Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 This Week's Topic:

Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit



 Prague
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"There was a deceptive tangling of alleys that gave you, gargoyles tiptoeing away, stones like puzzle pieces rearranging themselves into new configurations while you weren’t looking. Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travellers deep into forest until they’re lost beyond hope."


Forks, Washington/Hoh Rain Forest

"Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves. It was too green--an alien planet."


 Amsterdam
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"It looked like an old painting, but real--everything achingly idyllic in the morning light--and I thought about how wonderfully strange it would be to live in a place where almost everything was built by the dead."

Morocco
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"It was monumental: an entire town, really--lanes and plazas, neighborhoods, a caravansary, granary, and palace--all of it echoing empty. Its creators had dreamed on a legendary scale, and to stand in its flagstone court, mud walls and peaked roofs jutting overhead, was to feel shrunk to the size of a songbird."

 Prince Edward Island
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"Below them was a pond, looking almost like a river so long and winding was it. A bridge spanned it midway and from there to its lower end, where an amber-hued belt of sand-hills shut it in from the dark blue gulf beyond, the water was a glory of many shifting hues--the most spiritual shadings of crocus and rose and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for which no name has ever been found."

What are some places you've read about that you'd like to visit?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favorite Character-Driven Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic:

Ten Favorite Character-Driven Novels



Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang - Even though the characters in this book are pretty horrible, you still feel for them.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Cath Avery is one of my favorite fictional characters. I related to her so much and her story was an emotional roller coaster.

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson - Maggie, Pauline, and Liam were a great cast of characters. I loved this book so much! I don't know what it is about YA boys named Liam, but I've been falling for quite a few lately.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - Oh, Gat. Oh, my heart! I want to say more but I'll start spewing spoilers.


A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass - One of the most fascinating YA characters I've never come across, with a pet cat that totally broke my heart.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - This is such a gorgeous book and while it's not heavy on plot, Morgenstern's characters are lovely to read about. Even the circus itself seems to be a character in the story.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - With a name like The Scorpio Races, you'd expect this book to be very plot-focused, but really it's more about the two main characters, Puck and Sean, and the people of the eerie, secluded island they live on.

Do we share any favorites? What are some character-driven novels you love?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: July 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source/Format: Library/Hardcover


Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

The Review
Maggie Larsen moves to the peninsula town of Gill Creek after her mom loses her job in Chicago. The family has inherited an old Victorian house on Lake Michigan and live practically out in the middle of nowhere, with only two neighbors to speak of. There, Maggie meets and befriends Pauline, a wild, carefree girl, and Liam, the quiet boy who has loved Pauline all his life. As Maggie settles into her new life in Gill Creek, girls in the community start turning up dead--found drowned in Lake Michigan. Rumors fly as to who the killer could be; is it Gerald, the odd old man who sells gramophones at the local antique store, or could it be Liam's father, whose status as an outsider and eccentric atheist make him a prime target for suspicion?

Right off the bat, I was drawn in by the mystery in The Vanishing Season, especially once I learned that part of the story is told through the point of view of a ghost, who seems somehow tied to Maggie's new home. We don't know who she is or why she is so attached to Maggie and her friends; could she be the ghost of the young woman who lived in Maggie's house over a century before, or is she one of the murdered girls, trying to warn Maggie, Pauline, and Liam? While this is certainly a compelling part of the story, the real heart of The Vanishing Season is Maggie and her friendship with Pauline and Liam. Maggie is cautious and thoughtful, the exact opposite of Pauline, who lives in the moment and doesn't want to grow up. And then there's Liam, whom Maggie thinks she might be falling for, even though his world revolves around Pauline. I became so attached to these three while reading and there were parts (you'll know them when you get to them) when I just sat staring at the page, whispering "no" because I knew what was coming and my heart was breaking for them.

What really makes this book stand out is Jodi Lynn Anderson's gorgeous writing style. It especially comes through when reading the ghost's point of view. One of my favorite images from the book is the description of moths gathering around the ghost, as if she's a light they're drawn to. In a lot of ways, the ghost girl in this book reminded me of the narrator, Death, in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; they both had this mesmerizing way of describing their worlds and the people they watched over.

