Monday, May 28, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

 Warning: This review contains spoilers about Divergent. If you have not read Divergent, read at your own risk.
Title: Insurgent
Series/Sequel? Divergent #2
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre(s): Dystopian, Romance, Action
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 525 (Hardcover)

Summary from Goodreads:  One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Review: I have a good amount to say about this book, so here we go:

I loved Divergent. I loved everything about it. And I guess it's amazing-ness made it hard for the sequel to be as good. It was probably my own over-expectations that caused me to not like this book as much as I wished I could have.

Here's what was really bothering me in this book: Tris. I loved how badass she was in Divergent. (Pardon my language.) I feel like all (or at least most) YA heroines are all weak, spineless, damsels in distress, who would cry over anything and everything. In Divergent, she wasn't like that. But in this book... she was. I mean, I get that she killed one of her good friends and that it's natural to be really broken up about it. I get that she lost both of her parents. But when you're in a life-or-death situation, you can't balk at the sight of a gun, otherwise you will die.

Other comments about Tris: in my opinion, she made a lot of STUPID, what she called "selfless", decisions, which did nothing but complicate things that much more. She was also a little to focused on Four (because I DESPISE the name Tobias, and wish he still went by Four) the entire time. What he was doing, why he was doing it, was he mad at her, blah, blah blah, blah blah.

Yes, at times, her and Four were really cute, and I was going "awwwww!" like the pathetic romantic I am. But her entire city was on the brink of war. She should be more focused on that rather than her relationships; which created some major drama, let me tell you.

That being said, there were some very interesting parts, and twists and turns I never saw coming. I loved seeing the insides of the different factions. We had learned about Abnegation and Dauntless and a little bit of Erudite in Divergent. In this, we get to see more of Erudite, along with both Candor and Amity, which I found very interesting. I also loved how big a part the factionless play in this book. They are major players and it changes the entire story... for the better, I think. There was also this one part at Amity with a bit of "peace serum" and Tris that was completely hilarious.

And the ending... oh, the ending... if you don't like cliffhangers, than I would suggest waiting until the third book comes out!

So, yes, I was disappointed. I'm not sure if I should have spent $18 on this book. But I did, and it was good enough that I'm not about to go and sell it.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Embrace
Series/Sequel? Embrace #1
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 369 (Hardcover)
POV: 1st Person (female

Summary from Goodreads: 

It starts with a whisper.

"It's time for you to know who you are..."

Strange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there's a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms. The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he's only half human - oh, and same goes for her. And she keeps hearing a distant fluttering of wings.

Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday.

But if angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden...

Review: Romance + new mythology = AWESOME

The thing that first drew me into this book was the cover. Because, I mean, I think that cover is essentially the epitome of awesomeness.

Then came the characters. The main character, actually, named Violet Eden. Because she is hilarious and outspoken and strong and not just a damsel in distress (the majority of the time). I loved how strong she was, how she was not going to break down over a guy. Though she did make some stupid decisions at times, I believe that all in all, she was intelligent, clever, and focused.

And then we come to Phoenix and Lincoln. The two swoon-worthy boys. Oh, how I loved both of them! Their relationships to Violet were both so different, the way they treated her and talked to her. They were both awesome in their own separate ways, but if we're picking teams, I think I'm going with Lincoln.

But really, I think the thing that got me the most about this book was the mythology. All the different magic in this book, how it was set up, who had the ability to do what, and how other things tied into it. Every magical, angel-related part of this book I loved and loved hearing about.

So, yes, this book was good. Very good. But it's the best if you want new, interesting mythology. And if you like romance. Recommended for fans of the Fallen series!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Brightly Woven
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adventure, Old-Fashioned Fiction
Age Level: YA (12-14)
Page Count: 354 (Hardcover)
POV: 1st Person (female)

Summary from back of book: Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself? 

Review: So, I wasn't originally planning on reviewing this book. But I have to. Because it was just... perfect.

I'm not saying the plot was perfect, or the characters were perfect. It was more the AMOUNT of everything that was perfect. The AMOUNT of tension. The AMOUNT of romance. The AMOUNT of action. The AMOUNT of fantasy/magic. It all came together in such a way that... I didn't want the story to end. I didn't want to have to leave this world, or these characters.

