Saturday, January 26, 2013

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi Review (spoiler alert)


3.5/5 Stars
Details of the Book
paperback, 465 pages
Published by HarperCollins
Published on February 5, 2013
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Omega Point and The Reestablishment are going to war, while Juliette is still struggling to control her gifts. After her friends are captured, Juliette discovers that there is a person more evil than Warner--his father, president of The Reestablishment. She also discovers that there is more to Warner than she originally thought, and her feelings for him surface just as her and Adam run into trouble in their relationship. On top of the war between Omega and The Reestablishment, Juliette has to decide what side she's on and who is it going to be--Adam or Warner?

Unfortunately, the last question is not answered in this novel. I found that I enjoyed this book much more than Shatter Me because the writing style is not so disjointed and there are less punctuation problems. This book through me a curve ball with the couple of plot twists and I think that this novel overall was also less melodramatic.

Strengths/Likes: 

1)Mafi's strong character development from Shatter Me continues in this novel. There is always something new to learn about each character, something in their past that explains who they are. I'm hard-pressed to find a character that I do not like or at least find extremely interesting because of their backstory.

2) Plot twists: The twists and turns I did not expect in this novel. There was definitely a couple moments where I was completely floored. At the same time, Mafi's twists nicely pull the story really well together.

3) I love Kenji, he's such a badass. Not only is he hilarious, he is kickass on his own without the extra skill that Juliette has.

4)The writing style is much improved from Shatter Me, I figure that this is because Juliette is really coming into her own, and instead of being half-crazed from being tortured and locked-up she is finally able to help those around her.

Weaknesses/Dislikes: 

1) Because Mafi decided on a love-triangle, Adam and Juliette's relationship seems like kind of a joke. There are some pretty hot and heavy moments in this novel--and let me just say they are not just with Adam.

2) There were a couple of moments where it was unclear as to what was going on. At one point Juliette is on a mission with Kenji and Adam and they are supposed to be right behind her, and somehow they end up being somewhere completely different. It's just unclear as to what is happening with Adam and Kenji during Juliette's meeting with Warner's father.

Here's another example of an unclear moment: "I remember the days when things were fairly normal, when people were only sort-of dying all the time" (129). Can someone please explain to me how people can "sort-of" die all the time?

3) I don't understand why Juliette has to keep so many secrets to herself, not just from Adam, but from others. Secrets that could actually saves lives, I find it hard to believe that she really cares about the people around her when she is holding back these type of secrets. And of course, secrets that are kept, always come out and in front of everyone and in a way that it shouldn't have been revealed. I just think there are other ways to move the plot forward then the main character making the same mistake over and over again.

Favorite Moments & Quotes: 

"Adam's arms wrap around my waist, pulling me closer, and the pleasure is so tremendous I can hardly keep my frame from shaking. It's like my skin and bones have been craving contact, warm affection, human interaction for so many years that I don't know how to pace myself. I'm a starving child trying to stuff my stomach, gorging my senses on the decadence of these moments as if I'll wake up in the morning and realize I'm still sweeping cinders for my step-mother" (15).

"'I'm serious. Do you have any idea how awkward it is to wave at someone and have them ignore you? And then you're just looking around like a jackass, trying to be all, "No really, I swear, I know that girl" and no one believes y--'" (33).

"'I have nine different weapons concealed on my body right now. Would you like to choose the one I use to shoot you in the face? Or should I?'" (213).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi Review (spoiler alert)



Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

ebook, 109 pages
Published by HarperCollins
Published on October 2, 2012
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis: Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release of Unravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me, Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

This novella picks up right after Warner is shot by Juliette, written in Warner's point-of-view. The reader gets to learn more about Warner's background, reign, and his quest in finding Juliette before he welcomed her into the compound. All his life, Warner has been looking for someone like himself, someone who he could relate too and in this novella we discover why he believes that person is Juliette.

Although it's only a novella, I am thoroughly impressed by Mafi's writing skills, because of how well she was able to illustrate Warner without letting Juliette's voice leak into the story. I found that the only hints of Juliette was when Warner was thinking about her, where it belonged.

That aside, I have a real problem with the romanticized villain. I believe that this novella was written to give Warner a whole new dimension that us readers could not get from Juliette's point-of-view, and I greatly respect Mafi's work but at the same time I'm tired of feeling bad for the bad guy. In this case, I believe that Warner and Juliette went through similar experiences, but your experiences are not the only thing that makes you who are, it's your decisions, your choices. Can any of you tell that I'm pro Juliette and Adam? Haha.

Strengths/Likes:

1) Very well written, as I have stated before. I was very impressed how seamlessly that Mafi was able to build a whole different outlook through a different character's eyes.

