Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed by Ally Condie
367 pages, Dutton Juvenile

"In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky— taken by the Society to his certain death—only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander— who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart— change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever."

To start off this review, Crossed is the sequel to Matched and is the 2nd book in the trilogy. I read Matched because of my obsession with dystopian novels, but, furthermore, was unimpressed. I am the type of person who, once they start a series, must finish it. And I will admit, I had hopes for this series to improve, but really Crossed was yet another let down.

I think Ally Condie's main problem is her characters. Personally, I find that if an author cannot create likable, interesting characters, then I am instantly torn between even enjoying the book at all. The real issue is that after reading Matched and Cassia is unsure who she'd rather be with--Ky or Xander--even I didn't know who she should be with. And this wasn't because Ky and Xander were both equally amazing, it was because I didn't lean towards either of them. The emotional connection just wasn't there. Though we do see Cassia grow from book one to book two as she ventures with Indie, a free-spirited girl ready for any journey, I just could not feel bad for her. For some odd reason I didn't care if she didn't end up with either Ky or Xander. I didn't care if she got stranded on an island even, and that says a lot about a book. We also meet Eli, a younger boy who travels with Ky. He was a side character, just that, a side character. His addition to the plot wasn't much except for an innocence that was looking for sympathy.

The plot again was uneventful. Like Matched, Crossed had all of the action happen within the last fifty pages of the book. I feel as if not much really had happened up until then. My incentive to continue reading was to see how it ended. To be honest, the ending felt like other books I've read before. Maybe I'm picky since I've read so many other dystopian novels, but I just couldn't get over how similar it was to other books I've read.

Ally Condie makes references to poems throughout the novel. One particular poem is actually one of my all time favorites and it is called Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas. I love the overall message of this poem and it connects to the major themes in the book. The only problem I did have with references to poems was that I felt as if Condie focused far too much on the poems rather than the plot and characters. Parts of it did enhance the story line, but after a while it really just left me a little bored.

Crossed did not leave me wanting more, but I will say that it was better than Matched. I hope Condie can end the series with a bang or my interest with her books will die altogether. If you're a poetry lover, absolutely enjoyed Matched, or like slower paced novels, then I recommend Crossed. But if you read Matched and couldn't stand it, then I do not recommend reading Crossed because it will only further disappoint you.

Again, I didn't hate Crossed; the writing style just wasn't to my liking.

Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
Splinter, 543 pages

"With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever."

Tiger's Voyage is the third installment in Colleen Houck's Tiger Saga. If you haven't read Tiger's Curse or Tiger's Quest I highly suggest reading them before continuing further into this review.

Tiger's Voyage, where to begin, where to begin... I have been enticed by this entire series. Though the plot intrigues me, the romance is what really keeps me reading. This book is amazing and the longest out of the series so far.

With Ren absent of his memory of Kelsey, Kelsey is torn between who she should choose. Both Kishan and Ren have qualities any girl would swoon over. I don't blame her for being torn between the two. The real plot starts when Kelsey is yet again faced with this choice. But could she be with someone who can hardly stand being around her? Who gets sick by her touch? When it comes down to it, I'm team Ren. Ren is sweet and caring and shares a special connection with Kelsey. Kishan is also sweet and caring, but the strong connection isn't there. Mr. Kadam is a great character throughout the series. He serves as a father figure and is always wise and craving knowledge.

The plot was full of adventure and romantic tension. I loved it! Kelsey, Ren, Kishan, Mr. Kadam, and Nilima take a journey in search of Durga's necklace. Of course, the task is never quite simple and they must take a boat. There are jealous tigers, dragons, and sharks involved! The plot always entertains me, and whenever I finish the book, I feel as if I was on the journey with Kelsey the entire time. Watching Kelsey grow stronger was another aspect I enjoyed. As a reader, we watch her develop from a weak, ordinary girl into a brave, strong woman.

Colleen Houck never fails with her descriptions of the lovely India. It always feels as if I'm there. The food, the clothes, the culture, it's all so interesting to me. I will admit though, at times I did wish Houck's descriptions were a little shorter. Though the food does sound delicious, sometimes I'd rather not read a paragraph about dinner.

One problem I did have with the novel is Kelsey cannot make up her mind. Right when she decides which brother she wants to be with, she changes her mind. It drives me nuts! It really bothered me because I could see who she clearly wanted to be with more. So, if I can see who she should be with, why can't Kelsey? Geez. But on the bright side, love triangles are always a great conflict to add to any story and there are two more books to the series that have yet to be out on the shelves.

Tiger's Voyage leaves you off on a HUGE cliff hanger and I'm dying to read the next book!! If you loved Tiger's Quest, read this book right now! You will not be disappointed!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books, 352 pages

"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow — impossible though it seems — they may still be alive."

I first became interested in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children when I saw the book trailer. That trailer was simply amazing! It looked like a genuine movie, and it had such an eerie feel to it. Needless to say, I just had to read the book after watching that trailer.

I have never read a book that used pictures within its storytelling. It was something entirely new to me, and the effect of the pictures was amazing. They greatly contributed to the story, and I am not sure if I would have liked the story as much if the pictures weren't in there. Some parts of the book would literally creep me out if I read at night, so I just read super fast through them until I came to a happier passage.

The plot line was also very original and refreshing. Using the pictures as a guideline, Riggs was able to create something entirely new that I have never encountered before. Everything was perfect. Set in World War II and modern times? Check. Creepy monsters? Check. A possibly disastrous experiment? Check. Peculiar children? Check.

The main character, Jacob, was enjoyable to follow. At times he reminded me a bit of a John Green main character; he was hilarious at times, but he knew when to be serious. His struggle to convince himself that he wasn't crazy was also something new that I haven't read a ton about. The psychological aspect of the story was fascinating. Were things real, or was Jacob making them all up in head? Were Abe's stories true, or were they all made up?

