Blog Archives

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: The Rithmatist

rithmatist

Title: The Rithmatist
Series: Rithmatist (#1)
Author
: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Pages: 378

First Line: “Lilly’s lamp blew out as she bolted down the hallway.”

This is a fantasy book in which grown men and women draw shapes and figures in chalk. In fact, some students in Joel’s school are there specifically to learn the skill, which is called Rithmatics. Joel has a great interest in Rithmatics and understands the principles of it more than some of the students chosen to practice it. But in the case of his drawings, they simply stay chalk drawings on the ground, whereas when a Rithmatist draws the chalk figures, they come to life and fight. The Rithmatist students at Armedius Academy are training for service in Nebrask, where they defend against the wild chalklings that are trying to escape and attack more of the American Isles.

When Rithmatist students start mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only blood trails and the remnants of a Rithmatic chalk battle, Joel finds himself using his interest in and knowledge of the practice to try and help solve the crimes, along with the quirky Professor Fitch, and his new friend Melody, a struggling Rithmatist with a penchant for unicorns.

My thoughts: Yes, the magical element in this book is two-dimensional chalk drawings that come to life when drawn by certain people called “Rithmatists.” It doesn’t actually sound that exciting, but it is! I enjoyed the different defense drawings and explanations throughout the book. There is strategy involved in Rithmatics practice, and it’s interesting that Joel is so good at it despite the fact that his drawings can’t actually come to life. I have heard great things about Brandon Sanderson, and I’m currently reading the Wheel of Time series, which he finishes (although I’m still near the beginning of the series so it will be a while before I get to his writing in that). I figured a new fantasy YA book by him would be worth reading. This book would be good for anyone interested in dipping their toes in some fantasy, or who likes magic, strategy and drawing.

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

 

Review: Winger

winger

Title: Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Pages: 448

 

First Line: “I said a silent prayer.”

 

“Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.” – from goodreads.com

 

My thoughts: Ah, the elusive 5-star YA review. I’m not going to say much about this book, but I loved Ryan Dean. My husband kept wondering what I was laughing at while I read this, as I do not usually laugh out loud while I’m reading. Then one night he turned around in bed and looked at me like “what the hell?” because then I was crying. It was SO GOOD. 🙂 Just read it… unless you are offended by profanity. There is realistic amount for a teenage boy.

 

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

 

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like

happy

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Pages: 404

First Line: “It was not all that different from the circus, and it came to town much the same way.”

“When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?” – from goodreads.com

My thoughts: This book started out really well for me. I really enjoyed reading Ellie and Graham’s initial email correspondence. In fact, I almost wish the whole book was written in emails. Anyway, I definitely wish we got to read more of them throughout the book. I kept waiting for a chapter of just their back and forth banter through email, but it never came after the beginning. I didn’t mind Graham and Ellie’s love story, but I had trouble suspending disbelief in this story. Fine, fine, a movie star and a small town girl have a summer fling. But Ellie’s whole secret past and the reason she so NEEDED to stay out of the spotlight was too contrived for me. I think Ms. Smith would have found plenty of issues to put between the star and the unknown girl without adding in some weird father issues, that Ellie’s mother so selfishly needed to keep safely secret. I understand she didn’t want to be followed around by paparazzi or whatever, but it would have just blown over eventually and then you wouldn’t have to live your life in hiding! Done! And your daughter wouldn’t need to lie to everyone! Although I guess this is at least shown at the end, when unsurprisingly, none of it REALLY mattered anyway. And on Graham’s side, I know movie stars are followed and judged, but I find it VERY hard to believe that their agents tell them who to date and they just listen and go along with it. Besides, how would it be bad publicity to date some small town girl instead of another movie star? I don’t know… so weird. Basically I liked Ellie and Graham just fine, but I wish they had just had a flirty summer fling… with a lot more witty emails… as opposed to a bunch of very dramatic MY LIFE IS OVER BECAUSE I WAS PHOTOGRAPHED madness.

