Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween Read

Book Talk: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich // My Halloween ReadThe Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on September 2015
Genres: YA Horror, YA Mystery, YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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I don’t want to say too much but it is about: a reopened case about a suspicious fire at a school 20 years prior, a discovered diary that talks about the tragic night , a girl who claims she really is two people (Carly who lives in the day, Kaitlyn who lives at night), the people who believe her and the people who don’t,  a disappearance and a sinister dark house — all told by a mishmash of diary entries, police interview transcripts, video transcripts, notes and more!

a2WAIT WHAT?

a4Wow, I could NOT put it down. Reminded me of how I loved horror and stuff like this as a teen. Everything was so interesting to me and the mystery thrilled me, I loved the format and, while not scary, the creepy & sinister vibe was totally rocking my world. And then things at the ending happened (the ending itself + some parts really started dragging) and I don’t know how I feel it. I’ll get to that in a spoiler section further below but first we will get to the good.

Here’s what kept me reading on the edge of my seat:

1. The format: I love interesting and unique storytelling and especially when it integrates visual stuff. The book was told in diary entries, police reports, transcripts of video footage, interviews with various characters with the police. The diary entries definitely added to how I felt reading the story because we are in Kaitlyn’s head and I felt just as paranoid and trapped as her.  Having all these things helped put me in the story as if I were trying to figure out the mystery myself. I was pouring over all the evidence.

 

2. The way the mystery kept me flip-flopping what I thought was going on the whole time: So the main character Carly? For as long as she can remember she has had another soul in her, named Kaitlyn, and Carly exists in the day and then at night they switch and Kaitlyn lives. So, as a reader, it’s like okay — does she have this dissociative disorder in which she her mind has created this alter ego like her therapist thinks plus maybe some other underlying mental disorders? Or is there something evil going on inside her? Is everything she says real? Is it not? The unreliability of Kaitlyn/Carly adds to the flip-flopping I did plus some of the other characters seemed a bit unreliable as well. Is it all in her head or is something happening? Because if everything was really true than WOWSER some truly sinister stuff. Did she have the disorder or not? What happened to make her create Kaitlyn and why has she said she was always there? THERE WAS JUST SO MUCH TO COMB THROUGH WITH THIS MYSTERY. I kept doubting my instincts. I’d start to believe something but then doubt it all.

 

So now it’s time to talk about where some things fell apart for me but it’s all spoilers soooo:

View Spoiler »

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ the plot, the storytelling, how it kept me engaged & on the edge of my seat
–  the ending, romance

Re-readability: No, though I’d be tempted to reread the beginning to see if anything makes more sense to fill in some holes
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No

a5people who like interesting storytelling, fans of horror/psychological thriller type books, people who like a good mindf*ck

a8The Dead House was just what I needed for my Halloween reading — creepy, dark and sinister (wish it had been a little scarier) and unique storytelling that really hooked me and made me eager to put together the pieces from the diary entries, video transcripts, interviews and police reports. A compelling book but I’m still really unsure about how I feel about the ending which definitely was a minor buzzkill to my overall feelings toward the book.

review-on-post-itThe Dead House

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THEORIES IF YOU READ THIS. Please mark spoilers!

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Book Talk: The Walled City by Ryan GraudinThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Published by Little Brown on November 4, 2014
Genres: YA Thriller
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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The Walled City is home to about 30,000 people all cramped together in about 6 acres. Everything is built up so high that the sun barely shines in and it feels suffocating, it’s dirty and people live in poverty and there is so much lawless danger — drug lords, street gangs, brothels run by bad guys and more. The three main characters are all in the walled city for their own reasons and their stories become intertwined. Dai is trying to secure his freedom which involves having to run drugs for the most ruthless drug lord in the walled city who also runs a brothel. Mei Yee was taken and forced into working at a brothel two years ago and her dreams of escaping one day are always snuffed out after other girls attempt and fail. Jin went into the walled city to find her sister Mei Yee and disguises herself as a boy so she can look for her sister and tries to stay as invisible as possible while she does it.
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a2I’m glad I stuck with it even though I had a rough start with it!

a4I had a really really rough start with this book. I just could NOT get into it at all but once I pushed through it had me just flying through the pages. While it didn’t blow me away, it was still an enjoyable read that I’m glad I stuck with in the end.

What I liked:

1. The setting was FASCINATING: The idea of this walled city fascinated me but once I learned that it was based on a REAL thing that existed my fascination level grew. I think Ryan Graudin really nailed the atmosphere of it. It’s this cramped walled city (like 33,000 people in 6 acres or something crazy like that) that houses all sorts of degenerates and drug lords, street gangs and brothels and people, lots of young people, who were dumped in there because they were criminals, stolen, abandoned or sold off. It’s dark and violent and filthy and I could SEE it and feel it as I was reading. I could feel the hopelessness and the looming super high buildings (because everything was built up) that made you feel even more trapped. The author definitely made me feel the danger and just the awful conditions these people lived in.

2. I loved the way the three main characters stories were woven together: Each character had their own reason for being in the walled city. One was taken there and forced into a brothel, the other was trying to save her sister in the brothel (and she was dressed up like a boy to survive to do that!!) and the other has a mission to help gain his freedom. I loved how they were brought together and were the key to each other’s survival and freedom in a setting where trust was hard to come by. I really began to care about them and hoped all three would make it out alive.