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a fantasy thriller that transcends time. You definitely do not want to miss out on reading this gem of a book.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Simon Pulse, 224 pages

"This book tells the tale of an unnamed 15-year-old girl as she becomes acquainted with the world of drugs. Desperate for friendship in a new town and vulnerable from typical teenage insecurities, the narrator gets involved with a seemingly-harmless group of teenagers who introduce her to substance use. What starts out as an innocent way to have fun quickly turns into a vicious cycle of dependency. This heart-wrenching book that contains authentic entries from a young girl's diary open up the reader's eyes to the reality of teenage drug abuse, as it follows the hero through bad trips, homelessness, and damaged relationships."

Usually, I am apprehensive about reading books that are written in first person and in a diary entry form. But when Emily described this book as a book about drug addiction and how a girl overcomes it, I was more than intrigued. I am very interested in the way that people who are addicted to either drugs or alcohol coexist socially in the world. This book was a lot like one of my favorite books (also written in first person about a person's drug addiction), A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Although this book is a far milder tale of substance abuse compared to A Million Little Pieces, I found it very far ahead of its time, considering it was originally published in 1971.

Go Ask Alice is a book I believe every high school student should read during their freshman or sophomore year. It shows very vividly how drug experimentation and alcohol can really damage a young person's life. The girl who writes about her experiences shows signs of depression, loneliness, and even happiness due to her issues with drugs. I don't believe that this girl was truly a hard core drug addict. I think that the addictive nature that LSD and speed caused her simply couldn't be fought on her own. The girl had support from her family and friends, but she was constantly in different states of reconciliation and understanding with them, which caused more stress in her life.

Her story also helps to show the cultural problems that drugs had on America and the children that were growing up during that time. The same issues that occur in this book (again, it was published in 1971) mirrors many of the same drug addiction issues that America is experiencing today. Reading this book helped me to relate to another time in the world because of the similar things that I see happening in the world that I am growing up in.

Rating: 3 stars - I liked it. Worth borrowing. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Little Brown, 432 pages

"Once upon a time, an angel and devil fell in love. It did not end well. Around the world black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who crept through a slit in the sky. In a dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbook with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on "errands;" she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That's one question that haunts her that she is about to find out. When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?"

I couldn't wait to get my hands on Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There has been an outpouring of positive reviews about this book, and after reading it, I understand why. Daughter of Smoke and Bone takes books about angels and demons to whole different level. Of course, I have read Lauren Kate's, Becca Fitzpatrick's, and Cassandra Clare's take on these characters (of which I love Cassandra Clare's work), but what makes Daughter of Smoke and Bone so amazing is that it clearly stands out from all of those books. It is a completely new take where the angels aren't always the good guys, and the demons aren't always the bad guys, which are my favorite kinds of books! What is even more fascinating is that Laini Taylor toys with the idea that everyone is a bad character. Intriguing? I thought so!

The world building within this book is breathtaking. The worlds are lush, so much so that you can almost feel the blue feathers Karou plays with in Brimstone's store. What is also fascinating is that the real world and fictional worlds mesh so well in the book. Laini Taylor does not try to take our world and add fictional elements to it. Instead, she creates an entirely different world that coexists with our own, which I think adds a bit of believability into the book.

By far, what will draw you into this book the most is the mystery of Karou's past. Right away in the first chapter you become intrigued with Karou, a girl with natural blue hair that draws strange pictures and has a bunch of demons for family members. Who is she? Almost the entire books deals with the question of Karou's identity, which, you guessed it, is extremely important to the storyline. All I have to say is that once you go through and discover Karou's past, you will be officially hooked into the plot from then on. Her past is absolutely achingly beautiful, as is that of Akiva's. How their pasts entwine is even more beautiful.

The only reason I am not giving this book a full five stars is because it is clearly one of those first in a series books. There is so much setting up and explaining in this book that I simply wished for more action. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the next books in the series are going to be absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking.

Rating: 4.5 stars - I really, really, really liked it, and am anxiously waiting for a sequel, but can't quite give it four or five stars, so I decided to compromise! :)

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Random House, 368 pages
ARC courtesy of Random Buzzers

"Return to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . ten years later. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting. Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness. Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected. As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one."

I first read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series when I was in middle school. I read them every summer (I wasn't as avid of a reader as I am now, so I read one during every summer of my tween years). I loved the characters and could relate to them, even though they were all so different, in a certain way. So, naturally, when I found out that this book was an Advanced Reader's Copy on one of our blog's favorite sites, Random Buzzers, I was bouncing off the walls with excitement! I didn't even know that Ann Brashares had written a fifth installment of the series. When it finally arrived (a pleasant surprise after a day long trip to Chicago), I was overjoyed to dive in again and see what my favorite fiction characters from childhood had been up to.

As for many other girls my age and older who read the series, this book was like taking a long and bittersweet stroll down memory lane (as corny as that sounds). As soon as I read the first page, I knew that there were probably going to be tears (hypothetical ones, at least), and there were. The journeys that the Sisterhood girls encounter in this book are so raw and real. I think that's why these books are so relatable. I see myself going through similar things as my life will evolve tremendously in the next few years. Beware that this book starts out with a major, shocking event that I can't even begin to explain. The book has a lot of twists and turns that both surprised, delighted, and made me grieve for the characters. I also, again, found things within each of their lives that I could relate to, even after the "ten years" that have passed.

If you have not read the first four of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series, I strongly recommend that you pick them up before reading this book. It will make everything so much easier to understand, and will also add a depth to the enjoyment of the book for you. If you read the books before, like I did, you don't really have to go back at all and read the other books. Once you start to get into the book, you will remember the key events and situations that happened in the previous books. I loved this book so much, especially because it made me remember the younger me (even though I'm only seventeen), and I felt like I was reading the letters of old friends that will live with me forever. In a way, books that you read when you are a little kid will always stay with you, but its nice when their stories evolve with you as time goes on.

This book was amazing and I will definitely read it again. But I caution those of you who haven't read the other books of the series. You should read the other books before buying it to better understand and enjoy it!

Rating: 5- I loved it! Buy a copy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Putnam Juvenile, 372 pages

"A modern-day thriller about Rory, an American high-school student who enrolls at a London boarding school for her junior year. Soon after her arrival, a series of murders begins to take place across the city—on the exact dates and in the exact style of Jack the Ripper. Rory’s ties to the killer bring her in contact with a secret paranormal branch of the British police, as they attempt to stop the mysterious killer."

