to balance out Saba’s stubbornness. The chemistry between the pair is a cool blend of fake contempt, attraction, jealousy, and mutual affection. Saba, mostly in denial about her feelings toward Jack, is facepalm-inducing at times. But overall, they are one well-matched and well-paired couple.
Blood Red Road is a great dystopian debut. Don’t be discouraged by the slightly mediocre cover; an epic tale awaits you within its pages.
Book Source: eARC via Simon & Schuster Galley Grab(less)
It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is str...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It was definitely the mirror and the earthquake that started it all. One moment, Addie is strolling through the crumbling streets and frantic crowds of Seattle; and the next, she is amongst weirdly dressed people who apparently make a habit of injuring each other with bricks. It is in this parallel world that Addie meets Reg and discovers the Jewel, a professional theater and any budding actress’s dream. When she is offered a job as assistant director, Addie makes every effort to return to this old version of Seattle as frequently as possible. When events in each world seem to almost mirror each other, Addie realizes that there is a lot more at stake than her own desires.
I am often weary of time travel books, as it is very easy to butcher them. However, I enjoyed The Jewel and the Key immensely. The fact that I had never heard of the Industrial Workers of the World, an organization central to the novel’s plot, was very surprising considering the long hours I’ve spent in various high school U.S. history classes. The author’s incorporation of history and theatrical arts sets up a great background for the novel.
Also like every other YA story, there is lurrrve. What seems like a love triangle at first quickly becomes more of a line segment or a diatomic covalent molecule (if you are in a particularly chemistry-oriented mood like yours truly). The object of Addie’s affections is young Reg, a flamboyant actor with quite a dramatic personality. Their relationship was adorable, and the conclusion succeeded in stealing a few tears from me. I actually went back and reread the ending a few times after finishing the novel. I guess it can be described as bittersweet without going overboard with cheesiness. Mostly, it was just heartbreaking.
The Jewel and the Key is a quaint historical novel that packs quite a punch. It also contributed to my lack of sleep, as I couldn’t stop myself from reading late into the night instead of sleeping like the rest of the normal human beings in my time zone.
I was hurriedly walking out of the school library at the conclusion of a particularly boring...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I was hurriedly walking out of the school library at the conclusion of a particularly boring lecture on how to research online -- sheesh, we're sophomores; how do you think we survived school without knowing how to conduct research? -- when I happened to see this book propped up on a shelf. I glanced at it, continued striding past, and suddenly changed my mind 3 seconds later and screeched to a halt. My unfortunate friend proceeded to bang into me and almost fell over. Sorry, El... By the time she looked up, I was over at the shelf with the copy of Brightly Woven in my hands. I whipped out my handy-dandy school ID with the unflattering picture, handed it all to the mean librarian, and off I went.
Brightly Woven turned out to be way more addicting than I expected and kept me from being the studious person I normally pride myself to be at least most of the time. I was instantly drawn into Alexandra Bracken's world -- filled with magicians and dusty little towns and cloaks that could whisk you off to mysterious places and boys filled with sadness, in need of rescuing from themselves and their past. There is something simply enchanting about fantasy novels and their ability to pull you into an alternate world, the way they offer escape from daily life.
Sydelle and North are both characters you would want to glomp (definition). The pair is adorable in their own way and are made interesting by each of their worries and trials. Their interactions were extremely heart-warming, and the build-up of attraction is nice and gradual. It felt utterly natural.
Simple, sweet, and slightly predictable, Brightly Woven is the type of book that you will close with a wide smile plastered on your face and fuzzy feelings in your tummy. Please pardon the cheesiness of that last sentence...
This is quite possible my favorite PNR series, although truthfully, that isn't saying much, since I haven't read that many... Blood Bound is action-packed from beginning to end, and the interactions between Mercy and Adam/Sam/Stefan are just too adorable. I think this series would make a great TV show, actually. Much more so than the Sookie series. Will read the rest of the Mercy series sometime in the near future!
