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Review: Siege and Storm

siegeTitle: Siege and Storm
Series: The Grisha (#2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Pages: 432

First Line: “The boy and the girl had once dreamed of ships, long ago, before they’d ever seen the true sea.”

“Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.” – from Goodreads

My thoughts: I’m feeling really “meh” about this whole series actually. It makes it kind of hard to review. I don’t really care about it. I still don’t really like Alina, and I don’t really care what happens to her. I was happy that there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of “triangle” to the love triangle at the end of the first book (sort of)… but then OH A NEW MAN. He must be pretty and nice and perfect for her. BAM ANOTHER LOVE TRIANGLE. And honestly, it’s been a little while since I finished this, and most of what I remember is the love triangles and there might be a fragment of action holding on to a memory spot in my brain. Anyway, it’s not that it was terrible, but I just feel like it has the potential to be so much BETTER. I mean, she’s the f-ing SUN SUMMONER. DO SOMETHING AWESOME! I’m still going to continue to read the series when the next book comes out, but I expect more, Bardugo. More action, less angsty romance.

My Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Subject: 3/5
Originality:3/5
Kept me interested: 3/5
Overall rating: 3/5

Review: Shadow and Bone

shadowTitle: Shadow and Bone
Series: The Grisha (#1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Pages: 356

First Line: “The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and becuase they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.”

“The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?” – from goodreads.com

My thoughts: Sometimes after reading adult fantasy, YA fantasy is a little too… I don’t know… simple, for me. But I still did like this one, although sometimes Alina got a little bit on my nerves. I think Ms. Bardugo did put a little too much emphasis on physical beauty, although maybe that’s some kind of theme I didn’t really pick up on. I tire of love triangles, although at least this one wasn’t that hard to decide on in the end! I don’t think that’s a spoiler… Anyway, aside from all of that, I did enjoy the book. There were enough twists and turns to keep me into it, and I’ll definitely pick up the next one.

My Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Subject: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Kept me interested: 3/5
Overall rating: 3/5

Review: If You Find Me

find meTitle: If You Find Me
Author: Emily Murdoch
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Pages: 256

First line: “Mama says no matter how poor folks are, whether you’re a have, a have-not, or break your mama’s back on the cracks in between, the world gives away the best stuff on the cheap.”

“A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.” – from the book jacket

My thoughts: There are some very uncomfortable situations to read through in this book, but I think Murdock did it in a way to minimize that discomfort as much as possible while still giving the reader the full impact of what happened. I found it interesting how the places of the parents change as you figure out just how sick Carey’s mother really is, and how much she has been lied to throughout her entire life. I’m glad that Murdoch allowed her and Janessa to find some peace in a family that was entirely normal after the horrible way they had been living for years. As the revelations came to light bit by bit about just how sickening their mother had treated them, it was a relief as the reader to feel trust for the adults now in their lives.

This book is a difficult read in some parts, but it manages to be a beautiful story of strength and family while at the same time being a horrifying story of abuse and neglect. It definitely reminded me how grateful I am for the parents I have.

My ratings:
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Subject: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Kept me interested: 5/5
Overall rating: 4/5

Review: Prodigy

prodigyTitle: Prodigy
Series: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Pages: 371

First line: “Day jolts awake beside me.”

“After escaping from the Republic’s stronghold of Los Angeles, June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the pair joins a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and who offer them passage to the Colonies. The Patriots have only one request – June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s the chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must me more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood? What if the Patriots are wrong?” – from the book jacket

My thoughts: I’ve read some reviews by people that said they couldn’t really connect to the characters in this book. I felt differently. I really like June. I think her confusion is realistic considering it’s still been a short time since she found out how corrupt the Republic is, and I really like that she is still strong and can for the most part take care of herself easily. I still like Day too; I think his character is a little more interesting than June, and I especially liked the scene with June teaching him how to fight. Kaede is by far my favorite side character in this book, and I wanted to know more about her.

This is definitely one of my favorite sequels. It seems like everything is a series now, and I realize that it can be hard for authors to keep that magic into the second book. I think Marie Lu did it, I just hope that it continues in the next one!

My Ratings:
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Subject: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Kept me interested: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

ThirteenReasonsWhyTitle: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Release Date: October 18, 2007
Pages: 288

First Line: “‘Sir?’ she repeats.”

“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker-his classmate and crush-who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.” – from the book jacket

My Thoughts: I read this book in one day, partially because I was just waiting with Clay for his name to come up on the tapes, but also just because Hannah’s tapes were compelling. Even though Clay wasn’t very close to Hannah, his emotions over her death felt raw and real to me. I’ve read some reviews that have said that Hannah reasons weren’t good enough, or that she didn’t seem depressed enough to commit suicide. But having gone through a lot of anxiety and depression in my youth, I felt for Hannah, and I felt her story was realistic. No one ever fully understands why anyone makes the decision to end their own life.

Clay was really the best part of the book for me though. I loved Clay. I felt for him. I cried for him, with him. I liked that his thoughts were spliced in with Hannah’s narration. I liked getting his reaction immediately with my own. I know this book is not exactly new, but I’m glad I finally read it, because I think the subject is important and doesn’t get enough discussion, and it was a very creative way to tell the story.

My Ratings:
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Subject: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Kept me interested: 5/5
Overall rating: 5/5

Review: Eleanor and Park

15745753Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Pages: 325

First Line: “XTC was no good for drowning out the morons at the back of the bus.”

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.” – from macmillan

My Thoughts: I love Eleanor and I love Park. I love Eleanor and Park. I read this book pretty much in one day. The dialogue was perfect, and the characters were sweet. Eleanor and Park’s families and home lives are vastly different. I loved reading about Park’s family, while Eleanor’s always made me uncomfortable. Her self-esteem issues were not all unique, but all very real, understandable, and in no way taking away from the story. I loved that they weren’t necessarily friendly at first. I feel like I got to see their chemistry unfold, and I enjoyed every second of that. My only real issue was the ending of this book. Not that I hated it completely, but I wanted more from it I guess. Or maybe I just didn’t want it to end.

My Ratings:
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Subject: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Kept me interested: 5/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Yaqui-Delgado-Wants-To-Kick-Your-Ass-MainPhotoTitle: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Pages: 260
First Line: “‘Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.'”

Imagine one morning as you’re going about starting a normal, average day, someone walks up to you and tells you that someone else, some random person that you’ve never even heard of, wants to kick your ass. What kind of thought process would you have? How would you continue your day? Or any day after that while you wait for this person you don’t know to make a move? Would you start to look at yourself differently? Would you start to change who you are?

This is what happens to Piddy Sanchez in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. She has no idea why Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass, or when it will happen, but because of her fear and her feelings of isolation, she starts to change.

My Thoughts: Well, the title certainly got my attention. Plus it’s nice to find a good book with a main protagonist that’s not a tiny, thin, white girl with long, dark hair.

It’s a pretty quick read, and there is a little bit of suspense in the escalation of harassment, and the wait for Yaqui to make her move on Piddy. Piddy’s transformation is also a good look at how bullying can psychologically torture the victims, and make them completely change the way they look at themselves and their lives. Even though a lot of what Piddy did in the second half of the book didn’t seem like her, I felt that it was believable that her character would go to those lengths to avoid Yaqui and her posse.

My Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Subject: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Kept me interested: 4/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5