I will admit, this is my first Maureen Johnson book. Her more famous novels are 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Bermudez Triangle. I had heard great things about Maureen Johnson and decided to give her most recent book a try. Sadly, I was let down. The Name of the Star had the potential to be great, but the plot just really took a turn that I didn't particularly like.

Rory is spending her senior year at a London boarding school, and just as she arrives, there are people being murdered. Not just murdered, but the dead bodies that are killed are also mutilated by so called Jack the Ripper. Rory was an okay character. At the end of the novel she had some development, but the way that the conflict was resolved seemed a little too simple. Another character I had a hard time understanding was Jerome, Rory's love interest. The romance was not very romantic to say the least. To be completely honest, I felt there was no need for a romance. Although I love romance, I would have been content if there wasn't one. The love interest just added to the plot, which I already had a problem with. A lot of the background characters were simply that, background characters. None of them particularly stood out and that's another reason why I was turned off. If a book doesn't have the best plot, then it surely better have amazing characters that I can relate to. I didn't feel any emotional connection to any of the characters, therefore, I didn't really care what happened to them.

The plot was a little off-kilter. At the beginning I was intrigued. I really like the entire plot centered around a boarding school and Jack the Ripper sounded interesting. But there came a point in the novel where I sat there wondering why the plot turned the way it did. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that there are ghosts in this novel and it was the one aspect that turned me off. Also, I was surprisingly not scared at all. You'd think a murderer mutilating bodies would put you on edge just the tiniest bit, but I was in no way afraid. I wanted it to be creepier or darker.

Maureen Johnson does do some amazing writing. I really enjoy her style; it made reading through the plot I didn't like easier. The entire writing about the boarding school and London I found awesome. It made me want to know more about that rather than the ghost mystery.

Overall, The Name of the Star wasn't a horrible book, but it definitely isn't something I particularly enjoyed. I know Maureen Johnson has some other great books out there, so I hope to read those and grow to like her work. The characters and the plot just really weren't anything to write home about. If you were considering reading The Name of the Star, I might take a step back and decide if you have a real interest in ghosts and Jack the Ripper background information. If not, I wouldn't pick up this novel.

Rating: 2 stars - I didn't like it. Barely worth borrowing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quote of the Week Wednesday!

Hannah: "Walk really, really carefully. It's not complicated, but if you mess up, you'll die, so pay attention." -The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Jessica: "I couldn't put the puzzle back into the box. It was too late for that. I wished someone could tell me where to put even one piece." - Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Justine: "What had been just an idea in my head was now an entity that existed in the world. I had been so reluctant to lead, always preferring the safety of following someone else, but this time, I had somehow summoned up the courage to ask others to join me." - Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch

Emily: "'It's not like there's a law against flying.' 'Yes there is. The law of gravity.'" - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
HarperTeen, 352 pages

"Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war - and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior."

I heard about this novel through the author's blog: http://www.stiryourtea.blogspot.com/. Tahereh Mafi is hilarious in all her blog posts and when she anounced she was actually going to be debuting a novel, I sort of freaked out with excitement. Then ARCs were sent out and I heard that it was "break-taking" and "beautifully written."So, to put it simply, reading Shatter Me was a no-brainer.

The plot centers around the main character Juliette. When she touches someone, they die. No one understands why or how this is possible. All her life, Juliette has felt like a monster, as if she's belongs in an insane asylum, as if she's unworthy of living. The story really kicks off when Warner, a power hunger nineteen-year-old claims Juliette for her power. Warner controls an army and plans to use her fatal touch to torture people. I absolutely despised Warner. He was definitely "sick" as Juliette mentions numerous times to him. When Juliette meets Adam Kent, her perspective begins to change. He is the only person that makes Juliette "feel" again and who actually cares. Adam was so sweet and I loved their short steamy scenes together. Juliette was admirable. She has the power to kill, the power to hurt others, yet she chooses not to. She chooses to not be another chess piece in a game.

The writing was more than beautiful. It was poetic and smooth and effortless. None of Mafi's descriptions felt forced or choppy. I also loved how unique her style was. She used strikethroughs to demonstrate Juliette's true thoughts. And creative metaphors to explain emotions. One particular excerpt really shows her beautiful way with words:

"Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds. I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hands tick tick tick their final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I've been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind."

Though I did enjoy this novel, I feel as if it fell a little flat for one reason. There weren't any epic surprises. I wasn't too blown away with the plot. Sure, the idea of a girl who has a fatal touch is amazing, but how the story played out did not surprise me. When I read any book, especially dystopian, I yearn for a complete plot turner or crazy surprise or shock or something that has me sitting on the edge of my seat. Sadly, I just didn't have that feeling with this novel. It was beautiful, but not as intense as I wanted it to be. The ending just didn't leave me wanting the next book right away, which is weird for me.

With that being said, I greatly enjoyed Shatter Me, I think I just had higher hopes and those expectations detracted from how much I liked the book. If you're a dystopian freak like me and love poetic writing style, I say read Shatter Me, but if you want suprises and shocking endings, I say look elsewhere. It wasn't a complete disappointment, I liked it, just not what I was anticipating.

4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Knopf, 880 pages

"Not so very long ago, Eragon - Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider - was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders. Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chances. The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaësia? And if so, at what cost? This is the much-anticipated, astonishing conclusion to the worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle that the world has waited for."

*deep breath* Inheritance is... epic. It's almost everything I could have hoped for in the conclusion to this series. Christopher Paolini, I give you a round of applause and commend you for the series you have created. Coming up with an idea such as this at the mere age of fifteen is astounding. It is an inspiration for young aspiring writers out in the world. The world building is insane and extremely complex, almost comparable to that of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, and that is about the highest complement I could give an author. Needless to say, The Inheritance Cycle is one of my favorite series of all time. As in, next to The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter Series. If you have ever thought of giving this series a chance, DO IT! You will not regret doing so. (Note: If you have not read Inheritance yet, do not continue reading. There are no blatant spoilers, but there are spoilers none the less.)

Yes, it took Christopher Paolini forever to finish this book. Yes, there are questions left unanswered in the end. Yes, you will be critical of every aspect of the book. Yes, the ending could quite possibly leave you with a gaping hole in your heart. And yes, you will put aside all of your negative feelings about the ending of the book and simply take a step back and think, "Wow."

