Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Cruel Summer, by James Dawson

Cruel Summer

Title: Cruel Summer
Author: James Dawson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pub. date: August 1, 2013
A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

A compelling and psychological thriller - with a dash of romance. -Goodreads

3.5 - 4 Stars

This is the first book I have read by James Dawson, but now that I have finished reading it I feel as though I have to read his d├ębut novel Hollow Pike because I enjoyed Cruel Summer so much. For those of you who skipped reading the summary this book is essentially a murder mystery, but with a twist and told in a very unique way.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Journey with Classics

Over the years, I'm sure many of us have had teachers bash into our heads the importance of classics, and how they are the truest, most pure form of literature. They are constantly urging us to read us many classics as we can-and this holds true for students in middle school, high school, and especially college. But I'm not writing this post to outline the benefits reaped by reading the classics; I am merely documenting my journey (I know, I’m only in high school) with these emphasized books.

Obviously, most of the books I read are of the young adult genre, with varying degrees of literary value (translation: some books are really good and some just suck).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pub. date: 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. -Goodreads

2.5 - 3 Stars

If not for its perfect timing, I would have given This Song Will Save Your Life two stars.

When I first began this popular book, my expectations went from the heavens, down to rock bottom. I absolutely loathed the first few chapters. I was forced to endure a narrator who was not only judgmental, but who seemed to be suffering from permanent PMS. High school isn't that bad, I thought. The girl is a damn drama queen.

Of course, after this line of thinking irony decided to make its very welcomed appearance into my life.

Note: Beware of hyperboles galore.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ARC Review & Giveaway [US]: The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy #1)
Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: March 4, 2014 

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
5 Stars!
*Thank you FirstReads and Macmillan for sending me this copy*

This is one of those few times when I can confirm that the synopsis does not lie. The Winner’s Curse most certainly has everything we are told to expect, and goes above and beyond with these attributes. I anticipated a well-written novel, but I was not expecting one as groundbreaking, as enchanting as what I have just read.

The Winner’s Curse is by far one of the best young adult fantasy novels I've had the pleasure of stumbling upon in quite a while. This polished novel strikes down each and every requisite I need from my fantasies with enviable ease. Never once did I find myself particularly urged to set the novel down, internally reassuring myself, One more page, one more page!, only to find myself finishing the novel in a few sittings. Nor did I ever feel bored, frustrated, or angry at the quality of this brilliant tale.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snarkfest: Character Tropes in YA

I'm already in a bad mood so I thought I'd put all my negativity towards something productive and trying out Summer's newest feature, Snarkfest. Right now it seems like the best way to channel my annoyance. Also in advance I'd actually like to say that I love some of these books and this is just my opinion so don't take it personally.

Today's topic is about just general overused character types in young adult. There are so many, more than I can count, so for the sake of not boring everyone I'll just include the first five that I can think of.

1. Mysterious Males

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Evermore (The Immortals, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)
Examples: Fallen (Daniel), Evermore (Damen), Twilight (Edward) etc.

The MM (mysterious male) is usually either new to town or the not-so-mysterious female (let's call her BellaLuceEver, BLE for short) is the newbie. Either way the girl has never seen MM before making him extra mysterious. There is often a lack of family members and no way to find out anything more about MM. Tall, dark haired with tortured (or piercing) eyes and often found brooding in the corner this MM knows exactly how to pull in BLE. When MM's tortured past is finally revealed it will be made clear that he suffers everyday for whatever happened and to make it even better worse BLE is in some random way a constant reminder of what happened.

2. The New Girl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)
Examples: Twilight (Bella), Beautiful Creatures (Lena), Glass Houses (Claire) etc.

Out of all the character types I have just talked about I would have to say that this one occurs the most. I swear there was a period of time when every single book I picked up was about a new girl. This character type is just so overused, but also pretty unrealistic. Let me paint you a little picture. There's a new girl at your school. As she walks down the hall peoples heads do not turn to look at her because most students don't even realise that she's new. There are most likely more that a thousand other students at your school and the only people who will notice the new addition to that thousand are the people who are in her classes. Even then there will be the first initial curiosity, but then she'll be old news and everyone will go on with their life. The harsh reality is that yes, she will probably make a few friends (or not), but the whole school is not going to bow down at her feet. She will be shoved around by the seniors just like the rest of the juniors are. Get it into your head that new girls will NOT be the most sought after person in the school from the second the step through the gates!

