Reviews

YA Lit Must Reads

I thought I would give a few mini reviews in one post to basically say that yes-if you tend to like what I review and read here then you should read these too! =]

Embrace by Jessiva Shirvington

Published by Sourcebooks Fire

Out March 6, 2012

Yes, it’s another YA novel about angels and I love it! In this one, Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday because it is also the anniversary of her mother’s death. Suddenly she has a mysterious tattoo going up her arms, awful dreams, and the one person she can count on is keeping secrets from her-like he’s half human and so is she! Oh, and you can bet there is another guy that comes into the picture with sketchy motives too. A battle between fallen angels and those fighting for humanity ensues, but don’t worry, Violet is a strong heroine and never quits fighting. Shirvington’s debut novel is fun and takes a few liberties with the whole fallen angel theme and does a good job doing so.

Anyone who is a fan of lit dealing with angels will like this one a lot!

Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

Published by Harper Teen

Out February 28, 2012

I picked up Delirium by Lauren Oliver awhile ago and started it but never finished it, so when I got the ARC of Pandemonium I thought that I should give it a whirl again and I’m glad I did. This one picks up right where Delirium left off and you are right there with Lena through all the pain she’s endured. Lena tries to push the old Lena out of her life completely and strives to become an active part of the Resistance. In doing so, she finds herself trying to save Julian (a pivotal character) and possibly falling in love with him along the way.

It’s rare that I like the 2nd book in a trilogy (or series), I’m not exactly sure why but it seems to be a trend with me, however; the ending of this one literally made my jaw drop. If the 2nd book in the series can do that then it’s definitely a good one!

Anyone who has read Delirium or other dystopian novels will surely love these! Give ’em a go!

Nightshade Trilogy (Nightshade, Wolfsbane, Bloodrose) by Andrea Cremer

Published by Penguin Group

Wow. I normally don’t like reading about wolves. Actually, shapeshifting in general is not something I typically go out of my way to read about, but this trilogy is actually quite good! There is Calla and Ren, both alphas of different packs but soon to join and lead their packs together.  Then there is Shay, the boy that Calla saves… As you can imagine, there is a love triangle, but is anything as good without one? Throughout the trilogy, Calla just gets stronger and stronger and the choice between Ren and Shay gets harder and harder. There’s a lot to pay attention to with the Guardians (werewolves) the humans (searchers) and the witches (Keepers), all of which is very intricate and well done.

<Sigh> It’s a good trilogy and I read it pretty quickly because I needed to know what happened next. What’s great about reading this trilogy now is that all the books have already been published, so no waiting between novels is needed! =]

Cheers and happy reading!

Darkness Becomes Her: A Review

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Published by Simon Pulse

Out February 22, 2011

 

 

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers a message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

A place filled with different creatures that are all afraid of a girl that is a bit different herself sounds pretty awesome. In New 2, Ari discovers that there are many freaks of nature, as she often describes herself, roaming around like: vampires, witches, half vampire/half witches, shapeshifters and…Athena. That’s right, the Athena many of us are familiar with from Greek Myths. You might be thinking to yourself that it looks like Kelly Keaton took on a lot for her first novel in this series and I would say you are exactly right.

Keaton creates a world where many different creatures exist without the fear of becoming a lab experiment, due to the Novem-the nine families that perserve their city. With all the preternaturals in the story, at times things can get a bit conviluted and frankly, some of it could have been cut out.

Ari goes to New 2 to learn about her mother and father. Pretty early on in Ari and Sebastian’s (half vampire/half witch) relationship, Ari tell’s Sebastian about her mother, almost without hesitating. Realistically, something that traumatic happening to Ari and with barely knowing Sebastian, there would at least be some hesitation or maybe withholding of information. Little things like this continunally occur throughout the novel making both the characters and the dialogue unbelievable.

The novel wasn’t entirely bad as it did have some decent parts. For instance, Ari’s interal dialogue can be humorous at times and what Sebastian’s character will possibly become is intriguing.

Overall: Unsatisfying. There are decent ideas here but it was poorly executed. Perhaps the future books in the series can pull it all together. A caution to young readers or those sensitive to cursing: there is a lot of it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight: A Review

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Published by Little, Brown & Company

Out January 2, 2012

 

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. She’s stuck at JFK, late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s in seat 18C. Hadley’s in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

We all think about it sometimes- the idea that fate brings us together with certain people, places us in certain situations and overall makes us wonder, what if? Indeed, fate doesn’t always bring the good with it, but in Jennifer E. Smith’s novel, it does. What better way to explore the idea of fate than with love at first sight?