Coming back to this series reminded me of how much I absolutely love it. It is high epic fantasy, and I absolutely love the charcters! I have enjoyed watching Eragon grow older and become more wise through his experiences. It is amazing to look back to Eragon and see him as a farm boy, and then look to Inheritance and see him as a full-fledged Dragon Rider. The entire series is about overcoming unimaginable odds, and I will be forever drawn to and inspired by these books. I am enamored by Saphira, Glaedr, Thorn, and Firnen (I know, not surprising. All dragons seem to have that effect on people. :) ). I feel for Murtagh. I am proud of Nasuada. I am intrigued by Angela. I have a strong desire to cuddle Solembaum in his cat form. I loathe what Galbatorix has done to dragons. And finally, I have been inspired by both Arya and Eragon throughout the past eight years.

I know that almost everyone I have talked to has complained about the ending to this series. Sure, things are left unanswered, and sure, some things may be a little depressing to end on. Nevertheless, I personally can't envision a better way to end the series. If you have read the series, we know that some things were simply inevitable... we knew that a certain ending was coming, even if it is difficult to stomach. What was the point of pretending otherwise? The only thing that could have made it better was to make an epilogue of some sort, but if what Christopher Paolini has mentioned is true, there may be some future books set in Alagaesia where we may indirectly learn more about everyone's fate at the end of Inheritance through new characters.

Eight years of Eragon and Saphira's story have come to an end... an impressive one, if I do say so myself. Sure, the ending does in fact sadden me from being so attached to all of the characters, but the larger problems that arise toward the end of Inheritance could only be solved in one way. The ending leaves hope. It may appear final, but I highly doubt that some aspects are. I have learned that many things that appear final in Paolini's books turn out to be quite the opposite at times. I also highly doubt that we have seen the end of the characters that we all love and cherish, and in part because of that, and because of the ending, I am content. Also sad, but really, what does a person expect when a beloved book series comes to an end? Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!

5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

(Why do Harry Potter and The Inheritance Cycle all have to end in one year?!? :'( Too depressing... )

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Question of the Week: Guilty Pleasures

Though it sometimes may be hard to admit, there's always that one book or series that you secretly LOVE, contrary to what you typically read. It's a book that you may be either ashamed to confess your obsession over, or simply embarrassed to be seen reading. Every book worm has their own guilty reading pleasures.

What are your guilty reading pleasures? What is it about the book/series that you find particularly embarrassing or "guilty"?

Hannah: My guilty reading pleasures are any "chick lit" books. What are chick lit books? Anything with major cheese/cute moments, and are typically contemporary fiction novels. One of my absolute favorites is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. When it comes to these drama filled romances, I can't help myself. I get suckered into the plot so easily, I just don't know what's wrong with me! The most embarrassing part is having to carry around the chick lit book with its chick lit cover and look lame while reading it. Also, when someone asks me what I'm reading, my explanation usually gets an eye roll or two. Even though I hate to admit it, I like happy endings and cheesy moments. I'm a bit ashamed, but oh well, they make me all happy inside and that's what matters! Right....?!

Emily: My guilty reading pleasure is the Tiger's Curse Series by Colleen Houck. The romance in those books is so unrealistic and sweet that it just consumes me. I absolutely love the series and I am addicted. Things are very unrealistic and the love story is the main focus of the series, so that may be why I am sometimes embarrassed a bit to read them. I typically read high epic fantasy where action and philosophical ideas are the main focus and the love story is simply in the background. A book where the romance is in the forefront and is unrealistic, makes me a bit embarrassed. But... I. Do. Not. Care. :)

Justine: My guilty pleasure would be The Bride Trilogy by Kat Martin. Of course every girl loves to read about a hunky, delicious man (Or a least the girls I know do.). This trilogy is about three brothers who are the epitome of gorgeous, smoldering, sexy, and every other adjective you can describe a beautiful man with. I think this appeals to me because these characters go through life changing romantic situations that help to shape them. Secondly, the women  in these books are strong and they constantly show that they don't need any man to tell them what to do (Represent!). The steamy romance and intriguing characters are what makes these books my obsession!! (Caution: These books are fantastic, but beware of the steaminess.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Giveaway! The Death Cure by James Dashner

Thanks to Random Buzzers, I was chosen to be one of their Ambuzzadors for The Death Cure! If you are at all interested in joining the site (Which I highly suggest), come find me and I can offer you a free book upon joining!

Anyways, Random Buzzers provided me with a copy of The Death Cure and I decided to give it away, right here. If you would like to read a review on the book, simply click here.

Entering to win is easy! All you need to do is comment on this post and become a follower of our blog (NOT by e-mail! You need to become an actual follower where you will show up on the right side of the page. If you don't do that, we can't tell if you actually are a follower, and it is how we will contact you if you win. By all means though, also follow us by e-mail if you so desire!)

This contest will end on Monday, December 5, 2011. The winner be announced the following day. Good luck!

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
Harper Collins, 416 pages

"I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me.... he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us - if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding eye contact with one another... but our legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equiped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I have been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Number Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together? They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio - and failed. I am Number Seven. One of the six still alive. And I'm ready to fight."

This book took me forever to get through (Not because it was boring, by any means. I've just been busy.) This was a fantastic sequel to I Am Number Four. The thing that I loved the most was that they start off the book discussing Number Seven, which is a very different character to read about compared to John Smith in the previous book. But then the author returns to John Smith, his friend Sam, and Number Six. They continue right where the last book left off and I love books that do this because they jump start a reader's brain to help them to remember where the last book ended. For people who read many different things like me, that is an extremely helpful tool.

The romance in this book is definetly stronger and more complex (Of course I have to comment on this because the romantic situations are usually my favorite aspest of literature.) The chemistry between Six and John is very bizarre in the way that it is sort of a forbidden love circumstance. John and Sarah's relationship is tested and you will be so suprised about the obstacles and choices that they have to overcome in this book.

