Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Such a Pretty Girl Review

Wow. This book got to me. It's been a while since I've read a book about a tough subject like Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess. This one in particular is exceptionally rough but so well done. The back summary sets the scene for this book:

"They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out."

The story hooked me from the back summary, the first sentence and the cover. It is such a heavy story that you can't help but be morbidly curious to find out what happened and how it plays out. The story follows Meredith, who obviously dealt with being abused and molested from her father when she was younger and her coping with him being released early. She is dating Andy, who is a nineteen year old guy who is in a wheelchair and follows his mother's crazed religious beliefs. Her mother is more than thrilled to get her husband back and thinks Meredith essentially "stole" him from her by being molested. Every character in this book is an exaggerated personification of the real life dealings of a victim of child molestation.

Meredith shows signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is her way of coping with every day life. She can give order or numbers to the things that happen, which gives her some sort of control. Andy turns toward religion as a way of making sense of why he feels the way he does about also having dealt with being victimized. He goes down the route of blaming himself and trying to find ways to punish himself. Everything about this book is a quick summary of just what happens to children who are taken advantage of in the real world. It is such a heart-wrenching tale that holds you by the throat until the very end.

I literally read this in about 2 hours. Beautiful writing almost gets missed by the desire to fly through this book to find out what happens. But it is there none the less. Wiess' writing is graphic and breath-taking. 5 out of 5 stars hands down, top shelf all the way. Great little book that handles such a large and overwhelming topic beautifully.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eon Review

Whoohoo! Finally read Eon by Alison Goodman! And yes, this book is as good as everyone says it is. It is action-packed and exhilarating and terrifying and well-written...all that good stuff. The story is very much like a more mature version of Disney's Mulan. So if you like that story, you will love this book.

The book follows a sixteen year old girl, Eona (or her male name: Eon) as she prepares for the next Ascendance of a dragoneye. Every year a new apprentice is selected by that year's dragon to learn the ways of the dragoneye and harness the power of the dragon. No girls have ever been allowed into this ritual so Eon can never be found out without facing the penalty of death to not only herself but her master and the few friends she has. She is also crippled so she is the least favored candidate. I don't think this will really spoil anything about the book, but obviously she gets selected by a dragon and is treated like royalty for a majority of the book. She goes through the normal acts of becoming a dragoneye and a part of the royal counsel, all the while being terrifying of being discovered as a female. Needless to say this book is a heartpounding story.

The characters in this book are unforgettable. Eon herself is constantly down on herself for even being a girl and being crippled that by the end, if nothing else you just want her to feel comfortable in her own skin. It is definitely a nail-biter down to the very end as to whether she gets discovered or not. Her master plays her father figure in this book and he is one of those characters that you are questioning his intentions at the back of your mind the whole time. His role is very ambiguous. Rilla is her friend from the beginning and becomes Eon's body servant and the only one who knows the truth about her. She plays the role of a true friend to Eon. Other great characters come about as well, such as Lady Dela who is a transgender woman who helps Eon truly become who she is. Lord Ido is the antagonist in this book. His main goals are to overthrow the government and take over the rule himself, he abuses the dragon power. And you basically just want to slap him. Phenomenal characters and character development throughout this whole book.

The writing is beautiful as well. It keeps you at the edge of you seat while you're reading, while at the same time, describing this world in such detail you are thrown into the story. The descriptions are gorgeous and the action-packed scenes are heartpounding. Overall, amazing writing.

5 out of 5 stars, top shelf, amazing. That's all I have to say.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Theme Song Thursday!

First edition!
Quick summary: Whenever I am reading a book I hear songs (or voices, I may just be crazy). But there are always songs that pop into my head that relate to the story or theme of whatever I may be reading. So I am going to stay my own meme and if it sticks, it sticks. If it doesn't...oh well I think it sounds cool so I am going to keep doing it. So every Thursday I will post whatever I may be reading at the point and the song that I think fits it.

This Thursday I literally finished one book and started another immediately so I will do both I guess.

Everfound/The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

Juliette & The Licks-Purgatory Blues

Eon by Alison Goodman

I'll Make A Man Out Of You from Mulan

I am only two chapters into this book so I don't know much about this other than a girl posing as a boy and training to be a dragoneye. This was just playing in the back of my mind the whole time I was reading. Who else is rocking out to this song right now? I know I'm singing along...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everfound Review

Euphoric. That's the word that popped into my mind as I closed the back cover of this book. I am not sure how to describe this book, or this series of books, and do it justice. I had mixed feelings about them the entire time I was reading and I still do but now I have so much appreciation for them. I never felt any significant attachment to the characters or story until the very end when I was overcome with feelings of relief and contentment. I almost feel like I went through my own transformation in Everlost through reading these books instead of following the characters'.