3. Once I got over the hurdle of getting into the story it became a gripping and thrilling ride: It seriously was this heart-pounding, action-filled story. The danger and the high stakes became so palpable as I was reading. I mean, they were dealing with some of the worst baddies in that walled city and were risking a lot for the freedom they were trying to gain.

4. It was a standalone: It’s not very often that I find an action-y type of story that isn’t part of a series so this was fantastic for me!!

What I wished would have been better:

1. It was SO hard to distinguish the three main characters from each other: I don’t mind multi POVs but I just felt like their voices sounded SO much the same. At the top of each chapter was the name so we knew WHO it was but if I had just read random parts from the book, without context to tell me whose story it was, I would never have been able to distinguish who was who because their voices just sounded like the same exact character.

2. It was hard for me to figure out the PLACE and TIME of this novel: As well done as The Walled City was it kept bothering me that I couldn’t figure out if this was set in the midst of our world or if it was a completely different world. The Walled City itself made me feel it was set further in the past but then there was this part that talked about a plane flying past so I knew that okay planes were a thing so I guess it is more modern setting.

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ action, thrills, setting
writing/storytelling

Re-readability: No
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I do want to give my copy to my teen nephews because I think they would like it.

a5people looking for a more action-packed standalone, fans of gritty settings, readers looking for a non-US setting

a8Despite the slow start for me and being tempted to put this one down, I ended up being glad I stuck this one out because it became an absolute thrilling race to the ending and I actually grew to care about the characters in spite of how much their voices blended together and didn’t feel very distinguished. I was absolutely transported to the dark, dangerous streets of the walled city and the fear and the danger the characters were experiencing were also mine to bear as I was reading.

review-on-post-it

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
Did you have a hard time distinguishing the voices or was that just me??
Did we ever figure out WHERE this city was located exactly? I can’t even remember after reading it.
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Book Talk: Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood
Published by Poppy on September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Wildlife is told from the perspective of two girls who are doing a required semester at an outdoors camp. Sib gets a little boost of popularity as she gets her face on a billboard (as well as some scrutiny) right before she comes leave for this semester and finds herself in her first real relationship and navigating some choppy waters with her best friend Holly. Lou is a new student and is thrown into this experience not really knowing anybody and with a heavy amount of grief that is closing her off. She observes her new peers and starts to witness some unraveling in Sib and Holly’s friendship and also starts to feel more drawn in even though she wants to stay an outsider.
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a2Another Aussie win! Also, I kind of want to go camping or something and get my outdoors on?

a4

I really enjoyed this one!! I’m telling you…I keep waiting for the day that I won’t like an Aussie YA book and today was definitely not that day. Wildlife was just an altogether great read for this contemporary YA lover! Apparently this is a companion novel to Six Impossible Things but I haven’t read that and I wasn’t missing anything (especially since when it was talked about BEA there was no mention of the companion. I do want to read it and read more about Lou even knowing what we learned happened as this novel starts.

So here’s what I liked:

1. The setting : I loved the idea of this semester at an outdoors camp! It’s required so it’s interesting to see everyone adapting to the things they have to do — the chores they are assigned, having no technology, camping and hiking. They had to do this crazy solo hike and camp by themselves which scares the beejezus out of me because 1) obviously and 2) OMG THE WILDLIFE IN AUSTRALIA SCARES ME. I was waiting for her to be eaten alive by some snake or crazy spider. But overall I just loved the outdoors-y element to this and how it contributed to their growth and took a lot of them out of their comfort zone. It sounded like a really GOOD experience to build character and really LEARN about yourself in a different way — minus that solo hike where you camp by yourself in the Australian bush. I would never survive.

2. How it explored friendships: I love reading books about friendships because they are SO complex and honestly such a hard thing to navigate sometimes — especially as you are coming of age and really finding yourself. We see kind of early that Sib and Holly are pretty different in ways and their dynamic is interesting. Sib is just passive and lets Holly be a douche and walk all over her. At first you are like ehh Holly sucks and is kind of mean but then you suddenly are like okay is this toxic? It feels toxic right? I love that it explored how hard it is to be honest with yourself about a friendship that has kind of turned into something not so good — how Sib tries to reconcile the good vs. bad and the memories of Holly and has to decide if the friendship can be salvaged or if, as we grow, that sometimes we have to let people go. But even outside of Holly and Sib there were some other relationships that I enjoyed watching grow and mature! They all just seemed very realistic and had the kind of complexities and messiness I have experienced in my life.

3. The alternating chapters between Sib and Lou: I really liked Sib and watching her grow  and her perspective (maybe because I could identify a lot with her) but Lou was such an interesting character too. She’s a new student and she’s out here with no friends and, not only that, she’s grieving so deeply which makes her even more lonely. Her perspective is truly as an outsider and I loved watching her observe Sib and Holly and everything going down at camp as she keeps her distance but also gets drawn into it all and starts to make connections and open herself up to start to figure out who is after this tragedy.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ writing, characters, themes explored, setting
nothing!

