Archive for ‘reading’

October 24, 2015

Dead Ringer

I’ve spent the last 3 years, doing a lot of stuff. I graduated Undergrad and Grad school, and now I’m wandering around free as a bird, trying to get a job. So of course I’ve returned to my one true love; Books. Starting this wonderful return to the reading, and this blog. I’d love to talk about Dead Ringer. I picked up the ARC on Netgalley in hopes that it would be a spooky addition to my Halloween reading.

And it was. The story’s premise is that a young girl transfers into a new school, and promptly finds out that she looks like another young girl, who committed suicide nearly two years earlier. There’s the big mystery. The book leads you down a number of rabbit holes surrounding the dead girl -Sarah Castro-Tanner- and her death.

To do that, Rosen introduced a fantastic cast of flawed characters, the most notable being Laura, Charlie, and Lexi. Laura’s the new girl who looks like Sarah Castro-Tanner’s tan bohemian twin. Rosen puts us straight into her head. She’s innocent, sweet, and of course attracted to the first cute boy put in her path. Charlie. Her first chapters record her struggle, should I like him, do I like him, blah blah blah. Honestly, she takes a minute to get interesting.

Charlie however, is fun from the jump. The way he’s written he’s automatically guarded. You can just tell that he’s hiding something, even though we don’t know what it is. Like most high school boys, he’s repressing. But what, we don’t know.

Finally there’s Lexi, a hacker with a mission. She knows there’s something wrong with Sarah Castro-Tanner’s supposed suicide, and she won’t stop until she’s figured out what it is.

This story is interesting. It caught my attention pretty quickly, and I had to stop myself from reading it at one point because I was supposed to be at work. You get caught up in the idea that these kids are at the center of a web of lies. It’s sort of Pretty Little Liars-esque in that sense. And for a while, you can’t help but feel like there’s some mystery person is pulling the strings. What I will say, is that the twist is pretty good. There’s a cliffhanger what may leave you, angry, confused, and ready to pull your hair out ready for a new book

While the story is good. I won’t deny that it has it’s flaws. Laura while being sweet and innocent, is a little bit boring and, Lexi’s single minded mission gets repetitive. But if you can get past that, and really get into the meat of the story. Charlie’s secrets bring it all home.

Dead Ringer is coming out on November 11th.

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August 7, 2012

Happy Pub Day Throne of Glass!

Originally called Queen of Glass, this book became wildly popular on fictionpress.com, a website I started using when I was in middle school. I officially joined the site in 2005, and shortly thereafter the story was suggested to me by another author. At the time it still had under a hundred chapters; she had just finished the first book, and the start of the second was online. It was amazing; I read it when I was home, and on my phone, I printed out pages and pages of it so I could pretend like I was doing work, and read it instead, and I did that until 2007 when S.J. Maas finished the series.The worst part, was waiting. Each chapter was published months apart, so I would reread the entire book just so I could remember where the characters left off. In Ardalan, Maas created a world that was so much like our own, but also starkly different. From the descriptions of war, pain, slavery, and heartache; to the beauty and regality of nature and magic. I honestly couldn’t believe that someone who was my age could write that way. It also made me realize something about myself. I wanted to write. Forever, for a living, for a meager postage stamp wage, or even for nothing. I wanted to write. So you can see why I have been following Ms. Maas’ progress with her amazing series. Right?

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Ardalan and its famous assassin since she took the series off the web in 2008, and today I finally got to read the book that I’ve been waiting for, for four years. Now I’ll actually tell you what’s it about.

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 –Goodreads

Celaena is one of my favorite heroines; she’s blunt, sassy, sarcastic, a bookworm, and a full on badass. Her character is strong; she survived so much before the book starts (check out the Throne of Glass Novellas on Maas’ Goodreads Page) but she’s still a totally normal teenage girl, and it makes her super relatable. Some of my favorite parts in the novel are her quick attachment to Fleetfoot, and her candy freakout, because dogs and candy are two of my favorite things. In addition to the totally normal teen girl-ness of her character. Celaena is, as previously mentioned, a bad-ass. As in full on BAMF. She’s an assassin, so her fighting skills are superb and the scenes in which she fights her competitors gave me an adrenaline rush.

