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: 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!