Mar 30, 2010

Review | Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: March 19, 2009 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other peoples lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way -- thin, thinner, thinnest -- maybe she'll disappear altogether.

Thoughts: I knew it was going to be tough book to read because of the subject, but I really wanted to read it because I'd heard it was great. Not only is it powerful, I thought it was completely sad. I really was heartbroken with every page I turned because of how the disorder affected Lia.

I know that Lia was going through some tough times, but I really wanted to just shake her and make her realize, really see what she was doing to herself. I was really hurting for her, and I loved that Anderson created such a real and raw character that I felt I knew.

I'd only read one other book by Anderson, Speak, and I liked it but it didn't really interest me too much. This one was really different for me. Although both are about tough issues, I really felt like I connected with this one even though I've never been in or known any one to be in this sort of situation.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, it is a really tough and great book to read.

Mar 29, 2010

Review | Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga

After six months in the Maryland Mental Health Unit, Kyra Sellers, a.k.a. Goth Girl, is going home. Unfortunately, she's about to find out that while she was away, she lost track of more than time. Kyra is back in black, feeling good, and ready to make up with the only person who's ever appreciated her for who she really is. But then she sees him. Fanboy. Transcended from everything he was into someone she barely recognizes. And the anger and memories come rushing back.

Thoughts: I was happily surprised to find out that The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl had a second book since the first book left me wanting more. It has also been one of my favorite reads of the year, so I was excited to read this one.

This book is through Kyra a.k.a. Goth Girl's POV instead of Fanboy, and six months have passed since the ending of TAAFGG. I have to admit that Kyra can be tough character to like sometimes because of her attitude, but I think she's great. Lyga created this foul-mouthed, badass, emotionally unstable girl who thinks and talks like some girls today and I really liked that I was finally able to know what she was thinking.

Although Kyra is great, what bothered me most about the book was the absence of Fanboy. He was there, but mostly in Kyra's thoughts. His character didn't show up as much in the book as I would've wanted to, and one of the best scenes that really has them together is towards the end. I was a bit sad to see it end and not have heard from him much. I did miss him even though I liked Kyra.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first one. There were a few times that Kyra just frustrated me, and again, I was disappointed that Fanboy wasn't around.I would recommend reading TAAFGG first, but this book can also be read on its own since Lyga adds enough background information so that you aren't completely lost. I would recommend everyone to give this a try, but there is some rough dialogue and some sexual references.

Favorite Line: "Life isn't perfect. Hell, life is shit most of the time. But it's my life. I get to do what I want with it."

This book was provided by the local library.

Mar 24, 2010

Review | Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: October 18, 2007 by Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Thoughts: Although I liked it, I was a bit iffy about this book the entire time I was reading it. I've read great reviews on it, saying it was really great and all that good stuff, but for some reason, I didn't think it was that good.

I really liked the concept, the plot, the whole idea of someone leaving tapes of why they committed suicide and other people listening to figure out what drove the over the edge. But for some reason the way the story was developed didn't really satisfy me.

I had a few problems with the book. First off, I didn't like the way it was written with both the tape and what Clay was doing written at the same time. Does that make sense if you haven't read it? Maybe not. What I mean is that you are reading what he's listening to the tapes, and at the same time reading whatever else he's doing while listening to them. I know it won't make much sense if you haven't read it and I probably just confused you but that just confused me in the book. I really didn't find Clay all that interesting and was just skipping his moments and reading on to what he was listening to.

Another problem I had was her reasons. Yes, I know that teens go through a lot of tough stuff and sometimes the smallest things that nobody else notices is what finally drives people to commit suicide, but I wasn't able to really connect with Hannah due to her lack of explanation. I mean, sure she had problems, but I felt they were lacking any real depth or feeling.

I also didn't like Clay's role in the story. I don't mean I didn't like him as a character or who he was, because I did. I just like his part in the tapes. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but I really expected all the people on the tapes to have similar stories, and Clay's story was sort of unique.

Overall, I think this book is enjoyable to some extent. I can see why many people liked it, but I felt that the author didn't give me enough to really connect to the story. There are many people out there who really loved this book, so I definitely recommend everyone to give it a try because you might like it too.

Review | Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

"Dear John", the letter read. And with those two words, a heart was broken and two lives changed forever.
When Savannah Lynn Curtis comes into his life, John Tyree knows he is ready to turn over a new leaf. An angry rebel, he had enlisted in the army after high school, not knowing what else to do. Then, during a furlough, he meets Savannah, the girl of his dreams. The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty. John must choose between love and country. Now, when he finally returns to North Carolina, John will discover how love can transform us in ways we never could have imagined.

