July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 7.31.13

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming books that we're eagerly waiting for!



Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
January 28, 2014

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone. 
Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly. 
The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Sometimes I wonder how there could possibly be any more book ideas to go around, and some books seem like carbon copies of each other. But this idea seems unique and slightly chilling. This book is definitely going on my to-read list.

July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday 7.30.13


Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings In Books. I've decided to do five beginnings and five endings. :) Oh, and PLEASE don't look at the endings unless you want them to be spoiled!

Beginnings

1. Wither by Lauren DeStefano - "I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together like rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying." This just makes you wonder. What is she waiting for? Why are they in the dark?

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - "The circus arrives without warning." I don't think this really needs an explanation.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - "Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death." I think this is debatably the best first sentence of a book I've ever read in my entire life.

4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - "They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that's not how it happened for me." This book has the best prologue. And this sentence just makes me shiver. She dies?

5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - "He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air." James Dashner has made us wonder--he's beginning a new life? Why? Who is he? It makes us want to read on.

Endings

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - "It lived! And nothing could destroy it. Once more she looked at Florry Wendy reading on the fire escape. "Goodbye, Francie," she whispered. She closed the window." Yes, I know this is a classic. But it was too good to pass up. After everything, this is Francie seeing a girl who is just like she was. This is Francie saying goodbye to her childhood.

2. Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - "Lena laughs at the way I always fill my cup as full as it can go. I feel her smiling in her sleep. I raise my glass to the moon and drink it myself. Life has never tasted sweeter." The best ending to the series ever.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling - "The scar had not pained Harry in nineteen years. All was well." I was definitely crying at the end of this series. At the end of the movie I do, too. It gets me every time.

4. Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi - "I'm not afraid of anything anymore. Mass chaos is in my future. And I'm leaving my gloves behind." Juliette is saying that she's not afraid of herself anymore. She's going to be who she is and that's all. This is such a powerful ending, and I love it.

5. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen - "But I knew where I came from. No matter where I was, or what got me there, I would always feel at home when I touched sand." The latest Sarah Dessen book, and by far one of her best.

So what do you think? Do you have any favorites?

July 29, 2013

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Title: The Book of Broken Hearts
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: May 21, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Pages: 352
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.  
Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?  
Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?  
Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.


I don't think the synopsis of this book does it much justice. We get the impression that this book is all about Jude and Emilio and overcoming their pasts. And it is. But that's not all.

The first thing we learn about Jude and her life is that her father has early onset Alzheimer's. This is a large element of the book, though we don't really get that from the synopsis. The Book of Broken Hearts is a shockingly real depiction of what it's like to live with someone who has Alzheimer's. I'm not sure if Sarah Ockler herself lives or has lived with someone who has Alzheimer's--or knows someone who has it--but if she doesn't, she sure did do her research. We feel Jude's shift in emotions towards her father and the disease throughout the entire book, and just as it's overwhelming for her, it was overwhelming for me. Sarah Ockler has created a character with an exceptionally strong voice, and the writing is natural and clear.

The characters in this book were astounding. The Hernandez family felt real, and Jude's sisters were each their own person but also bonded in a way that isn't explainable--it's only a feeling.

Emilio and Jude's relationship was not rushed. Often in YA, we find that a boy and a girl meet and are immediately head over heels in love. But because of the oath and what happened with Celi, Jude is extremely hesitant resistant to even let Emilio work on her father's motorcycle, much less become friends with him. This causes the relationship to develop gradually, and I found that instead of being impatient, I thought it was better that way. Their relationship is real and it is easy to imagine a situation like this happening outside of a book.

Everything felt real and alive. There are books I read where I'm aware that it's all just fake, even with contemporary fiction, but I felt like I was reading about someone's life--in the best way possible.

This book blew me away. Having read all of Sarah Ockler's books, I can say with confidence that this one is my favorite.

July 28, 2013

Super Six Sunday #1

Super Six Sunday is a book meme hosted at Bewitched Bookworms

This week the prompt is Super Six Bookish Kick-Ass Heroines! There are so many I can think of, but I'm being limited to six. :)

HERMIONE GRANGER
Harry Potter Series
She's a smart, quick-witted, cunning girl who's the star of my favorite book series. What's not to love? Harry and Ron would have gotten nowhere without her, and she stuck by their side throughout all seven books. She's definitely not sensitive, and contributes a tough love towards the two boys--and, eventually, love for Ron--that the series would be lost without.

CLARY FRAY
Mortal Instruments
Clary is definitely up there on the list. She takes the fact that she's a Shadowhunter in stride, and knows exactly what she's doing. Despite the fact that she's at a disadvantage, Clary is tough and eventually figures everything out. She also knows who she is--there's never a question about what side she's on or where she stands.