Secondly, I loved the introduction of the other Garde characters. Number Seven, or Marina, evolves so much in this book that by the end, I felt like she was a different character entirely. I always got excited when I saw that the next chapter was in the pretty, cursive print (I love how this book had different prints based on which character's situation is being told!). Her friends Ella and Hector are so endearing and helped me feel a more emotional connection with these characters that I didn't quite feel with John and his friends. I also loved the setting Marina's home was set in (a convent in the mountains of Spain was much more intersting than a town in Ohio).

The only downfall to this book was the fact that the villian's way of dying is repeated over and over again. I mean, how many times can you describe a character's decomposition after they are shot or stabbed? Come on Mr. Lore. Also, the story became a little slow in parts where John, Sam, and Six are traveling. It became tedious after a while. But all in all, this book was a very acceptable sequel. To those of you who love dystopian and want to submerge yourself in a book that you will not be able to put down, this is the book for you. There is just something about I Am Number Four and The Power of Six that makes you feel that you need to read the book in big chunks or all in one sitting. This is definetly not a book to read one chapter at a time. Trust me. That's why it took me so long to finish.

Rating: 3 - I liked it. Worth borrowing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Death Cure by James Dashner

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Random House, 324 pages

"Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says. The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?"

Oh man, I waited so impatiently for this book! When it was finally released, I was about to die from the anticipation of getting this book in the mail! If you haven't read The Maze Runner, you must get your buttocks to a bookstore STAT! It is amazing. If you liked The Hunger Games, this series is a must-read. On to the analysis... if you haven't read this book yet, you may want to skip to the rating at the bottom.

To begin with, I must say that I really enjoy Thomas as a main character. He is one of the few characters that I have read about in a young adult novel that actually thinks things through before he makes a decision. It is very refreshing. Also, I think it is important to make a note of the fact that I am an INSANE Minho cheerleader! I absolutely love him. He has the best comments at the most intense moments, which pretty much is the entire book. Last note about characters... I really do not like Teresa or Brenda at all, although Teresa did redeem herself a bit in my eyes by the end of the book. But, I still find Brenda as a weak and annoying character.

Even though The Scorch Trials is my favorite out of the trilogy, The Death Cure still is one of my favorite books. Some things kind of did appear out of nowhere, but Dashner typically went on to explain the situation, and if he didn't, it wasn't terribly important in the whole scheme of things. Like any Dashner book, the plot was riveting and kept you hooked the whole time. Even when Thomas is locked up in a boring old cell, the chapter is still fascinating!

The ending for me was a bit disappointing. I have no idea what I was expecting, but I think I had extremely unrealistic expectations. I am still grappling with myself and trying to decide if I liked the ending or not. But, like The Hunger Games, I was not a fan of the ending, and that is most likely because I am the most critical about my favorite books. I have heard from several people that they did indeed enjoy the ending, so maybe I just have to wait for it to grow on me.

Regardless of the minor facets of the book that I didn't particularly enjoy, The Death Cure was a stunning conclusion to The Maze Runner Trilogy. It brings up intriguing philosophical questions and leaves some things to the reader's imagination. It is one of those books that leaves you breathless while you think about it for the next few days. And most importantly, it leaves you with a major question for you to decide... Is Wicked really good?

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Question of the Week: Bookshelves

Everyone has a different way of organizing their bookshelf. Some like putting them in alphabetical order, others arrange them by color, size, or even genre. Whichever way a book nerd organizes their books is specific to them.

How do you organize your bookshelf? Is there any particular reason you organize it that way?

Hannah: I organize my bookshelf by placing them in alphabetical order, based on the author's last name. I also separate my books based on the ones I've already read and the ones I still have yet to read. First, I have all my books I've read in alphabetical order, and then I have the ones I have yet to read in order by which ones I want to read least to the ones I want to read most. It's helpful for when I finish a book and am going to start another one because I can just pick up the last book on my shelf.

Emily: My shelf is primarily organized by author, and within that, the books in a series are grouped together. Otherwise, I have become so pressed for space that I have to place books where they will actually fit. I try to keep things grouped together, but sometimes it isn't possible. My bookshelf already is two deep, and books are even stacked sideways to get them to fit. Hopefully, though, I should be getting another bookshelf for Christmas, which is much needed! I also organize by what books I have yet to read. The books that need to be read are on the very bottom shelf in the very front.

Jessica: I organize my bookshelf by author. I like placing my books in alphabetical order because that's how a library organizes their books. There's nothing more satisfying than a well-organized bookshelf with each book placed in its proper spot. Also, when books are organized by author, it gives more credit to the writer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Young Adult Lit Class Visit

Hannah and I paid a little visit to Mr. Sispera's Young Adult Literature class today and got to talk about what we love most... BOOKS! :D Needless to say, we had a blast talking to people and showing them a few of our books. (Yes, a FEW. We had a ton more at home!) Here are some pictures from today.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Giveaway! Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

That's right everyone! This is our very first book giveaway! Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares was released June 14, 2011. Here is a synopsis of the book:

"Return to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants... ten years later. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting. Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness. Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected. As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one."

Entering to win is easy! All you have to do is become a follower of our blog and then comment below on this blog post to be entered to win. Good luck!

Contest ends Thursday, October 20, 2011. The winner will be notified Friday, October 21, 2011.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Question of the Week: Favorite genre?

For any reader there is always one genre they gravitate to more than others. Be it high fantasy, contemporary fiction, or paranormal romance, each genre preference can tell a lot about a person.

What is your favorite genre and why?

Hannah: My favorite genre is dystopian. Some dystopian novels you may be familiar with are: Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. All books I thoroughly enjoyed! Dystopian novels are set in a post-apocalyptic futuristic world that is controlled by a morally corrupt government to give an illusion of a perfect society, though the society is anything but perfect. The idea of a world that could potentially exist in our society's own future is what makes this genre both scary and intriguing at the same time. Though I love fantasy and contemporary fiction like no other as well, dystopian novels are the ones I have always and will continue to grab for.