2)  I believe that Warner's voice was really well crafted, I could really hear him speaking through his words and got to know him very well.

3) I really liked reading Warner's files, it made the whole story seem more real. Very interesting read.

Weaknesses/Dislikes: 

1) Although I found that it was interesting that Warner killed Seamus Fletcher because he found that he was beating his wife and children, and in general was not providing for his family, I just thought it was out of character for Warner. We here over and over again how Warner believes that the best way to move his people is through making them fearful of him, but how is it that at the same time he believes in going out and seeing the civilans and being nice to them? I get that for The Reestablishment he needs to keep up the appearance that he has the civilians' best interest at heart, but it just doesn't match up.

2) I didn't like that even though it's clear to me that he loves Juliette but instead he acted in ways that only chased her away. He states repeatedly how he wants to talk to her about what she went through and about her abilities and yet he made her feel unsafe and like a caged animal. In my opinion, he may hate his father, but he actions are very similar.

Favorite Quotes (bought as an ebook, so again I don't have page numbers): 

"A betrayal that somehow seemed impossible. That she would leave me for a robotic, unfeeling idiot like Kent. Hist thoughts are so empty, so mindless; it's like conversing with a desk lamp."

"Torture is not torture when there's any hope of relief"

"I've come to believe that the most dangerous man in the world is the one who feels no remorse. The who never apologizes and therefore seeks no forgiveness. Because in the end it is our emotions that make us weak, not our actions"

Coming soon: Review of Tahereh Mafi's Unravel Me. 

Ebook.

Kindle Price: $2.99

ISBN: 9780062208194

Published by HarperCollins

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Review


3/5 Stars
Details of the Book
ebook, 357 pages
Published by HarperCollins
Published on November 15, 2011
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Juliette was born with a gift that prevented her from having physical contact with anyone in her life. Whenever someone touches her skin, she literally sucks the life out of them. Her family and government locks her in an insane asylum to protect the world from her gift. After spending three years in lock up, she gets a new cellmate, Adam, a boy who she has loved since the third grade, who has been spent to spy on her by The Reestablishment's leader's son, Warner. Fascinated by her power, Warner takes Juliette into his home in order to win her heart and to also use her as a weapon against anyone who tries to rebel against him or The Reestablishment's reign. Torn between what Warner wants from her, and Adam, Juliette embarks on a journey to discover if she is nothing more than a hated weapon of society or if she could be something more.

This book has me so conflicted, I have a lot of problems with it, but at the same time I love it. I love the character's and their relationships with each other but I have a few pet peeves and issues with this book that really stops me from falling in love with it. Shatter Me is another book with a dystopia premise, a very popular theme in young adult books today, but without a well defined structure. In general it reminds me of X-Men, in the sense that Juliette's power is exactly the same as Rouge, and there is an underground society with other people with special abilities, who all have special suits designed for them to wear. On top of it all, the leader if this underground group sounds just like Charles Xaiver except he's not confined to a wheelchair.

Strengths: 

1)
All of the main characters are very well rounded with strong character development as the novel goes on. There is an explanation for every behavior, action, etc. Tahereh Mafi really makes sure that you know and understand each character very well.

2) Adam and Juliette's relationship is really well defined. Although it's not explained in the very beginning as to how they know each other, through flashbacks and explanations you really see how close these two are and why they love each other. Their chemistry just oozes out all over the place.

3) Mafi creates great dialogue, it flows easily and sounds very natural. It also provides great insight to the characters' personalities.

Weaknesses: 

1)
Writing Style:
          a. I have a love/hate relationship with the writing style in this novel. It's written from Juliette's point-of-view, and it's very well crafted in the sense you can see fully into Juliette's mind without any sensors. The reader is able to see Juliette's exact thought process and how each situation she's in directly affects her. It's written as if you're reading Juliette's private journal, meaning that you get a good sense of how Juliette's mind works, but at the same time it's very distracting. There is not a lot of punctuation, which makes certain scenes unclear and just makes it look poorly edited, even though I know it's intentional. I assume the idea is to show that how scatter brained Juliette is after being hated, tortured, and locked-up but I cannot condone anything that degrades the English language further. There are enough people who are not properly educated in grammar rules, but to deliberately break them, and become popular for it just makes that okay when it's not. Thankfully, this problem becomes less after Juliette is out of the asylum.

          b. The way that Mafi has repeats specific words and phrases three times in one sentence with no commas is pretty prevalent in this novel. I understand that the repetition is supposed to emphasize the emotion but it just seems melodramatic since it's used over and over again.

              Here are a few examples of Mafi's repeating words or phrases with the lack of punctuation (I don't have pages numbers for these quotes because I bought this as an ebook):

             "His voice is soft so soft so soft." 

