Monday, December 19, 2011

"The Iron Knight" by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey, #4)

(ATTENTION: This review is for the fourth book in the Iron Fey series. There will probably (read: definitely) be some spoilers from the other books. Especially regarding the Iron Kingdom, because it’s not something I can (or particularly want to) avoid in the review. Please beware. If you haven’t read the first three books or the two novellas, I encourage you to check those out: The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, Winter’s Passage, The Iron Queen, and Summer’s Crossing. YOU ARE WARNED.)

First thing: this book, the conclusion to the epic adventure that is the Iron Fey novels, which those who have read them have mostly become rather attached to, will make you cry. Seriously. There will probably be water works. Regardless of your being team Ash or team Puck or team ‘why don’t they both just give up on that crazy Meghan iron fey chick’, you will probably still cry, if you’re the type of person to ever cry during books.

Ash. *sniffle*

Anyway. As the conclusion to this series which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so far, as well as the first and only book in the Iron Fey series to be from Ash’s perspective rather than Meghan’s, I was almost concerned that I wouldn’t like it as much as the others.

That was naïve of me, I should’ve considered that it was: a) Ash. and b) Julie Kagawa, epic author extraordinaire, wrote it!

It was awesome. Action packed, emotion filled, and beautifully written. I really can’t say more in this review. I want to, but I don’t want to spoil the whole thing which would be awful for everyone else. All I can say is thanks. Thank you, Julie Kagawa, for this awesome series that totally changed my mind about ‘stupid faeries’ and for the crazy roller coaster ride that it was and its epic conclusion. P.S.. thanks for geeking out about My Chemical Romance like twice. Haha!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi

"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. "-goodreads

I read “Shatter Me” in about 2 & ½ hours when I probably should’ve been doing schoolwork. I thought I’d start the book and read a chapter during a break in math homework and go back to what I was doing. That didn’t work out so well… I started Shatter Me and was immediately enraptured with the thoughtful, possibly crazy, progressively awesome heroine, Juliette, as well as the deceptively dark (or not as much as it seems? You‘ll see. Read it!) dystopian world she resides in. It was absolutely psychological, considering being locked up in a cell in contact with no other people for so long in desolate conditions, all while stewing over the fact that you do awful things to people by simply touching them-- whether she wants to or not.

The writing was another thing entirely. It was amazing. It kept me right inside the story until the end. It was also just really pretty. Then, there was the whole thing with Juliette’s thoughts and her confusion of a contradicting thought process with the whole words crossed out thing in thoughts…

I’ve seen Shatter Me referred to as a dystopian, a thriller, a paranormal, a romance combined with any of those things, and I’ll just say it’s all of those. Dystopian, for the world-- though I wouldn’t say that’s quite the main focus like in some other novels, there’s other things! Paranormal, because she can hurt people with only a touch ‘for no reason’. Romance, because there is another incredibly complex main character, Adam, and I think you can just guess that there’s going to be something between them (and their relationship, the lack there-of, and the general tension? Stunning.). Thriller, because I kept turning pages and found that I was literally gripping the edge of my seat at the climax and some other parts. Psychological, because inside Juliette’s head is a scary, twisted, traumatic place to be in a psychologically fascinating kind of way. And really? The other genre I’d put it in, and as number one: genre Awesome. Awesome in a real sense of the world. In an awe-inspiring writing, complex and likeable character filled, complicated and deceptive plot, dark and controlled world, sort-of-way.

Needless to say, (but I’ll say them anyway) two things: I cannot wait for the sequel, Tahereh Mafi is awesome. On that note, I’ll end this with the surprise third thing: the cover is epic sparkly.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Hey guys.

So, you probably noticed that in November I said I would be 'back' to my routine of posting more often here at Books4Hearts. I got caught up in some other stuff, and planned to actually, like, legit, be back December 1st. However, I ended up spending quite some time kind of helping to re-do another project in the book blogger universe. I'm psyched to say I'm the new co-blogger-person at Young Bloggers Unite with Austin from Reading Teen. If you've never heard of YBU, it's a community centered blog sort of thing started a few months ago for the young book bloggers of the blogging community, originally by Melina from Reading Vacation and HD from Reading Writing Breathing. Shortly after, Austin joined them. HD and Melina decided they no longer had time for YBU, and so they stepped down and Austin stepped up, and he asked me to join the team! YBU has just come back from a while 'off the air' which he and I spent re-thinking YBU, re-making the schedule, and re-designing the blog, which took a lot of work-- now that it's set up, I promise I'm back, ha. I recommend that you check out YBU if you're a young blogger who wants to connect with the others, with discussions (ex... Today we're debating: Twilight vs. Harry Potter), guest posts, and more.

I have been preoccupied with other things as well, but I'm not trying to make excuses, everyone's busy! I just had finals and homework has been consuming my life and there's been some family stuff and all that.. The holidays are fast approaching as well! But ANYWAY. I didn't just make this post to talk about YBU or to tell y'all why I haven't been posting. I also meant to make a post about Google Friend Connect. 70 people follow this blog using GFC, and google recently announced that GFC was no longer going to be available for non-blogger blogs. Books4Hearts *is* a blogger blog, however it's been hinted at and would kind of make sense that google might eliminate GFC for all blogs eventually and it's their right to do it at any time. SO in light of this I suggest, to make it so that your review-reading is not interrupted that you either:
1) Follow the blog via email. To the right of this post under the GFC following widget there's a place to enter your email address to follow the blog via email.
2) Like Books4Hearts on Facebook, if you don't already.
3) Follow @Books4Hearts on Twitter, if you don't already. I realize that I'm not always good about posting/tweeting every time someone posts at B4H but I'll certainly try to be more attentive about that!

Anyway. I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays! And I'd like to thank everyone that reads Books4Hearts and follows and comments even when there aren't a lot of new posts and when there are-- I appreciate it! I'd also like to thank Angela and SEP for being awesome blogmates even if they can't necessarily post often, but I for one enjoy when they do and also, more importantly, they're great friends-- seriously, it sounds chees-y but it's true, they're seriously amazing people! :D

Just, again: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! Whatever you celebrate, haha... May your Christmas be white, may the light of your menorah be bright, etc...) :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Crossed" (Matched, #2) by Ally Condie

*Note: I want to apologize for not personally being as active in book blogging as I usually try to be. (If anyone even noticed!) I know for a while there, I was posting reviews and such every day/2 days/even 3 days. I would like to get back to that but I'm also very busy at the moment (if it tells you anything, after I finish typing this, I'm going to go do a mountain of french homework). Additionally, I seem to have like a reviewing writer's block. But regardless, I hope to try to get back to 'business-as-usual'. Anyway, basically, just thank you people for visiting the blog and all that business even though it isn't quite as busy as usual, haha!*
("Crossed" is the sequel to "Matched". If you haven't read "Matched" you may want to check out that review instead so as to avoid any spoilers in this one! You are warned.)

