Friday, July 8, 2016

Audio Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I absolutely loved this audiobook. It is read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. They put so much emotion into the characters voices and it was literally addicting to hear. I listened to this with my boyfriend on our ten hour drive to California and by the time the book was finished, I was begging for more. I have already pre-ordered the second book on Audible.

The book itself is amazing. Sabaa Tahir weaves her words in a way where we (the reader) feel like we are actually there with Laia and Elias. We can feel their pain. We can feel their triumph. The characters have a lot of development and the development is actually believable. I like how Tahir made each character, minor or major, seem like an actual person. Each had their histories and personalities which made it hard to bear when a character would die.

This book is just overall amazing and you need to read it. Like, now.


You can get the audiobook here

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Finding Audrey

Sophie Kinsella, best known for her Shopaholic series and her hilarious writing style, introduces her first YA novel. Finding Audrey; the not so depressing book about depression. 
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

SUMMARY: Audrey is fourteen with anxiety problems that have convinced her and her family that she is basically "mental". Do we know what happened to Audrey? Barely, something to do with mean girls at school (who are never to be underestimated). She can't leave the house, talk to strangers, or take off her black glasses that shield her from eye contact. The only people that she can feel normal around are her four-year-old brother and her therapist -- two people that never judge. Her family has problems of its own though, her mother has an obsession with her sons obsession with video games, and this little feud leads us to hilarious situation after hilarious situation. And of course, a boy named Linus eventually comes along and makes Audrey feel something that she hasn't felt in many moons; happy. 
PROS: I loved the story, and I loved the writing. However, my favorite part of this book is it's possible educational value. There are a lot of books out there -- and soon to be coming -- about depression and anxiety, about having issues that nobody understands and trying to deal with them. This one though, would be my number one suggestion for anyone who wants to learn about how to help people who are going through these things, or if you're younger and having these issues yourself. It was all very realistic; her symptoms and personality obviously belong to someone with depression, but it never becomes TOO intense. It just shows you insight and possible tools. 
CONS: I personally have no complaints about this novel, Sophie Kinsella's writing is so charming that any flaws in this just didn't matter to me. but there was a complaint I heard that I thought was reasonable. "Unfortunately, Audrey's rapid recovery once she meets a cute guy rings a bit false, or at least, a too conveniently clich├ęd." -- School Library Journal. My response to this? People with depressive disorders are known to have mood swings and can be easily effected by triggers. In this case, Linus triggers a positive reaction from Audrey. 
RATE: Awesome. 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars). 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes


The much talked about debut novel of Jasmine Wanga.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.There's only one problem: she's not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who's haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.
SUMMARY: Aysel believes that she is ready to die. Her depressiveness has taken over her entire being, and the little black slug inside of her won't even let her feel happiness anymore. With her father in prison, and her mother unaware of her struggle, she feels like she has no one to turn to. Suicide seems like her only answer, but she doesn't want to go alone. She finds a "Suicide Partner" online; a teenage boy named Roman whose life is just as broken, but in different ways. As they plan their demise, Aysel starts to realize that she doesn't want Roman to die. Now she has to figure out how to stop him, while still wanting to go through with it herself.
PROS: I really liked the way that this story was written, and the personality Aysel. I think that she's a very relatable person, and that her life is original and interesting. It's funny that I find her relatable, because she sees the world so differently. She sees it as one big physics equation full of potential energy.
CONS: I loved Roman as a character, and I think that he was perfect for Aysel, but I also thought that he was a little too convenient. All of their issues were predictively picked to drive them closer together.
RATE: It's a painful read, but worth it. 4.5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review: An Abundance of Katherines

I wanted to give this book a review, because even though we all know that John Green is a great author, this book seems to have been ignored by a lot of readers.

Michael L. Printz Honor BookKatherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.
On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

SUMMARY: Colin Singleton has been told his entire life that he was special; he was a prodigy. The thing about prodigies though, is that they're different than geniuses. Prodigies absorb information at a very young age, they're talented beyond belief, but only until they reach the point where the world has caught up to them. Colin doesn't feel special, he just feel lonely and heartbroken as he has officially had 19 failed relationships with 19 different Katherines. He and his best friend gather up their money and decide to just go on a road trip; escape. They wind up in this tiny town that is only still running because of the one remaining factory (a tampon factory). The whole time, Colin is just desperately trying to come up with an equation to determine successful relationships.
PROS: This book was so witty and nerdy that I couldn't help but falling for it instantaneously. The story was just so incredibly interesting to me. It was the geeky kind of humor that I live for and I was laughing pretty much the entire time I was reading it. To make it even better though, it was excellently written and complex.
CONS: I don't really have any complaints about this book, but a lot of people had trouble keeping up with the vocabulary and the math that you actually have to figure out to understand the novel completely, but this book does contain plenty of side notes that do help explain things without making the novel too crowded.
RATE: If you have not read this yet, I absolutely suggest you do. I will go on record saying that I thought it was better than Paper Towns. 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Review: Salt & Storm


An interesting tale about magic, love, and trying to escape the inevitable.