             "I'm tempted by recklessness, aching aching aching, desperate forever for what I can't have"

             "His heat melts the icicles propping me up from the inside out and I thaw I thaw I thaw"

            c. In addition to there not being a lot of punctuation, there are a lot of phrases scratched out. This is a tool that is used to see the difference between what Juliette is thinking and what she actually says. It's not a technique I have seen before, and part of me finds it really interesting and endearing and the other part of me is really annoyed by it.

            d. This is not a big deal but it bothers me how none of the numbers are written out. I get that the style is meant to be informal but it throws me off.

            e. There were a bunch of phrases that were confusing; metaphors that didn't make sense, and contradictory phrase. Here are a few of them:

"I'm dripping red paint on the carpet"

"I'd like to cry into his eyes"

"He says it with a small smile the size of Jupiter"

"His chest is a broken harmonica"

"Warner thinks Adam is a cardboard cutout of vanilla regurgitations"

2) As I said in my opening statement, I feel that this book reminds me too much of X-Men with how Juliette's and Rouge's powers are the same, and how they have special "uniforms" that make them look like super heroes, and that the underground rebellion sounds almost exactly like Professor Xaiver's School for the gifted Youngsters.

My favorite quotes and moments from the novel:

"Sometimes I think the loneliness inside me is going to explode through my skin and sometimes I'm not sure if crying or screaming or laughing through the hysteria will solve anything at all. Sometimes I'm so desperate to touch to be touched to feel that I'm almost certain I'm going to fall off a cliff in an alternate universe where no one will ever be able to find me"

"I've been screaming for years and no one has heard me"

"Truth is a jealous, vicious mistress that never sleeps"

"They think they can wash away my memories, my loyalties, my priorities with a few hot meals and a room with a view. They think I am so easily purchased."

"I didn't want to be draped in silk. All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart"

"I spent my life folded between pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction."

"He never pushed me to say a word. He just made sure he was close enough to scare away everyone else."

"He strokes my hair and tells me stories and tuck me close like he's afraid I'll disappear. He paints pictures of people and places until I fall asleep, until I'm drowning in a drug of dreams to escape a world with no refuge, no relief, no release but his reassurances in my ear."

"'She belongs with me.' Adam's voice could cut through steel."

Coming Soon: Reviews of Mafi's novella Destroy Me, as well as the second installment of the Shatter Me trilogy, Unravel Me. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd ARC Review with spoilers

3.5/5 Stars
Details of the Book
paperback ARC, 420 pages
Published by Balzer + Bray,
an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |


Inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau. Juliet Moreau has been haunted her entire life by her father's horrifying scandal that turned him for London's most prized surgeon to a criminal on the run. Forced from her privileged life, Juliet struggles to keep herself off the streets working as a maid in the medical college where her father once taught. After escaping from the clutches of a vulgar professor she meets up with her childhood friend and ex-servant Montgomery. With him, Juliet embarks on a journey to a strange island to not only find out that her father is alive, but that the scandalous rumors are true. Besides dealing with her father's creations, Juliet is torn between Montgomery and the puzzling Edward Prince. 

This book really snuck up on me. If you can't tell from my previous reviews Gothic Thrillers are not my style. In fact while reading, I slugged through it because despite how it's well written, I was terrified. That also is a credit to Megan Shepherd's writing style. Even in it's gruesome details, it makes you want to know more. The books covers romance, animal abuse particularly vivisection, deception, and a bit of sci-fi. The Madman's Daughter is book one of Megan Shepherd's much anticipated trilogy.

My reason behind only giving this book 3.5 stars out of 5, is not due to the quality of the book but more because it's not a book that I would want to read again. That being said, I will definitely read the sequel.

Strengths/Likes:

1) Shepherd is very successful in evoking many conflicting emotions, such as fear and curiosity. Her words are very sensual despite the vivid images of vivisection that make you want to look away. 

2) There was really strong character development throughout this entire novel. Each character grew from the moment they are introduced to the last page of the book. When you believed you finally understood every aspect of a character, a new dimension was added and you will discover that there's always more to learn about each character.

3) The plot twists in the novel kept you wondering what was going to happen next. The novel teaches you that looks are deceiving and despite what you think you know, you're wrong. 

4) Edward Prince, he is an extremely complex character. Even though I knew who Juliet's choice was going to be, I was rooting for him for a good portion of the book. 

4) As previously stated, gothic thrillers are not my thing, but I couldn't put this one down. I typically don't like horror stories or movies or anything that involves blood but I was haunted by this book and couldn't put it away. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes: 

1) I felt that in describing something scary, that Shepherd used the term "nightmare(s)" too often. When describing the creations, specimens, or even some of the incidents they would be described as nightmares. I have many things that I would consider nightmares, so I would have liked more of a description as to what these nightmares were. 

