I cried approximately six and a half times while reading EASY. Does that mean this review will be "easy" to write? I think not! Full review to come on...moreI cried approximately six and a half times while reading EASY. Does that mean this review will be "easy" to write? I think not! Full review to come on BlookGirl.com.(less)
Counting Backwards is emotionally raw and tentatively hopeful. A compelling tale of a girl who learns, among other things, that sometimes you have to...moreCounting Backwards is emotionally raw and tentatively hopeful. A compelling tale of a girl who learns, among other things, that sometimes you have to give up control to gain control.
Review to be posted on BlookGirl.com on August 14, 2012, as part of the Southern Book Bloggers Tour.(less)
This review was originally posted on BlookGirl.com. ------------------------------ From the first moment I read the synopsis for Throne of Glass, I just...moreThis review was originally posted on BlookGirl.com. ------------------------------ From the first moment I read the synopsis for Throne of Glass, I just knew this book would be amazing. I am so glad to say that I was right! (Man, that never gets old.) If you've read any of my previous reviews, you'll now that I look for characters with whom I can really connect and relate. Even if there are other issues within the book, as long as the characters are engaging, I am willing to overlook other flaws.
Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan's Assassin, is one such character. Seriously, this girl was kick-ass, and not just because she's purported to have killed men with her bare hands. She's snarky, calculating, and confident, yet vulnerable, caring, and sensitive. A perfectly flawed character. It's clear that Celaena has seen and experienced her share of heart-break, but instead of caving in on herself, she used her grief and anger to survive. She certainly didn't set out to be an assassin, but when you have nothing left to lose, you take the chances you're given.
So when cocky "pretty-boy", Crown Prince Dorian, offers Celaena redemption from the salt mines of Endovier to be his champion in his father's competition, she accepts without question. As she is escorted to the massive glass castle in Eirlea, she is able to size up her two main companions, Prince Dorian and Chaol Westfall, the gruff Captain of the Guard.
At first glance, Prince Dorian seems to be your typical arrogant, entitled princeling. His father is a brutal leader, having ravaged the country with war, banished magic, and destroyed whole cultures and groups of people. It is easy for Celaena to apply the father's sins to the son, but it's not easy to ignore the flashes of goodness that shine through Dorian's gilded facade. He doesn't agree with his father's politics and so badly wants to be bold and brave and different. Dorian has a lot to overcome in the next installment, and I can't wait to see how he handles things.
Then there's Captain Westfall... Insert a dreamy sigh here, ladies. Chaol is the typical strong, silent type. He is incredibly wary of Celaena and is not quick to forget that, though she's pretty and intelligent, she's still a heartless, dangerous murderer. He is constantly at war with himself over his feelings for and trust in Celaena. Even when Chaol allows himself a smidgen of happiness, it's clear that something happened in his past to affect the way he deals with life. I just wanted to hug him and never let go!
Now, there is an element of a love triangle in Throne of Glass, and it's fairly easy to spot early on - but - it's so well-written and the two men are truly charming in their own ways, I didn't mind at all. Some people have mentioned the dreaded "Insta-love!" in their reviews, but I did not find that to be so. Celaena is attracted to Prince Dorian off the bat, but really struggles to put aside his familial connections when she considers her feelings for him. In Chaol, she finds a brutally honest confidante and, eventually, a tentative friend. The banter between the three of them is simply genius!
Towards the end of the book, however, dynamics change a bit, which left me breathless and dying to read the next installment! There were a few moments within the book that had me either giggling like a silly school girl or dabbing tears away from the corners of my eyes. I'm positive I looked like a lunatic while reading, but it's all in the name of love!
There are other stories at play within the pages, namely that of Princess Nehemia, whose country has fallen under the terror of the King. I am curious to hear more about her in the future installments of this series. I applaud Sarah Maas for creating secondary characters that you can give a damn about. It is not as easy as it looks! At the end of the day, however, this is mostly Celaena's story, and I can't wait to see how all of the other characters will benefit or harm her on her journey.
