^ i spelled it like that because frankly if i wrote goooooooooooooood it would look like go for a...more**STARRED REVIEW**
^ i spelled it like that because frankly if i wrote goooooooooooooood it would look like go for a really long time and that's mentally confusing. not sure if gawd is better.
anyways! wow. amanda effing sun is trying to murder me. i have no effing idea how i survived the wait for RAIN (hint: i didn't. i had to get an ARC or else i would've died. thank you first reads thank youuuuuuu!!!) but RAIN makes the wait for the third book f****** IMPOSSIBLE. GOD(S). THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK. I CANNOT ACCURATELY DESCRIBE MY FEELINGS.
I love this book so much i wanna eat it and let it settle in my stomach and then do some weird book dance or something idk i just gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
^that was really weird. but anyways. onto what i liked about the book: (SPOILERS FOR INK BELOW, BUT NOT FOR RAIN)
-I had thought the ending of INK was a bit anticlimactic, but oooohhhh boy am i glad she stayed. -TOMO TOMO TOMO TOMO TOMOHIRO COME HERE YOU -^ i swear i'm not that shallow. Tomo undergoes a lot of growth in this novel and we get to see him depending on Katie and realizing that he isn't alone. And that is just a phenomenal shift. -Katie has to figure out her priorities and must struggle through lies and facades to protect herself and those she love, and that means she gets in some pretty deep trouble with some people you reeeallly don't wanna mess with. -What Tomo says to Shiori about the thing. When you get there. Ahhhh yes. I was just like OH TOMO YOU GO TOMO YOU TELL HER. YES TOMO -We find out some INSANE history and hypotheses in this book and it is FABULOUS. I cannot overstate how happy I am about Japanese (and accurately described.... *cough* "City of a thousand dolls" and my billion hatred seeds for it) culture and mythology being so thoroughly described in a YA book where the market is saturated by white gurlz. Nothing wrong with Caucasians, just.... DIVERSITY MAN. Now we just need someone to do that for the Chinese... like I know there are some out there but most of them take place in the US... hmm... I should get on that.
Annnnd I could go on and on. But the thing is, I loved how I could smell the cherry blossoms and hear the furin and see the ink flow and feel the earth rumble and live with the characters as they despair and evolve and realize that they aren't alone.
I love it. I love it all. And now someone PLEASE for gods' sakes give me the third book as soon as Amanda Sun is done writing it and stuff.(less)
Original can be found on my blog here. (Note: Due to copy-and-paste, formatting and most links have been lost.)
Talk about creative! My brother and I've both been big fans of Scholastic's multi-author series, and this one, Spirit Animals, is no exceptions. Let's have my ten-year-old brother take it away first:
Roark: This book was just so... COOL. The main characters got the Fallen Four spirit animals, which is so cool. They each had better spirit animals than other people, which is really interesting because they must be awesome to have such cool spirit animals. I also really liked the plot because it tells you a lot about the spirit animals world, which is very fascinating**. It is also good because it switches from person to person so I can get more information from different places.
I think the characters are awesome**. Conor learned how to use his spirit animal faster than everyone else, which was cool. Abeke was the first to learn how to turn the spirit animal into a tattoo. They're all smart, maybe not like Meilin but, while Meilin is the best fighter which is cool because she's a girl [my sister is really good at Kung Fu but my friends don't believe me because she's a girl]***, everyone else can fight well in their own awesome way. Rollan, lastly, is my favorite because he is so funny.
Overall, I give this a 5 out of 5.
Me: Since I'm just a tad above the targeted age range and the complete opposite of my brother, I can't sing praises for Wild Born without a few (or, I suppose, one really big) reservation(s).
First off, though: Brandon Mull is excellent at world-building. I found it fascinating how he managed to twist four cultures into a cocktail of a world that, though anachronistic, surprisingly retained many of the elements of each culture when it would've been much easier to neglect their foundations. I enjoyed running on a South America-like street with Rollan, being pampered (ephemerally) in an Asian palace with Meilin (Since I'm Asian, the discrepancies in the Asian worldbuilding stood out to me more than the other ones did; still, it is a commendable effort on Mull's part to make it as reminiscent of Asia as possible without compromising the story's overarching world), shake with terror in a Medieval England-esque surrounding alongside Conor, and hunt through wild forests with Abeke that brings images of Native American tribes to the mind.
Yet where he excels, I also reluctantly found fault. Mull's writing is... dull. Quite dull.
It feels plain, especially in the first few chapters, full of telling and detached emotion. It is only after about 50 pages in that I really began to see the characters for who they were. Even then, oftentimes I found myself not exactly enthused--though certainly not unwilling--to dive back into the Spirit Animals world because something about the writing just didn't necessarily captivate me. It missed a spark; a touch of something magical, to fit in rightly with its exquisite world.
