5 stars · fiction · series · young adult

Wires and Nerve was everything I needed in a graphic novel

29772863

Wires and Nerve

Volume 1

author : marissa meyer

illustrator : doug holgate

pages : [hardcover] 240

favorite character : wolf (always)

memorable quote :

“I misread the romantic tension, Didn’t I?”

summary :

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

review :

How could I not love a graphic novel that continues one of my favorite book series? Especially because it means one of my favorite characters, Iko, is going to get her very own happy ending–well, probably. This is only volume one, so who knows what adventures could happen next!

The only thing I hated about this volume was how quickly I finished it, and how long I know I’ll need to wait until volume two.

Let’s talk about the artwork first. I’ve avoided graphic novel adaptations in the past because the images never quite line up with what I’ve had in my mind while I’m reading. The same is true for Wires and Nerve, because most of the character designs weren’t quite what I’ve had in mind. Still, maybe because it’s an extension of the series, it was easier to separate in my mind that this is Iko’s story, and everything else was it’s own entity. What kind of cemented it for me is that the characters still act and talk the way they have in the previous books, so even without the bulk of text that comes with a novel it was easy to feel the characters’ personalities shine through.

This volume made me excited for the series to come because it shows how the world has remained imperfect after Winter. There’s a natural progression in the plot, something for Iko to overcome, and some opportunities for romantic feelings in the future. I absolutely love that Wires and Nerve didn’t focus on any specific relationship with Iko because she’s never really had the chance to be the center of attention before. I’ve loved seeing what her dreams and motivations are–and how much of a badass she is. Iko can really shine and I’m waiting to read more about her!

5/5 stars

 

1 star · fiction · young adult

“Piper Perish” by Kayla Cagan was nowhere near as good as it could have been

27150849

Piper Perish

author : kayla cagan

pages : 405

release date : (expected) february 28th 2017

favorite character : adams

summary :

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It’s been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

review :

I really wanted to like this book. Not just because I’ve had a great record with loving YA novels published by Chronicle Books. Not just because I share a fantastic first name with the author. It sounded so interesting, like nothing I’d ever read before. Unfortunately, there were more frustrations in this novel than anything else, and it left me with nothing unique to hold onto. It’s the kind of book where the plot will grow fuzzy a few days from now.

Piper Perish is about just that: A girl named Piper Perish. She’s an artist, from Houston, in high school. I know this because the book is told in journal entries and in about every entry she complains about how limited Houston is compared to NYC. Actually, I feel like this was a very accurate representation of teenage ranting, but it didn’t translate well to real storytelling. The journal entries didn’t progress throughout the half year they detail so much as passionlessly chronicle Piper’s lives in a vividly failing attempt to capture teenage slang in the written form. There’s no indication of what year this is intended to take place within, so with the technology available in Piper’s world I assumed 2017 was a fair choice for setting. For teenagers so “cool” Piper constantly harps about how cool they are, their word choices are awfully . . . uncool, for lack of a better way to describe it. It was hard to read.

There was a big factor in the beginning of the novel that almost made me DNF it right away but I hung on, because I partially hoped it would right itself partway through the book and also thought I should give the rest of the plot a fair chance. A main character in the book reveals very early on that he has an interest in boys, while he has been dating a girl for a few years. Thus said girlfriend goes on a slightly insane spiral thinking that because she has short hair, she has accidentally convinced him that he likes men. Later that thinking shifts to how did everyone but me know that he was gay? 

I’m so incredibly tired of authors just ignoring the fact that, hey, it’s true: You can like GUYS AND GALS. Basically most of the book was her coming to terms with the fact that yes, he loved her, just not in that way. This is a horrible example for teens who’ll be reading this book. There’s EVERY CHANCE some guy could love a girl, yes in that way, and then when he finds a guy to date instead, love him too. He doesn’t have to be straight. Or gay. Or even define himself by being bisexual, because I get that people don’t have labels, sexuality is more complex, and all. But the word bisexual? Not once does it appear (and I’m reading an advanced copy so, if for some reason this changes, I would be incredibly pleased to know about it!). Not even as a consideration or an afterthought.

Throughout the rest of the book, this was marring my experience, but I have to admit it didn’t truly detract from the plot because not much happens. Tiny situations resolve themselves. Plotlines that could have been interesting, such as a certain character potentially having very serious unresolved mental illness issues, are never even addressed. The only thing that isn’t stagnant is time.