Re-readability: Maybe!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I want one!

a5fans of Aussie YA, contemporary YA readers, people who like boarding school/camp settings, people who like books that explore friendships

a8Wildlife was just a really damn good character-driven story — interesting characters, great setting, thought-provoking and incredibly well written. I loved watching Sib start to, through the outdoor experience and relationship issues, start to really grow and learn more about herself. It was nice to watch her be less PASSIVE and start to learn to be more independent. I loved watching Lou grow from this experience to — to confront her grief and to open up a little bit rather than keep herself so closed off.

review-on-post-itWildlife by Fiona Wood

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
I’m curious if any of you have read Six Impossible things!
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Book Talk: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy NelsonI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Sky Is Everywhere
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Jude and Noah are twins and have always been very close — Jude the popular, wild daredevil who is outgoing and fun and Noah the quiet, artistic outcast who loves the boy next door. The cracks in Noah and Jude’s relationship start to form at age 13/14 and one event will completely shatter them (told through Noah’s perspective) and then 3 years later the twins, who are stranger to each other and barely speaking, will start to find their way back to each other (told through Jude’s perspective).
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a2tumblr_m8tazySDNs1rqgu49

a4I had been waiting for this book for FOREVER. Ever since I read The Sky Is Everywhere. I was not disappointed even in a little bit with that kind of anticipation. I gave you some of my early thoughts back when I read it after BEA but honestly I just want to write a love letter to this book and to Jandy Nelson. That’s all I really feel like I want to do. It was the kind of book I am looking for.

1. I’ve read books that I consider great works of art but I’ll Give You The Sun is the Sistine Chapel ceiling of them all: I’ve been to the Sistine chapel and Michelangelo’s creation is breathtaking and one glance up at the ceiling isn’t enough to take it all. That is I’ll Give You The Sun. You just stare up at the magnificent ceiling in awe trying to fathom how Michelangelo even accomplished that which is how I felt while reading this book. How are these words perfectly strung together so perfectly? How do you make me feel that with just a sentence? How did you pull off this storytelling so perfectly? It’s complex and intricate and  just shows the magnitude of Jandy Nelson’s gift — something so rare and special that could give me something new upon every read. There’s an inventiveness that truly is stunning, awe-inspiring and a bit magical.

2. The kind of deep, soul-rooted emotional reaction I had to this book is something I feel like I can’t even explain: The way these words and this story made me feel in the very depths of me is what makes a favorite book for me. This book had the plot and characters and the writing but the emotions that Jandy Nelson evoked with this one just felt like she reached into my soul and exposed the barest of my emotions. I was a flood of tears at certain points of this book because the way certain things come together are just devastatingly heartbreaking or overwhelmingly beautiful.

3. The way this story was told is SO effective: So it takes a little bit to get used to the timeline of this novel but basically we read from each twin’s point of view but at different places in time. So we see the beginnings of the story, and the beginning of their fractured relationship, with a young Noah’s point of view and then it alternates to Jude’s point of few several years later and in the present. It’s heartbreaking because, as the reader, we see some of the things that the other twins know which makes the fracture between them overwhelming and devastating. We KNOW secrets and key pieces that they are missing that could help repair their relationship. We carry the burden of their secrets and biggest hurts. As the story progresses, we find out things and they find out things and you just feel them being pulled back together to the point where they will both know the things that each other knows. The way things are told and revealed just really added to the emotional reaction I had and kept me turning the pages because I needed to know each twin’s part in the story!!

4. I will never ever forget Jude and Noah’s story: Never ever. Their passion and their grief and their sadness and EVERYTHING…it just isn’t something that can go away quickly. It leaps off the pages and I just still think about them all these months later. Their triumphs and their losses and their defining moments felt like they were mine as well.

 

a6RATING-beyondloved

factors+ EVERYTHING — but if I have to narrow it down — writing, plot, storytelling, EMOTIONAL REACTION, characters. It’s just a Jamie book so everything is perfect.
NADA

Re-readability: Oh yes.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? UM YEAH.

a5fans of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere obviously, people who like poetic and lyrical writing, fans of Melina Marchetta/Cath Crowley/Hilary T. Smith, fans of siblings stories, people who like books that are both heartbreaking and beautiful, lovers of character driven novels, people looking for a unique read, fans of books that make you think, PEOPLE WHO THINK YA CANNOT BE LITERARY (read this and I dare you to tell me that again!)

a8There is a reason that I said Jandy Nelson was a favorite author after The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You The Sun solidifies that tenfold. You don’t just read a Jandy book — you live it. I’ll Give You The Sun was one of the most all-consuming reading experiences ever. It’s mesmerizing, beautifully written and packs the kind of emotional depth that feels like a tidal wave to the heart. I’ll Give You The Sun is the best book I’ve read in 2014 and I really doubt anything else can dethrone that this year. There’s a reason we’ve all been waiting YEARS for a new Jandy book.

review-on-post-itI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

The Summer I Fell Head Over Heels In Love With Fantasy Because of ONE Series

So, dear readers, you know me. I like to read a lot of variety but the main thing I read is contemporary YA. I read other genres too but fantasy is a genre I’ve only dabbled in a handful of times. I’ve really enjoyed some fantasy novels immensely but my love affair with a series I binge read this summer absolutely has me ADDICTED.

If you follow me on Twitter, you are probably knowing exactly what I’m talking about because I haven’t shut up. (But seriously, I try to reserve my CRAZY fangirling for these times so YOU KNOW I MEAN BUSINESS).

 

SARAH J. MAAS THRONE OF GLASS SERIES OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. OH MYYY GAWWWWD.

 

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I read Throne of Glass during Memorial Day weekend and then two weeks ago started my binge read of Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WAY IS UP OR DOWN AND I AM JUST A VERY FRAGILE, EMOTIONAL MESS RIGHT NOW. (I am also having a toddler-esque meltdown because HOW DO I LIVE LIFE WITHOUT THE NEXT BOOK ON HAND??) Seriously, it’s just like this light switch just flipped on and I just really, really found myself immersed in this fantasy world.