Favorite Quotes
"Still, below, in the early dawn, something runs rampant through Gill Creek. It tips over garbage cans, taps against windows, breathes onto people's necks. The residents think it's animals, or the wind. But I think it's fear itself."
Okay, how great is this quote? I love the air of foreboding it gives; when I read "taps against windows, breaths onto people's necks," I actually felt a little shiver of fear myself! 

Maggie, Liam, and Pauline musing over who the killer could be:
"I think it's Liam."
Liam stared into the fire. "I did it with s'more sticks."
This line absolutely cracked me up while reading. I love, love, love it when authors add witty banter to stories.

"I think you go on. I don't think you disappear. I think my dad watches over me, like my guardian angel. Only sometimes I feel like if I leave here, or if I change too much, he won't recognize me anymore."
One of the sadder quotes from the book, but I loved it because it really gave us insight into Pauline and why she's so wild and childlike, and unsure about the future, whereas Maggie is cautious and has everything planned out.  

Final Thoughts
Buy | Borrow | Skip
 The Vanishing Season is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story about friendship and growing up--definitely a book I'll be adding to my collection.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Were Hard To Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic:

Books That Were Hard For Me To Read




The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness - This series is mind-blowingly good but oh, my gosh, was it agonizing to read! So many times I had to put down the books because I could not take how stressful they were. Other times I had to put them down because I was fuming with Todd for some of his less brilliant moments. I think The Knife of Never Letting Go was the first book that I actually chucked across the room when I was finished because THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING! Patrick Ness knows how to mess with his readers' emotions, that's for sure!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - For me, this may have been one of THE hardest Potter books to get through because of the amount of sheer stress and anger it put me through. First, we're faced with the fact that Harry may be expelled from Hogwarts. Then, we're questioning why Dumbledore is avoiding Harry, especially now, in a time when Harry most seems to need his guidance. And finally, there's her, the most despicable character of the whole series, the one whose mere name induces rage, the character that I hate even more than Voldemort: Dolores Umbridge. *shudders*

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - Talk about being stressed out while reading! The only thing more shocking than Katniss being sent back to the Games was the book's ending.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - As soon as I saw that Breaking Dawn had 200+ pages in Jacob's POV, I knew that reading this book (as a hardcore Team Edward girl) was going to be, well, brutal. If given a choice between the canon series' ender and some of the Breaking Dawn fanfics I read before the book was even released, I'd go fanfic all the way.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - While I really enjoyed the first half of the book, the middle just lagged on and on. Eventually I got so tired of reading it that I ended up skimming through it to the end. I liked the overall story, though, and still want to give the rest of the series a shot.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Confession time: It seems like I'm the only YA book blogger in the world who does not love Anna and the French Kiss. And the sad part is I really want to! Surely if so many people love it there's got to be something good about it, right? I just didn't like Anna. Her whole "ugh-I-can't-believe-my-famous-author-father-forced-me-to-go-to-Europe-poor-me" attitude turned me off from the start. I tried to push past it and enjoy the rest of the book, but I never became emotionally involved with any of the characters or the storyline. :/ Sorry, everybody.

So what are some books that were hard for you to read, either because they were stressful or didn't turn out the way you expected?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#taggedtuesdays {1}: Chocolate Book Tag


Much as I love The Broke and Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday, some weeks I just can't come up with enough ideas to fill a top ten list. So for the weeks when I'm feeling uninspired, I've decided to start Tagged Tuesdays! On Tagged Tuesdays, I'll do a book tag/survey and tag other book bloggers to join in (but of course, anyone is welcome to participate!).

This week's tag is the Chocolate Book tag (thanks, Stephanie, for tagging me!).


Dark chocolate {a book that covers a dark topic}: My current read, The Vanishing Season, is about two friends who live in a town where girls are, well, vanishing (and there's also a ghostly narrator). I'd say that's pretty dark! But, it's beautifully written and the characters are so realistic. It's a captivating book!

White chocolate {your favorite light-hearted, humorous read}: Okay, I'm going a little old school here, but I choose The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. You guys seriously need to read it if you haven't already, and especially if you're only familiar with the Disney movie version, which, while great in its own right, is nothing like the book. Mia is so dramatic and hilarious and relatable; she's one of my all-time favorite YA heroines. Just please, do me and yourself a favor and read it. I also highly recommend checking out the audiobook read by Anne Hathaway. It's fantastic.