1/5 stars : should have DNF’d

I received an advanced copy from Chronicle Book for review and this in no way affected my honest review. They are an incredible publishing house and I’ve loved working with them. If you would like to read some of my favorite books by them, check out my reviews on The Clockwork Scarab and The Falconer.

5 stars · fiction · young adult

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME

30038977

Nowhere Near You

author : leah thomas

pages : [hardcover] 400

favorite characters : ollie & moritz (duh)

summary :

Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You’ll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

review :

THIS BOOOOOOOOOOK.

I don’t know why, but after I first read Because You’ll Never Meet Me and completely and utterly fell in love with it, I never realized that there was going to be a sequel. Then I happened to catch a blog post on one of my favorite blog’s about Nowhere Near You and the happy squealing was immense. When I was contacted to actually read and review this book, it’s a miracle I was actually able to form a coherent sentence to reply to that email. I’m still incredibly awed that I was able to read this book, before it was even published. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get over and I plan on keeping this ARC forever after.

I suppose it would help if I could be a little more succinct about why these books are so lovely and important to me. It’s important to note that they’re incredibly different from one another, too. Because I’ll Never Meet You is much more character-driven than the plot-driven Nowhere Near You. Luckily I love both types of stories and getting such different narratives offers not only a well-rounded view of our narrators but an exciting and different worldview. We don’t even know much about the world that’s shown in this sequel until close to the end of the first book. While book one masquerades a bit more like contemporary fiction, book two is science fiction through and through. And it’s amazingly charming and witty in the way it works these very improbable characters into a world just like our own.

Well, not exactly like our own, because then we would have our own Moritz and Ollie. Flawed though they may be, they’ve successfully captured my heart because they’re so incredibly sweet with each other. Even when Ollie is being a rambling annoyance or Moritz is so consumed by his own dark thoughts that he drags down anyone in the vicinity as well. Their friendship (which I know, I know, may possibly turn into more but I’m TRYING not to get my hopes up) is so real. They’ve never met each other. They can’t meet each other. But even through the letters they share, they know one another more intimately than most people have the privilege to ever know another person. They can make each other laugh (I know, with Moritz it seems near impossible). They fight with each other. But they always make up in the end, as stubborn friends tend to do.

There isn’t anything I could honestly say I disliked about Nowhere Near You. It was more than a solid sequel; it would be great wholly on its own. The cover is gorgeous. The characters are gripping. I absolutely can’t wait to see what could possibly happen next . . . although I’m not entirely certain there’s going to be a book three. I wasn’t even expecting #2, so I’ll take what I can get and be happy with it.

I can’t recommend this book enough and know that, once you get your hands on it, you’ll be extremely jealous that I was able to read this beautiful story months before you were. And now you’ll be left itching for more, too. You’re welcome.

5/5 stars

 

4 stars · fiction · young adult

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: An important book about mental illness and suicide

18460392

All the Bright Places

author : jennifer niven

pages : 387

memorable quote : The thing I realize is, that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.

favorite character : violet

summary :

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

review :

Wow. This book.

For starters, I snagged this book at a library sale in perfect condition for only $1 and, after vaguely recognizing the cover and summary, thought it was a brilliant deal. Now I’m sure that I’ve gotten the better end of it, because I feel like this is a book you’ll need to read more than once. I’m sure in a year or so I’ll return to it, in spite of how difficult it was to read. This is a book about mental illness, suicide, and how those who haven’t personally experienced either may react to these important issues.

I think that an important thing to realize going into this is that the book isn’t perfect, but for the most part it’s realistic. Finch and Violet are both exaggerated and unrealistic in that they don’t feel like actual teenagers. Like a lot of YA, these teens are extremely eloquent, seem able to run around wherever they want at whatever hours of the day they want, and are obsessed with ‘cool’ things like 80s music, records, and the online equivalent of zines. It’s kind of annoying that all of the things that YA main characters scoff at are the ‘normal’ things that teens do, and it’s like they need to reach back thirty years to really express themselves. Honestly, I’m not sure how much of this phenomenon is the fact that most YA authors haven’t been young adults for a long while.