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the world...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the world of Faerie and the rivalries between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, Meghan realizes her importance in this beautiful yet cruel world, a world that has silently existed alongside hers ever since she was born. To complicate matters further, the Seelie and Unseelie have become threatened by a new kind of Faerie—the Iron Fey, brought to life by the ever-increasing reliance humans have of technology. Meghan, with the aid of the Unseelie prince Ash and childhood friend, the Faerie Puck, has already defeated the first Iron King and successfully retrieved a stolen scepter in time to stop a Faerie war. Meghan thought she was never going back, especially since she and Ash had been banished from the Faerie world together—a punishment for their forbidden love. But the rise of a second Iron King changes all that, and Meghan finds herself once again in the complicated world of Faerie, on a quest to save the entire Faerie race.
This third installment of Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series does not disappoint and continues the momentum of the two previous novels. There were barely any dull moments, and the trio is always on the move. I did find the apparent helplessness of Meghan a bit annoying at times—every time they meet an enemy, it was Ash and Puck protecting her while she screamed or fainted—but the girl did mature emotionally throughout the book. I adore the twist at the ending and applaud Meghan for her courage and sense of responsibility. This trilogy-turned-saga will end with The Iron Knight, told from Ash’s perspective. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and would recommend this series to fans of fantasy and faerie novels.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given t...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It’s possible that I harbor a sort of morbid curiosity toward angst of any kind, given the surprising amount of love I felt for this novel. Because I am not kidding when I say that the entire book is one humongous angst-fest. There’s Adam’s heartache and Mia’s barely hidden heartache and just pain and this awful sense of detachment from every other person around them.
And I loved every single page of it.
If Adam had been a stereotypical male from the YA genre, we would doubtlessly have been treated to paragraph upon paragraph of whining and pining after Mia. Oh, I miss the way her hair smells, the feel of her skin on mine, her beautiful lips like bright red cherries blah blah blah… But Adam is stronger and just plain better than that, even if he himself doesn’t think so. Yes, he wrote emo songs to vent his frustration at Mia’s departure. Yes, he was basically kind of catatonic for a year afterward. But he did something about his pain. He made it a sort of productive pain, if that makes any sense. Adam did not sit around and stare into space; he became a national rock sensation instead.
I confess, I had originally put off reading Where She Went because If I Stay wasn’t phenomenal for me. Perhaps I was put off by the feeling of stasis -- the total lack of overall change -- that pervades the first novel. Well, Where She Went manages to retain the emotional rollercoaster from If I Stay and adds a lot more movement and development to the characters since Mia is, you know, no longer in a coma.
Sigh... An author’s ability to turn something simple into something so engaging and extraordinary: this is why I read.
Book Source: ARC from Penguin Young Readers Group via NetGalley(less)
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebell...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Life has finally settled down after the violence and uncertainty of the Force of Sheep rebellion. Trella, the famous Queen of the Pipes, now knows her place in this new version of Inside, and it is definitely not as the leader of 22,509 people. After endorsing a Committee of nine uppers, nine scrubs, and an extra member to prevent voting ties, Trella intends to fade away into obscurity and distance herself from the agenda and messy politics of Inside -- tedious tasks such as organizing work schedules and deal with the enemies and traitors of the rebellion.
Trella soon discovers that it is actually quite difficult to disentangle from this sticky web. Peace has not yet been achieved. Complaints of the people precede deadly bomb attacks that are, in actuality, distractions and/or clues in disguise. So Trella returns to her pipes, and the sneaking around begins yet again. There are consequences for every action, though. So be careful before you decide to stick your nose where you don’t belong.
Maria V. Snyder once again pens a story filled with action and suspense. It is quite an accomplishment, being able to master two different genres of writing -- the Middle Age fantasy setting like her debut, Poison Study, and the futuristic science fiction like Outside In. There are lush details (ie. believable techie gadgets and slang common in sci-fi novels), and since the world-building has been pretty much completed in the first book, Inside Out, the reader is plunged straight into Trella’s post-rebellion life.
At first, I had my doubts, as the story seemed complete with the conclusion of Inside Out, but Snyder seamlessly introduces new elements into the plot, weaving them in one delicate thread at a time. The surprising plot twists that occur throughout are also another one of Snyder’s fortes and greatly increase the unputdownable quality of the novel. Every once in a while I would utter a string of unintelligent sounds as another complication is revealed. Feelings of delight, incredulity, and outrage were frequent.