Still, I didn't care much about the writing's obtuseness after a while because the action and any scene, really, was just so entertaining. The characters were written exceptionally well in regards to their authenticity. I saw a lot of myself in Meilin, and laughed far too loudly at Rollan, and I could appreciate the humbleness of Conor just as well as I admired Abeke for her bravery. Each character could hold their own, and because of that and the excellent world-building, even with the writing being flat, the plot never ran too slowly.
The verdict? If you stick with the book through its rough beginning, you'll likely find yourself flipping the pages quickly--and if not quickly, then at least satisfactorily. After all, it's not every day you get a middle grade that mashes all the charming bits of the age group together in quite the inventive and ambitious tale. Besides, the spirit animals are, as my brother would say it... SO COOL.
*I received an ARC copy provided by the publisher in an exchange for an honest review. No monetary or otherwise beneficial supplement was exchanged. **He didn't actually say that. He said cool. I had to change his vocabulary up, I'm sorry. T.T ***He didn't include this in the actual review that he handed me, but he had mentioned it to me before and I thought it was a very valid point. ^.^
Oh! Before y'all ditch this post--Scholastic is doing this cool (GAH! Now I'm turning into my brother!) thing where you can actually play an online game set in the Spirit Animals world hand have your own Spirit Animal. I think it's very innovative, and you should totally check it out here.(less)
Original is here on my blog. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting may be lost.)
First off, I should probably make the caveat that I'm...more**1.5 STARS**
Original is here on my blog. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting may be lost.)
First off, I should probably make the caveat that I'm not typically a fan of boarding school stories. But Scholastic was really kind in sending me this book, and it had a fun-sounding premise, so I figured... why not?
Oh, why not indeed.
It should be mentioned that this book wasn't all bad. Anne Applegate captures the life of a boarding school quite well--although, I can't speak from experience, only logical deductions. But I like that Cam really develops her character throughout the novel. I also thought that the twist was one of the cleverest ones I've read in a long time.
Unfortunately, there isn't much other praise I can sing.
Alright, look: this is probably just a personal thing. But from the synopsis (and the first few chapters alone) I guessed the twist in this book. But I'm an avid Greek mythology fan, so perhaps I should've lowered my radar just a bit when factoring that in. It' still a great revelation, just... The mystery was the only thing going for me and, once I cracked it, I had to force myself to keep on reading.
Also, gosh I know I'm so nitpicky, but the insta-love...
Cam could've thrived with her friends! But she's so obsessively in love with (view spoiler)[Mark (hide spoiler)]--I know, I know, I understand the hormones and all. But her relationship with Mark plays such a major part in her coming to terms with what's happened to her, I just wish it wasn't so quickly skimmed over and instead developed more realistically, yanno?
It's not that I didn't like Cam. It's that her voice was too inconsistent. I know that the teenage years are a growing and changing time (see above GIF), but having your eighth grade character say "creeptastic" and- actually, why don't I just give you a quote? (It's sort of a "big" spoiler, though, if you get it.)
(view spoiler)["There is haunting and there is visitation. The former involves your neediness and desire to be healed, and as I said, it damages. The latter involves your ability to deliver healing to the one you contact. A visitation is a gift to another that may damage you."
THAT, my friends, is probably my major issue with this book. The fact that it "dumbs down" the protagonist. Look, my cousin who's in third grade understood that sentence the guy said just fine. I really, really wish Cam wouldn't respond to everything with a "I'm new to this world and wow shiny what?"-type of attitude.
And the worst part is all the potential this book had. A boarding school full of intrigue? Prepping for something that is a new twist in an overfilled genre? Middle school protagonists? FRIENDSHIPS! :D And, from the beginning of the book, actual parents?
But to my deepest regret, none of those potentials were fulfilled.
Even the friendships. Read the first chapter and I dare you not to hate Lia. I literally was like this:
I felt so bad for Cam, but somehow in the end everything is just magically solved and it just depresses, depresses me, because there was potential for so much character growth and all that just fell incredibly flat and cliché. And though Cam became a better person at the end, I didn't really see the transformation occur--and I didn't see even a hint of development for so many other characters at all, even though they had a perfect opportunity to learn from their faults. Isn't that what makes a book triumphant? The beggar finding the hero inside?
Overall, this is one of the hardest reviews I've ever had to write. I'm sorry that it's not the best review I've ever written--this is one of those books that you just don't know how you feel about. Because there's so much potential and you sort of idolize that premise but the way it just flops breaks your heart.
Give this book a try, if you're into boarding school and Pretty Little Liars-esque stories.
But if my feelings are anything to judge off of, don't expect a phenomenal tale.