Okay so if you’ve never read it or heard of it here’s my best spoiler-free lowdown of what this series is about.

OKAY there’s CELAENA. And she’s a badass assassin. LIKE THE QUEEN OF BADASSES because she’s been through A LOT + knows how to use a dagger or sword, isn’t afraid to make tough decisions and she has a BRAIN. And she’s snarky. SO SNARKY. I giggle snorted many a times because of her. And she lives in a kingdom (such a well written kingdom) ruled by an awful king who outlawed magic. BUT THERE IS SO MAGIC IN THIS SERIES. And guys you are going to DROOL over. And some really compelling friendships. And some crazy moments. Some epic battles and fights. Crazy reveals that will have you turning the pages. ACTION THAT ELEVATES YOUR HEART RATE. (That counts as exercise right?). JUST READ IT OKAY. It gets even better after book 1. I can’t even write you a proper summary because OH MY GOD. And there’s like going to be 6 books or something like that!! OH OH AND THERE ARE MAPS IN THE FRONT. I LOVE MAPS.

Will always can tell when I’m really obsessed with a book and he said I became SUPER obnoxious when I read these books (which is generally the biggest telltale sign to how much I love a book…the more obnoxious, the more love). Apparently I was saying a lot of “OH SHITS” and “OH NOES”, “YEAH GIRL”  and “OH MY GOD HOLD ME” and jumping up and down a lot. Okay, I half remember doing those things but they just come out because I’m so immersed. The biggest thing was how much I wanted to tell him what was happening because I couldn’t contain myself. (One thing on his list of things he’s sick of me saying). And then he said it was odd to hear me talk about swords, fae, assassins and magic so much and so excitedly (apparently I was VERY animated) because, well, I don’t read those things typically. But seriously, SWORD LIFE IS SO AWESOME.

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So needless to say my reading experience was something Will could NOT wait to be over because I was a nut..all hopped up on my fantasy high. Everyone told me to read these books since Throne of Glass came out and I always knew I would but I wasn’t expecting to become obsessed. I mean, I was just so excitable and immersed through this whole binge reading experience (AND I RARELY EVER BINGE READ) and it was just one of those experiences where I remembered that feeling in my gut of WHY I love reading and how it feels to be so totally consumed.

 

Elissa_i_am_obsessed

 

So here’s a bit of a peek on my thoughts about the books individually. I’m going to be as spoiler-free and as vague as possible but reading my thoughts for Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire COULD spoil you. That’s your warning.

 

THRONE OF GLASS

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I immediately loved Celaena. And Chaol. And Dorian. This book drew me in from the start and I was so into watching Celaena be a badass vs. all those other guys fighting to be the King’s Champion. I could feel her struggle between FREEDOM and having to work for someone who was so awful. I loved how twisty this book got towards the end and things were happening so fast I could barely hold on, man! But seriously let’s talk about Calaena…this girl has endured a lot and she prides herself on being a badass but there’s also this vulnerable side to her where she feels the weight of the things she’s done….but she doesn’t shy away from the fact that she does those things. That’s part of who she is. I also loved that, yeah she is badass, but she totally is a bit of a girly girl — she loves her clothes and cares about what she looks like. I think so often female main characters get pegged as one or the other but it’s okay to be a complete badass with your sword and also find your heart flutter because of a pretty dress. And as confident as she is with how badass she is..she is so relatable because she’s self conscious about other things. AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE BANTER?? I loved the Celaena/Chaol banter. But also the Celaena/Dorian banter. (In Crown of Midnight my favorite banter might even be with her and Mort..god I just love her banter with everyone). I finished Throne of Glass SO ready for more because there was so much that was set up in that book and I knew the rest of the series was about to get CAHRAZY.

Crown Of Midnight

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

crownofmidnight

THIS BOOK GUYS. Crown of Midnight was my favorite of the series so far I think because it was just SO EPIC. Also, in general it was one of the best sequels I’ve ever read. This is where I became obsessed. I was in love with Throne of Glass but I became a full on crazy because of this book. SO MUCH WAS HAPPENING AND IT WAS NUTS….seriously my heart was racing as I devoured this book. It begins with Celaena a couple months after she wins the competition and we find out what she’s been up to now that’s she’s supposed to be doing the king’s bidding….and then shit just gets crazy. People die. People betray. Crazy things are revealed. There is so much sneaking around and Celaena is just generally even more of a badass and maybe even more ruthless. The sheer amount of emotions that I had during this book was a record level and the amount of times my jaw dropped became too many to count. Really seeing the rebellion start to form was exciting and scary. I came to love beloved characters EVEN MORE FIERCELY. Seriously Chaol and Dorian, not just even as fictional crushes, are just all around great characters and it was so hard for me to see some cracks in relationships in this one. Especially A BIG MOMENT where Celaena really doubts someone. My heart sunk! I just was thanking my lucky stars I had Heir of Fire by the time this book ended because I was flailing (for real) and the way it ENDS. OH MY HEART.  If I hadn’t had Heir of Fire I would have left with a crazy book high where I would have been jittery and inconsolable and it would have taken me a long time to come off this one.

Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire Sarah J. Maas

I was still reeling from Crown of Midnight when I started this one. The pace was a bit slower in Heir of Fire than it was in CoM but look at how long it is!! (seriously, trying to hold this book gave me issues). I was trying to explain to someone that Heir of Fire was a bit more slow but not in a BAD WAY. It was actually a bit welcomed because it couldn’t keep up that Crown of Midnight pace forever and we really get even MORE insight into Celaena (and other characters).