2) Shepherd was pretty good with all of her surprises and plot twists, but I felt the ending was pretty obvious. After everything that happens to both Juliet and Montgomery, I didn't feel that their separation was fitting because of how they were constantly searching and defending each other. It didn't make sense as to how he could let her go off into the unknown. 

Favorite quote: "Montgomery climbed out, slapping Edward on the shoulder, and gave me a look like he wanted to do all sorts of scandalous things to me. My body longed to touch him, but I told myself there wasn't time for that" (346).

              Yes, I am a pervert for liking this quote but over time all of you will realize that I have always been haha. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everbound by Brodi Ashton Book Review


4/5 Stars
Details of the Book
Paperback, 358 pages
Published by Blazer + Bray, 
an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
Where to buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Synopsis: Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

A vast improvement from Everneath--the first novel of this trilogy. A complete one-eighty flip, which has made me like the first book even less. The writing style, the storyline, character development, and just everything soars over the first novel. So, I give Brodi Ashton huge kudos, and I can't wait for the next book to come out.

This book covers Nikki trying to find a way to save Jack. With the help of Cole and Max she travels back to the Everneath to find the tunnels and face the Queen. This story is thrilling, hilarious, adventurous, and has a twist you'll never see coming.

Strengths:

All my complaints about the first installment of this trilogy has been fixed in this novel, it's truly amazing.

1) I just love Cole, he's extremely complex, intriguing, and really funny. He has so many dimensions and changes continually throughout the novel, I was completely overwhelmed.

2) There are a few plot twists that left me saying, "Wha?..what just happened?" At the same time all of the separate plot lines pulled together into a very intricate, well developed novel.

3) Character Development: In this novel we see more of Nikki's father, and has now become a well rounded character. This is the same case with almost all the characters in this novel. Their personalities, desires, and just everything changes throughout the book but at the same time, Ashton makes you think you understand the character and then flips the whole situation around with one of her plot twists. It's awesome!

4) I really felt the emotions and relationships were very well defined in this novel. We finally see how Cole fell in love with Nikki and how much she means to him. At the same time, Jack and Nikki's relationship through a series of memories has a whole new dimension that was missing in the first novel, and I really felt their connection.

5) The dialogue was very witty and funny. I had to stop several times to just tell someone about certain scenes so they could laugh too.

6) All of my unanswered questions that I had from Everneath were answered in this novel.

Weaknesses:

1) The beginning, just like the first novel, started very slow. I was almost half way through the book before it started picking up. Once I hit that point (which starts around the time Nikki enters the Everneath) I couldn't put the book down. As I said in previous posts, I think it's really important that it grabs the reader from the very beginning.

Some of my favorite moments (there were a lot so I'm only putting a few): 

"My dad leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped together. It was about to get good. 'You mean to tell me you checked every single direction a bus could've gone from here? Every stop? Every small town? Everywhere? You must have endless resources.'" (66).

" 'What happened?' I asked, squinting my eyes at his face. Cole glanced at Max.  'I wanted to jump in after you. Max disagreed with the appropriateness of that reaction. And then his face ran into my fist.' " (233).

"He lifted his head so that his eyes met mine. 'I always wait for you.' He took a deep breath, my ankle still in his hands. 'I'm always waiting for you.' "(229).

Monday, January 14, 2013

ADVANCED READERS COPY OF REQUIEM GIVEWAY



This giveaway is CLOSED.

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook Uncorrected Proof Review


Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
Paperback, 288 pages
Published by HarperCollins Children's Book
Published on January 29, 2013
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis: Will

Maybe I'm too late. Maybe Zoe's dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I'll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I'm any kind of example, but we can learn together.

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.

Zoe

Maybe it'll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it'll take forever. I'll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don't always leave, don't always give up on you.

A truly tragic and romantic story of two teenagers running from their pasts. Zoe witnessed her father kill her mother when she was six years old, and became her father's new punching bag since her death. Will, custody of the state has never had anyone in the world who really loved him. These two find the love they both need in each other and run from the law as they fight for each other.

Strengths/Likes:

1) Will and Zoe's relationship. Although they are young and have been together for a short period of time, these two characters share a love that many of us can only dream about. It's not all about romance, it's about saving each other from the people that have hurt them.

2) Split point of view. In general, I'm not a fan of this style but I felt that it was well executed in this novel. I really got to know the characters and know their voices, thoughts, and emotions. 