Snyder is a great writer who knows exactly what to do to grab the reader’s attention. I am looking forward to the next installment of the story of Trella and Riley and, of course, Sheepy the stuffed animal.
Book Source: ARC from Harlequin via NetGalley(less)
This is the story of a boy and a girl, a brother and a sister, who woke up every morning...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This is the story of a boy and a girl, a brother and a sister, who woke up every morning to neglect and were shoved the responsibilities of parenthood. This is the story of their love.
Despite the controversial subject that Forbidden explores, I found myself rooting for Locchan and Maya as they struggled with the reality of society's view on their relationship. Yes, I did feel twinges of disgust -- perhaps I'm not as open-minded as I thought I was, although I guess this situation isn't really about open-mindedness at all. But the way Suzuma described the two, through changing perspectives of first person, immerses the reader completely and justifies the main characters' actions somehow.
Although why. Just why oh why oh why, Ms. Suzuma. Why did you... Couldn't you have somehow...
Forbidden is going to leave you feeling kind of hollow inside.
Everything, everything is blurry to Alex. The events of the night before has become nothing b...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Everything, everything is blurry to Alex. The events of the night before has become nothing but a huge pounding headache and random flashes of disjointed memories. She remembers talking to Martin, then to Carter. Then there is Carter's room, and the entire scene blanks out...
As rumors of that night spreads thoughout the prestigious Themis Academy -- fueled and distorted by Carter himself -- Alex is determined to get her old life back as the quiet piano genius. She enlists the help of the Mockingbirds: a student-run organization that acts as the enforcer of unspoken rules in a school where the administrators turn a blind eye on student issues, afraid that publicity of the flaws in their system would damage the school's reputation. Remember, don't underestimate the Mockingbirds. They have their ways. So Carter dear, you'd better watch out.
Daisy Whitney's novel explores the consequences of date rape in a high school that appears pristine on the surface. I found the author's integration of concepts from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird to be fresh, new, and incredibly sneaky. Almost all of the Mockingbird's procedures and symbols are analogous to various elements of TKAM, like Boo's gifts to the Finch children or details of Tom Robinson's court trial.
Onto the musical aspect: mentions of Beethoven and Lizst and the like. These presented another facet of the novel that seemed to be irrelevant, but ultimately was not. Even Beethoven's famous Ninth Symphony can be symbolic to a story like this.
There was one part that made me laugh hysterically for a while. Then again, it might have just been due to the fact that I was reading at a time that should be reserved for sleep... Alex and Martin, an apparently cute science nerd (where can I find one of these, huh?), were discussing their ideas for the spring project. This assignment is similar to a senior paper, although these two aren't seniors, and it's not a paper. Anyways, Martin decides to do his project on barn owls, and when asked why, he replies: "I was driving this summer and I drove past this injured owl on the side of the road. I was about to call the Humane Society, but then he just died, so I took him home and I dissected him."
The Mockingbirds is a unique contemporary novel that turned out to be more than I expected. I did not realize there was going to be a sequel, which definitely piques my interest.
Tidbit of random: I wish my school was cool enough to have the Mockingbirds' system.
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)
Koumail knows exactly who he is: Blaise Fortune, undisputable and abandoned-through-a-train-a...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Koumail knows exactly who he is: Blaise Fortune, undisputable and abandoned-through-a-train-accident French boy. Even as the seven-year-old flees the collapsing Soviet Union with Gloria, his beloved mother figure, Koumail knows that there will always be a safe haven for the faux mother-son duo in France. It turns out to be a journey fraught with hard work and starvation, doubt and heartbreak. Through it all, Koumail merely has to recite one sentence -- just one -- to make sure he still has the strength to continue. My name is Blaise Fortune and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It’s the pure and simple truth. Or is it?