"Crossed" was a good book. The writing, one of my favorite elements of "Matched" with its poetry and flow were impeccable, again. The poems at the beginning were good, too-- the actual poetry. They enriched the story. Problematically though-- it wasn't awesome. It was good. I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn't totally blown away after being so excited for it. While I didn't expect an incredibly adventurous book filled with violence and suspense or anything like that, I was expecting a little bit more adventure-- the ending of the first set up for some grand endeavor to the end of the Society, and I expected that to a be a little bit more exciting that it was. There was a journey, a long one, a hard one, throughout the Society and outside it. However, sometimes it seemed to drag.

Also, I really liked Cassia, the heroine, in the first book. But in "Crossed" I didn't like her nearly as much, because I felt she was so absorbed in thoughts of Xander and/or Ky rather than what was going on and the bigger picture or even her family. It was like in parts of "Catching Fire" or "Mockingjay" when I started to get (super) annoyed with Katniss for being caught up between Gale and Peeta rather than, you know, EVERYTHING ELSE. *slight exaggeration.* I did still like Xander and Ky, and am less convinced about being 'team Xander' like before. It's harder now. Ha! 

The bottom line: "Crossed" was good book and I liked it, just not as much as I expected.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"The Falcon" by Jackie French Koller

"Sure." I heard Jim's pen scribbling again. "Our time's about up anyway. Just one more question, though. Do you have any idea why so many unusual things happen to you?"
"Yeah," I snarled. "God hates me."

Luke Carver is a 17 year old who can't seem to help getting in trouble. Every time he goes anywhere, he seems to get in trouble. He messes up so many times that it sure seems like God hates him. After all, how else would he get into such wacky, horrible situations?

Luke has secrets, though. There are things he hasn't told anyone. He hasn't even told his journal the full truth. After all, if it isn't his fault, why does he have to tell anyone?

"Yes," I said quietly. "I'm fine." Then I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the seat. I was tired, too. So, so tired...
Just like I am now.

This was one of the shortest books I think I've read. It was, strangely, also one of the most interesting. It was one of those books where you think that it's not going to be that gripping, but then you find yourself wondering, throughout the day, what's going to happen next.

I really liked the way that the author pulled out the mystery of what happened to Luke before the book started. It was really interesting, even though it wasn't as "dark" as they made it out to seem. It was interesting, though.

I would actually recommend this book to anyone who really liked The Catcher in the Rye, mostly because the writing style seemed quite similar to me, and it's about the same sort of aged guy.

All in all- pretty good of a book.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"The Witch's Brat" by Rosemary Sutcliff (guest reviewer Runningfree)

"From the moment I picked up The Witch's Brat, I was hooked. Sutcliff follows the journey of a deformed, quiet, boy with the gift of healing in his hands, a head for herbs and their uses, a heart of kindness. One shoulder is hunched and his leg is crooked, leaving even the simple manner of walking to be a painful and arduous task. One day, on his way back from errands, he stops and watches the neighbor's cow who has, over the past three days, been growing extremely thin. Lovel believes the cow ate something that is causing her to lose so much weight so rapidly and is concerned. The neighbors raise a fuss, saying he's cast the Evil Eye upon their milking cow and Lovel is the reason the cow is sick. The neighbors create such a ruckus that a mob starts and soon stones are thrown at Lovel, driving him out and away into the wide, unknown world.
In less than 200 pages, I grew to admire Lovel and his tenacity, watched him grow in confidence as he discovered his gift for healing, and cheered him on when he doubted himself and his purpose.
Sutcliff's writing is so rich and hearty, I love her storytelling prowess, her ability to weave in so much without bogging you down. I can't say that I adore her characters like I've adored other characters but I admire them, I want to be like them, they are real, down to earth, dust covered, people that bleed, cry, and struggle through years of adversity.
Lovel, though he has been beaten by men, still has the capacity to forgive and care for them when they are ailing, old, weak and tired. He heals them, much as he heals himself.
I'd HIGHLY recommend this book no matter your age. For those of you who don't read any witchcraft, don't let the name throw you off. There is no sorcery whatsoever."

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor

"Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "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 is the question that haunts her, and she's 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?"-goodreads

This book was so many things. It was suspense, confusion, tension, beauty, strength, and weakness. There was romance and then there was hatred. There were memories and there was flipping in between their present and their past. There was a girl, Karou, our heroine of the story, and she had naturally blue hair. And that's cool too. The writing was beautiful and created superbly vivid imagery. At times, reading The Daughter of Smoke and Bone I was confused, because I couldn't decide what I thought of characters-- even Karou. By what I think, I meant whether I trusted them, and Karou is the main character! It was weird. It was deception! It was exciting. Akiva is awesome. All the characters were well developed even with their veils of mystery. The way time passed or flitted back and forth between the future and the present for the narrative, especially near the end, was difficult to get used to at first but then I ended up liking that too.

It was a peculiar book. With its many dimensions and complicated inner-workings it wasn't like anything I've read before. I have nothing to compare it to! It surprised me and it lived up to the hype. The writing kept me totally wrapped up in the story and engrossed in its complex world with its depth and clever wording-- Laini Taylor totally hit that out of the park! All that having been said; I look forward to the sequel!
Thank you to Little Brown for the opportunity to review this book!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Ashes" by Ilsa J. Bick

"It could happen tomorrow . . .
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.
Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.
For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human."-goodreads

Ashes is one of the best zombie books I’ve read, up there with The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Zombie Survival Guide, as well as one of the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read (and probably one of the more ’realistic’ as well). But Ashes is so much more than that. As I was reading it I thought of it as one of those dolls that opens up and there’s another doll and another doll and another doll and another doll. Every page, there were more complicated (but awesome) things going on. Incredibly fast-paced, sometimes things happened so fast that I didn’t understand them right away-- but I don’t think Alex the protagonist did either, so that just enhanced it. Ashes bled fear, anxiety, tension, action, gruesomeness, creepy, scary, psychological stuff, and shock throughout the whole book. It was incredible! Also, it’s perfect for reading any time but I think I picked a fabulous time to read it, right around Halloween.

Alex is an epic heroine for the story. She’s a strong female character that doesn’t let herself totally give up for any reason, even when falling for a guy. She took charge and survived after the EMP, and helped others along the way. Granted, she also received help from several people, including Tom, the mysterious guy they meet along the way, however it wasn’t a *total* damsel-in-distress moment. Alex showed raw emotion throughout the book without being wimpy or anything like that. Tom was pretty cool too, when we got to meet him, and Ellie as well. Characters in this book (and a lot of similar books to these) are integral to me, I think, because you don’t typically see as many characters as often while they’re fighting their way through the EMP ravaged world.