3) Voice. Halbrook has created strong voices for both of these characters. They are distinct and real. This is a very difficult thing to pull off as a writer. What impresses me the most is how well Halbrook writes Will's POV. I've read many novels written by female authors, and I always find that the men sound more like women. However this is not the case in this novel. 

4) From the first page this book grabs your attention. I was instantly in love with the couple and wanted to know more about them and how were they going to make it all work out. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes: 

1) It makes sense to me that this story is about young, emotionally damaged teenagers; therefore, I know that all the stupid mistakes that are made are supposed to be attributed to their age and stress. That being said, I felt like there was too many stupid mistakes made by the characters that lead to their downfall. When Will leaves his wallet at the diner because he is in such a hurry to not be discovered, I felt that if he would have walked out calmly, taken his wallet so they would not have his ID, that they would have had a better chance. What I wanted most was that the characters escaped in a smart, clever ways, and them to be caught on a technicality. 

2) I felt that the ending was rushed. I'm also not sure why Will shoots the gun. What did he think he was going to accomplish? I know he was under a lot of emotional stress but I just felt that the author put this in so the police would have to react. Especially since Will's bullet does not hit anyone, I felt that the author needed a certain end and wasn't sure how to make that happen. 

Favorite quotes/moments: 

"Yes, I tell her silently, yes, you can be pissed at me for saying that, for cutting you off, for bringing you here, for putting you in this situation. You can be as angry as you want, hate me more than anyone's ever hated and yell till you're hoarse. All you want. I'm so sorry. This is the best I can do right now. Just don't leave" (210).

"No, I mean. . . . . I love you. I thought I loved you before we left. And a couple of days ago I thought that, too . . . but what I feel now is bigger. The kind of bigger that makes me want to do the right thing. You make me need to do the right thing" (259).

"She wants someone, finally, to take care of her. Make her the best thing in thing in their life. I cup her face and kiss her before she can think too hard about why she shouldn't do this" (14).

"'You. Are. Beautiful.' His arms are strong and tight around me. Desperate, even. 'Don't ever say you're nothing but beautiful, understand? This--' He touches my lip, my eye. "This will fade and you heart will heal and you'll never have to worry about hiding nothing ever again. Understand?'" (24).

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Everneath by Brodi Ashton Book Review


2.5/5 Stars
Details of the Book
Paperback, 370 pages
Published by Blazer & Bray, 
an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |


Synopsis: Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

This book really confused me because it left me with so many questions. I don't understand if Cole is in love with Nikki or just wants to use her. If Nikki was so in love with Jack, and so mad at the thought of him betraying her, then why was she spending so much time with Cole, knowing that he had more than just platonic feelings for her? At first I thought that I was just being harsh on this book because I only finished Veronica Roth's Divergent books a few day ago, so maybe because I loved those books so much others right now just pale in comparison. After breaking down the book and looking at what I liked versus what I didn't, I decided that my feelings towards it had nothing to do with my feelings for Roth's novels. 

All in all I have to say that this book really picked up at the end. I finally got involved in the characters and was wondering how could this book carry on to the next if Nikki was going to be dragged to the Tunnels. Now I'm left wondering if there is a way to save Jack. This is the kind of want that I needed at the start of the book. I needed a stronger pull as to why I needed to carry on with the story. 

Strengths:

1) A successful love triangle in which I couldn't decide who the heroin should pick. That's not saying much considering the fact that for majority of the book I didn't like either of them. 

2) Cole was by far the most interesting character in this entire novel. Again, this is not saying much. He just had the most personality. 

Weaknesses:

1) I found that the book was very slow. For a book that's about a girl being dragged to a place that's supposed to be Heaven and Hell combined, it was boring. Nothing about the way Everneath was described was enticing. For most of the novel it's just about Nikki going through her normal school routine, normal high school problems, the only difference is that she has a life-sucking tattoo that progressively gets bigger as the book moves forward. It needed more action and more about Everneath and the beings from there. 

2) Melodramatic. From what I understand, Nikki and Jack have been friends since Junior High, making them have a really close relationship for a long time. That is why it doesn't make any sense to me as to why over one misunderstanding does Nikki go running off to Cole? The normal, more realistic thing would have been for Nikki to at least have had a fight with Jack where some things were said in the heat of a moment, driving Nikki to run to Cole. I mean, if I thought my man was cheating on me I would at least want the opportunity to yell and throw things at him first, before engaging in idiotic self-destructive actions.

3) Character development and Relationships: As all of you know, I have a huge problem when a book has too many characters. In this book there are so many characters, but most of them are not necessary. This book had too many characters without concrete details.

