Tag Archives: ya

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

16 Aug

 

Love Letters to the Dead

author : ava dellaira

pages : [hardcover] 327

memorable quote You can be noble and brave and beautiful and still find yourself falling.

favorite character : laurel

summary :

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

review :

 Love Letters to the Dead is unlike anything that I have ever read before and I say that in the best way possible because I ended up really loving this book. It’s told solely through a series of letters written by Laurel, all addressed to people who have passed away. This morbid assignment turns into a way for her to express feelings and come to terms with memories that she was repressed from herself and avoided mentioning to those who love her. Laurel is having a hard time with May’s death and the reader doesn’t quite know why for most of the book because Laurel isn’t willing to speak about it.

What I found unique about the choice of letters is that several could come from a certain day when Laurel needs to let out her feelings or weeks would go by between letters and we’d only know that from Laurel mentioning that it is so. The reader has no control and needs to piece together what the narrator isn’t mentioning as well as put together the clues that she happens to leave about her past and her hopes for the future.

Laurel was a fantastic character because she just seemed so real to me. She’s a typical teenager trying to find herself and has to go through this hardship at the same time. While not every teen can say they’ve experienced that kind of loss, I think that those who are teens themselves as well as older people who remember their teenage years will be able to relate to Laurel and her chaotic, emotional life. She isn’t perfect; far from it. Similarly, her life at school and her relationships with the people around her are peppered with imperfections that only add to the realistic vibe.

By the end of the book, I was severely emotionally invested in these characters. I wanted to know what had happened while  I simultaneously dreaded finding out the truth. Just like I think Laurel needed to tell her secrets but also didn’t want people to see her differently for them. She had me shedding a few tears by the end of the book, which, despite the heavy material, I hadn’t expected.

I really love this book and think that a lot of people will also love it. I’d highly recommend reading it when you have plenty of time to read through the whole thing. You will get hooked, you may cry, and you’ll love the journey anyway.

5/5 stars

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

26 Jun

 

 Unwind

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 335

memorable quote : I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.

favorite character : connor & risa

summary :

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

review :

I’m writing this review after rereading Unwind and realizing that I’d never reviewed it the first time I picked up this novel! Let me tell you first off that this book is very disturbing. Just imagine being afraid that one day your parents think you’re too much trouble to raise and they could easily sign an order that will have you shipped off and taken apart . . . An unwilling organ donor who’s saving lives at the expense of their own because society has deemed them worthless.

Two concepts I found highly intriguing in the book were tithing and storking. A tithe is brought up from birth knowing that they will be unwound when they reach thirteen. Whether because of religious convictions or not, these children are taught that their higher purpose will only be served once they reach a ‘divided state of living’. Storking is when new mothers can leave babies on any doorstep they choose, so long as they are not caught in that act. It’s like a terrible game of finders-keepers because whether or not that family wants the baby, they’re stuck with it when they open the door and find it there. Children are growing up knowing their families didn’t really want them, only to be unwound when they reach the age limit because their families no longer want to look after them.

It’s heartbreaking to hear the different stories the runaways have and why their parents justified what is essentially killing them, only worded differently so that the families feel better about it. Some parents couldn’t decide who should have custody of the child so they decided to have him unwound instead. There were kids with anger management issues or ones with criminal problems, but for every child like that there were several more who had parents who were the problem. Unwind makes you question and wonder whether this process could be justified in any case.

Also spoken about in this book is a past, second Civil War fought over rights to life. Because this is such a big issue in today’s society, it’s not so hard to think that people could go to extremes to protect and project their beliefs. That’s what makes this ultimately a frightening warning.

I’d recommend this book to anyone and I can’t wait to continue this series. It’s horrifying and captivating all at once. On top of that, it’s well-written.

5/5 stars

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

14 Jun

 

The Geography of You and Me

author : jennifer e. smith

pages : [hardcover] 337

memorable quote : But there’s no such thing as a completely fresh start. Everything new arrives on the heels of something old, and every beginning comes at the cost of an ending.

favorite characters : lucy & owen

summary :

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

review :

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it certainly makes me want to pick up more written by her. I don’t usually reach for contemporary books so I typically wait to see which novels other people seem to be raving about before I decide to give them a read as well. I’ve heard such great things about Jennifer E. Smith that I picked up The Geography of You and Me as soon as it appeared in my local library. This story definitely gives a unique twist to a long distance love story.