An original thing that I liked about Ashes is that, while some post-apocalyptic (or dystopian) books avoid the actual disaster, experiencing it or explaining it, it started out from the beginning right before and the reader gets to see the whole thing unfold. I think a lot of the time it’s avoided because sometimes it’s hard to convince the reader and have them be like, ‘yeah, this could actually happen. The world really could end this way.’ and even I’m like that sometimes but Ashes convinced me. I’ll be thinking about the horrifyingly realistic (and horrifying in general) world from the book for a long time.
The bottom line: if you’re looking for an epic book, especially a scary post-apocalyptic zombie novel, Ashes is for you. I can’t wait for the next one! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Paper Towns" by John Green

"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew."-goodreads

"The town was paper, but the memories were not."
In this edition of 'Sometimes Cat likes Contemporary', she falls hard for a book called "Paper Towns" by John Green. Not remarkable on the surface. The cover has a thumbtack on it and thumb tacks are cool but thumbtacks don't say, 'HEYTHISBOOKTHISBOOKTHISBOOKIT'SAMAZING'. The quote above about towns that are paper, or paper towns, that's amazing, right? It's good. It's SO good. This book. Too good. Written beautifully, oh so magnificently so. SO MANY quotable things in "Paper Towns" too. I figured it would be good, because of a few reasons: everyone seems to love John Green and his epic-nerdness and what isn't to love about epic nerd-ness? Nothing. Also, the vlogbrothers videos are excellent and nerdy and cool, and DFTBA (Don't Forget to be Awesome) and stuff. But mainly, last year my friend KT was talking about this book and was like, 'YOUNEEDTOREADTHISBOOK' and I was kind of like, 'yeah, I should do that sometime!' but mostly it left my mind. I was re-interested in reading it because of all the talk about "The Fault in Our Stars", Green's upcoming novel, and borrowed it from her and oooh I loved it. 

First, I loved the characters. I loved Quentin and his weirdness and his tendency to be timid and how he thought Margo was so awesome in the true sense of the word awesome. I liked his friends and how he had real life teenage friend relationships and how sometimes you have weird friends and that's okay and when it comes down to it your friends are there for you and you'd die for them and them you, probably. I liked Margo Roth Spiegalman and her epic-ness and how she has the name Margo Roth Spiegalman and how her full name in its Margo Roth Spiegalman glory is used casually in the book just because she's Margo Roth Spiegalman. I appreciated her clever escapades and her willfulness to live by her own agenda and taking charge. I liked that she roped Quentin into her master plan and as that's going you begin to see her vulnerability and the true Margo Roth Spiegalman and not just the idea that Quentin and everyone else has of Margo Roth Spiegalman. I also like that I just used her name like 6 times and I'm okay with that. I like that this book has such a crisp and unique oh-so-very realistic and clever voice and it's addictive. I like that this book is forcing me to write a review where I break all kinds of grammatical rules because it's inappropriate that I just used the word 'and' so many times but I don't mind because that's the way I feel about this book.

What I'm saying is, "Paper Towns" broke some rules for me, but that was great and it was great otherwise as well. It made me use "and" so many times in this review that it should be illegal. It made me be in awe of a character with a name like Margo Roth Spiegalman and it was awesome. It had nerd-ness and fabulous adjectives. There was an epic road trip (two, if you count the first adventure), and it wasn't even that cliche even thought it should've been. It introduced me to the concept of paper towns in more ways than one, and a fabulous little place in New York called Agloe and its overwhelming population count of one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein)" by Kenneth Oppell

"Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.
They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. With their friend Elizabeth, Henry and Victor immediately set out to find assistance from a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.
Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another."-goodreads

Okay, if any of you ever saw my review of "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, you know that I liked it, but also was maybe a little bit underwhelmed after my expectations from the Hollywood portrayal of the Frankenstein monster (yes I realize this is absolutely *blasphemous*). I'm actually re-reading it right now, and appreciating it a lot more. (Give me a break, it was one of the first Gothic 19th century novels I'd read, and it was a lot to take in!). 

I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this book but I loved it! It was so good. The portrayal of young Victor Frankenstein to show the childhood that isn't talked about in Frankenstein was epic. It showed us some of the events that could've lead to the famous Dr. Frankenstein and his *slightly* twisted ways. From reading Frankenstein, I could totally believe that this is what his adolescence would've been like; the culmination of 'teenage-angst', bitterness, and tragedy to warp his future. Victor's character was well developed and the voice of the novel was great. The tension between Victor and Elizabeth (and the different kind between Victor and Konrad) was remarkable.  It did move a bit slow for me at times but so did "Frankenstein", and many other books that I end up liking. The mystery and misadventures were daring and cool to read of, and it was interesting to draw parallels to what occurs in the original novel in Victor's adult life. Also, one might think that "This Dark Endeavor" would be cliche or cheese-y, another one of those unoriginal 'teenage monster' stories but it was much more.

I also looked up the book because I wanted to know if there would be a sequel, which I would be very interested in if that's possible or maybe it would be too much, but anyway I saw that it's going to be made into a movie which would be amazing because I could totally see this book as a movie-- super creepy. Also, for the bottom line of random notes, look at the cover!! So eerie and dark, absolutely perfect for the book! 
Thank you to Simon&Schuster for giving me the opportunity to review this book. Reader's Note: As usual, this in no way swayed my opinion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In which I meet Moira Young and Becca Fitzpatrick

So, you guys know how much I liked "Blood Red Road" by Moira Young, right? Well, my friend Elena, who also picked up the book (Yay for YA love.) found out that she (and "Hush, Hush" author Becca Fitzpatrick) was coming on tour to IL (another place besides where we went, too, and one coming up still) and told me a few days ago. It was a, 'I'm going to this and you should come.', kind of thing, and I didn't think I'd be able to, but I did!

Elena and I and our books.
Also apparently I'm not looking at the camera.
It was fun! (Unsurprisingly!) I'm really glad Elena let me know about the event-- I had no idea. Becca Fitzpatrick gave this really interesting/funny talk about how she came to write "Hush, Hush" and became a writer and such. Moira Young also gave a very interesting talk and read from "Blood Red Road" which was excellent and she read from an epic scene of the book (seriously, epic.)

*If I had been thinking, I would've taken photos of the authors talking, and then I would've posted them right here. Obviously I wasn't.*

Then they let people ask questions and some people asked what I thought were really good questions. And, I think it was after someone asked about movies to books or something, Moira Young mentioned that "Blood Red Road" had been optioned for film and Ridley Scott is going to be directing it! Elena and I didn't realize that had been announced and we were totally squee-ing (on the inside. Moira was still talking!). Becca Fitzpatrick also told a particularly funny story about a situation that she took from her life as a teenager and put in "Crescendo", regarding asking a boy to a dance, her friends, and a hot dog...
Standing in line to get books signed! Hm. That rhymes. Odd.

Then we got our books signed. I haven't read "Hush, Hush" and didn't have it but I bought it there, especially after hearing Becca talk I want to read it! We also took photos:
Me with Moira Young!

Me with Becca Fitzpatrick!
Why do I look so weird in this picture, anyway? I look fairly normal in the first one! :P
So, basically, it was a fun time. It was super nice to meet the authors, and they were also very nice!

If you want to attend a stop on Becca Fitzpatrick's tour for "Silence", there are three more stops for the US part of the tour and even more scheduled for the UK and Canada, check them out here. (You should go.)
The books! Also feathers. (Hush, Hush-- wings... fallen angel.. yep. And, Blood Red Road has Nero too!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

"The Son of Neptune" (Heroes of Olympus, #2) by Rick Riordan

No description. Why? Because I didn't like any of the descriptions: too long, too spoiler-y, or generally too much. Did I think I could do better for a little summary? Nope.
(This review will probably contain spoilers for the first book. You might want to read The Lost Hero review instead. YOU ARE WARNED.)