 For example, we are told that Will is an army veteran with a drinking problem, and randomly throughout the book Jack is carting his big brother around because he is half passed out and can't be alone. It's sad, but it does nothing for the plot, so why is he there? The same goes for Nikki's younger brother Tommy. It is more sad, to add a little brother to the mix of people Nikki had to say goodbye too but there is only a handful of scenes where Nikki interacts with her brother. 

All of the band members, they are mentioned a couple times but I'm not sure what their significance is. I feel like if they are a part of Cole's crew, that their personalities should stand out more and they should be more of a focal point in the story. 

I didn't understand what was wrong between Nikki and her dad.  "Like when my dad told me he was so happy I was back and that he didn't blame me, but his disappointment in the air tasted as strong as a clump of salt" (15). It is never explained why he is disappointed in her missing, and there was no indication that her father looked for her even though she had gone missing for six months. What was clear is that her father and the entire town thought that she had run off with a drug problem, but that doesn't change how the only person who seemed to be looking for her was her boyfriend Jack. Especially because she is the mayor's daughter, she couldn't realistically just drop off the face of the Earth without the town spending a lot of time searching for her. 

4) Plot holes. How does a girl go missing for six months and the town does not have a stronger reaction to her return? If Cole is part of a famous band how is he not constantly swarmed by people? Why does Jack's mom dislike Nikki? What was Lacey doing in Jack's room, and why was one of his friends helping her sneak in there while he was sleeping? What was Lacey doing while he was sleeping? How did Jules know to go to Cole to take her pain away?

5) There were a few grammar errors that needed to be cleaned up. 

I wouldn't say that I hated this book, but I didn't love it either. The end made me wonder what is going to happen next. Hopefully it will change my current feelings towards this book and its characters. 

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "We are a breath away--and a world apart--from each other" (370).


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth Review

4.5/5 Stars
Details of Book
Hardcover, 525 pages
Published by Katherin Tegen Books,
an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Synopsis: One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable - and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Overall, all the high points of this book make it easy to overlook the parts I didn't enjoy. It was action packed, exciting, and very sweet. Tobias and Tris' relationship is the strongest relationship I have read in a long time. It's not overdone, it's not too simplistic. In other novels, the couple would be torn apart in war that is taking place in this novel, but despite the lies, hardships, Tobias and Tris' relationship seems to get stronger. It's inspiring.

Strengths:

1) Tobias and Tris' relationship, obviously. They are not a mushy couple, but they have real feelings for each that are not depicted in overly romantic gestures, because it's not needed for them. That's because their relationship is genuine and doesn't need all that corniness.

2) There is no love triangle. I was actually afraid that there might be one because it's common amongst popular fiction to throw in a love triangle. To me, love triangles make the relationships in novels weaker. I know that it's possible to love more than one person, but I know that when you fall in love, that's it. Just because there is someone else you have feelings for, if you're not leaning toward the first that you originally fall in love with, your feelings and relationship are weak.

3) Although it was difficult to read, I liked how when everything seemed to be going well for the characters something bad would happen to them that changed everything. To me, in the middle of a war, this is realism. Happy moments in times like this would be short lived and constantly interrupted by something happening. Not that I want bad things to happen--I was especially upset about Marlene's death but it made sense to me as to why that kept happening.

4) I said this about Divergent, but it deems repeating. I love how strong Tris is, especially in the scene were she is put through the simulation with the fake Tobias. I loved how frustrated Jeanine is that she can't figure Tris out. That was awesome.

5) *SPOILER ALERT* I thought Peter was absolutely fascinating in this novel. It was so avant garde and amazing how Roth was able maintain Peter's asshole personality while helping out Tris and Tobias.    His character really caught me off guard, and threw me for a loop. I didn't see it coming whatsoever. I love how even though he helped, he wasn't redeemed. I hate it when the antagonist's are redeemed at the end of a novel, and suddenly everyone should just forget ever horrible thing he/she did, and feel bad for them.

Weaknesses:

1) Descriptions:  One of the main lines that bothered me in the book is when Tobias is described as smelling as sweat, fresh air, and mint. I can picture fresh air and mint, but not with sweat mixed in. To me, all I see in that image is a guy who hasn't showered in forever who is trying to cover up with a strong deodorant. Which takes away from the fresh air descriptions.

I felt that there was not enough descriptions of the settings and places. In the first book, I got the impression that the factions were not so close together, but in this book it was clear that they were actually pretty close to one another. I know that this is based out of Chicago, and maybe it's because I've never been that I can't picture it but to me it's a little confusing.

Also I felt that the author wanted to avoid writing many descriptions. For example, in describing the Erudite building besides the library, it's just a series of hallways that look all the same. It's similar in the description of Candor, aside from the Dauntless room and the conference room where Tris and Tobias are injected with the truth serum, it's described as a maze that the Dauntless put markers in the hallways to find their way around.