Milk chocolate {a book that has a lot of hype that you're dying to read}: Winterspell by Claire Legrand. I feel like I've been waiting for this book my whole life. When I was a little girl, I loved The Nutcracker ballet. I grew up with the Macauly Culkin/NYC Ballet movie version and watched the heck outta that VHS. I would listen to the music even when it wasn't Christmastime and put on costumes and dance along to it. I wanted so badly to be Clara so I could wear pretty dresses and go to Land of Sweets and dance with the Nutcracker prince. So when I heard that Claire Legrand was writing a book based on The Nutcracker, I freaked. I am so, so excited for this one and even though it comes out in just a couple of weeks, the wait is killing me!

Chocolate with a caramel center {name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while reading}: Twilight. It makes me slightly crazy to think this book is nearly ten years old, because to me it still feels like just yesterday that I was reading it for the first time. Apart from Harry Potter, no book series has stuck with me the way Twilight has, and no other couple makes me swoon like Edward and Bella. The first book will always be my favorite, and every time I read it, I fall in love all over again. It's a crazy, ridiculous, obsessive love and I'll never get over it.

Wafer-free Kit Kat {name a book that surprised you}: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did (nor was I expecting it to give me SO. MANY. FEELS.), but OH MY GOSH! I was completely shocked by the ending.

Snickers {a book you're going nuts about}: Heir of Fire! I haven't even read Crown of Midnight yet, but I am so, so happy to finally have this one on my shelf! The cover is gorgeous and Celaena looks so badass! AHHH! I love it!

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows {What book would you turn to for a comfort read?}: Either Twilight or one of the Harry Potter books (although probably not any of the last four...too many deaths=not exactly comforting).

Box of chocolates {What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone?}: I've gotta go with good old HP for this one because I feel like it definitely appeals to the widest audience. There's magic, good versus evil, romance, school drama, laugh-out-loud moments, break-down-sobbing moments, lovable characters...I could go on and on.

Now it's time to tag some people! Mara {Book Marauder}, Kim {The Nomadic Book Hoarder}, Rachel {Rachel Writes Things}, Sana {Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile}, and Brittany {Book Addict's Guide}, you're it! If anyone else wants to do the tag, feel free! Link up in the comments so I can see your posts! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Conversion by Katherine Howe

Conversion by Katherine Howe
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub. Date: July 2014
Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Mystery
Source/Format: Own/Hardcover

Goodreads Summary: 
It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

The Story 
It's hard to talk much about the plot of Conversion without giving something away, as so much of what drives the story is the mystery of what's really happening to the girls of St. Joan's. Is it a virus? The result of environmental pollution? A hoax? Or something more sinister? The story hops back and forth in time between 2012 Danvers, Massachussets, where high school senior Colleen Rowley witnesses her friends and classmates succumb to a "Mystery Illness," and late 17th century Salem, where thirteen-year-old Ann Putnam gets drawn into a witch hunt hysteria. While I preferred the present day story to Ann's, Ann's was still important because it mirrored the events happening in Colleen's time and provided one possible explanation: that the St. Joan's girls could all be perpetuating a hoax for attention, just like the girls in Salem claiming to be tortured by witches. And the farther along you get in the story, the more it all does seem like a hoax. When interviewed on national television, the girls' symptoms seem to disappear in front of the cameras, most notably in Clara, the first girl to fall victim to the illness, whose debilitating verbal tics are miraculously gone But then there's Colleen's friend, Anjali, whose own symptoms--coughing up tiny balls of pins-- still persist and cannot be so easily explained away. If there's one thing Howe is excellent at in this book, it's her ability to keep you guessing, because just when you think you've got it all figured out, she throws another curveball.

Downsides
While the plot of Conversion was definitely intriguing and enough to keep me reading, one major drawback of the book for me was Colleen's voice. It didn't feel genuine to me and I felt more like I was reading a caricature of teenager--everything was very exaggerated and honestly, it kind of put me off. Another problem for me was this sense of disconnect I had with not only Colleen, but with pretty much all of the characters in the story. Although Colleen had all of these relationships in the story--with her friends, her siblings, her parents, and her boyfriend, Spence--I never came to care very strongly for any of them. They all felt like props, just filling up space in the story while you tried to figure out the mystery. 