Emily: My favorite genre has to be fantasy, and more often than not, romance and historical fiction will be tied into those books. There is something about the mix of fantasy with romance and history, whether it be Elizabethan, medieval, or a completely new world like Middle Earth and Alagaesia, that I cannot seem to resist. I have always read these books, and I will always gravitate towards them. The Inheritance Cycle, The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter Series, and Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore are some examples, to name a few. I will almost always read any book as long as it has an appealing plot, so most of the time the genre of a book isn't terribly important to me as long as the book sounds good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, 338 pages

"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

After reading Anna and the French Kiss I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins's writing style. I'm also a big fan of Sarah Dessen's contemporary fiction novels. When I heard there was a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss I was ecstatic! Lola and the Boy Next Door has similar aspects to Anna and the French Kiss, but with a new fun cute story nontheless.

Lola expresses herself through clothing, and by clothing, I mean costumes. Every costume is different, crazy, and original. I loved that she expressed herself through her clothes, because I feel that is how you can represent yourself. It explains your personality. Lola is also the polar opposite of Anna. She has plenty of flaws and that's what I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Lola has two fathers: Nathan and Andy. Lola's birth mother, Norah is actually Nathan's sister and is struggling with her own life: with drugs, alcohol, and income. Lola's dads are very protective. They want the best for Lola. This brings me to Lola's current boyfriend, Max. Lola's parents do NOT like Max. Max is in a band, has his own apartment, and is twenty years old. Max bothered me. I didn't like him, especially when compared to Cricket--Lola's neighbor next door. Cricket is honestly the sweetest guy. He's six foot four, wears pinstripe pants, is super intelligent, and a bit awkward. I loved him for all those aspects. He was just so adorable and SO nice. He respects Lola, yet he never fails to mention how much he cares about her, something Max doesn't do.

Because this is a companion novel I expected for Anna and St. Clair to make an appearance in the novel. I hoped for at least a chapter including them, and I was pleasantly surprised. Anna and St. Clair not only are featured in one chapter, they are actual side characters! Anna works with Lola at a movie theater and St. Clair is attending the same college as Cricket. St. Clair is still as cocky and charming as ever; while Anna is completely in love and involved with films.

The plot was filled with drama and filled with Lola deciding what's right for her and what she should and can do about it. Of course, with a cute story like this, I always find it predictable, but that didn't detract from how much I enjoyed it. Also, with any romantic contemporary fiction, there is a line between romantic and cheesy. Yes, there were some major cheese moments, but I loved the cheese moments. They were cute.

I don't know how Stephanie Perkins has such great pacing, but it was the easiest and quickest read. I don't have to worry about struggling through every chapter. The writing style was fun, quirky, and a signature for Stephanie Perkins. There will be a final companion novel called Isla and the Happily Ever After that will be released in the fall of 2012. I'm SO excited beyond belief. Stephanie Perkins never fails to disappoint and leaves me feeling extremely happy after turning that last page.

If you loved Anna and the French Kiss or are a fan of Sarah Dessen or contemporary fiction in general, I highly recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door. Truly a fun, amazing read.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little Brown Books, 563 pages

"Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything." 

This book is paranormal, romantic, historical, and even a little bit "mean girl," all wrapped into one. The paranormal aspects are added in slowly throughout the entire book, so the reader never has too much to swallow at once. I personally thought that this was great because I didn't get confused with new terms and ideas that were being introduced, so I better understood the book. History also played a prominent role throughout the book, which surprised me because I was expecting pure paranormal romance. However, the setting is in the South, and so the rich historical aspects really added a lot to the book. Parts of Beautiful Creatures actually reminded me a little of the movie, "Mean Girls." This is brought in when Savannah and Emily, who might as well be the princesses of Gatlin Country, enter the story. Their opinions matter to everyone, and they hate Lena from the start. As a result, the whole school turns against her, much like what happens in "Mean Girls."

The romance between Lena and Ethan was more maturely founded than in most paranormal romance stories, I thought. Lena and Ethan work into their relationship slowly, whereas most characters of the genre tend to jump into things without thinking. They didn't start saying "I love you," right away, but waited until they had actually been through a lot together and meant a lot to each other, so the reader knows that they mean it. They also share a strong connection: they dream about each other before they even meet. They can even speak to each other without talking, because they can hear each other's thoughts.

There are so many valuable lessons throughout Beautiful Creatures, which is part of what makes it a truly worthy read. In the book, there are situations that require both acceptance and bravery. Everyone in the town is turned against Lena and her family based purely on the fact that they are different from everyone else. In the midst of all the judgement, Ethan is brave enough to accept and stand up for Lena, even though it was a certain social suicide for him. Accepting Lena was only the start, however. He had to brave the danger that went along with being with her, which was sometimes risking his life.

Beautiful Creatures is a really great read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance. I, personally, ordered the second book and pre-ordered the third the second I got done reading Beautiful Creatures.

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 464 pages

"Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong."

Besides, the stunning cover art, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has a synopsis that will intrigue anyone. As soon as I read that synopsis I was completely sold. A girl who wakes up in a hospital, doesn't know how or why she's there and is just finding out all her good friends died? Hooked from the first chapter. I became so enveloped in the plot, the romance, and the mysteries that were gradually uncovered.

The storyline is just so interesting. Mara doesn't know what happened, even though she was supposedly there, and she is trying her best to remember. But who wants to remember something so tragic? The pacing was absolutely terrific! There was just enough incidents and romance to keep reading. I had started this book just to read a few chapters, but ended up getting half way through the novel and then finishing it!

The characters are wonderful. Mara Dyer is dealing with her life. Having PTSD, putting up with nightmares, attending a new school, and trying to gain control over her own life. I enjoyed reading more about her past life and her new one as well. Another character anyone would love is Noah Shaw. First of all, he has a British accent! I mean, seriously, I just get swoony over an accent. Noah's also one of the two friends Mara makes at school. He's kind, caring, and interesting. Mara and her brother Daniel share a close relationship, which was admirable. Mara's mother is watchful of Mara, which is burdening to her. While Mara's father is a lawyer and heavily involved with work.

Like I already noted, the pacing was so well done. Michelle Hodkin seemingly bounces back and forth with two interests: Mara's romance with Noah and how Mara's life is such a mystery to herself. Each subplot sufficiently kept me intrigued. I literally had to keep reading, I found it difficult to put down.