Thoughts: I think I have a love/hate relationship with Sparks. I loved The Notebook movie, but I wasn't too happy with the book. I know the book came first and the movie wouldn't even exist if the book didn't, but I watched the movie first. That was an obvious mistake. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it the book but it wasn't the same.

Dear John was just the opposite. I read (listened to it, actually) and really loved it. I connected with each character and really was able to appreciate Sparks' writing and the way he develops the story with this one. The movie was a waste of the eleven dollars that I didn't pay. Well, sort of. I think I would've enjoyed the movie a lot more if I hadn't heard the ending to the book just minutes before. I really hated the changes they made from the book to the movie. Which is weird, because I really loved the changes they made from the book to the movie for The Notebook.

Anyways, back to Dear John. I really found this book heartbreaking. I know that many people say that after John gets "the" letter the book gets sort of bad, but I think I really liked it more because it was so sad. I mean, I felt for the guy. I actually broke down and cried several times. And the relationship between the characters all felt so real to me. I was easily drawn to them.

I love Sparks simplicity. I don't know if anyone else agrees but I think that his writing style, from the two books I've read, is so simple. There's no suspense, action, horror or even that much drama intertwined with what's going on. Yet, I get a sense that this is really what real life is like. If you've enjoyed his other books I say you read this one too and everyone else should give it a try too because I think it's a great story.

Favorite Line: "It's possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems, and that in time, the grief . . . lessens. It may not go away completely, but after a while it's not so overwhelming."

This book was won in a giveaway hosted by Zia.

Mar 19, 2010

Review | Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: April 22, 2008 by Viking's Children's Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Ruby is used to taking care of herself. But now she's living in a fancy new house with her sister Cora, a sister she hasn't seen in ten years and her husband Jamie creator of one of the most popular online networking sites. She's attending private school, wearing new clothes, and for the first time, feels the promise of a future that include college and her family. So why is she so wary? And what is Nate the adorable and good-hearted boy next door hiding behind his genial nature? As Ruby starts to see, there's a big difference between being given help, and being able to accept it. And sometimes, in order to save yourself, you've got to reach out to someone else.

Thoughts: I know that there are many readers out there who love Sarah Dessen, and this is the third book I've read of hers and still don't really get it. The first one I read, I really enjoyed, but the second and this one were sort of eh.

I had a hard time really "getting into" the story, not too sure why? Maybe it was because I didn't feel like I understood Ruby. So it actually took me a few weeks to even finish it. I felt like the story sort of dragged on a bit and it was maybe longer than necessary.

There were some great moments though, don't get me wrong, but they were sort of pretty far apart in my opinion and didn't seem to add depth to the story. I was really looking forward to something really good, and although Dessen once again faces a tough issue in a remarkable way, I really don't see how this book would stand out much.

I must admit I really enjoy the topics she writes about, and most of her characters are enjoyable, but something about the way she delivers just doesn't catch my attention. But I won't give up and I will give the rest of her books a shot :)

Mar 16, 2010

Review | If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Thoughts: I heard it was heartbreaking, and it truly was. I knew what was going to happen, but somehow didn't expect it. I was aware that it was sad, but I didn't expect to cry. If I Stay is a completely unforgettable book, with a heart wrenching story that will have you glued to every page until it ends.

As soon as it began, I instantly felt connected to the story and its characters, the main reason being the beautiful narration of the author. While reading I could actually understand what Mia was feeling when going out with Adam, her nervousness before playing her cello in front of experts, having a great time with her parents and little brother and finally seeing all this change right in front of her eyes.

The narration moves between past and present, in flashbacks and giving much more depth to the characters which helps us to understand everyone better. It is a simple story told in such an extraordinary way that I couldn't help but love it.

A book about understanding the value of family, love, friendship, and loss, I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Favorite Line: "I can lose you like that if I don't lose you today. I'll let you go. If you stay."

This book was provided by the local library.

Mar 11, 2010

Review | Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: October 18, 2007 by Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty-especially if they learn of her Sight-and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. His is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost-regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; everything.

Thoughts: This felt like the first real faerie book that I'd read so far, since the first one I ever read I didn’t enjoy and the second one was sort of unique and different to what everyone else was reading about faeries. So I was a bit skeptical when I first picked it up but since it was an audio book, I knew I'd give it a chance even if it didn't interest me from the beginning.

I still felt fairly new to the whole faerie world but as soon as the book began I felt like I understood what was going on. There wasn't too much being thrown my way to make me feel like an idiot for not knowing what they were talking about.