Final Thoughts
 Buy | Borrow | Skip
Despite the downsides, Conversion kept me flipping the pages until the very end. I absolutely had to find out what was causing the "Mystery Illness" outbreak at St. Joan's, and whether or not it was all tied back to the Salem witch panic. If you're in the mood for a quick read with an intriguing mystery, you might want to put this one on your library request list.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 

This Week's Topic:

Books I Really Want to Read But Don't Own Yet




The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Isso Hunter - First of all, how gorgeous is that cover? It's enough to make me want to buy the book right now. Not to mention the story sounds awesome. Combine magic and romance and you've got me hooked!

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near - This one's been on my list ever since Brittany dicussed it in April. Sadly, U.S. bookstores don't seem to stock it and it's currently unavailable from The Book Depository.  :'(

The Jewel by Amy Ewing - I had a chance to read The Jewel thanks to the On the Same Page ARC tour, but since I left for DPI right after the book came in the mail I was never able to finish it. BUT, from what I was able to read I could tell it's going to be awesome.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard  - I just about died when EpicReads unwrapped this during their ARC Party last week. I need this book! Why is 2015 so far away?!

Winterspell by Claire Legrand - The Nutcracker fairy tale retold? YES PLEASE!



The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - This was one of the books I drooled over at DPI. One of our lecturers brought a few ARCs with him and gave them out as prizes at the end of the week, but sadly I was not one of the lucky few to receive a copy.

Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve - This book has been on my radar for a while now and I keep waiting for Barnes and Noble to stock it but alas, no such luck.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber - I'm a sucker for books with gorgeous covers and this was another one that caught my eye.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey - Maggie Stiefvater gushed over this book recently and while it was already on my to-read list, Maggie's praise only further convinced me that I need to read it.

City of Halves by Lucy Inglis - Mysterious disappearances, hidden worlds, and mysterious creatures--what's not to love?

My selection is fairly full of unreleased books but I'm sure there are tons of backlist books I'm forgetting to mention. What are some books you want to read but don't own?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That's a Wrap: Adventures in Colorado {July/August 2014}

So, uh...


Long time no see, am I right? In my defense I have a perfectly good reason for my month-long disappearance from the blogosphere. For the past month I was a student at the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver! It was intense--"boot camp for book people" as one of my friends and classmates called it. For four weeks I was immersed in a crash course on all things publishing-related, everything from editing and marketing to production and design.

After our first day at the Institute we took a class field trip to the Tattered Cover Bookstore, one of the coolest independent bookstores I've been to! We were there for an author chat and book signing, but I got there an hour early just so I could have time to browse. And since I can never go into a bookstore (especially an indie) without buying something, I didn't leave empty-handed.


In addition to cramming my brain full of information about publishing, I also got out and did some exploring. By far one of the coolest things I got to see was the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. If you didn't already know, Chihuly's a glass sculptor from Seattle who makes some pretty amazing creations, like these:



 

This particular exhibit reminded me of the candy room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. All the sculptures looked like bright, shiny candies!

 

Even the gardens that didn't have Chihuly sculptures were pretty spectacular.

Although I didn't go sightseeing in the mountains (which I now really wish I'd done), I was able to snap some pics on the way to Boulder for a field trip. Even though I could see the mountains from my dorm room, they were at a distance, so it was amazing to see them up close.

 


After four long, jam-packed weeks of learning how to edit manuscripts, coming up with marketing plans, and listening to lectures from publishing people all across the country, our class finally made it to graduation day, and the best part is...we got a book cake! Which is really just the coolest kind of cake there is. :)



So, I did! I can officially say I hold a certificate in publishing! YAY!

Now if I could just find a job...



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm Alive!!!