The characters were awesome, by the way. All of them. They were so unique in their personalities and their mannerisms and... EVERYTHING that I felt like I knew them. North was hilarious, Sydelle was kind, yet kick-butt and brave, the Sorceress Imperial was mean... they were all just such wonderful characters!

I found the magic/fantasy part of this book fascinating as well. North's cloaks, and the different talismans were things I haven't really seen before in books, and it was interesting how they had an effect on the type of magic each wizard could do. The beliefs in the different goddesses and how that influenced the story and the characters were interesting as well. And to what Sydelle could do... well, I don't want to put in spoilers, but I never saw it coming!

Really, a lot of the twists that happened in this book, I didn't see coming. But in a good way.

If you liked the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) but want something shorter and easier to read, I would suggest this for you. You won't regret it!


In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a meme held by The Story Siren, which trumpets the books book bloggers have gotten that week/weeks to read and review. Now, I know that it is normally held on Sundays, but I didn't have computer access for the past week and a half, due to the insanity that is life. However, I  got an insane number of books this week, and so I just had to share them!

From the library, I got:

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten
You Against Me by Jenny Donham
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Sister Wife by Shelby Hrdlitschka (Which I may or may not review)
Stork by Wendy Delsol
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (Which I may or may not review:

I also BOUGHT (squee!)

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. (Which have both already been read, and are waiting to be reviewed.)

So, like I said, I haven't had computer access for the past week and a half, so I have 6 or so books to review. So be watching for those!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a meme held by The Story Siren, which trumpets the books book bloggers have gotten that week/weeks to read and review. I had a few books left over from last week to read, so I restrained myself from getting to much. However, two of the books I've been waiting for for forever (that's a lot of "for"s...) and so I got them on hold for as soon as they were able to be checked out from the library. So this is what I got:

Embrace, by Jessica Shirvington
Spellbound, by Rachel Hawkins
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Both Spellbound and Out of Sight, Out of Time I got on hold. Embrace... well, the cover looked cool, and that was that. I'll be going back to the library tomorrow, so I'll probably have a huge pile next week to blog about.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Book Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Title: I Am Number Four
Series/Sequel? The first of the Lorien Legacies series, followed by The Power of Six
Author: Pittacus Lore
Genre: Science Fiction (Scifi)
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 440 (Paperback)

Summary from back of book: 

NINE of us came here. 

WE look like you. 

WE talk like you. 

WE live among you - but

WE are not you. 

WE have powers you dream of having. 

WE are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books -

BUT we are real. 

THEY caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. 

THEY killed them all. 


Review: I've never really been interested in aliens. I was not into green things with antenna and super-large eyes. But this wasn't like that at all. And it was ah-mazing.

This book was awesome. I loved reading about the Legacies and stories his guardian Henri (also an alien) would tell Four about Lorien (their home planet). I loved learning about all alien aspects of this - something, with my dislike of aliens, I hadn't expected I would.

I've found that I really enjoy reading from male characters' POV's, and this book was no exception. Number Four (I'll just call him Four from now on) was a character that I loved. He had the fate of an entire planet and species resting on his back, and he still manages to be compassionate and selfless and heroic. He also manages to have a social life. I want to meet him!

This book was incredibly fast-paced. The action never stopped. There was always something going on. There was never a lull in the action, and I had trouble putting it down, because of how quickly things went. It didn't feel rushed or an overloading of information, though. Everything just transferred so smoothly from one part to another, you didn't notice that you had already read through 100 pages and it was WAY past your bed time.

I loved all the secondary characters as well - Henri, Sarah, Sam, Six, even Mark and Bernie Kosar. They were all so vibrant and strong and had their own personalities and interests. I've found that sometimes in books, secondary characters pale greatly to the main character. Not in this story. Each character was strong and unique, and I loved it.

If you liked the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, I would suggest this book for you. You won't regret it!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Series/Sequel? The first of the Unearthly series, followed by Hallowed
Author: Cynthia Hand
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 435

Summary from inside flap of book: Clara Gardner had recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, insn't easy. 

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally,) everything seems to fall into place - and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. 

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she's have to make - between honesty and deceit, long and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Review: Wait, this book was 435 pages? Really? Let me tell you, it didn't seem like it. I went through this book so quickly, I thought it was my typical 300 page book.