LENA HALOWAY
Delirium Trilogy
It's true that she's not exactly the weapon type of girl, but Lena is one persuasive girl. She has good ideas and is good at communicating them to the rest of her friends. Though she doesn't quite know where she stands--who does in a love triangle?--she makes what I think is a good choice in the end.

KAROU
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy
Karou is not afraid to get what she wants, and will stop at nothing to retrieve it. She is a fast and excellent fighter, and has a deep love for her friends and family. I've only read the first one in this series but am anxious to get to the second.

MAXIMUM RIDE
Maximum Ride Series
Max is a natural born leader. She easily plays mother to Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel, and yet still manages to fight off all of the challenges thrown her way. I love the fact that her leadership does not ruin the relationships she has with her friends and family.

JULIETTE FERRARS
Shatter Me Trilogy
Juliette knows how strong she is with her lethal touch, but doesn't use it to manipulate anyone she loves. She is strong, hard-working, and loving, even though she herself is a weapon. I'm anxiously awaiting the final book and hope she makes the right choices. (*whispers* Team Adam!)

I'll (hopefully) be posting a review for The Book of Broken Hearts soon! :)

July 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #1

Stacking the Shelves is a feature hosted by Tygna's Reviews. It's about sharing the books you got this week--virtual or physical--from the bookstore, the library, borrowed from friends, etc.

This week I went to the library and picked up these three books:


I've read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and absolutely loved it, so I thought The Future of Us would be a good idea. 


Similarly, I've also read the other three books Sarah Ockler has written and felt the same way about them as I did about Thirteen Reasons Why. This is her website. I suggest you check it out if you haven't already! 


The Luxe was a book I've heard good and bad things about. I decided to give it a try, but I'm not sure if I'll like it or not.

I'll be reviewing all three of these if I enjoy them and get around to it. :)

I'm hoping to finish the assigned summer reading I have by tonight so I can get started on The Book of Broken Hearts. I'll actually be reading that one (and the other two, hopefully) for the Beat the Heat Readathon--which I blogged about a few days ago--that starts Monday.


July 26, 2013

Let's Talk: Reading Habits



Let's Talk is a weekly feature hosted by I Swim For Oceans. It's a discussion post with questions or prompts that have to do with books and reading (what else?). :)

Describe your reading habits.

It took me a minute to think about this. What are my reading habits? Do I really have any? But as I thought about it, I realized I do. 

I read for long periods of time, curled up on the couch not moving for hours until I finish the book (or at least half of it). I find that if I try to read a few chapters throughout the day, I can't focus. It's easier for me to just sit with the book and devour it. 

While I read, I tend to make notes in my head about what I like and dislike, even if I'm not going to review it. It's a habit I developed as I grew to become a more avid reader.

This may seem strange, but sometimes I time how long it will take me to finish/read a book. I determine how many pages I can read a minute (depending on the size of the words and pages) and use that and the number of pages in the entire book to calculate approximately how long it will take me.

I read anywhere and everywhere. Literally. While crossing roads, in the grocery store, while going up and down stairs, free time in class, parties that I don't necessarily want to be attending, etc.

Even if I absolutely can't stand a book, I force myself to finish it. Now that I think about it, I'm not really sure why. It's just something that I've always done--and I'm sure will continue to do, even though it doesn't make much sense. 

So those are my reading habits. What about you? Any reading habits you picked up?

July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 7.24.13

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming books that we're eagerly waiting for!


This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
September 17, 2013
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing. 
Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

This book seems to combine two of my favorite things: music and unique characters. And the cover is gorgeous! I can't wait. :)

July 22, 2013

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Title: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: April 2010 (first published 1960)
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction
Pages: 376
Rating: 5/5 Stars

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic. 
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.


I generally don't review classics, but this was assigned summer reading for me this year and so I had to take a break from my normal YA novels to read this. And considering I loved it, I figured I'd post a review.

What can I say? Everything about this book had my attention. The characters were simple with an underlying deep about them, the plot was evenly paced (not too slow, not too fast), and the symbols had me puzzling out everything that they meant.

I loved the fact that it was told from Scout's point of view. Over the course of the book Scout was around seven to nine years old. It's an interesting choice of age considering the mature theme of the entire book, but it worked extremely well. Harper is innocent but not to the extent that you would expect, and she's smart. While she may not know exactly what's going on--especially in relation to the trial--she knows that there's more to the world than what she sees in her town. This book could easily have been a drab, boring classic, but from Scout's vantage point we get a fresh dose of spunk, quick-wit, and joy.