However, this is a fantasy novel first and foremost, and unlike the original draft of the story, the fantasy is much more clearly outlined. The King of Ardalan is known for his cruelty as well as for banishing magic under his rule, the magic seemed to bend to his will by disappearing entirely. Well, not really. In his ever so lovely glass castle  there are Wyrdmarks, which hold the power to open gateways to another realm, or all the other realms; no one really knows. That element alone held a plot device that I don’t recall from the original series.

I feel like I’m fangirling this post instead of making sense, so I’ll just leave you with this. If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel, with absolutely amazing characters, and the occasional plot twist that will drive you just a tiny bit crazy; or if you just want some good old fashioned butt-kicking action. This is the story for you. If you’ve already encountered this amazing story, then I just hope you dream of Erilea. (In case you couldn’t tell, this book gets ALL the stars.)

In closing, Happy Pub Day S.J. Maas!

July 27, 2012

Not your Usual Case of Schizophrenia

Last week or so, I did a post raving about my newfound love of Dan Wells, an unbelievably awesome horror/fantasy author. Well, I’m here to tell you folks that he’s done it again with his recently released novel The Hollow City. Following the trend he created in I am Not a Serial Killer, Wells toys with the idea of another mental illness, Schizophrenia.

Michael Shipman is a young man whose life seems to be perfectly normal, despite his debilitating unexplainable fear of electronic devices. When he wakes up in a hospital after a strange two week disappearance, doctors diagnose him with Schizophrenia and send him back to a mental facility he had attended as part of his therapy for anxiety. The only problem is that the focus of his delusions matches the victims of a serial killer.

Hollow City was interesting to me, mainly because it showed the breakdown of a man’s reality. That sounds absolutely horrible, but in the end that’s what Hollow City was to me. Shipman goes through this stage, believing that he’s perfectly normal and he only has mild anxiety only to realize that it’s all a delusion. Nearly everything he believed about his life was created by his own mind, and somethings he thought to be real actually existed. There is an amazing fantasy element that the novel is centered around, in a round about sort of way.

I’m going to start giving books a star value now, it seems legit. For Hollow City, I would award 4 1/2 stars.

July 16, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

If you haven’t read Divergent (which by the way i really reccomend)…I’m so sorry for the spoilers.

Divergent was interesting, but the climax was where the book really grabbed my attention, you know, the part where they forced nearly the entire population of Dauntless to kill the Abnegation. That kickstarted the series for me, and then I had to know what happened to Tris and Four. Can their relationship survive the civil war that is tearing their life apart? Can Tris actually face what she did while trying to survive? Will Four ever reconcile with his father? Then I also had these other, less character based questions like: What exactly was Erudite’s purpose in killing nearly an entire faction? What secret did Tris’ parents die to protect? What happened to the Dauntless when they realized what they had done?

Insurgent was more or less a full on kamikaze of answers for me. I got unexpected answers, answers that raised new questions, and answers to questions I never actually asked. It was the world building novel, it helped me understand how each faction worked (Tris, Four and their allies get to be around each faction). It also built upon Tris’ character, and the lengths at which she would go to protect people. Insurgent  made the world more real to me. It made it conceivable. There’s a reason that each community developed, and more importantly it sets us up for the bigger question…but I’m not telling you what that is, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. :]

July 8, 2012

Finding Dan Wells.