Quick Reaction: I had a few issues with this book (some character development stuff, some plot stuff), but overall I very much enjoyed it. Though I fe...moreQuick Reaction: I had a few issues with this book (some character development stuff, some plot stuff), but overall I very much enjoyed it. Though I felt as if it lacked a bit of sustenance (nothing really Ba-BAM happened in this book except for at the very end, and I think it could've used some more showing instead of all the telling Anna does), I still really liked the characters. Also, Kope!!! He's such a great guy. I hope he finds his happiness. *sighs* Gotta stop getting so attached to characters! T.T
Also, Kaidan and Anna have PLEEEEENTY of steamy scenes. Not that I minded. Those two are so sweet they give me cavities.
I didn't love it the way I loved the first book, but this is definitely still a series I highly, HIGHLY recommend. ^.^
1) I like the other edition's cover better. :-S 2) Got this @ ALA for my bud Brooke, though Imma read it first 'cause it sounds really awesome. 3) I thi...more1) I like the other edition's cover better. :-S 2) Got this @ ALA for my bud Brooke, though Imma read it first 'cause it sounds really awesome. 3) I think that's it. (less)
Actual review: Original is here on my blog. I read this book with my brother and it's quite awesome. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and link...moreActual review: Original is here on my blog. I read this book with my brother and it's quite awesome. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
I'm a scaredy cat.
It's an universal fact, really. I get scared outta my wits for the simplest things. But over the years, I've come to discern that there are two types of scary:
1) The OH I AM GOING TO SCARE YOU ALRIGHT type: This one's so common, its ratio to Type 2 is like 99:1. It's the horror movie you're psyched to see and then scared to death of. It's the jokes your friends whisper and then you have nightmares about. (Really, why would you have friends who do that, anyway?) It's the scary thing that scares you in a memorable way, alright...
A terrifying, never-again-am-I-going-back-to-this type of scary.
That is not Scary School.
2) The OH, THAT WAS SCARY BUT SO FUN! AGAIN! type: This is the entertaining type of scary that kids love on Halloween. It's scary but you expect it, and it's got a plate of humor as a side dish and fun as your drink. It's scary but it's the type of scary that makes you laugh and not make you have a heart attack rivaling a tornado.
That is Scary School.
My brother (AKA The Kid) and I read this book together. He's exactly in the age range that the story is aimed for, so I figured it'd be a good idea. I remember the first day we started reading it:
Me: Hey, kiddo, we're gonna read 'til page 70 today, 'k? The Kid: Page SEVENTY? Can't we reach that tomorrow? Me: *raises eyebrows* The Kid: *groans* FIIIIIINEEEE.
~30 minutes later~
Me: Hey, Kid, we're on page 100. You wanna stop? The Kid: SHHH! I'M TRYING TO READ HERE! Me: *secretly smiles*
As you can tell, Scary School is a clear success with characters echoing the loves of kids and a plot that's both challenging and hilariously awkward. It's strange, grotesque, and so very in character. It's like Edgar Allen Poe for kids, minus the blood and deaths--just kidding. There's plenty of deaths in this book.
Which... brings up an interesting point.
Now, this wasn't an issue for me or my brother, and you know those Goosebumps stories (totally Scary Type 1!) utilize this like I eat rice, but there are a lot of deaths in this book. Not violent, gory, brutal deaths like in The Hunger Games but deaths that are "common." At Scary School, death is not a distant ponder: it's an inevitability. Derek addresses the deaths as if they are no big deal (I mean, Nurse Hairymoles can bring you back from the dead--literally--so what's there to worry about?), but some parents may see this as an indirect way to emphasize the nonchalance of death. Or teach kids about how you should let a teacher turn your world into an autocracy. (Just kidding, Russia!) (...maybe...) I encourage parents to let their children enjoy this mock-up of a perfectly balanced novel between hilarity and genuine characterizations.
Basically, if you didn't get the memo: Scary School is perfect for scaredy cats, non-scaredy cats, and all of the cats in between.(less)
So lately I've been squashed by the debate tournaments that had me dragging through the night doing random research, but now that it...more**Quick Reaction**
So lately I've been squashed by the debate tournaments that had me dragging through the night doing random research, but now that it's over I find myself with way too much free time, which, of course, means that I can finally go back to reading more! Yay!
Here's the thing. I stayed up past 3AM to finish reading this book and it's so subtly vivid, so quietly morbid that it actually managed to scare me more than Anna Dressed in Blood did (though I did read ADiB in the daylight...). I think this book is pretty much awesome, like its cover. It's not just a haunting story. It's freaking chilling. And Wesley is the guy you'll root for if you are a fan of Augustus Waters.
In any case, this book harbors some major twists. Most I saw coming but one I didn't at all, which of course is always pleasantly surprising.