Where to even begin describing this story...
It is a tale of epic proportions to say the least. The third book in the Skinjacker trilogy starts off setting the scene for the the battle for the survival of both the living world and Everlost. Mary is an Interlight, in her 9 month sleep to be reborn again in Everlost. Milos has taken over her "army" in the meantime and prepares them for the war she has planned out which will ultimately destroy all life. Nick spends the book rediscovering himself after he literally melted into chocolate. Mikey is trying his hardest to capture his humanity and get back to Allie while harnessing his ability to morph. Johnnie-O and Charlie are stuck floating around the world in The Hinderberg and provide some sad comic relief sporatically. Allie gets introduced to a new character and learns how much more there is to do with skinjacking and continues her search to find out what her purpose is.

Speaking of new characters...
We are introduced to Jix at the very beginning of the book, who can furjack, or "skinjack" an animal. He is one of the coolest characters by far in this series. We also meet Clarence who is "half-lost" or a scar wraith. Both of which mean he is half in Everlost and half in the living world and can supposedly extinguish and Afterlife from existence. Very interesting improvement to Everlost's theories. Both of these characters quickly become key players in the story as a whole and I loved reading about both of them.

Yet again Shusterman has wowed me without me realizing it. Like I said earlier, I never was extremely attached to any of the characters, as in I wasn't dying to read it to find out what happens. But when I would sit down and read I would fly through this book. Going back to what I said in my previous reviews of Everlost and Everwild he creates a very dreamlike reading atmosphere. I don't feel sucked into the world of Everlost mainly because it is not told through first person and it jumps from character to character very quickly. But I felt like I was learning so much about this fantasy world that I really needed to absorb all the facts and theories Shusterman was throwing at me rather than focus on the plot.

So in the end I feel like this is a story that will stay with me solely on the fact that I learned so much and questioned so much about life and death. I know I will think back to this story every time I lose my train of thought...wait what was I saying? :P
And I do feel like I would recommend this series to anyone looking for an epic fantasy world that is not so different from our own but deals with bigger morals. 4 stars goes to this book, and the trilogy as a whole. Middle to top shelf to say the least.

Now to go ponder my existence.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Everwild Review

 Ok whew, finally getting this review up. Everwild by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Skinjacker trilogy following Everlost. It picks up right where the story left off at the end of the last book. Nick discovers he can free Afterlights with the coins they come into Everlost with and send them to wherever their souls are supposed to go. By freeing all of Mary's Afterlights he starts a war between the two almost-lovers. Meanwhile Allie is attempting to get home accompanied by Mikey "the McGill" and a connection starts to build between them. New characters are introduced that add new twists and turns to the plot. Zin, also know as The Ripper, adds some comic relief but as amazing abilities. Milos and his groupies, Moose and Squirrel, find Allie and show her the full potential of her skinjacking gift, only to have her discover the truth behind what being a skinjacker is. 

While this book is a YA book, it starts to touch on some horrifying concepts. Characters you thought you knew turn out to have distorted views of what is acceptable to do with life and death. Theories that are thrown around in this book make you start to question your own reality and just how much of this is actually possible. Like in Everlost, contemporary pop culture references are added that put the book in perspective. It makes you feel like you are in a completely made up fantasy world and then all of a sudden you realize they are in modern day Chicago or Memphis or New Jersey. 

Also just like in Everlost, while reading this book I feel like the writing is very trance-like, I don't realize how much I have read until I hold the book up and see that I read a huge chunk of it. I don't know what it is about you Shusterman, but your writing is enthralling. It is beautiful and horrifying at the same time while almost keeping the reader detached from the characters. I don't necessarily feel like I was ever sucked into the story like I have with other books, but its more like I am an observer of this world I don't belong in.

After all the character development and progress that has been made in this book I can't wait to see where this story could possibly go. Even though the characters remain the same childish age forever in Everlost, I feel like I have watched them mature so much. I can't wait to see where the few romances and bonds go in the final book of this unique trilogy. So all in all, I would say 4 stars and middle of the shelf. I would recommend these to a lot of people but I don't know how well they would be received. I think these books are ones that will stick with me for a long time.

Onto to Everfound...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can't Wait For...

While I am in the middle of reading the Skinjacker trilogy I wanted to get another post up of the books I'm pumped for. These are all books that are coming out later this year and I have been seeing reviews for all ready. All the hauls from BEA got me so excited for so many books and I just can't wait to get my hands on them. So here are a few of the ones that stood out the most in my mind:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: September 27, 2011

Of course this would make an appearance in my list. This has so far been the most recommended and raved about book from almost ever book blogger out there. Just the fact that they all say that they can not say a single thing about without spoiling anything is so intriguing. Ah! Can't wait!