Just a quick note to let y'all know that I am still alive and blogging! For the past three weeks I've been studying at the Denver Publishing Institute, which has been such an amazing experience but has left me super exhausted with little time to blog or do much else. I've got a week left in the program and then I'll return to regularly scheduled blogging. In the meantime, I've got a queue set up over on tumblr and you'll probably find me occasionally tweeting. See you in a week or so! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics On My TBR List

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic: Classics On My TBR List

All throughout college I used to half-joke with my mom that I was the World's Worst English Major, due to my severe lack of interest in the "classics." I loved my classes on contemporary lit, YA and children's lit, and 19th century British lit, but didn't really care for much else. I guess you could call those categories my reading comfort zones, and I tend to stick to them pretty religiously. So whenever I hear the word "classics" in reference to literature, I can't help but feel a twinge of guilt for not having read more. But, for better or for worse, when I read on my own time, I read first and foremost for entertainment. The unfortunate outcome of that is a lot of the classics I've attempted to read have ended up in the DNF pile. I am trying to remedy this! Granted, I don't think I'll ever be a Shakespeare enthusiast or an avid fan of anything written before 1800 for that matter, but here are some of the classics that I am looking forward to reading (someday).

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - The summary seems very Jane Eyre-esque, and since that is one of my favorite stories, I'm very interested in reading Rebecca.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - I'm not sure how I even came across this book but I immediately added it to my TBR list after reading the summary. It sounds completely bizarre but intriguing.

Dracula by Bram Stoker - As a Twilight fan, I really don't know how I've gone this long without reading Dracula. It's THE vampire novel.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - Full disclosure: this was a book I was supposed to read during my senior of high school that I, uh...mostly skimmed (cut me some slack, everybody does it!). Shortly after that time, PBS aired the BBC version of Tess with Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne, and I watched the whole series and it absolutely destroyed me. Ever since then I've wanted to reread the book, and I think I'll have a much greater appreciation for it now that I'm older, and familiar with the story.

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot - From the summary on Goodreads, this almost sounds YA-ish: a girl on the verge of adulthood, struggling with romantic and familial relationships, trying to find out who she is and what she wants out of life. Sounds good to me!

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - For the past couple of Thanksgivings, I've gotten into the habit of watching AMC's Gone With The Wind marathon and now it's pretty much a tradition. I love the movie and it's about time I read the book.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Little Women is another one of my favorite movies, so it's high time I pick up the book.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery - I first read Anne of Green Gables three years ago for a children's literature class and I fell in love with the book. Everything about it was wonderful, from Montgomery's descriptions of Prince Edward Island (I want to go there!), to the humor, to Anne herself, whose huge personality and imagination make her so endearing. I've only read book one, so I want to find out how the rest of Anne's story goes.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens - Oh, Charlie. We've been through some rough times, you and I. From when we were first introduced via Great Expectations in ninth grade English, to when we met again through Little Dorrit in sophomore year of college, it's been a tumultuous relationship. I really didn't think I would ever come to appreciate you, let alone like you. But then I reread Great Expectations and found that, while sometimes frustrating, your writing wasn't quite as agonizing as I had once found it. In fact, you were kind of...funny. So, I think I'll give you another try. And since I love the movie Nicholas Nickleby, that's the book of yours I'm going with next.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Ignite Me {Shatter Me #3} by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub. Date: February 2014
Genre: YA/Sci-fi/Dystopian
Source/Format: Library/Hardcover

From Goodreads: The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.
**This review contains spoilers for Ignite Me, as well as the previous books in the series.

If you've been keeping up with my journey through the Shatter Me series, you know that I've made no secret of my mixed feelings about it. But, boy, did Ignite Me exceed my expectations! From the first page to the last, the book had my attention in a stranglehold. Finally things were moving, and finally Juliette was becoming the character I'd wished she'd been in the earlier books. At first, I found her personality shift a bit jarring; I mean, I know she got shot in the chest and all, but it was still kind of hard for me to reconcile this new, badass, take-on-the-world Juliette with the timid girl she was throughout so much of the previous books. Then again, if I were miraculously brought back to life, maybe I'd be filled with mega-confidence and vengeful zeal, too. In any case, Juliette's change was definitely for the better.

Speaking of personality shifts...Adam. WHAT THE HELL, DUDE? It's completely understandable that he felt hurt and betrayed and all that jazz, but WOW! Possessive, much? He was like the crazy-jealous controlling ex-boyfriend in this book, and if I had any qualms about him and Juliette being over, Tahereh Mafi did a good job of squashing them. It was frightening to see the dark turn Adam's personality took in this book; at times he was downright cruel. Toward the end I half-expected him to betray Juliette and the others out of sheer spite.