Wow, A Time of Miracles is a little 200+ page novel that packs quite a punch. Translated from French, this story is told as an extended flashback laced with intricate details and told in flowing prose. Originally, the synopsis failed to impress me, and I started this book with a feeling of dread, often reminding myself of the fact that I could simply write a scathing review to vent my feelings afterward. Well, I apologize profusely to this book. To put it simply: I was blown away. This is just a simple story of a boy and a woman, escaping oppression and searching for freedom. And yet, it was also emotional and gripping all at once. Ms. Bondoux definitely succeeded in drawing out the reader’s sympathy for the two characters.
And Koumail, oh Koumail -- funny, sweet, and fiercely protective of Gloria. It isn’t possible for someone to not like this little boy. He entertains with his antics, his blind faith, and the three true loves he meets on their short journey. Even while Koumail’s begging in front of a random restaurant in the icy coldness, he’s still alight with hope.
A Time of Miracles is a surprisingly moving historical novel. It is one of those books you close with a quiet sigh.
As an angel-blood, Clara has a purpose in life—the sole reason she exists on earth in th...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
As an angel-blood, Clara has a purpose in life—the sole reason she exists on earth in the first place. With nothing to guide her but visions of a boy in a forest fire and the annoyingly confusing comments her angel mother tells her, Clara and her family move from sunny California to snowy Wyoming in an attempt to complete her purpose. It is there that Clara comes face to face with Christian, the boy in her dreams, and delves into the complicated world of high school love and Nephilim war. As circumstances become even more perplexing, Tucker appears in Clara’s life. Fun, normal, dimpled Tucker. Clara is the one who must make the decision, for who else can do so for her?
Cynthia Hand’s debut, Unearthly, was gorgeously written. She managed to depict an authentic teen voice without going overboard with the standard ALL CAPS to express emotion and the internet slang (ie. OMG, LOL, WTF) that has infused itself into the world of teenagers. To say that I flipped open this book with skepticism would be an understatement, since I’ve had almost traumatic experiences with YA angel books before. Surprisingly, Unearthly proved to be different from the rest. Unlike the clichés that are prevalent in other angel books—the dark and brooding fallen angel who falls in love with a human girl—this book delivers a unique twist that left me flipping the pages one after another deep into the night.
Of course, we also encounter the infamous love triangle here, but the author handled it well, and I thank her for not following the conventional route most other YA books do. There is actually a development in the boy and girl’s relationship—a concept often lacking in YA fiction. Instead of love at first sight, a steady build-up of attraction occurs that seems real instead of crafted. I especially adore the ending, oh how I grinned like a maniac at the book in my hands when Clara finally makes up her mind.
This is the beginning of a great series, and I will definitely be on the look-out for future works by Cynthia Hand.
An article recently came out in the Wall Street Journal that generated quite a buzz in the young adult book community. It basically slanders every YA novel out there that is “dark” by their standards and indirectly blames the books for familiarizing and possibly prompting trauma, violence, and profanity within the average teen. Shine received an honorary place in the article and was complained about quite a bit. So, dear Ms. Gurdon, author of said article, I am a teenager. I have read Shine, among tons of other “dark” novels. Do I now feel the inclination to begin stimulating the nearest meth business or sexually assaulting my classmates? No. No, I don’t. Not at all.
Since I’ve read Ms. Myracle’s Internet Girls series prior to Shine, I simply dismissed her as a frivolous author. Well, all my expectations disappeared down the drain as I read the first page, which featured a newspaper clipping detailing the attack of a gay teen in the tiny town of Black Creek. The novel goes on to describe the protagonist’s search for the truth about what really happened to the teen, an old childhood friend named Patrick.
Ms. Myracle’s writing created a sort of thick and somber atmosphere throughout the book, which was appropriate given the gravity of the topic. Her characters are easy to sympathize for, and the mystery involved was not overly obvious or completely impossible to solve. A multitude of touchy subjects were tackled and handled delicately. Overall, I enjoyed Shine a lot more than I’d originally thought I would.
Even with all the hate and despair in the story, I finished the novel with a feeling of hope. Yes, WSJ article, maybe it wasn’t a happily ever after, maybe the characters experienced things no one should go through. But there is hope and healing everywhere if you look hard enough.