*Cover not yet revealed*

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: November 15th, 2011

This is another one that has shown up a lot from bloggers that went to BEA. From what I can gather, it is a dystopian story about a girl who kills everything she touches and is locked away and used by the government. Sounds right up my alley.

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Release Date: October 11th, 2011

I have been waiting for this one for so long! I read The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials as soon as they came out and honestly I might rank them above The Hunger Games trilogy. So far I have enjoyed them more and can't wait to see how this gets wrapped up. There are so many questions left unanswered so October 11th can't come fast enough!

Destined by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Release Date: October 25th, 2011

I don't think I am alone in doing the excited dance for this book. There aren't many people that don't like the House of Night series so I don't need to say why I am so excited for this book. So much drama happening!

Crossed by Ally Condie
Release Date: November 1st, 2011

Again I say I know I am not alone playing the anxious waiting game for this sequel. Matched was not my favorite dystopian type book that has come out recently but I still want to know how the story plays out.

Absolute Midnight by Clive Barker
Release Date: expected April 12th, 2012?

I have been waiting for this book for years and years. I read Abarat and Days of Magic, Nights of War
way back in the day when they came out and Clive Barker has apparently taken a five year break in the middle of this series. So soon I will be able to continue with some of my favorite and weirdest childhood series.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Release Date: September 2011

This is one of those books that I don't actually know that much about other than I know I will love it. Seems really dark and cataclysmic. Awesome :)

Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert
Release Date: October 11th, 2011

This sounds so heartbreaking and beautiful. About a girl coping with the symptoms, treatment, and slow decline of MS. Can't wait to read this.

Eve by Anna Carey
Release Date: October 4th, 2011

Yet another dystopian novel I can't wait to get my hands on. I can't seem to get enough of post-apocalyptic worlds. Sounds like a great book though.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Big Book Haul

Whoohoo! Being a bookstore employee is awesome! ...and harsh on my bank account :P

Books bought:
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Divine by Mistake by P.C. Cast
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
Possession by Elana Johnson
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Books!

Yay! Finally got all my "E" books to review for the month of June. I've all ready read and reviewed some of them. I just wanted to get a collective haul up before the month was over. Hopefully I will get all of reviews up this month! *fingers crossed*

E Books
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Everwild by Neal Shusterman
Everfound by Neal Shusterman
Eon by Alison Goodman
Eona by Alison Goodman
The Enemy by Charlie Higson
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Everlost Review

I just finished Everlost in the wee hours of the morning this morning and I am still having mixed feelings about it. I was going to wait and do a collective review of the whole Skinjacker trilogy but I have a feeling if the next two books are anything like the first I am going to feel the need to discuss each one individually. This one took me by surprise and to be honest I am stuck in that limbo stage of not knowing if I actually enjoyed it or not. Kind of fitting to the plot of this book right?

Let's see...where to start...
Quick summary of what the story is about I guess. I will try and do this without any spoilers. The book starts with one of the best opening lines I've read in a long time:

"On a hairpin turn, above the dead forest, on no day in particular, a white Toyota crashed into a black Mercedes, for a moment blending into a blur of gray."

Awesome right? I feel like that sentence captures the feeling of the book. Beautiful imagery and syntax leaves you curious and enthralled. A great opening to the story in my opinion, good one Shusterman. So obviously the book starts with a car crash in which two strangers collide into each other as they are on their way to the light at the end of the tunnel and fall out into a limbo/Purgatory type world known as Everlost. These two strangers are a teenage girl and boy named Allie and Nick, and together they try to figure out what happened to them and where to go from there. We soon meet Lief, a boy who happened to be in that "dead forest" and we find out he has been waiting for other kids to arrive and keep him company. He explains where they are and starts to show them the ropes of being an "Afterlight," a term used to describe what these kids are. As the story progresses we meet more and more Afterlights and learn about the world Nick and Allie now reside in.

The characters are fantastic and you become attached to them steadily through the book, even the bad ones you feel pity for. The great imagery continues through the whole book, and it is packed with some of the best metaphors. With some pop culture and modern day references, the story is kept in perspective of the "in between" fantasy world Shusterman has created and contemporary fiction. The entire time I was reading it, it felt very dreamlike which in the end is what the whole story is supposed to be so again, good one Shusterman.