Heir of Fire peeled back the layers to Celaena and we learn even MORE of her backstory after what was revealed at the end of Crown of Midnight. It was fascinating and HEARTBREAKING (ow, seriously) and MAN did it make everything a whole lot more interesting and complicated and AWESOME. We see a whole new side of Celaena in Heir of Fire and I loved it — she’s always been such a badass but we see a Celaena who is really struggling to know what to do next or who she really WANTS to be. Celaena is easy for her. But the other identity we learn of her, the one she’s pushed back so far, really starts to be imposed on her and she can’t hide from it. I loved watching her wrestle with it all and it made me love her more.

The other really great thing about Heir of Fire is all the new characters we get to meet!! CAN WE TALK ABOUT ROWAN? I WANT A SHIP but I don’t know to what capacity. All I can say is I was very pleased we got to know Rowan very well. And Manon. I thought the witch POV was strangely placed at first and I wasn’t sure I liked it but I really did start to enjoy seeing things coming together on another side of the story. I also loved some of the demi-fae and the rebels too.  OH AND AEDION!

The other thing that made Heir of Fire so great was that everyone was really on their own journey…literally and mentally. At first, I was like NOOOO I want Celaena to be with Dorian and Chaol and I don’t like how split they are but I actually really ended up loving that about this book. I don’t think Dorian or Chaol could have challenged Celaena the way Rowan really did to get her to step up and do what she needed to. Celaena was so far away and on this really challenging journey mentally and physically and I LOVED THAT JOURNEY — all parts of it. But I also really loved watching Dorian and Chaol. I hated how they weren’t friends but I loved how much they still loved each other and had each other’s best interest in mind. Chaol really grew because he had to face his dad and decide where his loyalty was and how far he’d go now that he knows what he knows. I loved watching him work with Aedion as well! Dorian really has to come to terms with what he is and the magic he possesses but also what that means considering who his father his. I love this line that Chaol has at the end because it sums it up pretty well about how Dorian “was the one true king in the room” because I really felt like Dorian started to grow into someone who could lead.

Heir of Fire was emotionally intense and had some crazy heart-pounding moments along with the amazing character development. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE LIFE WHILE MY FRIENDS ARE JUST LEFT HANGING THERE? I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. But I suppose now I am going to get my hands on the novellas even though I am like morally opposed to novellas (okay not morally but it sounded good but for serious I don’t ever read them) BECAUSE I NEED MORE OF THIS SERIES.

 

So have you read this series?? Thoughts?? (Even if you felt differently than me I am still interested in hearing you perspective!!). What should be my next fantasy series??

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Book Title/Author: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher/Year
: St. Martin’s Griffin – September 10th 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Eleanor & Park, Attachments
Goodreads | Twitter |Amazon

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Cath and her twin sister, Wren, are HUGE fans of the Simon Snow book series — so much so that they even wrote fanfiction that is hugely popular, were super involved in forums, & have gone to every premiere. Wren hasn’t been as into it lately and Cath feels the distance but not entirely until Wren drops the bomb that she doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath when they go off to college together in the Fall. Without her sister by her side, Cath struggles to not isolate herself in a situation that is completely out of her comfort zone. She’s not as outgoing as Wren, struggles to open up and doesn’t adjust as well to the huge life changes happening — a new roommate, cute boys that seem to always be around, difficult professors, being away from her dad who isn’t always stable and has never been alone, etc. Cath isn’t sure she can do all of this without her sister by her side but she knows she is going to have to start learning who she is — apart from the things that made her feel secure before.

If I hadn’t already fallen head over heels with Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell I’m not sure I would have picked this up just because I’ve never been part of any sort of fandom or have even read one lick of fanfiction and so the premise didn’t really speak to me. I mean, you guys know I JUST started the Harry Potter series this week so I haven’t even been super involved growing up with any sort of series. I was SO scared I wasn’t going to connect to this one because of this but Rainbow Rowell certainly proved me wrong and wrote a story that I related to in so many ways that it honestly surprised me and I found myself devouring it.

Rowell weaves the fanfiction that Cath writes along with the story. It honestly took me a little bit to get used to but Rowell wrote it in a way that I realized I could skip it or skim it if I wanted. I opted for skimming so I’d get the sense of what she was writing about but didn’t take my time reading it like I did with the rest of the story. So don’t be afraid of this aspect if you aren’t into the fanfiction aspect! While I didn’t connect with the fandom/fanfiction life of it I totally connected with this passion that Cath had and related it to our little book blogging community in ways. Cath is so wrapped up in her fanfiction world and at times I see myself so immersed in our community.

Sure, a lot of this story has to do with Cath and her fanfiction writing and how she and her sister have bonded through this but it’s about way more than that — feeling your way through that weird transition between kidhood and adulthood, seeing people for who they are and not who you WANT them to be, first loves, sisterhood, independence and so much more.