So I was just at work, minding my own business, when my boss requested that I clean up the YA section. As you might guess, that’s my favorite part of any work day. I bopped on back to the display, and instead of actually working…I scanned the covers for something interesting. This cover popped out at me:

Image

It looked AWESOME, The girl on the cover didn’t seem to be killing herself or floating in water, she looked strong, ergo my immediate interest. Plus, you can’t beat a dystopian future that has the Manhattan skyline in it. So I devoured it (and not in a literal book eating sense). The female protagonist was brilliant and I was surprised at the amount of actual research that had gone into creating the background for the genetics in the book. The woman who wrote the book (and i assumed it was a woman because the characters voice just sounded so, well, feminine) had to be like a scientist or something, like Kathy Reichs! I was wrong. There’s no other way to say that; Dan Wells, is a man, and doesn’t seem to be a super scientist (but if he is please feel free to tell me!)

After finishing Partials I had this strange hope that there would be a second book in the series already published. Like the first book was just on the NEW book display by chance, or because of a misfile. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case (Fragments will be released in 2013). I set off to find something else by him, and I did.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenage boy named John Wayne Cleaver who has a particular set of rules to stop his sociopathic tendencies from forming into well, actual serial killer tendencies. He is unpredictable, charming, funny, and strangely, easy to relate too. Wells also takes time to explain why John’s sociopathic tendencies are so strong. Whether it was the family owned mortuary he lived and worked at, or his abusive absentee father, there are highly plausible explanations. The novel was amazing. In addition to having this intensely interesting pyschological profile for his main character, it’s a fantasy/horror novel. Think, demons, murders, and an internal battle between the sociopath identity he denies and the guy he wishes he could be.

I finished it in a few hours and then made my boss get me the next two novels. Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You. They are equally amazing, and I recommend Dan Wells in general as a writer. I’m off to read some more, Hollow City by Wells was released on the 3rd, and I received it from my boss yesterday . Happy Reading!

April 26, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black has held my attention for the past few years, and Black Heart, the most recent addition to the series came out last week. If  you havent read the series, it’s a  fabulously dark tale of Cassel, a curse worker in modern day America. The Curse workers are a group of people who with the touch of a hand can change your emotions, make you lucky, heal you, make you forget your life,  kill you, or change your physical appearance, at great risk to their own health, mentally and physically. The story line is amazing, with well thought out backstory of the discovery of curse workers, and the terror that the rest of the population had which forced them into work camps. From those work camps the curse worker Mob families flourished, and Cassel, the main character is a product of that Mob legacy. Each book focuses on him, and his struggle with the whole “my family is the mob” thing. That’s all I’m giving you non-awesome people who havent read this series, and I genuinely recommend that you read them all asap.

On to Black Heart!

Seriously though, there are spoilers in this review.

So Cassel is an FBI guy now, well an FBI trainee and Barron is actually an FBI agent, but he’s still corrupt as all hell, and using his memory work to avoid jumping through bureau hoops. He’s also (strangely enough) in love (and i won’t say with whom). Lila has begun her training as a ruthless mob leader, which was entirely expected of her. Cassel’s mother is in hiding and no one can find her, and Daneca and Sam are still broken up for no freaking reason.

Since you know the series, you know how Ms. Holly Black has consistently left things for the reader to guess, and mystery upon mystery to solve by the end of each novel. Black Heart was no different…I’m not telling you though, you have to find out for yourself dammit!

The series was amazing, and I’m going to re-read it so I can get more out of it.

In short. GO BUY THIS SERIES IRL. (in real life, for non chat-speakers out there) This series has what every good sci-fi/fantasy series needs. Strong story, strong characters, intriuging plot, and most importantly: well thought out backstory.

April 5, 2012

Room for Debate – Reflection

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m an English major. I read Shakespeare for fun, and I genuinely think that counting the meter of a poem, and using it to come up with a theory about the authors mindset when he wrote it, is a good activity for an afternoon. When I read the Room for Debate series that specifically addresses Young Adult Fiction, I couldn’t resist seeing all they had to say. Only one author had a perspective that I found grating, in which he stated that “The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.”-Stein. As an adult, a relatively young one, but one old enough to vote, and not quite old enough to buy a bottle of wine (7months), that aggravated me.