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.
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 whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Summary: Avery has a magic inside of her that is unique to her family alone, and she only ever really experienced it when she lived with her grandmother as a child -- the greatest witch on their island. One day her mother takes her way from it, all of magic is forbidden in what Avery would call a prison of a house with a Pastor step-father, and his overly mannered daughters. Avery has always been able to read dreams, and she has one that foretells her murder. Now her only hope at survival is returning to her grandmother with the aid of the obviously gorgeous and mysterious Tane; who has magic Avery's never seen before.
PROS: Now, I know this book somewhat revolves around the likely-hood of the main character getting killed off, but it was also a very fun story. It was very lively and it involved a lot of love, let-downs, and hope. A very good combination.
CONS: The ending, sadly, fell a little short for me. Which is sad when you become so invested in the beginning and middle, and then the ending is simply good but not entirely satisfying.
RATE: 3.6 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Review: We All Looked Up

A humdrum group of messed up kids from all situations coming together for what might be the apocalypse. Yeah, I also thought it sounded interesting.
Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.They always say that high school is the best time of your life.Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.
Summary: All of these kids have secrets, and things that they're embarrassed about, some of them are just better at hiding it. Once they get going though, they are all seriously driven out of passion. You get to envision what the world would be like if it was only going to be there for 90 more days.
PROS: It's not easy to write a book from the perspective of six different people and have it still make sense, but Wallach did pretty well. I thought that it was one of the best love concepts to be considered in a long time.
CONS: Even when you're reading a fantasy novel, you still want things to add up, make sense, and be explained, but there are a lot of holes in this. It became very dramatic for a moment and then turned sort of numb.
RATE: 3 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The vampire book I had been waiting for.
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

Summary: Tana hates nothing in the world more than vampires. As far as she's concerned, they're simply murderous, evil and ancient; that, or they're just stupid kids that wanted to be 'cool', and got themselves changed. Most of the vampires lived in Coldtown's though;  large quarantined cities. Tana finds herself mixed up in all of this one day though. She risks her life for what she reveres most; a vampire.

PROS: Holly Black wrote vampires in a way that made sense. They're not loving creatures, not any of them, but that doesn't mean they can't feel love, however, they're bloodlust can get in the way. This was the perfect amount of thrill, fear, excitement, and romance. The romance was pretty much the least substantial part in the book, which was a nice break compared to every other YA novel.
CONS: There were definitely a few sections in this novel that got so descriptive it became confusing, but I'd simply  go back and re-read it.
RATE: 4.1 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Review: All the Bright Places

 Right here we have an absolute MUST READ.
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Summary: Finch and Violet's first interaction is an extremely unusual situation. This made them subconsciously fixated on each other. Finch is the school freak and jack ass, as well as the well-built class clown. Violet was your average popular pretty cheerleader, with a beautiful boyfriend, but when someone close to you dies, you change. They come together and take reader's on a journey.
PROS: This book was beautiful, touching, and a slap in the face. It was written realistically, and it makes you look at the world around you and wonder. I really did get obsessed with this novel and I know for a fact I will be obsessed with the movie once it comes out.
CONS: The beginning seems to start off slowly, however, what you're feeling is simply nerves because you just want to know what happens. Don't blame the book.
RATE: An easy 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: Dark Inside

     Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it’s turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies.
This is the world Aries, Clementine, Michael, and Mason are living in—or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad. Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey.

 In this book, four teens are trying to survive in a world of chaos. They all deal with it in different ways and more or less succeed to make it. This book by Jeyn Roberts is one of my favorites. I have read it at least three times since the beginning of the year. It's very entertaining while having just the right amount of darkness to thrill. It is very well written and not hard to keep up with. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes rather dark, exciting books and has a sense of adventure when it comes to reading. I very much enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Five Stars

              Reviewed by: Savannah Rose

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Glory O'briens History of the Future

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future completely baffled me. I thought the book was going one way, and then it would take a turn in the opposite direction.

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way...until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.

Summary: Glory is brilliant, and I truly believe that everyone around her is too daft to see how special she truly is, even before she gets the visions. Her best friend is the classic -- I had no other choice and this one was just there -- friend. I don't think Glory could hold it together without her though. Everybody needs somebody. Once the visions start, you get enveloped into the possibility that at any moment, we may be inches away from war. Glory isn't going to give up without a fight, though. She discovers how to help the world, by helping herself along the way. 

PRO: Excellently written. If it was legal to marry fictional characters, I would be married to Glory right now. A.S. King's brilliance shined through on every single page. I never knew what to expect. There was action, and drama, sadness, and romance. Everything led up to something, there were no loose ends. 

CON: Bad things? In an A.S. King novel? Yeah, right. 

Rate: I would shoot myself in the foot before I gave this book a bad rating. 5 out of 5 books (because books are better than stars). (Oh, and just kidding about the foot shooting part, I like being able to walk.)