Book Source: ARC from Abrams Books via NetGalley(less)
What invariably happens when I plump down with a John Green or David Levithan book in my hand...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
What invariably happens when I plump down with a John Green or David Levithan book in my hands: chuckle chuckle... giggle giggle snort... BUAHAHAHA choke cough cough...
So yes, this is why I avoid reading funny books in public. My personal sound effects would probably scare away people within a 3 mile radius or something. A teenager with a laughter-inducing book is quite a frightening combo.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is centered around two seemingly different boys with the same name whose lives become intertwined when they accidentally meet inside a questionable institution for minors. Green's Will Grayson is my favorite type of nerd. He accepts his parents advice about life in general, is in love with obscure bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, and has the tendency to describe his love life with scientific paradoxes like Schroedinger's cat. Levithan's will grayson (no capitals), on the other hand, doesn't particularly care about anything (except maybe Isaac), hangs out with emotionally deficient computer programming geeks, and is still striving to discover a niche in the overwhelming existence that is life.
The truly amazing thing about realistic fiction is, obviously, its relatability. Sometimes I feel like the paranormal/fantasy YA I read sacrifice character depth and development for things like descriptions of magic or, oh I don't know, the history of the shapeshifter bunny rabbits. Will Grayson, Will Grayson contains a fantastic set of characters, each with their own happiness and woes. And that is why I adored this book. It felt real, surprisingly real. I will definitely be looking into the realistic fiction genre.
Off on a random tangent: I'm going to start using andbutso in my daily speech, just to confuse the unfortunate individuals I happen to be communicating with.
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)
I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my rea...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reading repertoire while growing up, jumping directly from children’s books like Magic Tree House to YA like The Hunger Games. Maybe I should go back and fill in that gaping MG hole now, because The Star Shard exceeded expectations.
I was waiting for simplicity and frankly, not much depth. This is a MG faerie fantasy after all. Plus, I admit that my opinion of MG is not terribly high (very hypocritical, I know, since I haven’t read a lot of MG). I was, however, not prepared to be bombarded by the deliciousness that is this slightly rustic high fantasy world and a 12-year-old heroine that displays a lot more common sense than the average hormonal-driven and air-headed YA protagonist.
Our darling main character Cybril is a slave on the Thunder Rake. Sold into this giant wheeled city at an early age, Cybril survives, as per Master Rombol’s orders, by singing for crowds during market days. There are snippets of lyrics spread throughout The Star Shard and even complete sheet music for two of the songs. Is that not the coolest supplementary material you’ve ever seen? And then of course, we have Loric, the faerie lad with the silver eyes and enigmatic smile -- as much as young boys’ smiles can be enigmatic, I suppose. Cybril and Loric develop an awkward fascination with each other that later fleshes out into an adorable friendship and maybe even a relationship-to-be.
With a plot fraught with twists and turns, skeleton keys and potion-induced beauty, The Star Shard reads like a clear well of water. It’s refreshing and free of angst or love triangles. Just pure adventure. And two little children desperately sprinting together toward their shared finish line, hand-in-hand.
It's a good thing I’d already downloaded Shadowfever before I started Dreamfever, since I’m pretty sure I would have chucked my precious Kindle across the room and then proceeded to repeatedly bang my head against a hard surface otherwise. I was totally expecting the “big revelation” since book 3, though. BOOYA.
Admission: I’m addicted to Barrons. If the guy doesn’t show up every once in a while, I use the “search” option to try to find the next page he appears in... That is the extent of my addiction.
I am a sucker for HEA, and I have to admit, Ms. Moning is going to have to do a lot of plot twisting to get Shadowfever to end like that. The reviews for book 5 I’ve glanced over all seem pretty optimistic, though. So. Here. I. Go...
Are you kidding me? What kind of ending is that? /seeths silently in a corner/ This series just keeps getting more and more addicting, if that's even possible. Amazing characters and over-arching plot-line. Unputdownable in a stay-up-late-and-read-until-you-can-barely-keep-your-eyes-open sort of way. I'm very glad that the entire series had already finished publication before I started book 1. Waiting for the next book of anything is possibly the most agonizing feeling ever (I learned that the hard way through The Hunger Games trilogy). Going to have to read Dreamfever really soon.