The Lost Hero was seriously awesome, and being the first book in a companion series to THE Percy Jackson series by THE Rick Riordan, I didn't expect any less. Obviously I had high expectations for the sequel, "The Son of Neptune" which I impatiently awaited and narrowly avoided totally forgetting about. It was even better than the first though! Really good. So why did I like it?

The characters, as with the last one, were great. This one was told through three perspectives (as with the last one), each offering their own personalities with depth and history. That's one of my favorite parts of the book, actually, there were a lot of flashbacks and back story to the new main characters (of the 7? You'll find out) Frank and Hazel, from different families and *cough*times*cough*. Then, I'm brought to another of my favorite parts of the book, and this isn't a spoiler because the first page opens with him, PERCY. Percy is back and we read a lot of the book (I'd be inclined to say the majority of the book is from his perspective, but I'm not sure) with him. I think everyone's missed him since the end of 'his' series, or at least I have. He doesn't totally hijack the story though, it's still about the new heroes and it's also in third person rather than in the Percy Jackson books where it was ALL from his perspective in first person.

Besides characters, the settings were epic, as they are in the rest of Riordan's books. They cover a lot of ground in "The Son of Neptune", always moving. There's more mythology (duh.) as a lot of the book involves the Romans too as opposed to only the Greeks. The pace was quick too, the 520 pages passed lightning fast (get it? Lightning. Yeah...). The voices of the characters were fabulous, very different from each other which I was glad of, I can't stand it when I can't figure out who I'm reading as or forget.

I did have a few small disappointments, I wish we'd seen the characters we met in The Lost Hero; Leo, Piper, and Jason. I also wish that certain characters had been reunited (finish the book. You'll know what I'm talking about.) but I realize that's part of the cliffhanger thing. Overall though? I loved it and can't wait for the next book installment of The Heroes of Olympus.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"The Shattering" by Karen Healey

"Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn't prepared for her brother's suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna's brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.
As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year's Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.
As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?"-goodreads

This book was weird. I don't mean that in a bad way-- I consider myself weird (hopefully in a good way), I think my friends are weird (definitely in a good way), and basically the rest of the world weird (in its own special way). It was really suspenseful, too. I think the multiple perspectives were smart, they made each of the characters shine just a little bit more and kept up the suspense. Why did multiple characters/perspectives keep up the suspense? Not each of the characters knew what the other one knew so it was a lot of back and forth. It was a mystery, a true mystery book, keeping me flipping pages for the 'who did it??!?" conclusion until the end. The ending shocked me. Let me rephrase that-- parts of the ending were how I *thought* it would end but other parts I didn't think would happen or hadn't even considered. That's always good, a shocking ending when it makes sense and if it's really a knock-you-off-your-feet kind of thing that's even better.

This book was a lot to think about; a lot to consider. I questioned how I would react, and if I would go about solving the mystery the same way. I love books that do that! I also appreciate when a book keeps you thinking about it or its ending and it sticks with you for a while, which it already has ('what?' you ask. 'You just posted the review, how would you know that!?' Actually I read it over a week ago, maybe two weeks, but I've been having trouble *actually* gathering my thoughts about it. And I've been busy.. ANYWAY...), and it will probably continue. It's also a stand-alone. I like when I can get the ACTUAL WHOLE STORY and it EVEN has the nerve to pack a punch. Not that I hate series, it's clear that I don't, but once in a while, seriously: STANDALONE BOOKS. 

I'd recommend "The Shattering" to someone looking for a dark, stand-alone, mystery book packed with suspense with an ending that will shock you.
Thank you Little Brown for the opportunity to review this book. As usual, that didn't alter my opinion!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"The Julian Game" by Adele Griffin

"All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself-and igniting Ella's rage."-goodreads (actually this is only 1/3 of the GR description, but it's the most necessary part AND the second part is *almost* spoiler-ish!)

I have been eager to pick up another one of Adele Griffin's *many* novels since reading "Tighter" (which was pretty amazing!). I'd heard good things about this one. Again, I really loved Adele's addictive, fast-paced, keeps-you-reading writing. It was another fairly short book at 200 pages and if it weren't for the necessity to get up early the next day I would've probably stayed up reading it all the way through like I did with Tighter. While a different sort of book entirely, I had the same 'what's going to happen next!?! This could go terribly wrong!! I must find out the end!!' thoughts while reading it. Even though "The Julian Game" is contemporary I had that scary movie suspense (don't open that closet! don't answer the door! NOOO) feeling throughout as well. 

I admit, I didn't like this one as much as Tighter. I think it was a good book and an important book because it's about things that can happen to anyone that uses the internet unwisely *cough*creatingafakepersontomanipulatesomeonenamedJulian*cough* (that's what happens in the book, anyway) and also backlash via the internet. Cyber-bullying. It's a serious problem. Even if Raye didn't necessarily make a good decision when staging the act of 'Elizabeth' to fool one of her peers, the backlash was worse. Those things happen all the time, sometimes it's on the news; kids have committed suicide because of cyber-bullying and its emotional impact just as with bullying at school or anywhere else-- it's a very real thing, is all. I never actually liked any of the characters especially because of their decision which often had me frustrated, but I didn't hate any of them either-- it was more of indifference.
Overall, I didn't love "The Julian Game" as much as I'd hoped, but I did adore the writing and thought the length was perfect.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"The Eleventh Plague" by Jeff Hirsch

“In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade for food and other items essential for survival. 
But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true, where there are real houses, barbecues, a school, and even baseball games. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing forever.”-goodreads

Hehehe. So, I had a misconception (I have no idea why I thought this, actually, look up there it even says influenza) that “The Eleventh Plague” was about zombies. As in, zombies being the eleventh plague. Yeah. It’s not, FYI. However, I went into the book expecting zombies and didn’t get them, but wasn’t disappointed. (Books don’t have to have zombies to be good for the record. It’s just a bonus.)  Instead of a zombie smashing book I found a book about life after “the Collapse” (which I assume is the collapse of humanity-- a culmination of wars with other countries and the plague, but that’s not explained specifically), a book about survival, and ultimately, for me: a book about hope and community, and its necessity even after a disaster. Even if the world is technically already ‘over’ if you will. Even though the book wasn’t overly emotional these were the impressions it gave me.

Stephen is a nomad at the beginning of the book; both in the moving around all the time literal sense of the word, and to me, emotionally. He’s only close to his grandfather (if you can call what we see of their relationship that) and his father, and he used to be close to his mother before she met her end. That’s the other thing: this book is kind of about loss. Overcoming loss and finding that hope and community. Throughout the book Stephen has to figure everything out. That’s probably why I liked him so much a main character-- he didn’t know everything, not even close. He had a ton of flaws. Sometimes flaws (kind of like I was talking about in my Anna and the French Kiss review) can make the book if they’re done right. This is one of those books, I think.