Fangirl was just one of those books that was a delight to read and so, so funny. I loved Cath’s story and her journey — even though she was a tough one for me to warm up to at first. My first I LOVE YOU CATH moment was a certain Emergency Kanye Dance Party part. She’s flawed, kind of judgmental, not exactly comfortable in her own skin, holds people to wicked high standards, doesn’t like change, etc. Even though I don’t think I immediately would say Cath and I were super alike, I could feel in my core some of these same things manifested in my own self. I related so well concerning her struggles with her sister because I definitely had tension with my sister as we both changed and stopped being best friends because of these differences. I wanted to HATE Wren but I recognized that we are ONLY see Wren through Cath’s POV so it’s not the whole picture and I KNOW when I was having issues with my sister I definitely only painted a bad one. I also learned that I couldn’t expect my sister to uphold the same things I did — so I really UNDERSTOOD Cath but also saw the error of her ways. Her flaws and her journey to grapple with some of these things made me love her. Also I can’t say enough about some of the other characters. Reagan & Levi <33

I will say that I saw a Twitter exchange ( I can’t remember who) mention that they were turned off because of how little we saw of the fandom and the WHYS of it being so important to her and I didn’t think of it while I was reading but I actually really agree as much as I loved this book. I initially felt my disconnect with the whole fandom thing as why I didn’t SEE how it was so important in her life but really I do think, looking back, it wasn’t really explored as much. We just KNEW it was important but didn’t really at all feel why.

 

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was absolutely wonderful. It’s honestly hard to pin point what I loved about it but it was just THAT FEELING you get when you read something and can’t pull yourself out of it. That CONNECTION to the story and all the FEELS. What I do know is that Fangirl was delightfully funny and a great story that I fell in love with. I’m glad I didn’t get hung up on the fact that Cath’s story was so heavily rooted in fanfiction/fandom because it was about SO MUCH MORE. Reading the premise could have turned me off had I not known Rainbow Rowell’s books are MUST READS for me no matter what. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Fangirl? Heard of it? What did you think? Did you feel similarly to me or different! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Did you connect with the fandom aspect?

four-half-stars

Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Book Review

speechless by hannah harringtonBook Title/Author: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher/Year
: Harlequin  Teen 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series:  No
Other Books From AuthorSaving June

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher at BEA. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Chelsea Knot is popular and she can’t keep a secret — always blabbing everything she knows and spreading gossip around. The last secret she told almost got somebody killed and has turned her into the ultimate social outcast. Trying to learn from her mistake, she takes a vow of silence which alienates her even further at a time where everybody is talking about her and she’s become the target of a lot of bullying. When she meets a girl whom she would never have associated with before, she is befriended despite everything that has gone on, she realizes she might have a chance to be forgiven by people for what she did– if only she could forgive herself first.

This was my pick for book club this month and I honestly didn’t know what to expect but had heard good things about this book and Saving  June. I’m pleased to report that I really liked this book and think it’s going to make for a good discussion! It delved into quite a few issues without screaming “HEY I’M AN ISSUE BOOK” and I felt like it wasn’t a complete “THIS IS WRONG AND THIS IS RIGHT” kind of book either. I felt conflicted sometimes and I liked that.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is your ultimate “popular mean girl gets thrown from her social status and falls hard to the bottom” kind of story. We know the skeleton for this kind of story — the mean girl is cast down from the social heavens and at the mercy of all those people who she treated like dirt or ignored. Chelsea certainly gets that and  more from the people who she used to be friends and with those she ignored — plus, in her  case, the people close with the person who was affected most because of her gossip. I thought Hannah Harrington really made that skeleton of a story into so much more as it chronicles her downfall from queen bee status to biggest social outcast to what she finds out about herself by the end.

The thing that is always make or break for me in these kinds of stories is whether or not I feel like the “mean girl” has truly changed or if she’s just adapted — there’s a difference for me. It’s interesting with Chelsea because it’s easy to hate her early on (I did!) because she’s a serious bitch but I couldn’t help but know I would root for her  at the  moment that she does the RIGHT THING early on — the thing, that for her life, would be the worst thing. Not days or weeks later. Right away. For that, I already felt like I could root for her. You can FEEL how conflicted Chelsea was about her decision after she starts enduring all the harassment and bullying — it WOULD have been so much easier to not do the right thing and she THINKS that. She knows logically she did the right thing but she can’t help but truly wonder. I found that to be incredibly realistic as I’ve been in the same situation knowing that doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest, and doubting yourself, but realizing you had it to it.

I found her whole journey to be believable and real and I really felt her change was authentic — she eventually saw that, at the end of the day, she couldn’t BE like those people anymore if they couldn’t see what was wrong about the situation. Her journey isn’t perfect — she still maintains a lot of her old ways of thinking throughout a lot of it but I saw true growth and could sympathize slowly but surely.  I loved how she saw all of these qualities she wanted to possess, that her old friends didn’t, through this new group of people. Her journey wasn’t easy but I loved taking it with her and watching her grow and realize who SHE is. I REALLY loved the supporting characters she makes friends with as they have so much depth and are just really great characters– Asha and the whole diner crew and of course SAM.

I’ll say I didn’t always quite understand the whole vow of silence and what it meant to her and I wasn’t even sure that she did, but I realized as the novel progressed, that was kind of the beauty of it. I don’t think she set out to do anything profound or enlightening with her vow of silence but she was just processing what happened and was her way of kind of making  a sort of penance and amends even if she knew she couldn’t fix things.

Speechless was a solid read that breathes new life into the “mean girl fall from grace” plot with the way it seamlessly explores the many facets of high school experience — the fickle nature of popularity and social status, the damage of gossip,  the beginnings of finding yourself in an atmosphere that wants everyone to be the same, etc. –and tackles it at a level that goes beyond the superficial surface of it all. The beauty of the novel is that, even far removed from high school, so many of these things that were explored are still so relevant to me and I appreciated thinking about them as I watched Chelsea, a character I didn’t want to like, make this genuine journey — even though the road was quite thorny. Great characters who are full of depth, a story that will captivate and full of really heartfelt messages without beating you over the head with it.

