Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

The title sounds cheesy, and to be honest, my expectations were low for this book, saying how much I dislike the other novels from Jenny Han, but to be perfectly honest, when I got this book from ALA in July, I immediately read it, and did not put it down  until I was finished.
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Summary: Lara Jean is you average teenage girl, she has her crushes and her secrets and her slightly dysfunctional family, but then things kind of get turned extremely upside when a box full of love letters to every boy she has ever had a crush on has been sent to each one of them directly. She then has to cover her tracks, she has undo what has been done, she has to make the boy she's in love with think that she's not in love with him, or else, everything will turn into chaos. 
PROS: This book kept me guessing, I went "oooh" and "aaah" over every single chapter. I love who Lara Jean is. She isn't your classic story book girl; she doesn't have the all the bells and whistles and googly eyes, no, she's quirky and different and has a lot of flaws that make her believable. Each character is easy to understand and easy to picture in your head, which is something I love in a book. I love it when books are so detailed that they literally come to life inside your head. 
CONS: I don't have a super long list of cons, but this book was definitely lacking something. It wasn't very challenging, definitely a seventh grade reading level sort of book, and in some chapters, even though I found them entertaining, I also found them slightly unnecessary to the book overall. 
Rate: This was a genuinely good book, a book to read if you're simply trying relax; a total chick novel. 3.5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Fat Angie

I was extremely excited about this book from the beginning, I had heard quotes, small synopses, and I just thought "This is going to be a book I'll remember", and, well, I haven't forgotten it yet.
Her sister was captured in Iraq, she’s the resident laughingstock at school, and her therapist tells her to count instead of eat. Can a daring new girl in her life really change anything?
Angie is broken — by her can’t-be-bothered mother, by her high-school tormenters, and by being the only one who thinks her varsity-athlete-turned-war-hero sister is still alive. Hiding under a mountain of junk food hasn’t kept the pain (or the shouts of "crazy mad cow!") away. Having failed to kill herself — in front of a gym full of kids — she’s back at high school just trying to make it through each day. That is, until the arrival of KC Romance, the kind of girl who doesn’t exist in Dryfalls, Ohio. A girl who is one hundred and ninety-nine percent wow! A girl who never sees her as Fat Angie, and who knows too well that the package doesn’t always match what’s inside. With an offbeat sensibility, mean girls to rival a horror classic, and characters both outrageous and touching, this darkly comic anti-romantic romance will appeal to anyone who likes entertaining and meaningful fiction.
Summary: My summary is the books summary. It contains horror, love, depression, and anything else that you would want in a book. 
PROS: This book really touched me. It was funny, I love Angie and her personality, but I also love the message of the book as a whole. What this girl goes through, and how she reacts to things, actually makes me respect her. I couldn't do what Fat Angie does. Her whole life is a mess, and I thought that it made this book much more enticing. I didn't have a desire to put it down. I read this book in two hours. 
CONS: I thought that everything that was happening to her was a bit much. I wouldn't take anything out of it, every page was important, but every page also broke my heart. 
Rate: This novel inspired me, and made me appreciate what I have in this world. I love Fat Angie. I love the novel, and the girl. 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: The Young Elites

 I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
Sorry if this review is going to sound a bit rav-y, I just loved it so much which means a lot considering I didn't exactly love Marie Lu's Legend series. The whole story was just amazing and I've haven't read a supernatural-ly book this awesome in awhile. I loved the supporting characters in the book and I hope the second book will give more information about the Elites. Adelina was a character that I loved and hated at the same time. I hated how she couldn't make her mind up about decisions (which eventually got her and others into trouble), but I loved how she was such a strong female lead. The Young Elites is a book that I would recommend to anyone because it's an awesome action book infused with a little bit of romance and comedy. The ending will leave you wanting more. SO MUCH MORE.
5 Stars!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Life by Commitee

I absolutely love Corey Ann Haydy. I've loved her since about the beginning of time, so it's easy to say that I had rather high expectations for this book. And, as usual, she did not disappoint me.
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own. But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

Summary:Tabitha has been basically exiled by everyone in her school the moment she becomes hot. She's not sure why, it's not her fault. The only thing that's good in her life is Joe. Joe is sweet to her, he understands her, the only problem is that he has a beautiful girlfriend who is loved by everybody. Tabitha is alone and almost depressed, and she's simply looking for a way to make her life better. One day she finds Life by Committee, and after that, her entire live begins to change. She gets tasks that she has to complete, involving her life, or she'll get kicked out. She tests herself to see how much she can accomplish, until, things start to get complicated... 

