Tag Archives: ya

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

7 Jan

Crown of Midnight

Throne of Glass #2

Book 1: Throne of Glass

author : sarah j. maas

pages : [hardcover] 420

memorable quote I worry because I care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. So I will always tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens.

favorite character : chaol

summary :

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie…and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

review :

While I wasn’t in love with Throne of Glass, I was excited to read the sequel–and I think that I liked this second book more than the first! Crown of Midnight focuses more on the action and adventure than the romance between characters, which was all that I wanted. Even though I’m sure that there’s much more to come, and I have my predictions made about what will happen next, there were some surprises in this book that I just didn’t see coming.

On the other hand, unfortunately, I think one of the big reveals in this book was something I’d seen coming since the middle of book one. I’m not sure if readers were supposed to pick up on the subtle hints about it or not so for me, the ending kind of fell short of amazing. I’d really like to hear about what other people thought about the conclusion and if they were surprised by what was revealed there!

While there wasn’t so much focus on the love triangle, I was disappointed because we still didn’t learn much more about Chaol or Dorian outside of their undoubtedly undying affections for Celeana. They never really seem to fixate on anything but her which, I guess, is understandable, but also annoying when they have so much more potential! It’s the captain of the guard and the crown prince–how much more potential could you have? They both have backstories that could be learned, or other duties that they could  be performing. Their lives shouldn’t revolve around Celeana, should they? It wouldn’t be safe for the kingdom.

I’m definitely going to read book three in hopes that this series only keeps going upward for me. I still think that there’s so much that can be fleshed out and told so I’m excited to see what Maas decides to do with her characters and story. I’m still uneasy about what may come and at the moment it isn’t a favorite series of mine, even though it’s fun to read. It’s something that I’ll recommend to friends–if only to show them how much of a fun, badass main character Celeana is!

4/5 stars

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

19 Dec

*** Do NOT read this review if you haven’t started the Heroes of Olympus series! It won’t spoil The Blood of Olympus, but the summary may spoil the previous books in the series! Go read them and then come back to tell me what you think!***

The Blood of Olympus

The Heroes of Olympus #5

Book 1: The Lost Hero
Book 2: The Son of Neptune
Book 3: The Mark of Athena
Book 4: The House of Hades

author : rick riordan

pages : [hardcover] 516

memorable quote :
“Like your zodiac sign?” Percy asked. “I’m a Leo.”
“No, stupid,” Leo said. “I’m a Leo. You’re a Percy.”

favorite characters : percy & annabeth

summary :

Though the Greek and Roman crew members of theArgo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

review :

I am so incredibly sad knowing that this is the final book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Not because of how it was executed (I’ve heard that some people are very disappointed, but I loved how it came out) but because it means I need to say goodbye to Percy and the gang. I’m not quite ready for that yet, after reading this and the previous Percy Jackson series, for years, so I’m going to keep living in denial.

The Blood of Olympus is our big finale, though it made me so mad that the demigod who started it all, Percy, doesn’t get even one chapter from his point of view. Sure, there’s plenty of his sass and bad jokes shown from other people’s perspectives, but I miss hearing Percy speak for himself. This was one of my only pet peeves with this book.

The other is that it seemed rushed. I don’t know if more should have been put into other books to make this one go more smoothly or if there should have been a sixth book just so major events could be given more time in the novel. I felt like gigantic things we’ve been waiting forever to see and hear about were just casually mentioned and didn’t hold as much significance as they should have in the book.

But onto the good things! I loved seeing how much the characters have developed, especially ones like Percy, Annabeth, and Nico, because we can compare them to when they were even younger and more inexperienced. This is the book that really made me like Nico a lot; before I don’t think I really understood why everyone was so fascinated by him. When he got to have his own quest off with Reyna and had plenty of chapters to speak for himself, I started to respect and like him a lot more.

And the new characters–I loved them, too. Honestly, most of them are on the same level for me (apart from Leo. I could hear from Leo all day!) but I liked all of them for different reasons. Most of all, I loved seeing some of them grow more confident, some of them be humbled, and others come into powers they’d never even known they could have. They were just so interesting to read about!