Let's talk about Boo Radley, the town recluse. He never comes out of his house, and no one really knows all that much about him. All we know of him comes from small presents he hid in the tree for Jem and Scout. While his presence in the book is not physical (except for one key part) he is extremely important to the story. He is an example of good in a town where there is so much bad--in a story where there are so many characters with terrible goals and views. The book is littered with lies told by the characters Harper Lee has concocted, but Boo Radley is an exception. He may be considered a recluse, but he is also a good man and a true friend. If there ever was a character who deserved more credit than he received, Boo Radley is that character.

Once the trial was over, I thought to myself, "how could there possibly be one hundred more pages of this book?" But the ending was strong and definitely necessary. While Harper Lee doesn't give much clue to what happens next, we are left satisfied. I wouldn't call her writing refreshing, but the character voices are distinctive from each other and steady over the course of the novel.

This was a touching read that brought to attention racism in the 1930s from an interesting vantage point. I hope that more books I read in the future will be as heartwarming as this one.

July 21, 2013

Beat the Heat Readathon


Starting July 29th, I'll be participating in the Beat the Heat Readathon, which is hosted by Auntie Spinelli Reads and Phantasmic Reads. The objective is to read as much or as little as you want--you can set your own goal--for two weeks, until August 11th. If you're curious, you can read more about it here.

I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to read some of the books on my bookshelf that I've bought but haven't read yet (and as an excuse to go to the library)! There are three books I have on my bookshelf that I'd like to read. The first one is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. 

Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to "the Smoke" and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The "Special Circumstances" authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

I never got around to reading this, but I've heard lots about it, so we'll see how it goes. I may or may not continue with the series depending on how much I like it.

The second book is Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy. She's written a few other books that I've heard about, but I've never read anything by her before. I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago but never got the chance to actually start reading it.

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl's perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys' band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free...until it isn't any more. 
When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl...and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char...being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. 

And the final book I bought but never read is Elemental by Antony John. I actually picked this up at a book signing where I met Lauren Oliver (if you haven't heard of her, I suggest you look her up). She was there at a panel with three other authors, and Antony was one of them. So I decided to buy his book and get it signed, but I still haven't read it yet!

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe. 
In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.

So I'm hoping to knock out these three books, along with maybe a few others! As far as a goal goes, these three books are the goal.

So from July 29th to August 11th I'll be reviewing these three (hopefully) and I'll probably go to the library and pick up a few more books, too! I'm hoping to read around 5-7 books including the three above.

Since I'm new to the whole blogging thing, I'm excited to participate in something! We'll see how this goes. :)

July 20, 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publish date: April 23, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 323
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea. 
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.  
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.


I was actually pretty disappointed with the way this turned out.

It wasn't a bad book, and it wasn't a good book either. It hovered more along the lines of okay. This was an okay book.

Bad News First:

The characters were sort of bland, and America infuriated me. She went on an on about how she was never going to be able to choose between Maxon and Aspen. There was no climax whatsoever. The book was a flat, straight line all the way across. Nothing too interesting. And the ending barely even made sense. *spoiler alert* first of all, when the rebels came and Maxon and America were in the safe room, Maxon was going on about how it's never going to work between them, and America kept nodding her head understandably. I was wondering where it even came from. Nothing that serious had gone on to warrant that. It was the same thing the entire time. America is just a really insensitive person. Apparently Maxon hadn't realized that until just then. And then when America says her final goodbyes, and is walking out the door, Maxon rushes up and tells her he found a way for her to stay, even though technically he hadn't forgiven her for the whole situation involving the book and her trust and hadn't even seemed to want her to stay.

And let's not even get into the situation with Aspen. America completely forgave him for everything he'd ever done and keeps seeing him behind Maxon's back, even after the whole situation with Marlee and Carter. She doesn't even question her morals while doing it, or the fact that it might be wrong.

Good News:

The book was an easy read. The descriptions were short and sweet, and the dialogue was pretty steady and well-written.

The letters from America’s dad and sections of the journal were extremely well-written, and I could definitely hear the voices of the characters through them. Cass is an excellent letter-writer.

The one part that I was really touched by in this book was when Marlee and Carter were caught together and America--and the rest of the country--was forced to watch as they were both caned. I was definitely crying. It was written in such a way that anyone, whether they hated or loved the book, would be touched--and upset for Marlee and Carter--by.


That's all I can really say. I'll be reading the final one when it comes out, and I hope it's better than this one, because I enjoyed the first very much.