PROS: Life by Committee is very relatable, everyone has things in their life that they don't understand and they wish they could change, and this is a girl who does something about those things. I loved all of the characters, they were all very unique and they tied well into the story as a whole. Corey writes in a relaxing style; it's very nice and easy to read. There wasn't a moment in this book where I got bored, or even wanted to put down. 
CONS: This book was awesome, this book was great, but, all in all in wasn't brilliant, it wasn't life changing. 
Rate: THIS BOOK, THIS BOOK IS HAPPINESS. 4.5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars). 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: The Kingdom of Little Wounds

The Kingdom of Little Wounds was my very first Medieval book. I was excited to start it because I honestly had no idea what to expect from it.This novel has received a lot of ridicule for not  being suitable for YA readers, but, as an 18 year old -- 17 when I read this -- I thought this book was like a breath of fresh air.

On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion. Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.

Summary: This book is told from mainly two perspectives; Ava Bingen, and Midi Sorte, but there is also 2nd person dialogue so you can read about all the mysterious and questionable things happening inside this one castle. The Kingdom is in distress as one of their beloved princesses dies the night of her wedding. No one is truly certain of how she dies, but the grieving cannot last very long, for there are far too many other dramatic things happening. 

PROS: This book is thick, about 600 hundred pages, so you know that there is no missing detail. The way Cokal phrases, and describes things is beautiful. I called this book a breath of fresh air because it contains something that many books are missing; reality. There has been a lot of negative feedback about how graphic this book is, but there is nothing in here that wouldn't have happened in Medieval times. Sad to say, but there was: poverty, disease, cruel punishment, and sexual abuse in this time period. 

CONS: I do have to admit that this book doesn't belong in the hands of anyone under the age of 16, simply because all the facts about this time period can be hard to swallow. I also had trouble getting through the entire thing since it was so big, but I can say that I finished it and was very happy with the ending. 

Rate: This book is different from most books in the YA category, and I definitely thought it deserved the Michael L. Printz award that it won. 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Salt and Storm

 Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whale men safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother, the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic, stole Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape from her mother before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roes’ power.

When Avery awakens from a dream foretelling her own murder, she realizes time is running short—for her and for the people of her island, who, without the Roes, will lose their ships and the only life they know.

With the help of Tane, a tattooed harpoon boy from the Pacific Islands, Avery plots her escape from her mother and unravels the mysteries of her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected—one she might not be able to make
I was in the mood for a witch book and picking this one up was one of the best decisions I've made. I loved the main character Avery because she was very down to Earth and relate-able. I liked how the author described how the magic worked and towards the end we as readers found out how the Roes got their magic.

The romance in this book was okay. It was cute and slower paced than most (which was nice) but I honestly didn't feel that there was much chemistry between Avery and Tane. They were just there together. I did however enjoy the conversations between the two of them and I enjoyed getting to know Tane better.

My favorite part of the book was the writing. It was very descriptive and while reading it was like watching a movie in my head. Here's a quote I particularly enjoyed from the book:
"...My panic makes me lurch for air again and again, but when I breathe now, blood and water spray into the air, a column of red that clouds around me, and I can taste them mix, salty water and salty blood, and just as my eyes roll back into my head, I see the bright curve of a hook, a hook the size of a man's head, and I urge every last bit of strength I have into my scream..."
Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I will be buying myself a copy once it releases.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Belzhar (SPOILERS)

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.
I had really high hopes for this book, but sadly, for me, Belzhar didn't live up to its hype. The writing was very good but the characters fell flat and the main character especially irritated me.I think the idea of going to "Belzhar" (a place the characters would go when writing in their journals) was very unique and intriguing and I'm happy the author went into detail about all the characters different experiences.I especially enjoyed how writing in the journals helped the characters develop and figure out their issues. However, Jam's character was hard for me to deal with because I've been in a similar position as her (at least I thought I had until I read the end of the book) and it was just ridiculous how she got so depressed over a boy she barely knew. Turns out that the guy who was her "boyfriend" wasn't really her boyfriend and he hadn't actually died. Jam had created a story about all that to make herself feel better about getting rejected. It was kind of an insult to me because I was with my ex for a year when we broke up and it destroyed me (I myself had to be admitted into a hospital for treatment (which is why I haven't blogged for awhile, sorry guys!!)).

