Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You
I don’t normally review books that I do not receive as an ARC.  I also rarely review adult books, because I tend to read YA more.  Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is an exception to the rule.  This book is so difficult to surmise in the many ways it touches the reader.  The characters are so real they make you think of yourself or someone you might know.  The laughter, confusion, and pain are so real you forget that this is a fictional book.  I have never been one to say, if this made me cry it was amazing, because honestly sometimes things make us cry and it makes no sense.  Me Before You takes the cake on this.  I ugly cried.  You know that uncontrollable sobbing that rakes your chest, snot running down your nose, your face the color of beets, and eyes too small to see.  And I couldn’t stop.  I cried for about the last 40-50 pages.  To make matters worse, when my boyfriend came home at around the last 10 pages and I explained the story in a nutshell, he criticized it.  Oh dear lord I thought I was going to murder the man.  I had to defend fictional characters to him, while still ugly crying, so you know that turns you into the beast.  The point is that this story is real.  Moyes brings poignant themes and realities into her story of unconventional love.  I want to say it is a love story but at the same time it really is a how-to-live story.  That’s why it was amazing, because after reading it you think and wonder about those individuals out there like Will, who have to deal with the reality set forth in the novel.  You have to think about people like Lou, who will never abandon a situation but still has to feel all the emotions involved.  It makes you want to reevaluate your life, and drop all the excuses as to why you haven’t done what you want to do, yet.  It has been over two weeks and I still find myself sad about this book, but in the way one is sad when thinking about a deceased loved one.  It is bittersweet.  I will stop now because if I continue to think about this book in specifics I will start to get teary-eyed.  READ IT!

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales was an exciting read to me, solely based on the fact that it was set in my home state.  You might think that is nothing special, but Rhode Island is small and frankly is not as overused as say California for YA or adult novel settings.  So this book gets some major kudos for that. 

“I was un-cool by fourth grade.  How is it even possible to be an un-cool fourth grader…But somehow, even in fourth grade, they knew.”

Elise Dembowski is our unpopular, un-cool, social liability narrator and main character.  Always unpopular, Elise works hard the summer after 9th grade to reinvent herself.  But when that doesn’t work, she tries to kill herself (but only for attention).  The content of this book happens primarily 6 months after the attempted suicide. 

During a late night walk Elise stumbles on to an underground disco called Start.  Here she meets Vicky and Pippa.  Soon after she continues to frequent the club on Thursday nights and this is when she is also hit with the DJ-ing bug.  In enters Char, the DJ at Start on Thursday nights, who begins to teach Elise about DJ-ing. 

This book definitely had cool music, fantastic night walks through my state and also some great lines; however, I feel it was too superficial.  The whole point was popularity.  Elise tried to kill herself for attention, and acknowledges that fact (as soon as she does it.) She was bullied but never told her parents; she is actually smart and creative but put herself down because others did not see it.  The story was not about bullying and the effects, not truly it was about wanting to fit in, get attention and be popular, while severing any individuality she had.  Only after she becomes a famous DJ and the kids at school thinks she is cool, does she fully appreciate herself.  Elise was too self absorbed and selfish at times, based on her experiences and what she wanted her sister to be spared from.  I would have liked it better if Elise wasn’t superficial and a bit stronger.  Not everyone is popular, but most especially not everyone hates what makes them special.  Some of the messages Elise wished to tell her younger self, were things like not being special.  Obviously the author was not trying to say “Conform to the social hierarchy of high school,” but the character just couldn’t see things rationally and blamed others for her missteps.  Granted she sort of learned better at the end but really…?  This is coming from someone who wasn’t super popular (my friends were in the top 3% of my class, and sometimes school), I am ultra weird, and was called a lesbian at 11 (even though I didn’t know what that meant and I have come to find out I am not in fact a lesbian/fag… not that I have a problem with that, it’s just not my personal preference.)  If you don’t believe you’re worth it no one else will, and maybe my mom helped me not care too much about what others think, because frankly life is too short and sometimes you have to give yourself that push when no one else has your back.  Way to go mom!