The plot in Smith’s novel appears pretty routine at a brief glance. Girl meets boy, they spend time together and bond, they go their separate ways and then reunite for a happy ending. What Smith brings to the book is a bit different,however; she discuss family-from divorce to death- by displaying the similarities using Hadley and Oliver’s characters. While one character (eventually) celebrates a wedding filled with laughing, dancing, and new beginnings-another character mourns the loss of a parent and the end of life. What’s comforting about the whole situation is that fate brings both Hadley and Oliver together to help each other cope with life’s events. The question is then, can fate bring two people together, like it does in Smith’s novel? The answer to that question is yes, it can.

Speaking of Hadley and Oliver…they are fun characters! Hadley has little quirks about her that Oliver adores (of course) and Oliver is a Brit, so he is definitely awesome (I can’t help it, I like the Brits). Both Hadley and Oliver compliment each other very well making the chemistry between the two obvious, but in a good way. At the core of the story it is easy to identify with each character because their feelings are so real and honest-no one acts out of the ordinary and creates an unbelievable moment.

It’s simple to see why so many of us like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight- it’s smart, lush, and ultimately the perfect novel of love at first sight.

Overall: Definitely a good read, one that can easily be read in one night. Those who are looking for a good love story will naturally pick this one up just by the title alone and will be rewarded at the end. Queue this one!

Fallen in Love (Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series): A Review

Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Published by Random House Children’s Books

Out January 24, 2012

Synopsis

What makes your heart race a little faster? Just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s FALLEN IN LOVE, four wholly original new stories collected in a new novel set in the Middle Ages by Lauren Kate. FALLEN IN LOVE gives fans the much-talked about but never-revealed stories of FALLEN characters as they intertwine with the epic love story of Luce and Daniel. The stories include: Love Where You Least Expect It: The Valentine of Shelby and Miles , Love Lessons: The Valentine of Roland; Burning Love: The Valentine of Arriane; and Endless Love: The Valentine of Daniel and Lucinda. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

When Fallen debuted in December 2009, I fell in love with it. It was different than a lot of other YA novels out there at the time , which made it pretty refreshing to read. When Lauren Kate came out with the third installment in the Fallen series I was just as excited to read it as I was the other two, but my excitement quickly diminished-it seemed I was no longer interested in Luce and Daniel’s story anymore. I tried and could not finish the third in the series. With Fallen in Love, I thought maybe I would have better luck.

All of the short stories in Kate’s new novel are very sweet, there is no denying that. Kate takes you to a different time period and shows you the many types of love with each story, building up to the final Valentine story of Daniel and Lucinda. There is not much to say about each story individually as they are exactly what one can imagine. So, were they terrible to read? Not at all. Was I completely giddy reading them and so excited Kate published another novel? Not really. Publishing another novel revolving around other characters in the series is a good idea, but this one is so-so. The only perk is the sneak peak into her fourth installment, Rapture, which I happen to quite like so far.

Why did I bother reading it? Because I want to like this series as a whole. It has elements to it that I adore and I want to recommend the series to those who share the same infatuations as I do (fallen angels-what’s not to love?) I look forward to reading the fourth and final book (out June 2012) just to see how it will all end.

Overall: Debatable.  Those who still love everything about the Fallen series will enjoy this compilation of short stories. They are sweet, they delve into the lives of other characters, and you get the sneak peak into Rapture. However, those that feel they may be in the same boat as myself will be left wanting more of the Lauren Kate that first started the Fallen series. So, here’s hoping the fourth book is a strong one…come on Lauren, you can do it!

Me and You: A Review

Me and You by Niccolò Ammaniti

Published by Grove/Atlantic Inc

Out February 7, 2012

 

Synopsis

Lorenzo Cuni is a fourteen-year-old loner. His wealthy parents think he is away on a school skiiing trip, but in fact he has stowed away in a forgotten cellar. For a week he plans to live in perfect isolation, keeping the adult world at bay. Then a visit from his estranged half-sister, Olivia, changes everything.

The story is set mainly in Rome in the year 2000, and though I’d love to read about the beauty of Rome, most of the scenery mentioned is that of the forgotten cellar that Lorenzo retreats to for one week. The cellar is dank and musty and yet to Lorenzo, nothing could be better. This is where the reader finds out much of Lorenzo’s life. He is an outcast in school and when he hears of the popular kids going skiing for a week he desperately wants to go as well (he tricks his mother into thinking he went skiing with said popular kids). Not only does Lorenzo really like to ski, he’s good at it and he wants to show everyone else that he is too. Readers young and old can relate to this part of the story easily. There is a point in adolecense and even adulthood where one is stuck trying to find oneself and Niccolò Ammaniti emulates that feeling very well through Lorenzo. Seeing things as Lorenzo sees them is quite gripping especially when Olivia, reluctantly, comes to stay in the cellar with him. The story is not only about adolecense and finding a place where one belongs, it is also about family, addiction, and broken promises.