I've never been much of a fan of angel books. I was just never interesting on perfect, beautiful, amazing beings with wings. Probably because they were so perfect and beautiful and amazing and flawless. I'm sorry, but I cannot relate to someone to totally flawless.

But I liked this book. I liked how Clara was pretty much a normal teenage girl. She made mistakes, had fights with her friends and family, and was slightly hormonal. She was not perfect or flawless or (not that I would consider) especially beautiful. I loved reading from her point of view, and I feel like it would have greatly detracted from the story if it was written in third person.

Tucker + Christen = a love triangle I cannot decide on. Seriously. They were both awesome and hot and date-worthy in their own ways, and I'm glad there are no surefire teams, cause I have no idea who I would able to decide on.

I've read a lot of books in my lifetime, and I can normally guess fairly accurately what is going to happen next, or that someone isn't who they seem to be, that they are going to turn out to be the bad guy, the love interest, etc., etc. But with this book, I couldn't. I didn't guess that people were going to be. I was so surprised (but in a good way) when I found out.

Now, for all I loved in this book, there were a couple of problems. Clara starts dating SPOILER! Tucker. END SPOILER! As she is dating this boy - actually, after she's bee dating him for only a couple of months, she says that she is honest-to-goodness in love with him. Like, must-be-with-him-or-I-will-die in love with him. And, I'm just not sure how realistic that is. I understand that her love for him shaped events in the book that couldn't have possibly happened if she didn't love him so much, I still saw it as unrealistic and annoying.

All in all, a very good Paranormal Romance book, which I am looking forward to getting the sequel to.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quote of the Month - May

So, I love quotes. Ask my friends, my family, anyone who hangs out with me - I love quotes. And every month, I seem to have a new quote that I just cannot stop thinking of. Sometimes they're funny quotes, but most of the time they're fairly inspirational. Which is why I'm doing something called the Quote of the Month. This will be a monthly post with a quote that I love, which is like my mantra for the month. For May, the quote is

"No one can tell you where you alone must go." 
- If No One Will Listen (song) by Kelly Clarkson

My explanation: Essentially, what this is saying is that you can have people supporting you all the way - your friends, your family, the people that love you - but sometimes, you have to go places where they can't follow you. Sometimes you have to journey - either a metaphorical journey within yourself, or an actual, physical journey as well - to find answers to questions that only you have the ability to answer. Here is the song that this quote came from: 


Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

 Title: Wintergirls
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Hard Topics
Age Level: YA
Page Count: 278 (Paperback)

Summary from Goodreads: Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.

Review: So, there was World Book Night on April 23rd, which my library (and other libraries around the country/world) celebrated it by giving out books to people that don't read a lot. One of the books was this one, and so in celebration of World Book Night, I decided to read it.

I've been having a problem reviewing this book. I... can't really put my thoughts about it into words. But I'll try, so... here we go:

So, you know from reading the summary, that this is mainly about eating disorders. I've always found eating-disorder books very interesting. My problem with them is personal - upon reading them, I always feel as if I'm going to turn anorexic. Not that I actually ever have, but...

I've only read a few of them, but this was one of the better ones. Laurie Halse Anderson is a very good author, and this was a raw, unpolished look at anorexia and girls who cut themselves for release. I found Lia's struggle very interesting. I loved seeing the way she thought, how she viewed herself and what she did in order to be thin. She viewed herself in a different way than others did, and it brought up a question that I believe we all think about sometime in our lives, though it is impossible to answer: Do we all see things the same? Which of those views is the true one? Cassie's ghost haunts Lia throughout this book. Is it really Cassie's spirit, or is it Lia's inner demon personified, in a way that she can hear and see and understand?

I thought Lia was also intelligent, clever. She was able to figure out ways that made it seem as if she had eaten, even if she hadn't. As horrible as it was, her starving herself, it made me respect her. She was very clever in the way she did things.

I also liked how Lia genuinely cared about her little stepsister, Emma. Lia did everything she could to make Lia happy. She hated her parents, but still cared a lot about Emma. I liked her for that.

This is a very thought provoking novel, one that you have to read to fully understand and appreciate. I... really wish I could explain it more than that, but I cannot.


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