My Ratings:

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

Review: Kindness for Weakness

Kindness-For-Weakness-Shawn-Goodman-Book-Cover

Title: Kindness for Weakness
Author: Shawn Goodman
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Pages: 261

First Line: “White-clad paramedics run alongside the gurney, guiding me through the electric gates of the facility and across the parking lot, where a helicopter awaits.”

“A fifteen-year-old boy from an abusive home desperately seeking his older brother’s love and approval starts pushing drugs for him and suffers the consequences.” – from goodreads.com

My thoughts: I don’t really know how to review this book. It’s not a genre I normally read. I really liked James, but the hopelessness of his situation was really depressing. It was almost a relief for him to be sent to a juvenile corrections facility. His mother is basically non-existent, his stepfather abusive, and his older brother, who for some reason James looks up to, is a total douche (excuse my language). James is hungry and tired, with no means of transportation aside from his worn-out shoes. Instead of helping him, his brother basically sets him up. At least when he’s in juvie, he’s getting food and sleep. But then that situation takes a much darker turn as well. Although there are a couple of well-meaning guards the boys interact with, most of them are cruel and ridiculous, making for a horribly vile environment. Shawn Goodman apparently has some direct experience with kids in juvenile detention, but I don’t know how realistic this book, and its heartbreaking ending, really is. I certainly hope the outcome wouldn’t be the same in the real world, but if Goodman’s intention is to bring attention to the hopelessness of some of these boys’ lives, then I think he did so. It scares me that boys like James could end up here.

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

Review: Quarantine: The Loners

quarantineTitle: Quarantine: The Loners
Series: Quarantine (#1)
Author: Lex Thomas
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Pages: 416

First Line: “Someone must have bitten off her nose.”

“It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.” – from goodreads.com

My thoughts: I honestly got about half way through this book before I actually started to like it or care in any way about any of the characters. But I finally did find a small liking for some of them, and the action was enough to keep me going until I got there. For some reason, when I started this book I thought it was zombie book. I don’t know where I got that from, but I didn’t read the summary when I started, so it took me a while to realize the kids weren’t going to turn into zombies, hehehe. But overall, it was definitely a fun book, and a little different take on a virus the whole teen survival theme. I suppose I can be convinced to read the next one.

My Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
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: The 5th Wave

5thTitle: The 5th Wave
Series: The Fifth Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 457

First Line: “There will be no awakening.”

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.” – from goodreads.com

My thoughts: I’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic stuff recently, but this one was my favorite in a while. I really liked Cassie a lot, and that can be hard to find in YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels. The leading ladies are often one-dimensional and honestly can get kind of annoying. But not Cassie. She felt genuine, and she made me laugh even in her darkest hours. The storyline was actually interesting too, aliens being for some reason often overlooked in plausible apocalypse stories. And these aliens are particularly interesting to me, but I don’t want to give too much away. I just hope next book can live up to the standards set by this 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: The Program

program-197x300Title: The Program
Series: Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Pages: 405

First line: “The air in the room tastes sterile.”

In a future where teen suicide has become an epidemic, Sloane and James watch out for each other. But when they lose yet another close friend, they find themselves finding it harder and harder to hide the signs of depression. If they are noticed they can be sent to The Program, where depression is cured, but the “returners” are left with giant holes in their memories and come back not recognizing their closest friends. Sloane and James’s relationship is about to be put through the test. Can they will themselves to remember each other? Will they find each other again if they can’t?

My thoughts: The subject of suicide is important to me, and I think it should be discussed more often and openly, especially with teens. I wondered how Suzanne Young would be able to make a future filled with teens in deep depressions and making tough decisions into a meaningful story without making light of the subject.

To be completely honest, I didn’t have super high hopes for this book, but I was pretty surprised by it. In the beginning, I got a little concerned because it is very depressing, like wading through a thick swamp of emotion. But the way Young used the psychiatrist interviews to reveal Sloane’s past I felt was very well done, and later on in the book there is some hope, a little light at the end of the tunnel, and an interesting question about what’s really going on and who, if anyone, is really the enemy in this story. I will be looking out for the next book in the series.

My Ratings:
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Subject: 3/5
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