Additionally, there quite a bit of action and when necessary, creepiness. There was romance that I didn’t expect (I basically thought she was going to continue ignoring him completely) with a troubled girl who really identified with Stephen. The ending was great because it wasn’t completely picture perfect-- also, it left me wanting more without being a total cliffhanger and infuriating me. I believe there’s a sequel or companion novel coming though this novel could easily stand-alone, I look forward to more of the story!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Witchlanders" by Lena Coakley

“High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.  It’s all a fake. At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?  But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned— 
Are about him.” -goodreads

Hello there, epic like complicated fantasy novel, a variety of book I almost always seem to fall for. “Witchlanders” is fantasy, people. The fantastical world within is amazing; reminiscent of the worlds “Eragon“, ‘Narnia‘, or “The Lord of the Rings“, and I totally loved those. No one is flying dragons, there’s no talking lion, and there aren’t any hobbits to be found, but it’s the feeling. A whole different world, with magic and its varied abilities,  a broad sense of imagination where you never know what’s going to happen next-- what character will discover their magical ability or what new creature will appear. It makes you want to know more, more about what their magic is, what the singing is, what’s up with the witches shrinking coven, what is going on with Ryder and Farien? Main character Ryder is excellent too. I was kind of confused about Ryder; he’s a great main character and I really liked him but the cover has a girl (I presume his sister, Skyla, but not sure), and I don’t know I just expected the protagonist to be a girl for some reason. I’m entirely okay with it being Ryder though, he was really interesting, and determined.

An interesting thing I noticed throughout the book, is that some things, especially the characters, aren’t physically described much. At the beginning that actually annoyed me, but then as I read on, I unintentionally formed my own picture in my head and it was crystal clear. I don’t know if this was intentional on Lena Coakley’s part or not but it was brilliant and I’m guessing it was. The pace was good overall also, it did seem a bit slow at times but I think that happens in all fantasy books…

I’m also not sure if there’s going to be a sequel to this one or not, but I hope there is! It didn’t really seem like a stand-alone with the ending, but more importantly; I want more of the world in Witchlanders and Ryder’s adventures!
Thank you Simon&Schuster for the opportunity to review this book.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever." by Caissie St. Onge

For someone who had, prior to that week, never broken a school rule, I'd sure made up for it in two days. I'd become a one-woman crime wave! Okay, maybe just a one-girl minor-infraction machine. Still, I'd gotten pretty bold.

What do you think of when you hear "vampire"? Do you think, fabulous life style? Do you think, sexy undead creature who will never die? Do you think, Dracula?
You probably don't think, "Blood intolerant, flat chested, teenage girl from the Dust Bowl who is forced to live to eternity".
So, basically, you don't think of Jane Jones.

Jane's life is pretty wacked up. She's lived for years, moving around with her family, who just happen to also be vampires. Her brother is a genius, but forced to be a preteen forever. Her dad works long hours during the day (eesch), for minimal pay. Her mom wants to do her best for her daughter, but doesn't really know how, and Jane?
If Jane's life sounds weird as it is, what's the adjective when
1. Her favorite teacher starts acting strangely
2. She's accused of being bullimic
3. Two boys, one alive one vampire, fall for her simultaneously
4. She finds a "cure for vampirism"?

Something sharp hit me right between the eyes and before I knew what was happening, I was on the floor defending my life. When I finally got the better of my attacker, I stood up and discovered, to my horror, I 'd been fighting with a pair of antique skis and a long moth-eaten wool robe that had fallen on me from what I now saw was an overstuffed closet.

This was a pretty... interesting book. Unusually, I actually found it humorous, and I enjoyed it. I liked the fact that Jane wasn't fabulously beautiful or rich, but on the other hand, I also think that that card has been played a little two often in the past few years. This is definitely not "good literature" but I don't think I lost any brain cells from reading it. I'd recommend it only as a "I'm bored what can I read" sort of book, or when you've read a big heavy book and need some fluff to recover from it. Or, you know, if you love vampires of all forms and are just looking for another book to read.

Also, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who can't take any jabs at the myths of vampires, vampire slayers, or teenagers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins

“Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.  As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?”-goodreads

Wow. This book surprised me. You’ve probably noticed by reading my reviews, I don’t read contemporary that often. I mean, sure, I like a good Sarah Dessen novel, I really liked The Summer I Turned Pretty books, and Five Flavors of Dumb is one of my new favorite books, BUT I read a lot more science-fiction/paranormal/dystopia/mystery/horror stuff as compared to anything supposedly based in reality. I’m not sure if that’s because I like to read about things other than reality or because I think most so-called ‘realistic’ fiction seems so very unrealistic to me, or something else, but regardless, picking this up was REALLY out of the norm. I mean, read the title and description, look at the cover. Geez. Chick-lit-y central, yes? In fact, I really wouldn’t have picked up this book, but I’ve read so many good reviews about it and I kept seeing it at libraries and bookstores and such and thought, hey, I’ll give it a try. It’s just a book. Maybe I’ll dislike it… but so what, you can’t like everything!

While out of my regular-reading-zone, this book amazed me. I pretty much loved it. Of course, I adored European-American love interest St. Clair, and I really liked Anna’s spunky sarcasm and intelligence, but that’s not all (I’m going to try to never say ‘that’s not all’ again because reading that in my head, it sounds like an infomercial). The flaws. If this book was anywhere near perfect, though nothing is, it was because of the character’s flaws. I realize that makes no sense. But it’s because everything wasn’t perfect. Anna and St. Clair didn’t immediately fall for each other. This book was not just completely about their puppy-love. This was not a simple scenario of, ‘girl goes to study abroad, finds perfect boyfriend, lives happily ever after, lalalalalala’. They had their problems and obstacles. There were other characters with the same. Their families were completely dysfunctional at best. I liked that a lot. Most importantly about Anna&St. Clair, first and even in the end I think, they weren’t just boyfriend/girlfriend. They were best friends. Also, the setting: amazing. Paris. So descriptive in a way that didn’t bore me at all, but I really got the feel of it. Additionally, I’m on my second year of French so when a character said something in French, rather than waiting for them to explain it or figuring out what they were saying in the context, I understood it.That has nothing to do with the book itself but I thought it was cool!

So I guess the moral of this story review, is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover/description/concept (even if they're a total cheese-fest) or assume you won’t like it, heck, you shouldn’t judge that way in most areas of life-- gosh knows, you’ll probably be wrong, like me. :P

Monday, September 12, 2011

"The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey" by Lisa Papademetriou

They had disappeared. All that was left was the copy of Queen of Twilight and two smoking coals.
The clerk stared for a minute, then did the only reasonable thing he could think of. He pressed a button on the intercom.
"We need a cleanup in the checkout aisle," he said.

What would you do if you were transported into a fantasy book with someone you were completely different from?
That's the situation that Heather and Veronica, two teenage girls, find themselves in when they both reach for the same copy of the school's assigned reading... The Queen of Twilight.
Suddenly, they're transported into a magical world.
And let's just say their journey doesn't start out so well.

After accidentally killing the heroine of the book, they're left in a pickle. Only one person can get them out of the book, and back home... But he doesn't get his powers back until the end of the (Real) book... And who knows how that's going to work now that the plot has already changed?
The only way to get out?

To play along to the end.
But as they try to battle the evil Queen of Twilight and her sisters, the Duchess of Breakable Objects and the Countess of Uncomfortable Humidity, they might find out that appearences can decieve...

"My, you dwarves have such cultured phrases," Chanttergee told Veronica s he listened to her, wide-eyed. "Would you teach Chattergee some of your foreign tongue?"
At that, Veronica unleashed some of her most creative and colorful expletives, which caused the squirrel to gasp in admiration and burst into applause.