Anyway, I would recommend waiting to get this in paperback or to check it out from the library. I think most people will either love it or hate it, but I'm sorta in the middle just because the idea was cool and the writing wasn't that bad.
3 Stars!

Source: ALA 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Review: Lovely, Dark and Deep

Lovely, Dark and Deep sounds cliche simply because of it's title, and I will admit, it sort of is. (However, I would like to note that I have heard many opinions different from my own about this particular novel).
Wren Wells is trying to outrun the accident that killed her boyfriend and wrecked her plans to live a normal life. Instead of going to college, she retreats to her father's isolated art studio. There, in the remote northern woods of Maine, she meets Cal Owens, a boy who wears his own hurt like a badge. But when their connection threatens Wren's hard-won isolation, she has to choose: open up her broken heart or join the ghosts who haunt. 

Alright, I'm not even going to grace this book with my own summary of it, because I know it'll end in a rant about my deep hatred for Wren Wells, the the spoiled, narcissistic bitch (excuse my French) who turns away everyone that loves her simply because she "can't handle it". All right, I'm ranting, I'll stop now. 
Pros: Amy McNamara truly is an excellent author. Her writing style is smooth and elegant and many of the characters are astonishingly creative and interesting. Everyone -- besides she who shall not be named -- is so loving, and it sort of projects the goodness in the world. Cal Owens, the love interest, is honestly one of the greatest guys in the world, and you can actually feel that through his actions as well as his words. 

Cons: Wren is THE most annoying person I have ever read about. All everyone does for her is give, give, give, and yet she still pushes them all away, as if her problems are the only one's that exist in the world. I never thought that I could hate a fictional character this much, but I do. So basically, the main character is the biggest flaw in the book. 

Rate: I want to formally apologize to the author, Amy McNamara, for all the belittling I have down, she's a great novelist, she has amazing attention to detail and emotions, but I just can't give this book a good rating when all I want to do is burn Wren Wells at the stake. 1.5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars.)  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: The Green Teen Cook Book and Sticky Fingers

I absolutely adored both these books. I used the cook book to (easily) make some yummy salmon and I used the DIY duck tape book to create a cute little wallet for myself and it only took about twenty minutes to do. These are definitely things you want if you like cooking or making crafts. I loved the detailed pictures in the DIY book and the instructions in the cook book made cooking unbelievably easy to do. Not to mention the cook book had a lot of healthy meals inside it.
The colors of the pages are vibrant and inviting. I actually want to make the crafts and food items because the books are so pretty:) Go and get copies now. Like, now. Even if you don't cook or make crafts, they'll sit pretty on your shelf.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

Two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin offers an ingenious fictional take on the "oral history" celebrity bio that defined a bestselling genre: Edie, American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton. In presenting herself as interviewer and curator of memories, Adele paints the portrait of a tragic young celebrity who allegedly committed suicide—presented in a series of brief first-person recollections—that ultimately results in the solving of a murder. 

Adele's words: "From the moment she burst into the downtown art scene, seventeen-year-old Addison Stone was someone to watch. Her trademark subversive street art and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more about this brilliant wild-child who shone so bright and was gone too soon. By means of more than one hundred interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—I have retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life, with research that sheds new evidence on what really happened the night of July 28, 2013. With photo inserts and previously unpublished supplemental material."

This book was definitely a new kind of read for me as I have never read a fictional biography before. I loved how Adele Griffin wrote using interviews and pictures. It made the story seem more real, I actually thought it was a real biography. Griffin creates a character with substance and the reader gets to truly know who Addison Stone was. I could literally feel emotion coming off the pages from all the different characters telling stories about Stone's life and death.

I've never read an Adele Griffin book, but this novel has made me want to buy every single book she's ever written. It was that good and the pictures inside definitely helped the novel to be even more interesting. 5 Stars!

Received at ALA 2014 in exchange for honest review