While Adam's drastic personality shift was enough to get me to root for Team Warner, I liked that Mafi offered us some stronger evidence for the case against Adam/Juliette. Juliette's relationships with both Adam and Warner went from being focused on physical attraction to the effect each boy had on Juliette her mentally and emotionally:
"I think he wants to pretend I'm the girl who doesn't really speak and spends most of her time being scared. The kind of girl he needs to protect and take care of all the time. I don't know if he likes who I am now. I don't know if he can handle it."
- Juliette on Adam

I like the way I feel about myself when I'm with him...Warner thinks I'm strong and smart and capable and he actually values my opinion. He makes me feel like his equal--like I can accomplish just as much as he can, and more. And if I do something incredible, he's not even surprised. He expects it. He doesn't treat me like I'm some fragile little girl who needs to be protected all the time."
- Juliette on Warner
I've got to hand it to Mafi--she can take a character you would never in a million years think you'd love and make you fall for that same character so hard you get whiplash. I hated Warner at the end of Shatter Me and for much of Unravel Me, and was furious with Juliette for being so easily blinded by her physical attraction to him. And then along came Destroy Me. Everything I thought I knew about Warner, well, unraveled. We got inside his head, learned his true motives and his reasoning, and suddenly, everything that happened in Shatter Me took on a whole different meaning. (I still can't quite forgive him for putting Juliette through the simulation, however. Regardless of the outcome, it was still a pretty sadistic thing to do, letting her believe that the child was real.) But Warner turned out to be interesting; he was neither wholly good nor wholly evil. He was complex. And, yeah, totally swoon-worthy. I mean, come on. Chapter 55? GOOD. LORD.

Ignite Me turned out to be pretty light on the action and surprisingly heavy on Juliette's personal relationships, not only with Adam and Warner but with the other characters as well. Especially Kenji. Oh, Kenji. I adored him. He provided great comic relief, and his lines almost always had me laughing out loud. While I enjoyed the focus on the personal relationships, it did detract a bit from the action in the story. So much of the last third of the book was spent on Juliette and Warner's relationship that the final battle seemed to come out of nowhere, and it felt rushed. There was a bit of struggle between Juliette and Anderson, but in the end it seemed like she won far too easily. I would have liked to see a more challenging fight. As for the final pages, I can't believe we're left hanging like that! There was so much more story potential and I had so many questions: How is Juliette going to become the new leader? Will there be backlash? What of the other sectors? What is going on in the rest of the world? And just how was Anderson able to create the Reestablishment to begin with? I NEED ANSWERS, TAHEREH!

And so ends my journey with the Shatter Me series. Verdict: I can say without a doubt now that I am most definitely a fan.




Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mini Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Expected Pub. Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Source/Format: Entangled Teen/E-galley
From Goodreads:

Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.
Thanks to Entangled Teen for providing a copy of Perfected in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the summary for Perfected, I was immediately reminded of Lauren DeStefano's Wither and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, both of which revolve around women trapped in societies that treat them as little more than objects. Unfortunately, Perfected lacked the high stakes that made its predecessors so compelling. My biggest struggle while reading Perfected was that I was just...well, bored. While I felt sorry for Ella, I never really connected with her. She lacked the fire of other YA dystopian heroines, like Katniss Everdeen or Tris Prior or Juliette Ferrars. At no point did I feel fully emotionally invested in their stories. Another element that made the book boring for me was the incomplete world-building. From what I could tell, the story seems to take place during the present day, but I was never quite sure. Also, there's no backstory to set up how genetic engineering came about, or why. I'm still not even sure what "genetic engineering" means--are the pets clones? Are they birthed from surrogate mothers and then handed over to the kennels? And even if they are genetically engineered, how does that make them less human?

When I wasn't bored with the story, I was genuinely creeped out by the way Ella and the other pets were treated, particularly by men. Some passages were enough to make my skin crawl. Essentially, these human pets are treated like dogs; they're raised in "kennels," given I.D. tags, implanted with homing microchips, and sent off to their new homes with "care instructions" for their owners. At the kennels, Ella has been taught to believe that the pets are taken into their owners' homes to be displayed and admired. But as Ella adjusts to life with the congressman and his family, she quickly realizes she has been ill-prepared for life as a pet. Men leer at her, women look down upon her, and children treat her like a life-size doll. But rather than drawing me into the story and Ella's plight, these details only served to distract me. It just seemed too surreal that these girls were being treated this way, and I couldn't understand how it was being allowed to happen. I think that if Birch had provided us with some backstory, that would have at least helped to explain the mindset and justification behind the movement to create human pets.