I know at this point in the review, you're probably questioning if this book is indeed high fantasy. I can assure you that while there is plenty to keep the romantics happy, this is not necessarily a warm-and-fuzzy read. While Celaena trains to compete in the final show-down, her fellow competitors are viciously eliminated, one-by-one, by a mysterious creature. Complete with stone-faced gargoyles, dark passageways, ancient glyphs, other-worldly portals, and encounters with the Fae, Throne of Glass will keep you frantically turning pages as you race along with Celaena to find out who -or what- is behind the dark, smothering evil that cloaks the glass palace.
It took me four days to finish reading Throne of Glass, and it's not because it's spectacularly long or because my interest waned. It was so good that I didn't want to finish reading. There's not a painful cliff-hanger (thank you, Sarah!), but the book ends on a note that leaves you eager to know what happens next for Celaena, her friends, and her enemies. This experience has earmarked Throne of Glass as a new favorite for me, and I cannot recommend it enough to any and all of my friends and acquaintances.
Was the book absolutely perfect? No. However, everything that matters, everything that can't really be articulated in this review, is there. Throne of Glass has that rather unique quality of being "something special" that will keep you thinking about the book long after you've turned the last page.
Overall, Nerve was a fast-paced, suspenseful, and entertaining read. I was immediately drawn into Vee's world from the first page. She's just a "norma...moreOverall, Nerve was a fast-paced, suspenseful, and entertaining read. I was immediately drawn into Vee's world from the first page. She's just a "normal" teenage girl, loyal to her best friend and seriously crushing on the cute, popular boy - both of whom happen to be the stars in a school play for which Vee is the makeup artist. In short, her life is nice but boring. So, when presented with the opportunity to be a participant in the hottest online game, NERVE, she jumps.
NERVE sends dares to the participants via their cellphones which they must complete for some pretty amazing prizes. (I mean, c'mon, you'd do a silly little dare for a pair of Jimmy Choos, wouldn't you?!) Initially, the first few dares cause a bit of embarrassment for Vee and the other contestants, but they wind up playing on their worst fears in a completely terrifying manner. The anonymous people behind NERVE know everything about the contestants, which is quite creepy and certainly made me consider how many intensely personal things we post on social media without a second thought.
The character development, pacing, and plot were all very well done in Nerve. The story is told from Vee's point-of-view, which enables the reader to experience everything as she does. I found myself cringing with embarassment as Vee completed some of her dares, and gasping with fright as the dares became more and more sinister. I love books that can make me feel!
I can't talk about this book without giving away too many spoilers, but suffice it to say that if you enjoy a bit of mystery and thrill, this is most certainly the book for you! Nerve will make you feel just as paranoid as the characters, and keep you guessing about the final outcome until the very end.
The original review for The Forsaken can be found at BlookGirl.com. -------------------------------------- I adore novels set in a dystopian world and,...moreThe original review for The Forsaken can be found at BlookGirl.com. -------------------------------------- I adore novels set in a dystopian world and, being a big fan of The Hunger Games and The Divergent Trilogy, this book sounded right up my alley. So, when I was chosen to be on the traveling ARC tour for The Forsaken via Southern Book Bloggers, I was thrilled! Unfortunately, by the end of the book, I was a bit disappointed and jaded by yet another predictable Dystopian story.
If I may, I would describe The Forsaken as the love-child of The Hunger Games and Divergent. The similarities were glaringly obvious, but I feel that I would have appreciated the story more if it had come out one or two years earlier. As it is, though, we readers are inundated with "the next Hunger Games!" type books, and frankly, I'm tapped out on my store of patience.
I'm having a hard time describing what I did and did not like about The Forsaken, and I think it's because it wasn't bad, but it wasn't spectacular. It was more middle-of-the-road for me. The characters were, for the most part, uninteresting; Alenna especially so, which is unfortunate. One character that did make me perk up, though, was Alenna's first real friend on "The Wheel", Gadya. She is fierce, in control, and a true warrior. If I do continue on with this series, it will be because of her.
I didn't understand the quasi-love-triangle between Alenna, Liam, and David. There was absolutely zero chemistry between Alenna and Liam, and no believable build-up of their feelings for each other. David was the more redeemable of the two boys, and even though he wasn't as swoon-worthy as Liam, he has heart. I would love to see less emphasis on the love triangle in YA literature, though. I mean, how often does a girl really have two wonderful guys to choose between? Why does a girl even need a guy -much less two? I digress.