**more intelligently phrased full reaction/review coming closer to release date** (Meanwhile, why not check out my blog?)(less)
Original posted here on my blog. (Note: Due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links are not available.)
What is it with madness?
Why is it that everyone is so burdened and broken that the only perfection that exists is a product of our own imagination? Splintered is pure madness, insane and twisted and sinister and completely seductive. You see those vines caging Alyssa's hair? Those same vines trap you, too.
Splintered is so heartbreaking it makes you want to weep an ocean of your own. Everyone is flawed and impossibly real and emotionally tumultuous. And that's the way it is: tumultuous. But Splintered is just what it is: the rock that splinters your exterior. It's not the type of book that crawls into your heart, per say, but more like the type of story that robs your breath and frightens you when you realize that its craziness is paralleled inside you.
A. G. Howard brings out the darkness in you and sprinkles it with doses of light--just enough to keep you afloat, but not enough to obscure the fear of drowning under.
The magic of Splintered, is, cliché or not, everywhere. The writing is beautiful and haunting. The words create such a flamboyant atmosphere, and the world-building is so thoroughly fleshed out that even the most illogical sequences somehow make sense. It's as if Ms. Howard smashed the world into pieces and rearranged it upside-down and backwards and all wrong all over the place, like a puzzle that fits in a darker, creepier way.
Splintered, at its heart, is a turmoil unsettled. Madness or tranquility? Self or community? Eccentric or accepted? But it's all those questions amplified to a degree that is unimaginable but by the mind of Ms. Howard and her ambient words.
There are retellings, and then there are retellings that twist everything around. Splintered is the epitome of the latter: what you thought was Alice in Wonderland is the original puzzle, and Splintered completely rips it apart. But that doesn't mean it doesn't pay homage to the classic--in fact, it is not so much that Splintered isn't Alice as that Alice cannot be Splintered. They are like twin souls wedged into one body. There are similarities, but there are differences that cannot be ignored.
Wonderland, it seems, is nothing that it seems. This journey is harrowing and completely phenomenal.
Hold on tight--the rabbit hole is as twisted and deadly as ever; even a potion can't keep you immune from Splintered's alluring charms. (less)
Actual, full review: Original is here on my blog. (Note: due to copy-and-paste, formatting and links have been lost.)
There is a sky, bloody and pungent with fever. It is so red it drips so black it smothers. It rips savagely but softly, like the teeth of an animal biting a strip of meat. Imagine this. Then imagine a girl armored in leather-like fierceness and a griffin shrilling and clawing with the fervor of anger and loss, punched in deeper than a blow and scars longer than a lifetime.
In Stormdancer there is desperation edging anger and loss, and there is something very, very fierce, the face of defiance and cracking facades. That is this epic and this epic is phenomenal in every color and word.
I think what so cleanly separates movies from books is that movies generate more action and therefore often more epic than books do. Books can be epic, like Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman, but they are not images clamoring your vision. But see, I was wrong. Stormdancer is not so much of a book or a movie rather that it is a keen and enthralling combination of both, an epic that digs into your bones and words that shiver through your skin. It's very, very beautiful, in a savage, feral sort of way. The imagery is vivid and the world is so real you can feel the branches snapping at you and the thunder smacking your ears. I knew this was going to be epic, because Jay Kristoff has a knack for it, but what I did not expect was a tale woven of blood and family that is so, so, so good it is beyond capable human processing.
There is a caveat I need to say: in the beginning 80 pages or so of this book, I couldn't quite bear it. It was, honestly, slow-paced. The language was smooth like the silk of royalty, but I thought, maybe there is too much description in this. Please speed up soon. I am telling you this because hold on--hold on tight because you might want to shut the book or take a rest but do not--wait until you get to the thundertiger, the arashitora, and then close it because by then you will only be capable of doing so after you have read the entire book in a breath. It is a captivating story, but also an investment: the beginning constructs the world, not hurriedly and quickly, but brick by brick, so that it is more languid than usual but the most poignant profit of all.
In reality there seems to be a bridge between our imagination and the unknown beyond it, and we cannot cross that bridge. But Jay Kristoff scours for the water and succeeds, and he builds his own boat, a glorious, magnificent thing and on it he journeys past the horizon of our imagination and brings back with him the treasures of an adventure swelling with impossibility and luminosity.(less)
Truly magnificent. I've been meaning to finish it since I first started it some time last year, but I couldn't find my copy until I stumbled...more 4.5 Stars
Truly magnificent. I've been meaning to finish it since I first started it some time last year, but I couldn't find my copy until I stumbled across it today and finished the book. It reminds me of Gilda Joyce, which was one of my favorite series back when I was a kid. I just adore this book. Lawrence is so sweet, and Victoria is awesome in that feisty girl-power type of way. I look forward to anything else that Ms. Legrand writes!(less)