2) I didn't like all the lying between Tobias and Tris. It made sense for the plot, and gave them the distance that was needed to help the plot move forward but it just didn't sit right with me. They both had their reasons, but I just wished that there was less of it.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

"Then he crosses the room in two long strides and touches his lips to mine. Their gentle pressures erases the past few months, and I am the girl who sat on the rocks next to the chasm, with river spray on her ankles, and kissed him for the first time. I am the girl who grabbed his hand in the hallway just because I wanted to" (331).

“I know that I am birdlike, made narrow and small as if for taking flight, built straight-waisted and fragile. But when he touches me like he can't bear to take his hand away, I don't wish I was any different.”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth Review

4/5 Stars
Details of the Book
Hardcover, 487 pages
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, 
an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Veronica Roth is the New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, the first in a trilogy of dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

All lovers of The Hunger Games trilogy and especially lovers of Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy should definitely read this book. Months ago, I checked out this book from the library because I had just finished The Hunger Games and I wanted to read something that had a similar plot. Stupid me, I never got around to it and had to return the book before I got passed page two. For the holidays I received this novel along with it's sequel as a gift, giving me the push I needed to finally sit down and read it. This book literally made me laugh, cry, squeal and successfully put me on edge until the very last page. 

Weaknesses: 

1) It has a very slow start. The language is very detached and robotic sounding. Although it made sense to me later as to why it was that way, I always feel that a book should grab the reader's attention from the get go. This is one of the main reasons that I didn't push myself to read it when I checked it out from the library. 

2) Besides the main couple, I felt that there was not enough of an emotional connection in the side or less important relationships. For example, both of Tris' parents died for her, and yet she showed more emotion for the friend that she killed. This is the same friend that kept a distance from Tris when she was doing well in training. Also, I really didn't like how Tris has to pretend to be vulnerable around her "friends" in order for them to stand by her side. To me, that is just a weak relationship. 

Strengths:

1) The main protagonist--Beatrice--is very strong character. In general as I've said in a previous post, I'm tired of "weak" women. Just because she's in love, doesn't mean that she has to be completely dependent on other characters. Beatrice, although in love, is her own person and does not completely rely on those around her to get through her life.  

2) I love Tobias, period. He's mysterious, crafty, and just plain sexy. 

3) Since I started to write, one of my main credos that has been drilled into me is: SHOW DON'T TELL. This is something Veronica Roth is extremely successful at, in spite of her robotic and detached tone. Through many diverting scenes, dialogue, Roth shapes out the personalities of her characters without plainly providing the reader with information. 

One of my favorite quotes of the novel: "And when we rise, hand in hand, I realize that if we had both chosen differently, we might have ended up doing the same thing, in a safer place, in gray clothes instead of black ones" (Divergent 338).



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Spoiler Alert: Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver ARC Review

4/5 Stars
Details of the book:
Paperback, 391 pages
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Originally finished reading: December 28, 2012
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository |

Synopsis: Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana's points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

*Updated Review 11/18/14*

I should have changed this review a long time ago. As a more comfortable reviewer now, I realize that it's best to sit and think about the books I have read before writing a review. 

The reason I rated it so high originally was because it was the first ARC I had ever gotten and I had been waiting for the conclusion of this trilogy for what felt like forever. I like the dual POVs of Hana and Lena, I think it gave the book a whole other layer of description. Even though I never liked Hana, I felt that her POV brought on a whole new dynamic to the trilogy and the plot in general. I even found myself feeling bad for her during certain sections. 

The book focused more on the destroying of the dystopian society that all of these beloved characters had to suffer through. That's important but the way the plot was written, I didn't find any of the action or dramatic scenes interesting or exciting. I was just bored and waiting for them to be over. 

I'm an a Alena fan through and through, and even though it seemed like she picked Alex at the end of the book, the ending wasn't concrete enough for me. I understand that Lauren Oliver did this on purpose, so everyone will be happy but I wanted more answers. How is Julian going to take Lena choosing to be with Alex? Will Alex and Lena be able to work through the problems in their relationship? How are they going to govern themselves as a society now? So, I think Oliver did this on purpose to make people happy but I can't imagine that everyone was happy with how many unanswered questions that this book leaves us. 

I fell in love with Delirium because of Lena and Alex, there was just something so special about their relationship that made me feel things that other fictional couples didn't evoke in me. I read through Pandemonium with a lot of heartbreak but with hope that maybe the same magic would happen once Requiem was released. Well, this is where a lot of my disappointment in this book stems from. Their relationship is practically nonexistent. These two have maybe a handful of words said between them for the entire book. How can I care about their feelings if they seem to find it so easy to push the past aside? Requiem pretty much laid waste to all of the feelings and things they have been through together in their relationship is this book. We as readers will never know if they work things out or they end up going their separate ways. 