DO read this book if you enjoy silliness.
DON'T read this book if you take your fantasy novels seriously.
DO read this book if you enjoy a quick read.
DON'T read this book if you get offended by people making fun of teenagers.
Because all of these things feature quite strongly in the book.

I, for one, rather enjoyed this book. Sure, sometimes both of the girls got on my nerves. Sure, it sort of annoyed me about the jabs at D&D being a "geek" game (even though it is).
But all in all?
It was really entertaining, and a fast read.
Everything that YA books dream of becoming...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"City of Orphans" by Avi

"The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous. If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year- old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side. With Bruno’s boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies--but further dangers await. Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it. Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection. Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love."-goodreads

I haven't read a really good middle-grade in quite a while (aside that I'm currently re-reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at a snail like pace to go along with Pottermore). I don't read middle-grade very often, but when I do I usually enjoy it (well, actually, specifically, I've said it before and I'll say it again: I enjoy any kind of book, as long is it's good, to me. That's the obvious requirement, and that's all.) "City of Orphans" fulfilled the good book requirement as well as the 'good middle-grade since I haven't read one in a while' requirement.

I really liked Maks, the main character. Throughout the novel, he deals with a whole lot of problems amicably but realistically. He experienced set backs and not everything went as planned, and that seems to happen too much especially in middle-grade. It wasn't a complete fairy tale. Willa was pretty epic too, tough girl who's also sensitive (which has been done a million times, but still). While I thought the characters were likable, I 
didn't necessarily think they had as much depth as I would have liked... 

The overall plot was good, well paced, a mystery that kept you reading to find out who the crook was, and when I did find out I was pretty sad for -insert character here-. I also liked that between the writing and the few illustrations scattered through out I felt the book come to life-- which is really important for the middle grade genre, I think (but any genre for the most part!)! The voice is quite important too and I thought that was also great. The bottom line: A great historical, stand-alone, middle-grade novel!

Thank you Simon&Schuster for the opportunity to review this book, readers, as usual it in no way affected my opinion!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"The Fox Inheritance" (Jenna Fox Chronicles, #2) by Mary E. Pearson

*As usual with sequel/companion novel reviews, this could include minor spoilers. You are warned.*

I didn’t know what to expect AT ALL when I picked up “The Fox Inheritance” especially since I thought “The Adoration of Jenna Fox” was a stand-alone (and, I’m not sure, but I think that might’ve been the original plan? It’s been a few years…), but I know I couldn’t have expected the perspective change or that Jenna wasn’t even personally in the beginning of the book! I’m not saying this as a bad thing, though. It was just really different. Immensely different.

The only thing I felt in common between “The Adoration of Jenna Fox” and “The Fox Inheritance” were the same sense, especially in the beginning, of not knowing. The seeking, the discovery of what you are and the journey between being reborn (if that’s the right word) and being who you are or returning to who you were, to a point.

I’m not saying I didn’t like it at all, I’m just saying it was really different. It was good! I did like the first one better, but it’s that way with a lot of sequels, and the first one was amazing, very hard to beat. I liked the characters, discovering more of who Kara and Locke were before the accident, and who they are in this book throughout the adventure. The ending and the events leading up to the ending are shocking, and I could hardly stop turning pages until the end (unless I absolutely HAD to.)! I’ll also be really interested to see if there’s a third Jenna Fox novel coming.

Also, I did NOT get this book for review, HOWEVER I would like to thank Tara from Fiction Folio for loaning me her ARC to read before the release-- I was really excited about this one!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Hereafter" by Tara Hudson

“Can there truly be love after death?  Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.  Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . Forever.”-goodreads

Fun fact: When I started this book, I thought there were also mermaids involved. I guess it’s because I looked at the cover oddly or something… I mean, it kind of looks like that doesn’t it? The dress? The translucent looking girl (now that I get that she’s a ghost that makes a lot more sense) looking out over the water? Yeah. Well, anyway, I think I enjoyed it a lot more because it’s about ghosts because I’ve never been too big of a fan of mermaids but ghost stories are always creepy fascinating, so yay for that.

Hereafter brought the creepiness and the paranormal element, though not too heavily. At times it was super-creepy and then other times it wasn’t really creepy at all which is peculiar seeing as you’re reading the whole thing from the perspective of a ghost-girl. The mystery element was good, trying to solve the case of who Amelia was and why she died, and then the TRUE reason she died was even more complicated and twisted. I liked Amelia, sometimes for reasons I couldn’t point out considering her logic was rather flawed at times. Joshua was great too-- I mean, I had a hard time believing he’d be so okay with having a ghost-girlfriend but that’s the case of fiction, the characters role with it.

Overall, I really liked the feeling of this book, and appreciated the creepy level. I do have a complaint though. It seemed, at times, that the story was dragging. It didn’t seem slow, but it seemed like things could’ve been happening faster and by the end of the book it still felt like more should’ve happened. I look forward to the sequel and finding out more about Eli, and discovering more about that world.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"The Throne of Fire" (Kane Chronicles #2) by Rick Riordan

*As usual with sequel reviews, this review may contain minor spoilers. I did not include the summary for the aforementioned reason. You are warned.*
Sad. I am sad. This book is by Rick Riordan. I LOVE his books. I LOVE the Percy Jackson series. I loved “The Lost Hero“, and less so but still mostly, I really liked “The Red Pyramid“. So I had pretty high expectations for “The Throne of Fire”.

This is that part where I tell you why, even though I love Rick Riordan’s stuff so much, a few MONTHS passed between the release date and when I read his new book. Well, here’s a timeline:
1 Week Before the Release Date: HEY. “The Throne of Fire” comes out in a week. I need to get that, I’m SO psyched!
Release Date: I don’t think I went anywhere, so I didn’t buy it on the release date.
1 Week Later: I should really buy/put on hold at the library “The Throne of Fire”.  Didn’t I mean to do that last week?!?
A week ago: *at the library* OHMYGOSHIFORGOTABOUTTHISBOOK.

Maybe it’s good that I didn’t read it right away when I was really excited for it, because then I would have probably been more disappointed. Yes, I said disappointed. Yes, I checked, I was reading the correct “Throne of Fire” by the one and only Rick Riordan, author of many (seemingly always best-selling) novels loved by children, teens, and adults alike.

Sadly, it just didn’t click with me. I felt the same problem I had with “The Red Pyramid” even more than I did before, sometimes having trouble distinguishing Carter and Sadie’s voices. Obviously I could tell, their words are different, Sadie has a huge crush on Anubis, there’s their names at the beginning of the chapters, yadayadayada… but other than that I wouldn’t have been able to tell. Additionally, at times (partially because of the perspective thing, probably) I found the actions confusing and not immediately clear who was doing what and why; at other times, I thought everything was so overly obvious that it was occasionally boring or slow moving.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Five Flavors of Dumb" by Antony John

“The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig. 
The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band's manager and get her share of the profits. 
The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she's deaf?  Piper can't hear Dumb's music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb”-goodreads

“Five Flavors of Dumb” was NOT dumb. I didn’t know what to expect when picking up this book at the library, all I knew was that the cover was cool and the concept sounded really interesting-- rather musically themed book in which there’s an upcoming band, named Dumb, managed by a deaf girl.