I read a LOT of YA books, and I do prefer them to contemporary adult novels. For me, it’s not the quality of writing in YA that draws me, because as everyone knows the quality of YA writing can range from superb, to disappointing with an awesome storyline. It’s the story and the characters, and the feeling you get from reading the novel that keep people interested. For instance The Hunger Games isn’t good because it has a strong female protagonist. It’s good because I can relate to the way she thinks about the situation she’s been put in. I can relate to the way the has to rationalize killing other people; and most of all I understand her confusion. Katniss doesn’t get her role, she doesn’t understand love, and she certainly can’t focus on politics.

Those are all things that I can identify with. I also read books like Demi-Monde , The Brides Farewell, Room, and countless others that are not of the YA genre, and find commonalities to those characters. I can read them both from a regular readers standpoint, and from a literary critics standpoint. The fact that this one man dismisses a full genre, with absolutely no knowledge of what he’s dismissing (he states that he hasn’t read any recent YA novels, essentially because they’re beneath him) is ridiculous. It’s not only offensive to adults who enjoy YA, but to the authors of those novels, many of whom are well respected and have books written for both the YA genre and contemporary (often literary) fiction.

I personally would like so send him a copy of Deus ex Machina by Andrew Foster Altschul and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and tell him to compare the satire both novels provide about the falseness and commerciality of a consumerist lifestyle.

The other articles were more appreciative of YA, and the pains that authors have to go through to keep the attention of a generation that’s used to instant gratification. The two that I liked most were “Seeing themselves in Books” and “Social Media has Fed the Fever”. Those two articles were both delightfully insightful, the first having been written by a male author who found his calling (that’s the nerdiest way I can put that) in novels, the second written by a teen book blogger.

If you like YA, go forth and check out the debate in the comments of the articles. I’ll definitely be there.

March 22, 2012

The Benefits of Binge Reading

In the last 12 hours I’ve finished 3 novels. One of which I reread for my own pleasure, and the other two simply because I was in a ready mood. There’s really no other way to explain that. I lazed around my house with all the windows open, sun streaming in, and just felt like it was the perfect day to read things I wanted to read, and not homework that had been assigned by professors.

The first new book I read was Across the Universe by Beth Revis. It’s one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. I was drawn in by the cover, so I bought it. Then I was put off by the corniness of the quote on the cover: “What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?”. Then the second book in the series came out, a year later. Ladies and Gentlemen, this book  has been sitting there unread, for over a year. Now it wasn’t my fault! I was travelling after I bought it (in January 2011) and then I just, forgot. Nonetheless, I picked it up today, a full year and two months later, and actually loved it.

Let me give you a quick rundown of this book. Amy is a 17 year old girl who is given the choice by her parents (and I suppose the government) to be cryogenically frozen and travel with them to Alpha Centauri to inhabit a planet that is reportedly fit for human life. The novel opens with Amy watching first her mother, then her father, go through the freezing process before she inevitably decides to give up her life on Earth and stick with her parents. Once she gets frozen, the POV switches to Elder, the future leader of Godspeed, the ship that is taxed with the 350 year journey to Centauri-Earth. The population of the ship has been ravaged by a recent Plague that required a new system of leadership to be put into place, and he is the next in line. Elder is only 16, and like any young leader to be, he is reluctant to conform to his teachings, and prefers the company of his friend. He gets pointed in the direction of the cyro chamber, where he finds Amy frozen in her tube. A series of events takes place that involves Amy being reanimated incorrectly (and most importantly before her time). There’s some mystery, and some romance (dur) and the best part is the dictatorship that thinks that individual thought is the root of all fighting.