Much as I hate giving a book a negative review, Perfected and I just didn't gel. That's not to say that other YA readers won't enjoy Ella's story, but it wasn't for me.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The YA Prom

Earlier this month Alexa and Gaby came up with the absolutely brilliant idea of hosting the YA Prom, a chance for us book nerds to dream up our ideal prom night. It's been my dream since I was fifteen years old to go to prom with Edward Cullen and now I finally have my chance (sort of)!



THE DATE: I knew from the moment I saw Alexa and Gaby post about the prom that my date absolutely had to be Edward Cullen. He was the first YA boy I fell completely head over heels in love with. :) THE DRESS: Not only is this dress just plain gorgeous, but it's also very similar to Stephenie Meyer's version of Bella's prom dress. THE SHOES: Yeah, they're Gucci, but since this is my dream prom I'm going all out! THE JEWELRY: The bodice of the dress is so intricate that you really don't even need much jewelry, so I went with simple but sparkly bangles. THE HAIR: I love how simple yet elegant this style is! And this time, my curls would last the whole night (at my actual prom my hair was stick straight again by the end of the night, haha).

And finally, it wouldn't be prom without some great music so here's a little playlist for the night:




Thanks again to Alexa and Gaby for hosting this awesome event! Don't forget to join the Twitter party at 8:30PM (#YAProm). 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Cover Trends


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic: Book Cover Trends

Trends I LOVE

Girls In Dresses


 I know this is a polarizing trend for lots of YA readers, and I think I'm in the minority when I say I actually like these covers. More often than not, I'm drawn to them and will pick up the book to see what it's all about. I've always been a girly girl and loved dressing up, so I think that's why I'm so drawn to these covers in particular.

Color


The more colorful the cover, the more likely I am to pick it up. Likewise, I'm drawn to covers with eye-catching color contrast (like the DoSaB covers, the Twilight covers, Beautiful Creatures, etc.).

Illustrated Covers


While there are still plenty of YA books out there with pictures of real people, there seems to be a growing trend of illustrated covers, too. I really love the look of the Throne of Glass covers now that they've gone to an illustrated depiction of Celaena rather than an edited photograph. 

Trends That Need to STOP


Mid-series Cover Changes


No. Just, no. I don't know why publishers suddenly decide mid-series that the current cover designs are no longer good enough, but it DRIVES ME CRAZY! I'm one of those bookworms that get twitchy when their books don't match. I'll admit that sometimes the change is for the better (like with the Throne of Glass series), but for the most part the change makes the book stand out less (like with the Across the Universe books). The original cover designs were so much more appealing and eye-catching.


What are some of your favorite/least favorite cover trends? Do we share any favorites?

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm Back!

As you might have noticed things were quiet on the blog this past week, the reason being that I was on vacation with my family on the gorgeous Gulf coast of Florida! I had grand plans of scheduling posts for the week but those plans all went out the window before we left. Last Saturday was my younger sister's graduation open house and we were all scrambling to prepare not only for that but our trip as well. Craziness and last-minute rushing around ensued, meaning I had no time to plan any posts let alone write them. Sigh. But now that I'm home I promise to get back to blogging regularly!

I've only been back home for a day but I already miss Florida. It was wonderful! We arrived Monday night and spent the evening having dinner at the hotel's restaurant. It's right on the beach and the view was absolutely gorgeous.

The view from the restaurant during the day.
The view from our hotel room. Umm, can I just move here so I can look out onto this every morning?
On Tuesday morning I lugged my giant beach bag o' books down to the pool and started We Were Liars, which I finished in record time: all in one day! It was seriously addicting, you guys; if you haven't read it yet, you need to (and if that's not enough to convince you, I hope to have my review up soon, so keep your eyes peeled.) Sadly, Liars was the only book I finished this trip. After finishing it I went back and forth between reading What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick, These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi. I think I was having a hard time concentrating because I was still reeling from the end of Liars.