Well. Let me set expectations for you, reader, then: It was fabulous.

The voice was different, sarcastic at times, emotional at others, real and raw the whole time. I adored main character Piper. Her dry humor, cleverness, and mostly matter-of-fact attitude made her likable, interesting, and unique. She was emotional, she went through a lot, and she was deaf and wishing to hear the music, really hear it, but she never gave up. I loved Piper’s brother, too. The whole premise of the band and the group of mis-matched misfits labeled as Dumb for the purpose of their rockstar dreams was a little bit cliché, as was the ending, but it didn’t hinder the whole book. I liked it because it wasn’t sugar coated; there were struggles, complicated family relationships, problems outside of being deaf, the problem of being deaf and living anyway (living MUSIC for that matter) and none of that was ignored. It all melded together for an epic book.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Twelfth Grade Kills" (Vladimir Tod, #5) by Heather Brewer

(If you haven't read the previous ones in the Vladimir Tod series, I suggest you visit my reviews for 1, 2, & 4. Not a spoiler-y review. But seriously, check out the other books, at least, they're pretty awesome.)

I have waited a while to read the last installment of the Vladimir Tod series. I think this is just because I’ve been a bad minion and was forgetting about it, but maybe my subconscious just didn’t want to see the series end. After all, endings can be disappointing. Sometimes they can ruin your impression of the series all. And sometimes they’re just sad. Have you ever noticed, in the last book, people always die? Usually important people? (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising” are examples that come to mind.)

But, all good things come to an end and The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod with “Twelfth Grade Kills”  is no exception. Fortunately, the good things came to an end but continued to be good, I was not disappointed with it. Although, at the end, I did not feel it was necessary for a certain beloved character to die (I keep you guessing, right?), it was still a great ending to the series. The series was wrapped up nicely-- not everything resolved, but all the important things, so that one can kind of imagine how everything else will pan out, the ‘happy-ending’ and what not. Otherwise, like the others in the Vladimir Tod series, the action was bloody, the emotions strong, and the writing epic.

I look forward to “The Slayer Chronicles”, and the first book to those, “First Kill” which features Joss as a lead character rather than Vlad. I’ve had mixed feelings about Joss throughout the series, but in the end I really liked him as a character. The Slayer Chronicles will also be a five book series, and the first comes out September 20th!  (For more information, I suggest you visit Heather Brewer’s website, here!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Lock and Key" by Sarah Dessen

“What happens when your past is not just past, but wiped clean entirely? How do you figure out where you’re going when you can’t even claim where you’ve been? These were the questions that inspired Lock and Key. It’s the story of a girl named Ruby who is abandoned by her mother and determined to make it on her own, even—and especially—when she is sent to live with her long-lost sister in a whole new world of privilege, family, and relationships. As Ruby learns, there’s a big difference between being given help and being able to accept it. And sometimes, it takes reaching out to someone else to save yourself.” - Sarah Dessen's website

This is the second Sarah Dessen book I’ve read, the first being The Truth About Forever. I guess everyone’s right, she’s amazing! Her writing is so gorgeous. It’s very descriptive and emotionally charged, she makes you FEEL the characters, everything seeming so real. I might have felt kind of disconnected from Ruby if it weren’t for that, but I didn’t. The whole story is full of Ruby (and sometimes Nate’s) raw emotions and that made the whole thing more enjoyable. I felt so bad and so confused for Ruby, after her mom’s disappearance. I had a feeling of what Cora would tell her, and that Ruby’s impressions weren’t necessarily true, and I was right. (What am I talking about? I’ll give you my usual answer: read the book.)

My favorite character was probably Jamie, he tried to hard for Cora and Ruby to give them what they never had and be there for them. He was hilarious, too. The whole UMe thing was quite funny too. I liked all of the characters, actually (well, all the good characters, anyway). Olivia was great and I could really appreciate her helping Ruby… and Gervais was just amusing. The only qualm I have with the characters (and really, this is my qualm with the book in general, though not that bad) was Nate. I liked Nate, I liked how Ruby and him got along and could relate, they kind of needed each other, BUT I never really got to like him that much… despite his emotions showing through sometimes and his action, I never felt a connection to him as a character, and I missed that, I think that might’ve helped me love the book rather than just quite liking it, though I’m not sure why it effected me so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Repossessed" by A.M. Jenkins

"Shaun... did something happen today? Anything out of the ordinary?"
Well, Shaun died, but other than that...
"Nope," I told Shaun's mom. "It' s just been a normal, regular day."

Kiriel doesn't like the term "demon". It's far too negative. He prefers "Fallen Angel", which is the proper technical term, anyway.
Though he doesn't really enjoy his job, either.
Kiriel isn't an "important" demon... His job is simply to reflect misery back onto the souls in hell. That's all. Nothing more important.
The big guy hasn't even paid any attention to him. Only important fallen angels get attention from God.
And trouble makers.

When Kiriel discovers that hell doesn't blow up when he doesn't do his job, he decides to take a vacation. It's not like he's ever had one before... Who cares if it's technically against the rules? Maybe it'll get him some notice in the end.

So he steals a body. The boy who it used to belong to was barely using it anyway, so what does it matter that he takes over for a few days?

Through the body of Shaun, a typical slacker highschooler, Kiriel discovers what it's like to be a human. And he likes it.
But how long does he have before the body is "repossessed"?

Whatever the reason, they punish themselves. I merely oversee; I don't actually do anything about anything.
Mine is a useless occupation.

I really liked this book. It was a very interesting point of view, reading from the head of a demon. Surprisingly, although Kiriel decides to see what's so enjoyable about sinning, he seemed to be one of the more innocent characters in the book. He had a very interesting outlook on the life he leads in Shaun's body, and I actually ended up agreeing with his points.
So, I think the author did very well making him a relatable character.

Besides that, it was just a very interesting book. Some of the themes can be carried over and related to our own lives... Especially us teens. You know, the whole, "my place isn't important," "my job isn't important" "no one notices me", and all that crap.

I also liked how it made fun of teenagers, and our lives.

You have to be warned however, that there are quite a few mentions of sex in this book, and some swearing. So if those sorts of things concern you, I wouldn't read this book.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Tighter" by Adele Griffin

“When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.” -goodreads

I picked up Tighter right before going to bed. I continued reading Tighter until it was over. I couldn’t put it down! I had to see how the story would conclude. It’s also only 216 pages, so I wasn’t up all night finishing it or anything (although I probably would have been, had it been longer), but it was 216 pages of brain-twisting, mind-numbing, mystery and suspense. I had to know what Jamie was actually seeing, and what was real, what wasn’t.

Jamie is not (or at least doesn't start out) a likable main character. She’s depressed, she stole pills from her parents, and she doesn’t generally seem very smart at all in the beginning. As the story goes on, especially toward the end, she’s a bit more likable. But she’s not the ONLY character. While Isa (the troubled girl Jamie is an au pair for) was withdrawn in her own world, in her imagination where she could hide, I found her really likable. Everything she said I felt she said in earnest. Part murder mystery, part thriller, and many other elements, Tighter had variety.