 

 

Speechless by Hannah Harrington review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you feel like her journey was genuine? Who was your favorite secondary character (I LOVE ASHA!!)

 

 

 

 

four-stars

Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Bunheads by Sophie FlackBook Title/Author: Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: None as of now. It’s her debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads | Sophie Flack’s website

 While most of her peers are navigating their way through living on their own in college, 19 year old Hannah Ward has lived on her own in Manhattan for years to live her dream to make it into the ultra competitive Manhattan Ballet Company. Her peers go to classes and parties; Hannah enjoys hours of workouts, rehearsals, & performances which is all part of the strenuous life of a professional dancer just waiting to be noticed for a soloist position. It’s all part of her plan — every single blister, every diet, every sore muscle means she’s coming closer to making it and stepping out from the crowd of other dancers vying for the same parts. Her dedication to her dream never wavers until she meets Jacob — a musician and college student who introduces her to the possibilities of a life unbound from stringent schedules and very little free time outside the ballet and makes her start to question what’s important to her in her life or if she’s okay with giving up  “normal life” for a life trying to make it to the spotlight.

Bunheads was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gives a darker (not Black Swan dark!), somewhat  grittier picture to the world of professional ballet — a world that,  from the audience, is nothing short of graceful, beautiful  & elegant. Sophie Flack succeeds in portraying the captivating beauty of the ballet while balancing it with the ugly and cutthroat reality that happen at that level of success. Eating disorders, backstabbing, excessive exercise & exhaustion is the norm. Sophie Flack writes this world all in a way that pulls you in to this unfamiliar lifestyle — at least for me — as the extent of my dance career was three years of tap class.You can tell that the author was in fact a professional ballet dancer as she lends her knowledge of the world of ballet that really seems quite realistic in her descriptions — from the technical aspect to the magical feeling and rush a dancer gets in being on stage and performing these movements so gracefully and in sync. I really felt like I was getting the inside scoop on life behind the curtain. Like an E! True Hollywood Story.

I was nervous at first, as I am with any fiction that delves into a “specialty”, that it will be too technical or that it will lose me because the author can’t make the lifestyle accessible to the average reader who hasn’t lived a life like that. Thankfully Bunheads was not overwrought with too much technical detail that it went over my head and never did I feel too distant from Hannah’s lifestyle that I didn’t connect with her. In fact, I really connected with Hannah in a way that I haven’t with another character. Her struggle to find balance in her life, figure out who she is and who she wants to be, her sacrifice for her dreams — they resonated with me and felt extremely real. I loved Jacob’s role in this but I loved that he didn’t instantly come into her life and help “save her”. It was HER figuring out what she wanted. SHE struggled to try to balance her dreams with wanting to be a normal girl with a normal life.  He just helped perpetuate that. It was a very sweet romance — one that I really enjoyed to watch develop — even when I wanted to body slam Hannah for ditching him. But it was SO realistic. No girl with dreams so high would immediately leave it all for a boy.

Bunheads by Sophie Flack truly was one of my favorite reads this year! It wasn’t a fast-paced nor an overly dramatic portrayal like you might see in a tv show or movie but the world of ballet portrayed in Bunheads was even more captivating, in my opinion, because it seemed REAL as opposed to a drama-rama, hair pulling, scandalous story . It was gritty and a tinge shocking (like from how the “hide” their breasts to how they make their shoes fit to their crazy schedules) but it was also subtle, beautiful and magical and you can feel why it is someone’s dream. You’ll root for Hannah and Jacob but even more you’ll root for Hannah as she struggles to figure out what she wants — a plight we all can sympathize with.  Bravo, Sophie Flack, bravo. I can’t get this book out of my mind.

 

PS. Also loved this book because it seemed to be a bit of an “older” YA!

 

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

 

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe,

 

three-half-stars

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Book/Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Standalone/Series: I believe this to be a standalone book. HUZZAH FOR STANDALONES.
Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2011
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher during BEA in exchange for an honest review.

My feelings toward The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater are rather muddled. I feel like I can’t give a straight answer when asked if I liked this book. There are some parts of this book that made me love it and some aspects that really made me not feel like picking it up. I wasn’t really rushing to pick this one up (but I’ll be the first to admit that I was really stressed out while attempting to read this book) but when I DID pick it up I found myself utterly immersed in the story itself as it is quite magical and captivating.

The major source of contention for me was the writing:

Good: Maggie Stievater has this knack for writing in a way that makes everything seem so alive and vivid. Her descriptions of the setting in particular are breathtaking in the way that I feel I’m gazing into that same sunset or standing right next to that horse feeling tense and afraid but so alive that my blood is pumping and my chest is thumping. I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can hear it. Maggie Stiefvater takes me there in an intense way that most writers cannot achieve. Her prose is lovely and spellbinding and takes on ethereal qualities.

Kinda Meh: That same writing that I am memorized by sometimes also hindered my love for the story. Now, this is one thing you must know about me. I am not one that always needs a fast plot that whips me around and keeps my interest. I love a good, slow story with lush prose and descriptions that can go on for pages. I do. I mean, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite authors and THAT MAN is overly verbose. A whole chapter goes by and you realize nothing freaking happened but it was lovely and wonderful all the same. For whatever reason, sometimes I just felt as though some of the descriptions weren’t doing much for me to move the story, thus not making me dying to pick it up. I think one of the issues is that I wasn’t ever feeling SUPER connected to any of the characters so even THAT couldn’t propel me forwards. It may have been my state of mind needing something fast paced but sometimes the writing, while I would get lost in the beauty of it, would also slow me down to the point of exhaustion.