What caught my attention from the beginning was Aislinn's view on faeries. They were cast in a different light than what I had expected, and although it surprised me, it also made curious to find out more, as well as all the mystery the book had. The characters were likeable, I thought, and very real so I felt I could actually connect with them.

The ending was sort of a given, but not. I knew how it would end but I still was surprised at the few twists it also included. I know I want to pick up the second, third and I believe that there is a fourth one also to find out what happens next. But to be honest, the book had a nice conclusion and I could've been happy with it being a stand-alone. Am I the only one who thinks that? Maybe. But anyways, I will be on the lookout for the next few books to read what happens next.

Mar 5, 2010

Review | The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

Thoughts: This was one of those books that you will never forget. Although it is a quick read, it is a very heavy subject that is very real but not familiar to many of us. There are so many issues in this book that make it an intense and powerful story, including arranged marriages, polygamy, love, and loyalty to family.

Kyra is a strong character and somewhat determined to control her own fate. She's confused about what she believes in, what she should do, and who she really is. The setting, the characters, and the community were written with such detail, that will you into a terrifying and tragic world that will haunt you for days.

I would definitely recommend this. This book is amazing, gripping and very disturbing, but it might be a bit difficult to read at times.

Favorite Line:
"If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."

This book was provided by the local library

Mar 3, 2010

Review | The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.

Thoughts: I cheated a little. I'd originally given this book 4/5 stars, but after I started thinking of what I was going to write, I thought "What the heck was I thinking? This is a 5 star book, definitely." So here we are.

You've heard this book is amazing? It's true, it really is. The author was able to create a harsh new world with a magnificent and exciting adventure story. It was action packed, suspenseful, and even contained some humor and romance at the best moments. There are a great set of characters that you'll connect with and enjoy, enough twists and turns to keep you at the edge of your seat, and cliff-hanging chapter endings that'll have you saying "Just one more page..." all through the night.

This is a powerful, thought-provoking, page-turning book that once you start, you won't be able to put down until it's over. And then you'll reach for the next one. What else can I say that hasn't been said already? I loved it. And yes, it made me cry too. If you haven't read it, you must. 'Nuff said.

Favorite Line(s):
"You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope."

"I don't want to lose the boy with the bread."

This book was provided by the local library

Mar 2, 2010

Review | The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age." Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the "roaring" 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to an increase in organized crime. Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel, idolized the riches and glamor of the age, he was uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and the lack of morality that went with it.

Thoughts: After finishing this book, my first thought was I'm sure glad I didn’t have to read that for junior high or high school even. Sure I thought it was interesting, but I can’t imagine why they make kids read this, even today. I picked up this book because my best friend said it was one of his favorite books and I believed him. Now I’m pretty sure that it was because he hasn’t very many books and this was one of the better ones, so naturally he would say it’s one of his favorites.

I liked this book, but there is no way I can dissect it and exclaim that it is one of the greatest classics of all time. It’s just an old book, sort of like Romeo and Juliet and The Crucible, which are also usually school reading requirements that are really good if you figure out all the themes and hidden meanings and all that other stuff they have you write about in school. To avoid all the complications, I’ll just say, this book is okay. It has a simple plot, and there are few interesting events, including a sort of shocking ending. It’s a short read that you might want to try out for a weekend. But if you haven’t read it yet, no rush, just get to it someday.

Favorite Line: "I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."

This book was provided by local library 

Mar 1, 2010

February Wrap Up

Books Read: 9
The Chosen One
The Girl Made of Cool
Dino Vicelli: Private Eye in a World of Evils
Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo
If I Stay
Lock and Key
Thirteen Reasons Why
Goth Girl Rising

Audio books finished: 2
Wicked Lovely
Dear John

Books Reviewed: 6

Favorite Book this Month: It’s really a tie between If I Stay by Gayle Foreman and Dear John by Nicholas Sparks.

Challenges Status:
Finish that Series Challenge: 0 series/10 series

Completed challenges: 1

I had a good month I think, overall. I was happy that I completed 11 books total and I made some progress on some of my challenges which always makes me happy :) I am a bit sad that I only got to two audiobooks this month, but the library I visited this month was lacking in that department. Of course, I had a slow blogging month, so I only reviewed 6 books total, but that’s okay. I have made some changes around here since last week, and there should be more from now on.

I liked all the books I read, but the two that stood out to me the most were If I Stay and Dear John. Both are great, heart-wrenching and emotional stories, very different, but both very good.

For February I joined the Heartbreakers Challenge hosted by Book♥Soulmates and it ended yesterday. Although I didn’t review any of the books (yet!) for the challenge, I got to finish seven books that I thought had some sort of heartbreak in them.