3. Weak and Whiny Girls

Marked (House of Night, #1)Twilight (Twilight, #1)Evernight (Evernight, #1)
Examples: Marked (Zoey), Twilight (Bella), Evernight (Bianca) etc.

For some very strange reason there seems to be an influx of female characters in YA that are completely unable to protect themselves and always have to rely on a big strong man to swoop in and save them. I don't expect them to wrestle crocodiles or climb mount Everest. No, I just want them to be able to stand up for themselves. At the first sign of conflict this weak and whiny girls will either cry, faint or go running back to their significant other so they can hide behind them. Weak and whiny females are often paired with the dangerous "bad boys". In the eyes of this weak and whiny girl the "bad boy" is really the only thing important to her and spoiler alert, after a lot of complications they will live together happily ever after. Please authors, just write about some strong female characters who don't need a male to complete the plot.

4. The Quirky BFF

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
Examples: Beautiful Creatures (Wesley "Link"), Hush Hush (Vee), City of Bones (Simon) etc.

I think that the idea of quirky characters actually has a lot of potential, but it's never the main character who has the weird quirks. No, we can't have the main characters fabulousness compromised by giving them a strange hobby so it's always gotta be the best friend. And it's always waaay overdone. A lot of the time there's actually no link between the quirkyness and the plot, it's just there so that the readers don't die of boredom. And although the quirky BFF's are often overdone and unrealistic, I am actually rather thankful towards these quirky BFF's. They are the comic relief in boring serious situations. Without them I know that I never would have even been able to finish certain books. *cough* beautiful creatures *cough*

5. Non-Existent Parents

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Let the Sky Fall (Let the Sky Fall, #1)Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Examples: The Harry Potter Series (Hermione's parents), Let the Sky Fall (Vane's parents), Delirium (Lena's parents) etc.

Having non-existent parents doesn't necessarily mean that the MC (main character) is an orphan (even though that is sometimes the case) it just means that the parents are there, but they are literally never mentioned. In books where the parents are never mentioned I just always think that the parents (since they never talk to their child) hav e absolutely zero interest in what's actually going on in their kids life. The MC could probably go join a nudist group and the parents would say nothing. Who knows, maybe there are actually no parents and for some strange reason the MC lives at home alone. That's the feeling I get sometimes when I read books where the parents never utter a word or make a single appearance. It's actually really strange now that I think about it. A caring parent would not let their child walk in and out of the house in the very early hours of the morning without some sort of excuse. Parents are such a normal part of everyday life that just not mentioning them and hoping nobody will notice is not going to work, please just think of a justifiable reason why the parents are never there.

I know I've missed some so what other overused character types annoy you? And apologies to Twilight and Beautiful Creatures for using them as an example more than once... that was completely unintentional.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Evertrue, by Brodi Ashton

Evertrue (Everneath, #3)
Title: Evertrue (Everneath #3)
Author: Brodi Ashton
Genre: YA Mythology
Pub. Date: January 21, 2013

Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love. -Goodreads

1 Star
Out of the entire series, Evertrue is probably the cheesiest of them all. I kid you not. As if the series couldn't get any more idiotic.

If I read this novel about, oh, a year and a half ago, I would've loved it. I read the first before I became a blogger, and I’m pretty sure I gave that one four stars. I read the second, and abhorred it. Less embarrassment for me.

At about 10% in, I encountered this sentence…
”I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding.”

…And knew that this book and I were not going to be on good terms.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (11)

For Review:
Queen of HeartsThe Long Way
We Were Liars

1- The Queen's Choice, by Cayla Kluver
2- Queen of Hearts, by Colleen Oakes
3- The Long Way, by Michael Corbin Ray and Therese Vannier
4- We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart 
5- The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

From the Library:
1- Unhinged, by A.G. Howard
2- Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta

1- Jane Austen Collection
2- Arabian Nights

Make sure to link below so I could check out your STS!