What I found very interesting about this novel was that neither of the characters suffered from the absent or invisible parent syndrome that usually infects YA novels so the teenage characters are essentially able to do whatever they want, which doesn’t often happen in real life. One of my favorite parts of this book was Owen’s relationship with his father. They’re both trying so hard to be there for each other and to make up for the whole in their family that was left behind when Owen’s mother passed away. I also found Lucy’s family dynamic interesting-though it seemed too many of their family problems were solved immediately.

Communicating through postcards was a really cute idea, though I love that the author discussed the complications and pitfalls that come from speaking to another person only through that medium. Through the postcard messages we get to see in the book, it’s easy to see how similar and yet complexly different the two leading characters are.

One thing I really appreciated about this novel was how nothing was instant except that initial attraction. The two needed to fight to see one another again and when they were apart, needed to decide whether it was worth keeping up the lines of communication. After all, they’d barely known each other before they moved apart. I kept second-guessing what might happen with the two of them, which doesn’t happen often with me and contemporary books.

I’d definitely recommend this cute, quick read!

4/5 stars

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

6 Jun
Another gorgeous cover!

Another gorgeous cover!

 

The Summer Prince

author : alaya dawn johnson

pages : [hardcover] 289

memorable quote : The past stands in the path of the future, knowing it will be crushed.

summary :

A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

review :

The Summer Prince tried to do a lot in such a small amount of pages (not even three hundred!) and it didn’t end up working for me. For starters, the world introduced is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, which is wonderful. Except we readers are thrown into it with no warning and are expected to have a good grasp of that society by the end of the novel. There are so many interesting facts that are thrown in and never properly explained. Apparently everyone in Palmares Tres is genetically modified within the womb to be between certain shades of color, among other things that are never properly explained because I’m fairly certain this is only mentioned once. On top of that, the city is a matriarchal society, one in which no one cares about sexuality and gender roles are almost completely flipped. Which is an amazing, unique concept that is quickly overwhelmed because the author put too much information in such a short span of writing.

I ended the novel still uncertain of whether the king was ritually killed every year or every five years (if someone knows, please explain it to me!) and there were other little details that continued to confuse me. I’m assuming that this is because I might’ve missed something in another round of overwhelming information.

The characters were interesting. I really liked them even though I still felt distant from them, probably because their world was so different from mine and I was constantly reminded of that. I did like the connection that Enki and June had. Some of the scenes were very sweet. Others just kept me wanting to read further so that I could get answers to new questions that arose, either because of this dystopian world or because of the problems Enki and June faced.

While this was a very unique and intriguing book, the information dumps were too overwhelming and not properly explained. There was so much in this book with potential that it was a shame that it wasn’t spread out longer so that I could completely enjoy and sink into the world of The Summer Prince.

3/5 stars

Did Not Finish: The Lost Boys by Lilian Carmine

29 Mar

 

The Lost Boys

author : lilian carmine

pages : [paperback] 522

summary :

An intensely addictive romance novel about girls, ghosts, and forbidden love, ideal for fans of Stephenie Meyer
Fate has brought them together. But will it also keep them apart? Having moved to a strange town, 17-year-old Joey Gray is feeling a little lost, until she meets a cute, mysterious boy near her new home. But there’s a very good reason why Tristan Halloway is always to be found roaming in the local graveyard. Perfect for fans of Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Kate, The Lost Boys is a magical, romantic tale of girl meets ghost.

review :

**I was less than a hundred pages into this when I decided The Lost Boys wasn’t worth my time anymore, thus this will end up being less of a proper review and more an explanation of why I couldn’t put up with the rest of this.**

I rarely mark my books as DNF, especially one like this where I was very happy that my request for this on Netgalley was honored. But perhaps the comparisons to Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Kate should have warned me away. I did enjoy Meyer’s books, more so The Host than anything else, but Lauren Kate wrote Fallen, which was another book I couldn’t get through. Anyway, I usually ignore comparisons to other books and authors because it’s hard to compare these things.

First of all, I was attracted to that gorgeous cover and ended up hoping the title was going to be a Peter Pan reference. No such luck for me but the summary seemed promising, anyway. The problem started with the prose! Every other sentence was an exclamation! I couldn’t tell if Joey was always shouting! Or if she was that enthusiastic! I could get over the quirk of her name, even though everyone in the book needs to comment on it and Joey makes a big deal out of it. But she doesn’t act like a senior in high school. We’re reading this from her perspective and while the exclamation points don’t help, there are also the phrases she uses that seem out of place. Her actions, as well as those of all of the other characters, don’t make any sense.