I gave this book 3/5 star.  Thanks Net Galley.

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts gets points for idea, but the execution leaves me wanting more.  Separated into 3 stories that converge at times, this novel focuses on an asteroid coming straight to earth.  The predictions by NASA and scientists around the world are that this will be a devastating hit and that basically the world will end.  What would you do in the last few days before the end of the world?  Would you spend all your time with your families?  Would you admit defeat or try to strategies a way to survive?  Would you fall in love?  These and other questions are asked in this book.

Sienna has just gotten out of a rehabilitation/treatment center for depressed teens.  Her father has come to get her and bring her to the beach house to await the end of the world with her brother and her soon to be step-mother.  During this time Sienna has to deal with her past actions and some future romance, that came out of nowhere for her. 

Zan’s boyfriend Leo died 10-months earlier.  Dealing with that lose has not been easy, and when Leo’s sister gives Zan the book that was found in his truck, the night of the accident there is a name with a number.  Who is this girl?  Why did Leo have her number?  And was she the reason he was out late and died in a car accident?  Zan is consumed with these questions and her quest to find out the truth will only leave her with more questions, about herself, Leo and Nick.

Caden has always lived with his mother and sister. After his father walked out on them, his mother started to drink heavily and that is the only life that Caden has known.  His story gave me the WTF moment of the day.  After being estranged, his father comes back and kidnaps him (no joke).  This, um, abrupt reunion gives Caden answers to questions he didn’t even know he had and it also solidifies his idea of each one of his family members.

I did like reading from 3 point of views that eventually merged and collided.  There are some great quick life lessons, because if you are going to die in a few weeks or so, why not learn them now.  I do not know what this book was lacking but it just did not have it all for me.  Some things felt too rushed (I know they had a limited time and that was the whole point... but still). 

2/5 stars.  Thanks Net Galley.   

The Uprising by Lisa M. Stasse

The Uprising (The Forsaken, #2)

The Uprising is the second book in Lisa M. Stasse's Forsaken series.  In this book we find our two main characters Liam and Alenna getting accustomed to life at Destiny Station.  The world the two characters live in has come up with the idea that some people are bad by nature.  At 16 you are tested to figure out if you are a bad seed, if it is deemed that you cannot be a good member of society you are sent to The Wheel, a remote prison for teenagers.  Liam and Alenna have escaped the wheel, only to find out that they are not bad seeds, but that they cannot be controlled by the mind altering drugs pumped out by their society.  They have escaped The Wheel and have landed on rebel ground at Destiny Station, where their parents and other scientists are trying their hardest to create a rebellion.

Destiny Station is attacked in the beginning of the novel, which makes everyone who survives leave Australia (location of Destiny).  They need to reach a top secret rebel base on the coast of Antarctica.  Once at the new base, rebellion sparks, and it is time to take on the UNA once and for all.  This novel is filled with action, crazy double-crossing, and then things do get a little "Lord of the Flies."  With some new characters and the reintroduction of old characters, this book does not disappoint.  I gave the book 3.5/5 stars, because I'm not always a big Alenna person.  She can get annoying and bring down the book sometimes.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom

Rae Carson is amazing.  In the final installment, The Bitter Kingdom, of Fire and Thorns series, Elisa must rescue Hector so that she can unite the breaking kingdoms together, before her people and everyone else is destroyed.  I do have to say that I can usually finish a book within a few hours, give or take its intensity; however, as intense as this story is I just wanted to be in that world for a few days without saying good bye.  It took me three days to finish 400 fast paced pages, even though I was hooked on every word.  If you love this series, make this final book count!
This journey was exciting, much more than the first two books.  There were never any real lull moments between rescuing Hector, plotting allegiances and bringing down Lords that have committed treason and imprisoned people.  Oh, and who can forget the romances going on?  The world building was overall phenomenal in this series, as well.  Readers, you will not be disappointed! Ms. Carson, can you please do a spin-off series!?!?!?!
The Characters:
Elisa- Is still a strong character.  I think this book shows how much she still needs to grow, and that she is willing to do so.  Of course she has moments that you want to shake her, but thankfully she has trusty friends along for the ride that do not mind letting her know she needs to think outside of herself.  All of her decisions are more than just personal gain and that makes her more noble and reliable as a character.  This is a hard thing to find in YA novels, because the girls in most novels always seem weak and far from being “human.”  Elisa might not understand everything in the world but she observes and takes notice, she is also compassionate and not even to a fault (hence the strong leader role).  The only thing I wish I could do is be her, because frankly I love Hector too much (but we will get to him later—Swoon.)
Mara- Has had to face a lot, especially before this journey.  She is also cast as a strong woman, and it never contradicts with her position in this world, which was a feat in of itself.  It was interesting to see her relationship with Elisa and also her relationship with Belen be fleshed out.  At the end I felt I knew Mara much better, than after the second book, when the reader finds out her story of suffering.
Belen- Is awesome! I love spies and frankly I love in charge people.  Belen is someone you want on your side, even if they have been sketchy before.  In this book he is not sketchy at all, actually he is quite opposite and with the introduction of the slave girl Mula the reader can witness some of his tenderness.  Also, the tenderness that he has towards Mara is so palpable I am surprise none of the characters slapped some sense into Mara.
Storm- Okay, he’s swoon worthy, too.  His honesty and clearness was always needed, I felt, in this story.  A man of integrity, it was hard not to trust him, even if the other characters had doubts.  What I hope is that Carson decides to write another series, a decade afterwards, and bases it on one of the younger characters (Mula? Rosario?) and we can see if Storm is successful with Elisa’s marriage arrangements (not her own personal marriage, but his).
Mula- Is a young slave girl, maybe 9 years old.  After Mara rescues the girl from an abusive master, she becomes one of the gang and teaches Elisa, at least, the full scope of compassion.  She’s a little devil and I hope she becomes a spy like Belen.
Waterfall- Storm’s younger sister is a big help in this adventure and gives a lot of personality to Storm.  It is hard at first to have an opinion on Storm, because we know so little of the person; however, Waterfall certainly gives the readers more to latch on to.
Hector- Oh my goodness.  I don’t think I can coherently say what I want to say about Hector, because I am drooling and starry eyed right now.  He was perfect, everything he did.  I don’t mean to say that he was perfect and no guy out there could compare, because even through all the perfection he was real and solid for both the readers and Elisa.  He also gets his own chapters, which a beautiful way to tie together the narrator/Main Character with him.  I think I have loved him since the moment he appeared in this story and nothing ever discouraged me from thinking he and Elisa belonged together, not even the memory of Humberto or Alejandro. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)

Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep is the fifth book in the Mythos Academy series.  So far this series has been original, until I read Vampire Academy. After reading that series it was hard not to pinpoint obvious similarities; however, once I finished the fifth book I realized that both series are different in their own ways and that the thing I love most about Mythos Academy is the weaving in of Greek/Roman/Norse mythologies. 
In the fourth book, Crimson Frost, we left a devastated Gwen recovering from being stabbed (almost to death) by her Spartan boyfriend turned Reaper (the bad guys).  Even though Gwen and her friends were able to save the day, managed to save Gwen and also save Logan (Spartan boyfriend) from the Reaper curse/infection, Logan ends up leaving the academy.  Midnight Frost jumps right in to where we left off.  Gwen is still suffering from nightmares about Reapers trying to killer her, and why you might ask are they trying to kill Gwen specifically.  “Okay, okay, so I knew why.  Well, sort of.  The Reapers wanted me dead because they had this strange idea that I was going to kill Loki—something that Nike believed as well.  If I was dead, then obviously I wouldn’t even get the chance to try to kill Loki—as if I even knew how I was supposed to do that in the first place.”  What ends up happening is that a Reaper tries to poison Gwen, and that plan backfires and someone important to Gwen and the team we have all come to love in the series, ends up being poisoned.  Now it is up to Gwen and her band of friends to find the antidote before it’s too late, even if that means walking into a well planned Reaper trap.
This book in the series answers some familial questions for Gwen.  There are a few new characters and even a new mythological creature in store.  The Reapers are getting worse but that mean that the action scenes are better.  There was also a lot about forgiveness and guilt in the book.  Oh, and one more god/goddess makes an appearance as well, don’t worry it is not Loki.  This is such a worth it series, and the books are quick reads.  I completely recommend this book for myth lovers and those that love series such as Vampire Academy and the Covenant series.   