Everything that was happening to Mara left me trying to solve the mystery even Mara couldn't solve. From Mara's hallucinations to what was actually real and happening felt foggy, but not in a bad way. I think this was what Michelle Hodkin wanted; for her readers to try and determine which hallucinations were only in Mara's mind and which were really happening.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a gripping story that has both romance and supernatural aspects. I would recommend this book to anyone because it's such a unique story that ends with the biggest cliff hanger! Seriously, I'm dying for the sequel. If you can get your hands on a copy, then do it right now!!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New releases for the day!

September 27 new releases!


Lost In Time by Melissa De La Cruz
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I've always looked forward to new releases, especially when a ton of ones I've been eyeing come out in the same week or even day!

Happy reading! :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Discussion #2: Buy or Borrow

Every reader has their own preferences. Some would rather invest in their own physical copy of a book, while others scan the library. Buying and borrowing both have their positive attributes, it all depends on what you like best.

Do you prefer to buy or borrow your books?

Hannah: I definitely prefer to buy my books. Yes, I do realize that borrowing books saves money and can also prevent owning books that you loathe, but what can I say? I love physical copies of books. At one point in time my book collection was at a record low, 10 books. As a reader and collector, I want to be able to look at my shelf and be brought back into that one particular story or have the option to pick it up and re-read my favorite parts. I buy books because what if I borrow a book and I end up loving it? Then I'll end up going out and buying it anyways. And if I buy a book and hate it? Well, it's just another book on my shelf, and it doesn't bother me at all; especially if the book I hate has a stunning cover. Sure, the book was terrible, but at least it looks pretty! I have borrowed from friends and also my local library, but my love for books will continue to blow all my cash because I prefer buying over borrowing.

Emily: This will short and sweet, not because I don't care, but because the answer is so straightforward for me. BUY. I have bought my own books my whole life. I can probably count on one hand the number of books I have gotten from the library. I do borrow from my friends because it would be dumb to buy the book. BUY.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Question of the week: Worth the hype?

Book hype. We've all experienced it. Whether it's with the second book in a series we're getting into, or a debut novel hitting the radar, the hype is what pulls us in. When there's tons of people giving rave reviews, as a reader you get an "excitement high." (my fellow book bloggers have experienced this) And when the book finally hits the shelves, it either met those expectations or fell flat.

What books have you read that were worth all the hype they got prior the release? What books didn't meet those expectations the hype set for it?

Hannah: Sadly, I do sometimes get pulled into the hype for a novel. It's like standing on the edge of a whirl pool and being sucked in spinning, and not being able to escape. I both love it and hate it at the same time. While I'm all for hyping up a book, sometimes all that hype doesn't end well for me. A few books that comes to mind that did live up to the hype are: The Hunger Games by Suzzane Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Let me start with The Hunger Games. This post-apocalyptic novel has gotten SO much hype. A couple of my friends were even hesitant to pick it up because of all the hype. I, myself wasn't hesitant what so ever. Emily recommended it to me and had been on my case about reading it, so finally I did, and HOLY COW I ATE THAT BOOK. Seriously though, it was that amazing. I'm glad it still gets hyped up so more people will read it. As for Divergent and Anna and the French Kiss; I cyber-stalked Divergent until its May release and read plenty of reviews before succumbing to Anna and the French Kiss. Overall, both AWESOME books that I fully recommend. Now, on for the books that truly let me down. The first book I instantly think of is Matched by Ally Condie. After reading the plot, I was sold. A dystopian novel where you're entire life is planned for you; who you'll be matched with, what you'll eat, and even when you'll die. The premise was just so intriguing, but man was I disappointed. Yes, the story line was okay, but nothing to write home about. The intensity and romance I hoped for just wasn't there. I felt no emotional connection to either of Cassia's possible matchees and the climax build up didn't happen until the last few chapters. Another book that didn't live up to all the hype it got was Fallen by Lauren Kate. Before I start bashing the book, I will say one thing; the cover is gorgeous. That was the only aspect that honestly had me reading this book. Also, Jessica told me it was the best thing ever; which wasn't true for my opinion (sorry Jessica!). The novel itself was dry and a bit boring. Not to mention, the big "turning point" is what I had already predicted based on the synopsis on the back cover. My disappointment further came from the lacking romance and character development, both of which I had hoped for most. As the hype will continue its journey through many books, I will more than likely continue to follow that hype, but only if its base plot appeals to me. And if you're a person backing up the hype on a book, make sure you absolutely love it and you're not just affected by all those stellar reviews.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Dutton books, 310 pages

"One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical. Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans."

I will confess that I have an obsession with John Green novels. I'm attached to Looking For Alaska and his overall message in Paper Towns felt truthful and to the point. While I had also read An Abundance of Katherines, I still had yet to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Now, this isn't only written by John Green, it's also written by David Levithan who familiarly wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. Although I had never read anything by David Levithan, due to John Green, I absolutely had to have my hands on this novel. And man, did I inhale this book. I've been busy like crazy, yet I still managed to finish it in two days.

The characters are what really won me over in this novel. Of course, we have the two Will Graysons. John Green's Will Grayson likes to not care and shut up, while David Levithan's Will Grayson is angry and depressed. I enjoyed both of them. There is character development occurring for each Will and that growth was fantastic. I always love it when a book can successfully develop their characters, that way they don't end the book the same as it started. As for the side characters, I loved them as well. Tiny Cooper is (John Green's) Will Grayson's best friend. He is huge (hence the irony with his name), he is fabulous, he is gay, and he is putting on a musical based on his own life. There's also Jane, who's a little hard to read at the beginning, but later, I learn to like her. (David Levithan's) Will Grayson has only one friend named Maura, who he doesn't even really consider a friend anyways. So he is basically friendless and depressed and also gay. I strangely enjoyed him, even though he does get mad and depressed and you'd think you'd hate that sort of character.

The plot is packed with drama and relationships and I just couldn't get enough of it! I really enjoy that this contemporary fiction novel is so different than anything I've ever read. From reading about each Will Grayson and how they meet and their lives connect somehow. It's just an amazing story line to put it simply.

John Green never fails to make me laugh. Imagine yourself in the quietness of the library and stifling a chuckle or two. This always happens when I read one of his books. David Levithan's writing style was very great as well. It was clearly different from John Green's, but I liked it a lot.

