Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - 192

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers

In this gripping sequel to THIS IS NOT A TEST, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough.

Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find the girl he lost, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways ... (from GoodReads)

Guys I totally did not expect there to be a sequel to This is Not a Test !!!! I'm so excited now. Please Remain Calm will be released January 15, 2015.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this New York Times bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed.  Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you’ve never imagined them before…
In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer. 

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life. (from GoodReads)

On paper, Seraphina should be the kind of book I don't like. I usually shy away from high fantasy because if the world building is less than stellar, I won't enjoy the book. And Seraphina is high fantasy in every conceivable way: dragons that take a human body, new vocabulary, an entirely made-up world. I loved every minute of it.

Rachel Hartman brings the world of Goredd to life. I'm still not sure of how everything works, but it felt like I was thrust into this new world and have to learn as I go along. Everything is so believable and well-done and thought-out. She has some imagination!

I also love the character of Seraphina. She was smart, talented (musically and otherwise), curious, strong, conflicted, sometimes rude, witty, loving, I could go on. She's definitely one of the more fleshed out and developed YA characters out there. The inner turmoil she feels about being half-dragon was so relatable, as I'm sure we've all felt like we've had to hide part of ourselves (though not to extent that Seraphina had to endure). Seraphina's struggle was very heartbreaking and Hartman does a wonderful job of relaying her emotions to the reader.

An important part of the novel is the hatred between dragons and humans, and the stereotyping, prejudice and bigotry that goes along with it. I could definitely see this as a metaphor for present day struggles. The book has the wonderful message of acceptance and tolerance that I'm sure people today could use.

I am so glad that the author is planning a sequel because I thoroughly enjoyed Seraphina and want to spend more time in this world! Too bad I have to wait until 2015!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: library.

2012/Random House/512 pages

Friday, October 10, 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice. (from GoodReads)

This will be a pretty short review. I decided to read Noggin because I absolutely adored Whaley's first novel, Where Things Come Back, which won the 2012 Printz award. Noggin definitely wasn't as good. It was funny, good message, but not the type of book that stays with you, unlike his first novel. I didn't read this book too long ago and I can't even tell you how it ends. I'm still going to check out Whaley's future books but I wonder if they'll compare to his first. I strongly encourage everyone to read Where Things Come Back - it was that good.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: library

2014/Atheneum/356 pages.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. (from GoodReads)

I can't believe it took me so long to read Allegiant! It probably had something to do with the fact that so many people told me that they hated it... So I never felt compelled to finish the series. But I'm glad I finally did because I didn't think it was too bad.

I'm pretty far removed from reading Divergent and Insurgent so I'm not as invested in these characters as those who read all three books in a row. So when they act out-of-character or are just annoying (read: Tobias) I wasn't that upset. I was mainly focused on the plot, which I'll admit was pretty far-fetched but I still enjoyed it. All that "science" about genetics is clearly not based in fact, but I just took it at face-value.

The only thing that super annoyed me was Tobias's reaction to one of the twists and then how Tris started becoming a Mary Sue. She even got mad when Tobias didn't do exactly what she wanted and then she got to throw the "I told you so" in his face. That left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now everyone is up in arms about the ending, which I understand. Everyone on GoodReads says that it would have been okay if it was actually needed. I didn't mind it too much, because like I said before, I wasn't really invested in the storyline. I see why Roth wrote it that way and I see why everyone's mad. So you'll just have to read it yourself to see if you like it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Katherine Tegen Books/526 pages

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (from GoodReads)

So this book was like a mash-up of The Hunger Games, The Selection, Falling Kingdoms and Midnight Thief (newish book that I've yet to review). It was really interesting seeing elements from other books I've read make their way into this one. I'm not saying the author did this on purpose, especially because Throne of Glass was published long before Midnight Thief (so maybe it was the other way around?). Pretty much what I'm saying is, if you liked those other books, you'll probably like this one.

I thought that Throne of Glass was really easy to read and I rushed through the pages unlike some other books I've read recently. The world-building was pretty good and the plot interesting but also easy to understand. I really liked Calaena, especially because she's supposed to be a cold-blooded murderess, and I really like seeing kick-ass heroines. And while she lived up to the title of assassin for the most part, I wish we could see Calaena in action more often. We know she's killed a lot of people and she tells us frequently how she can disarm so-and-so before they even blink, but there's not a whole lot of showing. What the reader does see is a pretty, feminine girl who cares about her people and plays piano and likes to gossip. I love the idea that Calaena can be both of these things and obviously that's the point, but I wish the author did a better job of integrating these two sides of the character.

And while I enjoyed the two male leads, Prince Dorian and Chaol who is the captain of the king's guard, to me they were the same person. Not much personality differences between the two which is odd when it's supposed to be a love triangle. Usually the girl must choose between two opposites. So that was weird. Hopefully they are more fleshed out in the next novel.

Overall, this book was extremely easy to read and fun for the most part. I enjoyed it besides those two things I didn't like. Hopefully they are corrected in the sequel!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Bloomsbury/404 pages.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 135

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books That Were Hard To Read

1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
This book was SO LONG. And the plot barely moved forward. It took me forever to read. I like this series but Martin is in desperate need of a strong-armed editor.

2. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
This book was so sad because it's a memoir of the author's life in Apartheid South Africa. He talks about boiling cow's blood to eat, so you know this was tough to get through.

3. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
I honestly think I was too young to understand and appreciate this book. It was assigned as summer reading for incoming 10th graders and I just hated it.

4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Even though Heart of Darkness is a classic, I found it to be so boring. I actually fell asleep reading it a few times which is quite unlike me.

5. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
This book is so long and wordy and completely unlike the amazing Night Film by the same author. By the end, I was skimming pages.

6. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
While I liked this book, it was difficult to read. The main character is subject to horrible emotional and physical bullying while in high school. I couldn't believe (fictional) teenagers could be so cruel.

That's all I can come up with for now! What books did you find difficult to read?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - 134

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.
 Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

1. Young Money by Kevin Roose - I keep looking for this at my library because I love Kevin Roose's first book. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction but I know I will enjoy anything he writes.

2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - I'm actually in the middle of reading this right now but I need to finish it!

3. Famous Last Words by Katie Alender - This was a WOW pick a few weeks ago and it will be released in about a week!

4. On the Fence by Kasie West - Been looking forward to this new book since reading The Distance Between Us.

5. Rebel Nation by Shaunta Grimes - This is sitting on my bookshelf, just got to get around to reading it!

6. Dualed by Elsie Chapman - see above :)

7. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling - Still haven't read this! I swear I will get to it eventually.

8. Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes - love this series and can't wait to read the third book when it's released in December.

9. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray - Really enjoy this author and can't wait to see what she comes up with in her newest novel.

10. Pawn by Aimee Carter - I received this book in the mail so I just need to get around to reading it!