I do have to say though, I went into this book with high expectations after reading Unwind, and it did not quite live up to them. It was not as face-paced and intense so at times I did find it hard to sit down and get myself to read it. But he created a whole new world, with a whole new feel to it and I think like he achieved that new feel very well with Everlost. I like when authors come out with entirely different writing styles for each book; it keeps the reader guessing what the next book is going to be like.

Rating: I would have to say 4 stars, not based off of how enthralling the story was but mainly from the trance-like feel Shusterman created with his writing which matches the story very well. And I would say middle of the bookshelf because I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to that many people, but it is one of the few books that I feel like teen boys would love and there aren't many of those.

On to Everwild...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Transall Saga Review

Okey dokey, so here is a book I did not really expect to read. It was given to me by a friend about a year ago and it sat on my shelf looking lonely while I read all these new and exciting books. I reached a day where I was like hmm...I'm looking for a quick read that will suck me right in and not let me go until the story is over. And that is just what I got from this book. The book is The Transall Sage by Gary Paulsen. Now I haven't read anything by Gary Paulsen since about fifth grade when I had to read Hatchet and Dogsong; both of which I do remember enjoying. So I figured I would give this a shot.

The story starts out with a boy, Mark, who is camping in the desert by himself for the first time when he discovers this beam of blue light coming from the sky, so naturally, he falls into it. Very stereotypical I know. He wakes up on what seems to be another planet in the middle of a strange jungle. The grass is red and there are crazy creatures. Wait until you meet Willie (he was my favorite character). Mark learns how to survive on his own in this foreign world and attempts to track down the blue light to get home. Through his travels he discovers another human-like race that lives in this world. He is cautious at first but eventually joins them and learns that there is even more civilized life in this world...along with war. As the story progresses he learns just how strong of a person he really is. A great coming of age tale. But wait! There is a twist! Ohh...intrigue. :) Without giving any spoilers, I will say there is a twist that happens about halfway through the book that changes the plot line of this book.

In conclusion, this book turned out to be exactly the type of book I was looking for at the time. Enjoyable and fast-paced, even has a hint of romance in it. At least as much romance as you can squeeze into a children's lit book without grossing out the reader. I would give this book about 4 stars and about middle of the bookshelf range. Definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a quick read that will plunge you to another world and leave you exhausted by the end.

Thirteen Reasons Why Review

So I finally got around to reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This book has been around I was in high school and is still on the bestseller list. I see it at work all the time and recently noticed that it is still only available in hardcover and is still featured prominently on a lot of displays around the young adult section. I knew what it was about and it seemed interesting but for whatever reason I never picked it up. Well I just did and maybe it came at a good time or maybe it was a bad time in my life, I am still not sure, but I am glad I read it.

The story starts out with a boy, Clay, who receives a package on his doorstep containing cassette tapes. On those tapes is the voice of Hannah Baker, the girl he had a crush on, and the girl who just committed suicide. The tapes tell 13 stories about 13 different people who ultimately helped her to decide to end her life. As the book progresses, we follow Clay around town to all the prominent locations in Hannah's stories and watch him as he learns and accepts the truth that he may have never known about Hannah.

It is a very moving story and gives readers some insight into how a suicidal teen thinks and how they reached that ultimate decision. There is a lot of symbolism in this book, including obviously the number 13, the color red, and the tapes themselves. The characters in this book are developed beautifully; your heart breaks for some of them, others you loathe. But all are very, very real. The thoughts and actions of the teenagers in the book, from my experience anyway, seem to be spot on. Thirteen Reasons Why is one of those books that for the next few weeks I will consciously think about how everything I say and do can change the lives of others. It puts the reader in the mindset of these people and will hopefully show them how influential simple actions can be.

To sum it up, I am definitely glad I read this book. I would not say it is the most influential book I have ever read but one that I would recommend to any young person looking for perspective in life. I would say about 4 stars, mid-top of the bookshelf. And now I feel the need to go sit and think about my life for a bit.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ender's Game Review

So I finally got around to reading Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and man oh man am I glad I did. After all the recommendations over the years I finally listened and sat down and read. It is an intense, fast-paced book set in a futuristic society. The world is preparing for a third invasion of buggers, which are an alien life form, and they need a new commander to lead the army. We are introduced to the main character, Ender who is a "Third". Thirds are the third child born into a family in a world where couples are only allowed two. Ender shows promise of becoming this genius the government is looking for to being the next commander. He gets shipped off to battle school where he is put through rigorous training and is isolated from his peers to reach his full potential. Great character development, intense writing and violent imagery. 5 stars for this book. It was an emotionally exhausting read but extremely satisfying by the end.

Finally uploaded my first review video! Whoo!