I read in another review that it would have been better if Alex's story was placed at the beginning of the book instead of the end, and I completely agree with that. I found myself wondering throughout Requiem if Alex still had feelings for Lena. If I knew more about what happened to him, maybe I wouldn't feel that they just went away. Maybe I would have felt differently about the book as a whole. 

I still like this book a lot, I just had some things that were really disappointing to me as well. In my opinion, Delirium will always be my favorite of this trilogy, and I don't think that Requiem deserves the same rating as the one I gave to it. 


*Original Review*

5/5 Stars

I absolutely loved this book. Delirium will always be my favorite of the trilogy but this book was still amazing. It picks up right where Pandemonium was left off, with Lena in the Wilds still in shock over Alex's reappearance. This book also covers what has happened to Hana since Lena's disappearance as well as the rest of Lena's family. After reading this novel, it reaffirmed everything that I loved about Delirium.

Weaknesses:

1) Too many characters. As said in another post, I find too many characters to be a nuisance and a crutch. I would rather authors to fill in the gaps with other scenes with the main characters than to have side plot lines. Although I'm aware that side plots help develop the main characters, I would just prefer more emphasis on the main characters.

2) I wanted more scenes with Alex, and more about what happened in the Crypts. I wanted to know more about his relationship with one of the new female characters and if they were more than friends. Maybe I'll get that in Oliver's upcoming novella about Alex. I hope so!

Strengths:

1) The split point of views. I'm not a fan of Hana, especially since I could see right through her character since Delirium but nonetheless I found her plot line interesting. Also it made the novel more exciting as it came closer to the time Hana and Lena reunite.

2) I love all the women in this novel. There is no weak damsel in distress. Although I've read many books where I loved the damsel, it's a nice change of pace to have women than can stand on their own, instead of being saved over and over again. Despite their unfortunate situations, each woman in this novel is able to stand on their own.

Anyone who has read The Hunger Games trilogy, will find that this novel is very similar to Mockingjay because both novels cover the rise of a rebellion with it's missions, successes, and failures. So I definitely recommend Delirium fans to read The Hunger Games and vice versa.

The main question on everyone's mind is who does Lena pick? Well, I won't tell you the answer but I will say this, it is very clear who Lena's choice in the end. There is no ambiguity in this decision by the end of the novel. It's not clear what the future holds for the couple but the choice is clear.

To tease you a little bit about who Lena's picks, here are a couple of quotes from the novel:
                 
          "His fingers find my cheek, and I rest for a second against his palm, letting the pain of the past few months flow out of me, letting him turn my head toward his. Then he bends down and kisses me: light and perfect, his lips just barely meeting mine, a kiss that promises renewal" (Requiem 388).

          "I've been so stupid. And he is gone; there is now way for me to reach him and tell him I know and I understand. There is no way for me to tell him that I am still in love with him, too." (Requiem 323).

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley Review



The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
paperback, 448 pages
Published by Sourcebook Landmarks
Published on October 4, 2011
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis: When Eva's film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina's ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs. But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived - and died - long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.

This book is a must read for everyone who loves a good romance novel. It has all the pros of romance novel without the the awkwardly detailed sex scenes that Nora Roberts is famous for. The story is about Eva Ellen Ward, who has just lost her best friend and sister and travels back to Trelowarth her childhood summer vacation home to release her sisters ashes to the winds. During her stay, Eva's life is flipped around as she travels back to the early 1700s and meets the dashing Daniel Butler. He is so charming, several times I had to stop reading the book just to swoon like a school girl.

Strengths/Likes:
1) The book is very well written. The diction is neither too high nor too low. I think that any lover of romance would be attracted to this story.

2) Daniel Butler and Fergal's relationship can be described as what many of us call a bromance. I find them both very charming and lovable, I could read about these two forever.

Weaknesses/Dislikes:
1) Too many characters. Although I generally liked all of the characters, I found that they were underdeveloped and the author was forced to tell more information instead of showing it in a scene.

2) I wanted more scenes with Eva and Daniel. For me, their relationship developed quickly and I wasn't  sure what exactly made them fall in love with one another.

I would say that this is one the best romance novels that I've ever read and I would definitely look for more books from Susanna Kearsley in the future.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "Whatever time we have," he said, "it will be time enough."

2) "Knowing that the battle will not end the way he wishes does not make it any less worthwhile the fight."

3) "When I meet a wind I cannot fight," he said, "I can do naught but set my sails to let it take me where it will.”