I’m going to hold this series in my heart for a very long time and I think I’ll be recommending it forever. It’s a set of books that any age could enjoy–there’s adventure, romance, suspense, action, danger, and death. Basically, anything you could want (or love to hate) about a series, wrapped into one. With plenty of sarcastic commentary along the way.

5/5 stars

 

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

24 Nov

 

The Jewel

author : amy ewing

pages : [hardcover] 358

favorite character : raven

memorable quote : “Hope is a precious thing, isn’t it,” she says. “And yet, we don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone.”

summary :

he Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

review :

I really enjoyed the first half of this novel and was entertained but disappointed with the second half. Amy Ewing creates an interesting environment in The Jewel, where it appears that the entire world is a city  surrounded by the sea and separated into different layers that denote a person’s class. At the heart of the city is the Jewel, where all of the rich people live and where Violet is trapped as a surrogate years after they discover she has the magical abilities that are necessary for surrogates to have. She was put up for auction, stripped of her name, and told to forget about her past.

I did enjoy reading about Violet, for the most part. She struggled to remember her family and wants nothing more than to return to them. She hates the system, obviously, but isn’t trying to take it down so much as she’s hoping she can slip through it and return to the life which was stolen from her. I liked her little rebellions, even when they weren’t the smartest choices. It showed that Violet was still in there, even though potential escape seemed hopeless.

As soon as the love interest was introduced (surprisingly late into the book), she turned into someone I didn’t like. While I understand that both she and the interest have had limited, restrictive lives, so perhaps that’s why there was so much immediate attraction . . . He becomes all that Violet can think about. She’s no longer worrying about her family or herself; she’s only dreaming about his eyes and risking everything in silly ways. She could have still had the romance without being so ridiculous about it, which was frustrating to me and ended up making me severely dislike the latter half of the book.

Some of the twists were very predictable but I’m still interested in seeing what happens with this series next. While I won’t be purchasing the next book, I will be reading it and hoping that these books will redeem themselves. Even though plots of this type have become overdone, I can see the areas where Ewing has the chance to prove herself as an author and really hope that she’ll be able to pull it off.

3.5/5 stars

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

5 Nov

 

Fangirl

author : rainbow rowell (also wrote landline and eleanor & park)

pages : [hardcover] 433

memorable quote In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)

favorite character : cath

summary :

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first love

CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from frandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

review :

I absolutely loved this book! I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and this week I started it . . and couldn’t put it down! I think it’s because I loved Cath so much. Well, it was more of a love/hate relationship because it was so easy to see myself in Cath. A girl who’d rather spend most of her time with her laptop than actual human beings . . check! But I was worried that the book would somehow turn into a story where Cath starts going to parties and that miraculously makes her more social and have a better life. I should never have doubted Rainbow Rowell, the twists this book were going to have, and the amazing characters she’s created.

Cath enters college in this book and moves through fears that I feel most people around this age can relate to. I know that I could empathize with her almost immediately. She’s afraid of the little intricacies that go into heading to class or eating in the dining hall. She’s not sure what to make of her roommate, even though she’s spent most of her life sharing her room with her sister. While sometimes it was kind of funny, seeing the ways she’d avoid the things she didn’t know how to do, at the same time it made me a little anxious because I know how much anxiety I get over those little tasks that no one bothers to explain to you how to do.

One thing about this book that I absolutely loved were the snippets of Simon Snow fanfiction as well as pieces of the actual book series. I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s read a book has at least thought about, read, or written fanfiction, or you might have unwittingly encountered it in some way. I think that it’s incredible that Cath is able to create such a following for herself online but I’d never imagined the kinds of pressure and expectation that come with something like that.

I think that I can’t recommend this book enough. It has lovely writing and lovelier characters. It’s a super fun read and also has its serious bits, without getting cheesy. I’m not usually one for contemporary romance so I feel like it takes a special kind of book to make me really like something in that genre and this is it.

5/5 stars

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

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