We are introduced to the quaint town of Near and its inhabitants -- both human and witch...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
We are introduced to the quaint town of Near and its inhabitants -- both human and witch -- through a graceful, lilting writing style accompanied by the soft blow of the Near moor wind through our hair (or if your hair quantity is similar to Voldemort’s: across your scalp). Life is the definition of stasis, for there are no strangers in the town of Near. But then Lexi glimpses a boy who blurs on the edges and fades like the wind, and the children of the town start disappearing out of their beds each night. Now, the hunt is on for the mysterious stranger, for the missing children, and for peace at last in the town of Near.
The Near Witch is a gorgeous novel with a slightly rustic feel that reminds me of the magic that is Hale’s Princess Academy. What a breath of fresh air, so completely different from the love + paranormal creature formula most authors are using these days. And really, why would someone pay to read a glamorized regurgitation of the same ol’ star-crossed love story?
My special thanks to Ms. Schwab for giving our heroine Lexi a brain bigger and wiser than her heart (not that her heart is lacking any essential ingredients, mind you). Headstrong and willing to take the initiative, Lexi is the one moving the story forward instead of being dragged by it from behind. Our mystery boy, too, is more than just a pair of dark, pretty eyes; he is the tangled result of grief and regret and unchangeable history. What a helpless -- but hopeful -- pair they make.
The only thing keeping the novel from being a 5-star is the plot’s overall simplicity. Most will find that not to be problematic; I’m simply very picky about the books I shelve as incomprehensibly awesome. But hey, a 4.5 rating is as close to that as you can get.
Ms. Schwab has penned a shining gem of a debut, and I am waiting with bated breath for her next novel, The Archived.
Book Source: ARC from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley(less)
Escape: the one thing Finn, Keiro, and Attia have yearned for since the beginning. Finn -- th...moreThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Escape: the one thing Finn, Keiro, and Attia have yearned for since the beginning. Finn -- the lucky one, the one of royal blood -- now has it in his clutches and yet yearns for the soothing feeling of content. Outside is not the pretty paradise it’s supposed to be. Still plagued by doubts about himself and those around him, Finn, the long-lost prince, must rescue his oath brother Keiro and manage to ascend the throne that is rightfully his by birthright. As he struggles with messy court politics, Incarceron is making its own plans. It will do anything for freedom, for a glimpse of the Outside that its escaped son Sapphique has described. Sapphique: the implanter of dreams, the owner of the Glove, the answer to all this strife?
This book begins right after the conclusion of Incarceron. And although I found the first book to be a little slow pace-wise, Sapphique is action-packed from beginning to end and is definitely a step-up from Incarceron. I originally thought that the story couldn’t be extended that much further, as Incarceron already had a solid ending, albeit with some strings left untied. Well, I was completely mistaken. Sapphique is the book that ends the story and brings all the characters to some kind of peace, one way or another.
Unlike some other reviewers, I adored these characters as well. They love each other; they hate each other. They build their relationships upon jealousy and selfish desires, trust and self-sacrificing love. Their ultimate ambitions are obvious. Or are they…?
There will be no third installment, and I applaud Ms. Fisher for not dragging out the series like countless other authors. Sapphique is a satisfying ending to a unique series. It has a certain... finality to it.
Tidbit of random: Whilst reading Incarceron back in 2010, I had no idea the word incarcerate had a meaning or even existed. It wasn’t until the criminal justice unit in US Government this semester that I realized. Imagine my surprise...!
The Thief started out as nothing special. The plot seemed mediocre, and I had trouble creating a mental image of Gen -- the main character, narrator, and thief -- in my head. But after the first few chapters, I found myself suddenly very engrossed in the novel and couldn't for the life of me put the book down to eat, sleep, or perform any of life's necessary functions...
Oh, Ms. Turner, what a tangled web you weave. The Thief had the type of ending I love best. It was unexpected, tied up everything nicely, and made the reader want the next book in the series without being frustratingly cliffhanger-ish. Now I shall try to restrain myself and go to sleep instead of starting the next book in the Attolia series.