All of this is not to say that I was not entertained, because I surely was. The Forsaken kept me interested overall, thanks to the quick pacing, non-stop action, and some interesting little mysteries surrounding the government's true motives and the disappearance of Alenna's parents. However, it took me until page 200 to really get into the story, and by then, it was really too late.
I haven't decided if I will continue the series, but I probably will, because I think the second book has much more potential for originality once the similarities to The Hunger Games and Divergent have ceased to exist. I do hope Lisa will write more books after The Forsaken Series, because she does have talent, and I'd love to see it used in a different setting and story.
I would recommend The Forsaken to those of you who are die-hard dystopian fans, or who really enjoyed the two aforementioned stories. This book wasn't for me, but it will be a perfect fit for someone else. Maybe even you!(less)
This review was originally posted on BlookGirl. ---------------- Stunning. That is the only word I can use to describe Something Like Normal. This is no...moreThis review was originally posted on BlookGirl. ---------------- Stunning. That is the only word I can use to describe Something Like Normal. This is not a story about war; not in the traditional sense, anyway. It's about the internal war within. It's about humor, love, and hope, and how all three of these things can help you heal from even the deepest wounds.
What did I love most about Something Like Normal? The authenticity of Travis Stephenson, the main character. It is rare that YA novels feature a male narrator/main character, and when they do, some come off as incredibly stilted. That is not true here. Travis' voice comes through loud and clear and genuine. I admit, I fell head-over-heels in love with him, and it's not because he was some idealized picture of perfection. In fact, Travis was far from perfect, which was refreshing.
On top of the fresh emotional and mental scars that Travis carries home from war, there are older scars that are torn open when he is reunited with his family. His father is such a jerk! I don't understand how a parent could treat their own child that way - or how a husband could be so insensitive to his wife. It's no wonder Ryan, Travis' brother, turned out the way he did. I adored Mrs. Stephenson the most. She's the kind of mother I want to be: fiercely loyal and protective, and loving to a fault. All she wants is for Travis to feel at home again, though he is really not sure where "home" is anymore.
While it's easy to symphathize with Travis in general, his story hit a little closer to home for me. My childhood friend, Michael, spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Iraq during the war. Like Travis, he still suffers from nightmares, insomnia, and depression. He saw many of his closest friends and comrades die or get injured, and lord knows what other horrors he must have witnessed. Travis brought tears to my eyes more than once as he recounted his memories of Charlie Sweeney, the best friend he lost, and as he deals with his survivor's guilt. I just wanted to hug the pain away...
And that's where Harper comes in. She's the girl Travis unintentionally humiliated in middle school, despite the fact that he really liked her. Up until Travis returned home on leave, they hadn't spoken since that time, and Harper is really not interested in hearing what Travis has to say. That is, until she socks him in the eye and has her say. Fierce and sassy! My kinda girl!
The relationship that develops between Travis and Harper is surprisingly sweet and breath-taking. She is the balm to his wounded soul, and when faced with his mood swings, she doesn't back down or pity him. I caught myself shaking my head in awe at how grounded and real Harper is, and how lucky Travis is to have her in his life. I think the best thing about their relationship, though, is the uncertainty of it. They both realize that they can't promise forever, not yet. But what they have "now" is plenty good enough.
We are also introduced to a couple of Travis' friends, namely Kevlar and Moss. While they each deal with their part in the war in their own way, their banter in the lighter moments of the book had me laughing out loud quite a few times. There are no holds barred when these three are together. They burp and drink and cuss, and it's all so natural, you feel like you've known these guys your entire life. Marines are not glorified in this book. If anything, we are reminded that the men and women who serve are just like all of us, and it makes me love and appreciate them even more.
Something Like Normal does not end with a "happily ever after". It does, however, end on a note of hope. War is not pleasant and the effects of it are far-reaching. Travis left home as a boy and returned as a battle-scarred man. Through him, we learn that with each bend in life's road comes a new perspective, and a new kind of "normal." And as Travis says, "...something like normal is a good start."(less)