What would vacation be without a good book and a fruity drink? :)

All in all it was a great vacation but, sad as I was to leave Florida yesterday, I'm glad to be back home. Now it's time for me to buckle down and start prepping for my publishing course, which is quickly approaching. I'm slightly terrified but mostly excited--after all, it'll put me that much closer to getting my dream job (I hope). But, more details on that later. For now, I will leave you with some amusing pics from my trip. :)

For my family, it wouldn't be a real Florida vacation without stopping in at least one of the millions of beach shops on the island. When I was a kid, I used to love roaming these stores in search of the perfect souvenir to take home but now that I'm older I just like looking around at all the wacky stuff. Like the shell art in the first picture, for example. I mean, who wouldn't want a souvenir of shell people playing a game of poker? (Not pictured here: shell people mariachi bands.) Or, if you're wanting a simpler, more authentic souvenir, you could always pick a beautiful seashell from one of the many baskets of shells they have available. However, it appears that Florida is fresh out of seashells and has had to resort to importing all of theirs from the Philippines for the moment...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi {Shatter Me #2} -- AKA My Warner Rant

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub Date: February 2013
Genre: YA/Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Source/Format: Library/Paperback

From Goodreads:

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

I honestly don't even know where to begin talking about Unravel Me. I have so many emotions. It was exciting, it was steamy, it was frustrating, it was infuriating...it was all the adjectives, basically. And I'm still trying to figure out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. What I do know is that I enjoyed Unravel Me more than Shatter Me, and even though I was correct when I predicted the direction this book was going, I'm not as upset about it as I thought I would be. I think. I'm upset that Mafi spent so much of Shatter Me convincing me that Warner is this horrible, irredeemably bad guy, only to shove Juliette into his arms in Unravel Me. I feel just as conflicted as Juliette, which I suppose is a good thing (I take it as a sign of good writing if you feel everything the character feels), but at the same time drives me crazy! Warner has done bad things. Really bad things. But I pity him because of his upbringing and the fact that he has a horrible father, and also because he does seem to have the capacity for love and kindness where Juliette is concerned. But just because I (and Juliette) pity him, does that mean he can be forgiven for all the wrong he has done? Should he get off scott-free? I'm not so sure. But now that he's a love interest, I don't want anything to happen to him. I almost want him to skip merrily off into the sunset with Juliette. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

What bothered me most about Juliette's relationship with Warner is that, at first, it's mainly driven by her physical attraction to him, which, given the circumstances, makes her seem extremely shallow. It was disappointing to see that a little lust was all it took to tip the balance in Warner's favor. I would have been more okay with the whole thing if Juliette had connected with Warner because she felt their miserable upbringings and their yearning for attention and love made them understand each other...but all of that seemed secondary to the physical attraction. And yes, I get that physical attraction is a big deal for Juliette because she's never had the chance to experience it before, but should it really outweigh what she knows about Warner and what he's done?

And then there's Adam. Poor, poor Adam. This dude just can't catch a break. First he's nearly killed and then brought back to life, then he finds out he's not immune to Juliette's touch like everyone thought, then Juliette almost kills him, and THEN she goes and starts having feelings for Warner. I don't know what Ignite Me has in store for Adam but I hope he's able to find some sort of happiness, whether it's with Juliette or not.

Love triangle aside, Unravel Me did have some pretty thrilling action, which kept the story moving along at a nice pace. The war between the Reestablishment and the rebels escalated to an exciting (and unexpected) finish. I'm glad Mafi delved more into the story of Omega Point and Castle, whom, to be honest, I had a hard time trusting for the first half of the book. It was his relationship with Kenji and his willingness to accept Warner into Omega Point that finally convinced me he was a good guy, not power-hungry leader hiding behind his supposed good intentions. And while Juliette frustrated me so much throughout the book, the transformation she undergoes at the end has me very excited for Ignite Me. It will be interesting to see how her new-found confidence and strength will change her, and which side she will choose.
I'm ready to do something I'll definitely regret and this time I don't care. I'm done being nice. I'm done being nervous. I'm not afraid of anything anymore. Mass chaos is in my future. And I'm leaving my gloves behind.