Another important thing about this book is how mental illness can be perceived and ignored by adults AND  young adults. Those who are ‘there to help’ might not always be there to help. For example, guidance counselors may not catch the same warning signs that another trained professional might. A friend might accept those signs as just part of their personality. When something might finally be seen as more than just a teenager acting out, getting into trouble–typical teen angst–it might be too late. In reading a few reviews, I could see how frustrated some readers were that no one was helping Finch or Violet even though in the first chapter they literally meet on the school’s roof because they’re both contemplating suicide. I was just heartbroken by how realistic it is that nothing is really done about it. People are so good at hiding what they’re feeling and what’s really going on in their heads. There’s such a stigma about acknowledging mental illness that most people don’t want to contemplate it about themselves, let alone suggest its existence to the people surrounding them.

Let’s talk about Finch and Violet’s friendship. It really isn’t healthy, even though it brings out great things (mostly hope) for both of them. The big red flag for me is how much Finch is bullied at school, most prominently by Violet’s closest friends, and how she does nothing to speak against this. Even in the portion of chapters that are through her POV she never mentally acknowledges that he shouldn’t be spoken to in this way, if she’s too afraid to speak up. In this case, silence speaks louder than anything else. Another wholly unrealistic aspect is how willing Violet is to go along with Finch’s random adventures, even at times like 3 A.M. She hardly knows this guy, owes him nothing, knows her parents will never trust her again if she’s caught–but she risks everything for him.

This book was nearly impossible to put down once I started to read it. The writing was captivating, the chapters alternating between viewpoints flowed together incredibly. I loved reading about the roadtrips (and now want to plan my own trip around my own state doing crazy things that no one really knows about). I loved that this was a story about two teenagers trying to take care of each other and seeing how much the support of just one person can affect someone.

I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s a fast, meaningful read that will leave you thinking about the major topics discussed in the novel.

4/5 stars

 

5 stars · paranormal · young adult

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

29566060

The Edge of Everything

author : jeff giles

pages : [hardcover] 368

favorite character : ripper

summary :

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic journey will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

review :

OKAY SO THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC BUT IT NEEDS A SEQUEL AND IT DOESN’T SAY THAT THERE’S ONE EVER COMING?? AND THIS BOOK COMES OUT IN JANUARY 2017 BUT I READ IT IN JULY 2016 EXPECTING IT TO BE A STANDALONE, HAVE I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE?

Possibly, because it was fantastic and now I have to wait probably forever for a sequel. This is terrible. This is worse than a hand full of papercuts. This is worse than leaving out your favorite book in a rainstorm.

Okay. So. The Edge of Everything was a book I went into knowing literally nothing about because the ARC I have of it doesn’t have the summary on it. Or at least didn’t print it anywhere I thought it necessary to be. I love going into books knowing little to nothing about them, so dove right in. Or, actually, before bed one night I read the first few pages and then consciously had to stop myself because I knew that if I continued, I’d never get to sleep. That’s how immediately gripping it is. I made an excellent choice, too, because the entire next day I read the book.

The Edge of Everything is crazy. Zoe isn’t a perfect main character (even though I know somewhat about her life, I don’t feel very attached. I don’t really know what her hopes and dreams are at all). But she’s a strong lady. She’s basically been keeping her family together ever since her father died in a caving incident and she’s so great with her little brother, who has ADHD and is adorable and owns a ladybug shaped bed. Through crazy circumstances she meets a young man she names X and their worlds collide.

This is the kind of book where you have to allow yourself to accept star-crossed romance because there’s insta-love all over it. Zoe and X know each other for three days (more or less) and they’re already prepared to move worlds for each other. There are some ways in which this totally makes sense (more for X, with his strange background, than for normal Zoe) and some where I was slightly tempted to roll my eyes. But The Edge of Everything managed to stay on the edge (ha) of becoming too much of a ridiculous romance. Because it became about more than romance. It became a story about finding yourself, gaining freedom, understanding others, learning mercy . . . Ugh. I loved this book so much.

There isn’t much about the different worlds aspect that I can say without giving anything away, so I won’t mention anything at all. I loved going into it and learning all about it through X’s experiences and explanations, so that’s the approach I’d recommend to other readers. Then you can come back here and rave about it to me as much as I just have.