Although, this book was awesome, I will admit that the ending was a little anti-climatic. I was just waiting for that epic ending, but it just didn't live up to those expectations I was hoping from this collaboration novel. Also, there are a few warnings I'd like to put out there for a potential reader of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. First of all, there is explicit language. This is not just a single f-bomb in one chapter, but they are continuous throughout the novel. Now, this doesn't bother me one bit, especially because it's contemporary, but for some young readers or someone who is uncomfortable reading that, then I say find another book. Also, another thing to note is that this book has homosexual characters and themes in it. Again, this doesn't bother me one bit, but I know that some people might be turned off by that or feel uncomfortable reading it.

Let me just say again, that I am yet again amazed by another John Green novel and happily introduced to David Levithan's writing, which I hope to read more of! A unique contemporary read.

4 - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
Katherine Tegen Books, 304 pages

"Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush. Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life. When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned."

Let me begin with why I even read this book. For one, I have a love of mythical creatures such
as: unicorns, centaurs, etc. One of my favorites being mermaids. Now, if you're like me, you
don't want to read just any mermaid story. And if I'm being honest, there aren't that many
mermaid books out there anyways. (So, I'm glad this one is!!) And I greatly enjoyed this book!

The main character Lily is only fourteen. So keep in mind that her maturity level and her
perceptions are not exactly up to scale of someone that is say, seventeen years old. Lily was a
character that I both liked, yet wanted to smack some sense into at the same time. First of all, I do
feel that her name is such a typical mermaid name! I do wish it was something a little more
unique or interesting. That being said, I did enjoy reading about Quince. Quince is the type of
guy you love to hate, or that's how it is for Lily anyways. He's sarcastic, blunt, and definitely
obnoxious. But don't worry, there is far more to him than his playful exterior and that's what I
loved about him. Lily did seem bothered by him, but Quince always had good intentions. Brody
for me was definitely under-developed. And that's not just for the reader, he's under-developed
for Lily too. He's the type of guy every girl wants and he doesn't really change throughout the
book. Lily's best friend Shannen, I felt like I didn't get to know that much about her.

As for the plot, I found it intriguing. Although, I will admit, I found it predictable, I still greatly
enjoyed reading it. Childs does a terrific job building up her Thalassinian underworld, and I wish
I belonged in it! Forgive My Fins was also an incredibly fast read. Even though it's almost fall
right now, I feel like it would've been such an awesome summer read! It's set in Florida and just
the story line has summer appeal.

This book was definitely cutesy. So, if a cute story or something sort of chiclet does not appeal to you, then I wouldn't read it. But, if you're a fan of mermaids and are down for an adorable romance, I say choose Forgive My Fins! It's sure to keep you wanting more.

4 - I really liked it. Worth buying.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quote of the Week Wednesday!

Hannah: "Oh, Lily," He says shaking his head. "I know about love. About wanting and dreaming and wishing with every part of your soul. I know enough to recognize the parts that are real and the parts that are only in my fantasy." - Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Emily: "I'm not playing Scrabble against against Singleton. God, if I want to be reminded of how dumb I am, I'll just consult my verbal SAT scores, thanks." - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Jessica: "'I want the men to be gentle and courteous as they gather the chickens. Under no circumstances do I want anyone to show disrespect to any of the chickens.' 'Disrepect,' Kahlan repeated. 'To a chicken.' 'That's right.'" -Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Discussion #1: Series vs. Stand Alone novels

When it comes to deciding which book to read next, whether it's a stand alone or in a series can affect your decision. So, what do you prefer: series or stand alone novels? Also, what is your favorite series and your favorite stand alone novel?

Hannah: This question is always tricky for me to answer. I want to say straight forward that I dislike series, but this isn't always the case. Although, I have noticed a new trend in series. Today it seems that all new book releases are either a book already a part of a series out or is the first book in a new series. The negatives to series is that once you start the first, there's no going back. Even if I don't like the book, I'll ultimately have to discover how the story ends. Some books I believe need to be involved in a series, particularly fantasy or dystopian novels. These two specific genres entail world building, so by having the first book to set up the premise and details of a society it will allow for a greater story line. In other cases, such as contemporary fiction, there is no need for a series. I personally don't mind trilogies, but more than 3 books irks me. My favorite series is a tie between The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, and my favorite stand alone novel is Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Emily: Oh man... the answer to this question is mighty complicated for me seeing as how what I think is completely opposite from the evidence on my Shelfari. I would much rather prefer a stand alone novel, but I do agreee with what Hannah said as to specific genres needing to be in a series, such as fantasy and dystopian. If the author is building a world or introducing a new and extremely complicated concept, a series is the best option so the author doesn't have to rush things in one book. Now, if I take a look as to what my favorite books are, I can honestly say that about 90% of them are in series. Those series are THAT good. I feel that books today are all becoming series because of the series that were so amazing and successful. This is sad to me. I would love to pick up a book knowing that the book will end. Let me go off on a tangent here... YES. Things HAVE to END at some point!!! Don't have a book series go on for more than 5 books. It gets old. (Unless you are Ms. Rowling. Then, by all means, write a hundred books!!!!) Also, it is nice to know the planned amount of books that will be in a series so that you know what you are signing up for by book one. For example: Although the Inheritance Cycle is one of my favorite books series, I was honestly angry at the end of Brisingr (Book 3). It was supposed to be the last one, and it clearly wasn't. And then we find out that we have to wait YEARS for the last one to be released! Sense my frustration? Anyways, in conclusion, if the series is epic, it is completely worth it, but I do like my novels here and there. Favorite Series: Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Duh) and The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind; Favorite Stand Alone: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Jessica: Whether the book is a stand alone or part of a series does not usually affect my initial decision to read a book. The problem that most people have with series is that if the first book is bad, they still feel the need to read the rest of the series, but in my case, this isn't true. I've always been able to pick up the first book in a series and not finish the series if I didn't like the first book. If the first book in the series is really good, then I prefer series because I don't want the story to end. Sometimes with stand alone novels I feel like the story got over with too quickly. Favorite Series: The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind; Favorite Stand Alone: Entwined by Heather Dixon