I’m not sure why I never felt too much for the main characters but I just couldn’t. I wanted them to be ok and I was obviously wanting the best outcome for them but I more so wanted to learn more about these crazy horses! They were magical and mysterious and I felt the same brimming curiosity that Puck felt despite knowing they were dangerous. The story itself was so unique and intriguing and that is what ultimately kept me reading and desiring to finish it. I rather like the romantical aspect of this book. I was rooting for that for sure despite the fact it was kind of predictable, to me, what was going to happen but despite that I found myself excited for their every interaction but happy that it didn’t overtake the whole book. I mean romances are a dime a dozen but KILLER HORSES?!? Thank you, Maggie, for not doing one of those tricks where you give me an interesting premise to lure me in but instead focus on the romance.

Final Thought: This was my first encounter with Maggie Steifvater’s writing and I’ll be for sure picking up Shiver soon as I have high hopes for it. I loved so many of the qualities of her writing (despite my issues which could very well have been my frame of mind) but hopefully this time I’ll connect with the characters more and find myself feeling more compelled to pick it up. I definitely enjoyed aspects this one but I won’t say that it was unputdownable. If you get distracted by kind of flowery prose, you probably will have troubles with this one. If you like unique storylines (with a hint of something supernatural..everything was normal except the killer horses) and love the feeling of being transported into the story by means of prose that is quite descriptive and flowery (in a really beautiful way), then you’ll dig this. I’d point this one out for all my readers of the blog who only dabble in YA once in a while. Also, I could see this being a kickass movie.

three-half-stars

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez – Book Review

Book/Author: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse 2011
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
I received this book from the publisher at BEA.

When you are considered to be a violin prodigy and competing in the SUPERBOWL of all violin competitions, there’s little room for error if you want to win the most prestigious title that could essentially launch the rest of your career. No pressure, right? This is where Carmen, an extremely gifted violinist, finds herself. The mounting pressure to succeed has escalated and can only be remedied by one thing — anti-anxiety pills. And to top it off? Her concentration is further tested when a guy she shouldn’t give the time of day comes in the picture and has the ability to stand in her way of what she’s worked so hard for.

Books like this are why contemporary will always be the apple of my eye. I honestly picked this up at BEA because of the cover (it’s so wickedly awesome) and because I really enjoyed the violin aspect of If I Stay & Where She Went despite not knowing ANYTHING about violin…and it just sounded so unique! This book was utterly un-putdownable as I felt my heart thumping inside my chest the way Carmen did as she was facing the biggest ‘make or break” event in her life and simultaneously trying to figure out the mysteries and intentions of the new eye candy in her life. Tension galore, I tell you!

A decent amount of YA books suffer from “missing parent syndrome” but NOT THIS BOOK. Let’s just say, as I mentioned in a recent list of books that made me emotional, that Carmen’s mom is one of those most insufferable biznatches I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading about. She goes in parent jail along with all the moms who put their 7 year olds on crazy diets and the crazy pageant moms who skankify their five year old and teach them to dance like their working a pole. Now my mom used to put the pressure on me about school work and getting straight A’s but my mom’s pressure seems like a little kitten to this beastwoman. I won’t say anything more about her because huge parts of the plot are propelled by her mom’s desire to feel success again, vicariously through her daughter, but her actions are seriously HORRID.

I think that aspect of the book was done really well. While most of us can’t relate to the magnitude of pressure that Carmen faces, I think most teens and young adults can relate, at the core, to how these pressure make us feel and act. Things like getting into college, SATs, getting good grades, staying out of trouble, finding the perfect boyfriend, etc. etc. We can feel out of control of our life, doubt if we are living or just going through the motions and feel a more than healthy dose of anxiety. I could feel all these emotions that Carmen was going through and it ripped my hearts into shreds. And it was even sadder to me that her whole life revolved so much around her career that she hadn’t ever gotten to experience the normal teen rites of passage.

Carmen was truly an admirable character though and not in a contrived way. I truly got a sense of who she was as the novel progressed and felt satisfied with her actions and the decisions she made for herself. She was entirely relatable and definitely memorable.

The writing was superb! This wasn’t just a good contemporary story…it was a fantastically written contemporary story. The prose is so lyrical and lovely; filled with lively imagery that lingers and scenes so powerful that they tug at your emotional heartstrings without being too obvious or contrived. Some truly beautiful passages are to be encountered.

The one thing I was a little disappointed with is the whole anti-anxiety med addiction. I just felt like it was going to be more important in the novel but I felt like it was there and we were told how bad it was but I never truly felt her addiction and the impact. And *minor spoiler* it seemed like she all of a sudden made the decision to be done with them and that was it. I don’t know if maybe the addiction was in her head or what but I just felt a little disappointed with how this thread was resolved. I just had thought, from the description, that it would play more of a prominent role in the story.

My Final Thought: Virtuosity is a contemporary read you want to add to your list if you like beautiful writing with a unique storyline and lively characters. The romance takes a unique spin on the “forbidden romance” for those who desire that storyline but prefer for the story to not be paranormal or cliched. It’s a very heartfelt story and I guarantee you that your heart will break with Carmen but also feel that hopeful feeling you get when you start finding yourself again.

Review on a Post-It
four-stars
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