Basically, this book is awesome. It shows everyone is neither fully evil or fully good. It shows how our world looks through the eyes of another. It shows how interesting insta-love can be if you just suck it up and deal with it like I did.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · children's books

Disney Princess Storybook Collection is cute for any Disney lover!

24397047

Disney Princess Storybook Collection

variety of authors for the short stories

pages : [hardcover] 304

favorite story : one about flynn rider and rapunzel getting cupcakes together and it’s adorable

summary :

Get ready for an enchanting collection of stories, starring all the Disney Princesses! Solve a mystery with Rapunzel and the gang from the Snuggly Duckling. Gallop along with Merida after she meets a mysterious horse. Travel to Paris with Tiana as she competes in a global baking contest. Filled with wonder, excitement, and discovery, each princess’s tale is a royal delight!

review :

If you love Disney Princesses, you’ll definitely like this collection. Each of the 11 official Disney princesses are given a short story and some (like Tiana and Ariel) are given up to three each. There’s certainly something in here for everyone. I was initially drawn to it because of the two immensely cute Tangled stories in here, one about Rapunzel freeing Flynn from being framed for a crime and another about what Rapunzel and Flynn do when they reach Corona before they see the floating lanterns.

There are so many good messages contained in these stories that are the exact right size to read to a child before bed each night. There are stories about love, stories about adventure, stories about being true to yourself. They teach children about how to make their dreams reality or how to fix things when you and someone you love are angry with each other. There are great new side characters introduced in these little stories, brave men and women who are inventors, explorers, and–most of all–dreamers. I just loved it so much!

The writing is extremely simple, which makes for good read-alouds as well as a great collection for young readers. The text is pretty large and easy to read, though I love that Disney didn’t lessen the vocabulary and there were some great words in here that I think would be an awesome learning opportunity.

I’d recommend this to anyone, with kids or not!

5/5 stars

 

4 stars · fiction

Me Before You reads exactly like the movie

15507958

Me Before You

Me Before You #1

author : jojo moyes

pages : [hardcover] 369

favorite character : louisa

memorable quote :

You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.

summary :

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

review :

Me Before You was an interesting read for me because I watched the movie first. I know, I know, that’s an extreme sin to some people. But I honestly can’t remember the last time I did that, and then read the novel afterward. Usually when I know that it’s coming, I take the time to read the book long before I get to the theater. Me Before You was a little different because I knew nothing about it before I went to see it. I’d literally only seen the posters for it, knew I loved the lead actor and actress, and it was what my friends wanted to do for the day. I thought it would be a nice, light-hearted romantic comedy.

Me Before You is something . . . other. I’m sure most people know what they’re getting themselves into, but when the “event” happens two minutes into the film, I grabbed my friend and demanded to know what they’d dragged me into. And then sat back for the rest of the ride.

Well, the novel reads exactly like the film. There was a few months’ gap between watching it and reading the book, so there may be some pieces that I’m missing. Altogether, apart from a few chapters of the book that are told in other characters’ perspectives, everything else is exactly like the movie. Which could mean either that the film was a great adaptation and exactly what readers who want every moment of the book included are looking for, or that the writing needed a little something extra. I think both are true. Both, because the plot does translate so well to screen, and I think part of that is because Moyes doesn’t provide us with anything superfluous. No real subplots that would need to be cut from a movie script. No minor characters that only pop in for a chapter or two.

It’s the kind of writing that I know appeals to a lot of people–and it shows, from the popularity of the book. It’s also the kind of troublesome book that is very entertaining, but doesn’t provide much meat for the mind, if you know what I’m getting at. The writing isn’t clunky, or awkward, and manages to make a plot that could have been predictable, entertaining and endearing. But it isn’t exceptional. It does the job, telling the story, without leaving behind much by way of style.

I think it’s kind of like a Nicolas Sparks novel (or at least like several I’ve read by him until they all, I realized, were basically the same), riding on peoples’ emotions for the tragedy of it all. And it works! I enjoyed it. Do I see myself reading the sequel? Probably not, because I don’t really see the necessity of there being a sequel. Would I read another book by Moyes? Maybe, but also a probably not because the back of my book included a few summaries of other novels she’s written and they don’t seem like my kind of book.

Did I enjoy Me Before You? Yes. Would I recommend it? Definitely, for a nice and easy read. But watching the movie was easily just as enjoyable.

4/5 stars