Lorenzo and Olivia’s characters seem completely different at a first glance. Lorenzo is just a fourteen-year-old boy hanging out in a cellar for a peaceful week of video game playing, while Olivia is frantically searching for money in all of her old boxes to fulfill her addiction to drugs. Although both characters went to the cellar to find two completely different things, they both left the cellar with an infinite understanding of one another. Lorenzo’s character is so strong for a fourteen-year-old, dealing with the lack of friends, a sister whom he hardly knows and desperately needs to help, and yet, it is very believable because he is still vulnerable.

Lastly, the quality of writing that Ammaniti puts on display is superb. It is simplistic and real and there certainly is not anything I question while reading except, maybe, “Why can’t I write like that?”

Overall: Add this one to your queue of books to read. This is a well-written novel and definitely deserves a read. Like I said before, readers young and old will like this book not only because of the quality but also because of how relatable the story really is.

Vampire Academy Series: A Review

Two races of vampires walk our world. One, the Moroi, are alive and wield elemental magical. The other, the Strigoi, are undead and evil–feeding on the innocent to survive. Rose Hathaway–a half-vampire with poor impulse control–is training to be a bodyguard for a Moroi princess. Learning to decapitate and stake is hard enough, but Rose’s real danger may lie in an illicit romance with one of her instructors… (from Richelle Mead Official Website)

I’ll admit, I started reading this series with a very skeptical eye. A part of me really felt like the vampire stories were all the same, so how could the Vampire Academy be different? I think I realized after the first book in this series that what Richelle Mead creates is a much different vampiric world than what one might expect. There are mortal vampires with magic in need of protection and the immortal and malicious vampires that are set on ruining the world. Many of the dhampir, half human and half vampire, train to defend the royals against all evils. This series is full of action, a lot of which happens at St. Vladimir (haha) and a lot of romance (which I can’t resist) making the entire series very equally balanced.

While your reading, it’s quite easy to see how much time Mead spent on her characters. Rose and Dimitri compliment each other in ways I haven’t seen in a while. She’s rash and impulsive and he is almost her complete opposite, yet they find a common ground to build a relationship on throughout the novels. Rose’s whole demeanor with everyone is very abrasive, except with a close few. Rose fights for what she wants and goes with her gut instinct in almost every situation. This notion has become more and more prominent in YA lit and as much as I hate the redundancy, this is actually a good aspect to keep in the genre. Mead’s characters are some of the best: never static, believable dialogue (yay!) and they are identifiable.

Overall: Anyone who loves vampire stories will, no doubt, cling to this one too. The difference between Mead’s vampire world and others is that hers is actually interesting and well thought-out. Mead’s creation is full of deeper meaning and better characters. Plots thicken, crushes die, romance blooms, and stakes go through a lot of hearts in this series which makes for an entertaining and fast read.

*If you love this series, try out Bloodlines- a spin-off series set in the same world, but focusing on the other characters!

endless queue Awards!: The Best Read Books in 2011

Welcome to the endless queue Awards! I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the best of 2011. This list is primarily titles that have been published in 2011, although there are a few that I have read this year that are not but are included in the “best of” list. Let me know what your best of 2011 is in a comment!

Best YA Series: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

One of the most well-written and thought-out YA series.

 

 

 

Best YA Novel: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Copyright 2011)

The best real photos in a book-period.

 

 

 

Best Debut Novel: Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson (Copyright 2011)

Anyone who has read my review of this one knows how much I love this novel.  It’s completely gripping and utterly fantastic.

 

 

 

Best Cover Art: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Copyright 2011)

I absolutely love the masquerade-like cover, it’s stunning.

 

 

 

Best Mystery Novel: In the Woods by Tana French (Copyright 2007)

Easy to stick with and one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read.

 

 

 

Best Fantasy Novel: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Copyright 2007)

I’m normally not one to really want to read a fantasy novel, but this series is epic and most definitely a must read.

 

 

 

Best Children’s Pictorial/Short Story: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (Copyright 2011)

Outstanding illustrations with equally outstanding, yet incredibly creepy, short stories by renown authors such as: Stephen King, Lois Lowry, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” (p. 31) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (Copyright 2000) [I cannot choose the best quote from a book, but this is one of the best!]