I loved the writing, it was poetic and nice, with some really raw emotion displayed through it. The conclusion was shocking and a burst of action at the end, I did NOT expect what Jamie ended up doing. I’ve never read any others of Adele Griffin’s many novels, but I’ll be sure to look them up now!
Extra note: The cover. I love it. Sets the creepy level for the book!

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Plague" (Gone, #4) by Michael Grant

*As usual with sequel reviews, the description is spoiler-y, so I haven’t included it. The below review may reveal minor spoilers about the previous two books. YOU ARE WARNED.*

I love this series, I do.  I can’t wait for Fear (April 2012) and Light to come out so I can finally find out the fate of our beloved characters… but (sadly, there‘s a ‘but‘)… Plague. Oh dear. It still had action, it still had different perspectives, and there was still unexpected twists and turns with the punch of a broad cast of characters-- my favorite parts of the series so far, but Plague was a bit of a let down. It wasn’t *bad*. It just wasn’t what I expected, either. At some point in Plague, I’m not sure how far in I was, I started feeling like I was reading about a soap-opera or some other sometimes overly dramatic situation set in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world (inside a dome!)… Too dramatic at times. And Sam’s self-pity and erratic behavior plus a very selfish attitude kept propping up all over the place and I can’t say I like Sam much anymore which is disappointing as I loved him in Gone and Hunger and somewhat in Lies (by the way, I don’t mean loved like, OMG SWOON IT’S EDWARD CULLEN, which I’m seriously not like, by the way, but I thought Sam was a fantastic character). It didn’t feel like a filler book for me or anything like that, there were still new developments and few things resolved, which is fortunate because I would have absolutely hated that.

ALSO, major warning: KILLER CLIFF-HANGER. Fear doesn’t come out until April. That kills me. I think I’m traumatized by the wait, because I was able to read the first four so close together as they’ve been released for a while. Seriously, the cliff-hanger has launched me into a (hopefully short) stand-alone/completed series only kind of mood so I don’t have to see one of those for a while. But the point of a cliffhanger is to make you want more and be excited for the next book, which I definitely am, so I guess it’s effective!

Bottom line: This book in the Gone series just didn‘t resonate with me, but I still can’t wait for the next one, which I hope I like more.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Lies" (Gone, #3) by Michael Grant

*As usual with sequel reviews, the description is spoiler-y, so I haven’t included it. The below review may reveal minor spoilers about the previous two books. YOU ARE WARNED.*

Lies is my favorite book in the Gone series so far. Not only did it continue all of the good things from the other two books, but there was MORE (if that’s possible)! The slight problems I had with Hunger were even less in their severity. THERE WERE ANSWERS. Those capital letters were entirely necessary. Now, there weren’t big answers like how to magically get outside of the dome (there’s three more books, it doesn’t work that way, folks), but we found out… oh I’m itching to tell you guys, but I can’t. We found out something that’s kind of a big deal. No one is sure whether their relatives still exist or know they’re gone. You’ll find THAT out if you read Lies. Sam is still quite angst-y but I could deal with it. My favorite character in this one was probably Astrid just because of the end, and her progression throughout the books of getting stronger and all, although I admittedly wasn’t her biggest fan for parts of the book. Lies was shorter (only a bit) than Hunger but I felt it packed an even bigger punch. Another element that was present in all of the books, but I felt strongest in Lies is the multiple view points. The story switches view points all the time and that keeps everything going and fresh while helping you get the whole story; it’s not in first person, so it’s not in another person’s mind per say, but just not everything from the location of the main character.

As the third book in the Gone series, Lies continues the awesome. These books aren’t just good, they’re explosive. I was hooked (as usual) from the beginning and could hardly put it down. As much as Gone and more than Hunger, it’s one of those books that you’d rather read than sleep because you have to know what happens and you’ll probably bring it everywhere with you. Simply amazing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Vanish" (Firelight, #2) by Sophie Jordan

September 6th, 2011 - HarperTeen
(The description is a bit spoiler-y to the first book. If you’d like to check it out and find tons more info on the book, visit Sophie Jordan’s website here.)

I really appreciate book series where each new book exceeds your expectations and there’s never a dull ‘middle book’. After reading Firelight, and then seeing the cover and summary for Vanish, I had really high expectations for it. I had a theory about who was on the cover, and surprisingly I was right. (Do you have a theory? Maybe you’re right like me. But you’ll have to read it to find out whether you’re also correct or not!) I liked Vanish even more than Firelight!! (Which I liked a lotttt!!)

As the story continues, it just gets better. There was never a dull moment. Vanish is an emotional roller coaster, but in a good way. The ending of Vanish leaves you craving more (as with Firelight). I also found the characters interesting, as they developed a lot more. They fooled me. People I strongly disliked in the first one, I found liking more in Vanish as they developed more. Also, I was firmly Team Will at the end of the first, and not only am I team Cassian now, I think he’s my new favorite character as we saw more of him. (You’ll probably find yourself at least swaying towards his side!) Almost all of the characters changed for me though, and I found myself feeling even more connected to our heroine Jacinda-- her narrative is awesome.

Same as Firelight, I found the draki element very interesting and unique. It continues to develop and we learn more about how that works. And there’s a new draki in town-- you’ll be surprised who it is. Overall, a great sequel that I doubt will disappoint!! Be sure to look for it when it comes out (meantime, read Firelight if you haven't!)
Thank you HarperTeen for giving me the opportunity to review this exciting sequel.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Hunger" (Gone, #2) by Michael Grant

(The summary for this book is spoiler-y for the first book in the series, "Gone". If you'd like to view it anyway and find out more information about the book, here's the goodreads page for it. As usual with sequel reviews, though I try to keep them spoiler free, it's possible there will be minor spoilers for the first book. YOU ARE WARNED.)

With the same gripping plot style and breakneck fast pace as "Gone", "Hunger" is a really great sequel. It met my expectations, which "Gone" set very high. A lot of the best aspects of the first book were continued in the second, besides the incredible plot and pacing. However, I didn't enjoy Hunger QUITE as much as its predecessor. For example, Sam's humility left me feeling conflicted. While I was glad that he was humble, he was feeling pressures, and he wasn't perfect, like I felt in the first book, too much is well... too much. His tendency throughout the book for self pity got kind of annoying after a while. Then, at the same time, it made sense-- he was grasping for solutions to really difficult problems and searching for answers where there seemed to be none, and that was frustrating for him. Then all these kids have adopted him as their leader and when he starts not being able to fix everything, obviously he felt a little lost. Another thing that left me feeling that way is that a lot of questions were asked, more sub-plots started, which is all fine but then nothing seemed to be getting answered and at times that was just really frustrating to deal with. HOWEVER, these two problems did not really damage my overall impression of the book.

The characters continue to be great for the most part. The setting is so developed, so clear I can imagine the whole FAYZ, and I love that about these books. The continuing developments and the worsening of the situation in the FAYZ were both fascinating and horrifying. Then the problem of 'Freaks' vs. 'Normals', as they started to conflict was obviously intense but also interesting because of the psychology of it all, for me.

Overall, a good sequel! Continued awesome pace, plot, and characters; even if a few elements left me feeling a tad conflicted at times.