I loved how honest it was. The two main characters, Elder and Amy, have absolutely no problems about being honest with themselves. That’s rare, especially for a YA novel. Amy quickly comes to terms with the fact that she will never see her parents again after she is reanimated, and immediately throws herself into a project. Elder fights the hold that the Eldest has on him in order to keep Amy safe, and in doing so reveals to himself the truth’s of his little society.

It was a pretty quick read, and definitely one you want to do in one go, mainly because the narrative is a little stilted. The POV switches for every “chapter” and often the sections are quite short. The second book is called A Million Sunsand apparently the spaceship is no longer fueled by lies, but chaos.

The second book I read was Legend, by Marie Lu. I’ve followed her for a while over on Pub(lishing) Crawl which is by far one of my favorite writing/publishing blogs since it’s run by a group of ex-fictionpress authors (including the wonderfully talented S.J. Mass, whose book Throne of Glass is FINALLY being released later this year) but there are so many super talented ladies that have come out of both fictionpress, and Pub(lishing) Crawl that their work is always worth checking out.

Legend is about two people (look at me with my POV switching books) Day and June.

June a 15 year old prodigy who got a perfect score on the Trials, a government test that judges the line of work a child is worthy for. Now the trials sound truly horrible. At the age of 10 you are judged on your agility, reflexes, and intelligence. If you fail you’re sent to the labor camps. If you pass you get to go to school. June, the only one to get a perfect score of 1500, (SAT’s anyone??) is in her final year of university, and causing trouble. Her section of the novel opens with her being scolded for traveling off campus to scale a building. Day’s section opens with him looking over his family. Immediately setting the tone for his personality, he’s watching out for them as the soldiers go door to door checking for plague victims. He’s essentially Robin Hood, except he mainly only cares about his family, and his friends, and messing with the oppressive government. Of course, they have to be enemies. June is a military girl at heart, and Day is a rebel because of what his government has made him.

Legend was fab, because it wasn’t just the usual dystopian lone girl defies government and blah happens book. It was a political thriller, with twists and turns (even though a few of them were predictable). It was fun to actually go along with the characters and figure out what was happening, and there are hints dropped throughout the novel, and most importantly, it fun to read. There were plenty of sections that got my adrenaline up, and it was totally not a book you should read before going to bed… because then you won’t. You’ll actually be too hyped up to do anything but dance and wonder when the second book is coming out (Fall 2012).

There’s also a game of this on facebook (I’m totally a member of the Capitol ya’ll).

There ya go! two books in one review.

February 26, 2012

Happy Spring Break!

Well, at least happy spring break to me! In honor of my spring break, and my extensive travel plans, here are some awesome books to read while you are also on break, or just lazing about your house, or plain old procrastinating from doing something actually important (like I am right now).

So first off we have the marvelous Scott Westerfeld. Anything by him is a treat to read, but right now I’m partial to his Leviathan Series, which I reviewed last year, and also the Uglies Series. Which I havent reviewed but always reread on long flights. 

Then there’s the always awesome His Dark Materials Series by Phillip Pullman. Granted it’s a little dark, but there’s still that uplifting story of Lyra and her journey to love, and her mother’s journey to eventual redemption (I never did like her father). I also tend to overlook the sub-plot of atheism, because when I was 10 that was too complicated. I liked to focus on the daemons, and here is where I teach you a valuable lesson: Talking animals are awesome no matter how old you are.

I’m also partial to reading mysteries while on the road, and my favorites involve either sassy heroines with equally sassy cats, (but not talking cats that’s just odd) or recipe’s for pretty much anything. So it’s not strange at all that I love the Joanne Fluke series about Hannah Swensen, a baker who gets tangled up in murderous shenanigans in her hometown of Lake Eden Minnesota. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is the first in the series, and a great read for traveling. 

Last, but not least by any means, is the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins. If you’ve read it,vacation is a good time to read it again. If you haven’t well, if you have any sort of plane ride coming up you’ll devour them (but not in a literal sense, that might be bad for your health).

Well good luck on your journey, and May the odds be ever in your favor.

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