Simply the way that the story was structured reminds me of how young writers, maybe teenagers, often start out, with simplistic prose and unnatural dialogue and actions. These are the things that are supposed to be improved upon to be made into a publishable book. Not this. I can’t believe that this is an actual book and I can’t believe that it’s supposed to be made into a trilogy. I do not recommend you try out The Lost Boys.

1/5 stars

Books to Movies: City of Bones

14 Feb

City of Bones isn’t one of my favorite books but I think it’s a very interesting series with so many interesting aspects that could easily be made into a big cinematic experience. Clary and Jace are good characters and their relationship is definitely a complicated one. Of course, I was really interested in seeing what they’d do about that cliffhanger ending that could possibly turn away audiences if a second movie was ever in the works. Now that I’ve seen the first movie, I’m not so sure I want to see City of Ashes made in this same way.

From the beginning I had my doubts. Book to movie adaptations have been really hit or miss lately. I’ve come to terms with the fact that a lot of different changes are going to come in these movies and perhaps some things will be added in. But when it comes to City of Bones things got ridiculous pretty fast. Things that couldn’t possibly have happened in the books, that were never in the world-building that came with the creatures, Shadow Hunters, and everything in between, were thrown into this movie. Sometimes I just found myself staring at the screen wondering why someone thought it’d be okay to completely redo the lore like that.

Jamie Campbell Bower wasn’t and never will be my Jace. He’s supposed to be the most attractive guy around and know it; that’s one of the important aspects of his character. Bower doesn’t do that for me. At least he didn’t have to try to perfect an accent for this role; I’m still unsure why they suddenly decided all of the Shadow Hunters had to have accents. It was odd and didn’t do anything for me.

I really liked Simon, Robert Sheehan, partly because I’ve seen him in other things and already knew that he’d be able to take on this role. I wish that more of him had been shown and know that if they ever did make the second book into a movie, they’d definitely be able to capitalize on his abilities.

And Lily Collins as Clary ended up being disappointing as well. I tried so hard before the film as released to be impartial about the decision to cast her and ended up failing. I never felt like I could relate or empathize with her in the movie. Part of it was the writing, I must admit. It seems like the writers of this movie liked forcing the characters to make improbably dumb decisions. (Let’s temporarily freeze a herd of monsters and walk delicately through them instead of killing them!) But Collins wasn’t Clary. She was more like a diluted, distorted version of her.

If you’re a fan and tempted to watch this adaptation like I was, I suggest saving yourself the time and assuming this will be as disappointing as it looks to be. I didn’t even enjoy the score and that’s something I usually don’t even need to think about while watching a movie unless it’s so awesome it demands notice. This one seemed to have misplaced itself at all the wrong moments and favored cheesy pop songs to ruin scenes from the book. Despite a few good action sequences, a few scenes I’d really wanted to see come to life, and Robert Sheehan, I say you should let this movie pass on quietly and hope that eventually they’ll try to redo this.

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

18 Jan

Lost Voices

Lost Voices #1

author : sarah porter

pages : [hardcover] 291

memorable quote: I think at first I wanted to kill all of them. Everyone. Because if there were no people left alive, then I’d never have to love one of them again.

summary

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?
Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.
A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.
Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?
Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

review:

I’ve been looking for a really good mermaid book to read for a while and I don’t think that I found it in Lost Voices.

I’ve always been fascinated with mermaids. Whether they’re cute and helpful or deadly and love drowning people, it’s interesting to read about them. Authors can take any approach they want with the mythology and this one was lacking for me. I was interested in Luce and her transformation but there were too many instances where it felt like I was reading about high school drama among mermaids. Sure, I think the oldest of them appears to be sixteen but there are some who have been living decades longer. I don’t think that just because appearances don’t change they wouldn’t have learned anything, like how to settle petty differences, stick together, make sure that no one gets left out where they might die.

There’s a part of me that really wants to continue with these books to see what happens. I want to know where Luce will end up, if she matures, if the mermaids will ever pay attention to the larvae and stop the orcas from eating them. But my library doesn’t have the next book and I don’t really plan on paying to continue this series. Book one was enjoyable to read but ending up dragging at the end. When I stopped to look back on what I read I realized I kept on hoping that things would clear up and something more substantial would happen with the plot.

I guess the thing that bothered me most about this book was that Porter decided to go with mermaids that kill people. That’s fine. What isn’t is that it seems like these girls are only doing it for fun, for no good reason, and they’ll do so even when it endangers themselves and the existence of mermaids everywhere.

If you’re looking for a great mermaid read, I’d say maybe look elsewhere and pick this up if you have nothing else to do and are looking for an easy read.

2/5 stars

If you like this book you might also like Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings or Lies Beneath

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