Thank You Net Galley!  4 out 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz

The Last Word (The Spellmans, #6)

The Last Word by Lisa Lutz is the sixth book in the Spellman Files series.  When I received this ARC I fan-girled for about an hour.  This series is amazingly good.  If you like detective stories, crude witty humor, ridiculous dates and drinking this series is for you.  Unlike most of my reviews on my blog, this is an adult series.  For the past 6 books, Isabel—Izzy Spellman has been our trusty narrator.  The Spellman’s are a family of PIs (well for the most part).  Izzy’s parents created the business and trained all three children on how to work for the family business.  The brother is a lawyer, Rae (the youngest sister) is now out of college and Izzy is still living in her brother’s basement apartment and now owner of the PI business.  The way she acquired the business from her parents has created a rift between the family members; however, it is a funny rift. 
There is so much to say about this book.  Izzy deals with being the boss, her ex is getting married and her parents are acting strange (more so than usual).  She is also dealing with Mr. Slayter (former client who is now a friend/advisor for Izzy) and his Alzheimer’s. There are still the funny witty situations that occur in the other 5 books, the family members are still staking each other out, and Izzy is still trying to grow up.  I loved the fact that there was another book and I loved how the end made me question if there might be another book in store, but with a different narrator.  I don’t know if I could love another narrator but I do love the Spellman clan and the crazy shenanigans they get into. 
4/5 stars! Thanks NetGalley

Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton

Some Quiet Place
Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton is a hard book to summarize/review.  I liked it, but it was also odd and at the end I really didn’t feel complete.  Elizabeth Caldwell is our main character.  She doesn’t feel emotions, instead she sees them.  She can identify an emotion because to her they look like people, granted not always the best looking people.  Elizabeth is in this protective bubble that doesn’t allow emotions to enter, and at this point in her life most emotions have stopped trying to make her feel… anything.  All emotions, that is, except one: Fear.  Fear, with his white blond hair and piercing cold blue eyes, is too intrigued that this mere mortal cannot feel him so he visits her as much as possible trying to create an effect on her.  There isn’t much that is given to the reader to figure out Elizabeth’s story.  You are told that she was in an accident when she was younger and she has these bizarre dreams, where she is someone else. 
In these dreams she sees a twin brother and sister.  She sees their loving relationship, along with Fear and his relationship with the sister.  The connection between what Elizabeth dreams about and why she is the way she is, is very vague and doesn’t become clearer to the end.  The point is that the book keeps you guessing and trying to figure out why Elizabeth cannot feel emotions.  This is a great characteristic for a book, but that isn’t what I was discontent. 
Let’s talk about triangles.  I am always ranting and raving about teenage love triangles because there is no possible way that every teenage girl gets two amazing guys fighting for her… every time.  That just doesn’t make sense with the statistical and scientific proof out there.  If anything there should be more books about how teenage boys have to fight off girls (there are more girls than boys, consensus wise in the world).  This book, even though the main character cannot feel emotions, does not escape the whole triangle conundrum.  Instead, I think it showed triangles for what they are worth.  One person wins (out of the boys) and the other person is used by the main love interest to gain perspective of what/who they really are before the make the obvious choice.  And I think I fell for the one being used, or at least felt terrible that he was being used and didn’t really respect the main character all that much. 
So, is the book terrible? No, my lack of feeling complete is a personal one.  The author did a great job in creating a world where emotions were personified and those personifications were “real people” too. 
3.5/5 stars.  Thanks NetGalley!