Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

(4.5/5 stars)

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

So my thought process before I actually read this book was like "hey, I'll read this and post a review right before Halloween because monsters are scary" or something along those lines. Not the case. Not the case at all. I was very wrong. I went into this book looking for something kind of scary and came out pondering about life and loss and everything in between.

What I liked: The book is beautifully written; hauntingly so to say the least. The illustrations are stunning and are a perfect companion to such a tale as this one. The plot is one that really makes you feel. I didn't expect to cry, but I found myself sobbing until the very end. I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words right now, it affected me that much. The story is so real and alive, it's practically a monster itself. The quotes are beautiful, every single one of them, and they relate to life so profoundly--and not in a trying-too-hard way. The words come naturally, and that's why it's so hard to separate fiction from reality in this case. Beautiful, just painstakingly and honestly beautiful. 

What I didn't like: The only reason I docked this book a half star is because it took me until about the middle to really get into the story. But once I did, my attention was fully captured and I couldn't put it down. It's a bit of an open-ending, but that's how life is. We don't always get the answers to all the questions we're looking for. And yes, this might be a first in which I defend an open-ending. 

So read this book, you won't regret it. If anything, read it to feel more alive, more human, because that's how I felt when I was finished. Just for one moment, the whole world has changed for me because of this book. It wasn't a long read, but it affected more than many other books ever have or will.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

(4/5 stars)

Powerful love comes with a price. Who will be the sacrifice?

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.

Breathe, Annie, just keep breathing. I'd been waiting a long time to read this, and you'd think all that time would be enough to prepare me. But, judging on my lovely interaction with Sarah on Twitter, nothing could have gotten me ready for this book!

What I liked: First off, I'd like to dub Kami Glass the Sass Queen-- babe, you've got the crown. Everything she says is my favorite. I want a wall of motivational posters with her witty comebacks on it. I admire her fierce independence, her incredible optimism, and her bright confidence. Next, I'd like to take a couple seconds to talk about how much I love these characters. The Montgomerys are my favorite (Rusty, Rusty, oh Rusty, I'm speechless), and the character development that goes on with each character is a beautiful journey that I'm so glad we got to see. We've also got the active family members, and you guys know how much I adore that! Kami's father wins Parent of the Year award. The action in the story is constantly going, and there was never a time for anyone to catch their breath (including me as a reader, whew!). And the big showdown that we were expecting was epic. Sarah pulled out all the elements--literally--and it was so vividly written. There was fire and death and I still feel the tears running down my face. Y'all, I'm still sad. But there is also heroic sacrifice, teamwork, and bonds that surpass friendship and turn into love and family and that gushy stuff. 

What I didn't like: Honestly, I was a little frustrated between Kami and Jared's relationship. It's so hot and cold and I just wanted to yell "Just proclaim your love to each other already!". You can't keep getting together and then deciding that you shouldn't be together...multiple times... it hurts my head.

I stand by what I said about this series from the very beginning. You don't want to miss out on these amazing books. They'll make you feel and they'll make you laugh. What a wonderful (albeit, emotional) conclusion!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater

(5/5 stars)

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Since I first picked up The Raven Boys, this has been one of my favorite series. So the fact that I was able to receive an arc of this book literally made my day. I was all smiles. And then I read the book and went on an emotional journey full of every feeling imaginable, so there's that. Our story picks up where we left off in The Dream Thieves (this is a spoiler free zone), aka all emotions are heightened and everybody's feeling just a bit drained. But would we want it any other way? I think not.

What I liked: I want to give a quick shoutout to this gorgeous cover. Favorite cover of 2014? Yes, yes, yes! Now, the book, wow. I love how well Maggie develops her characters. I feel like I know them, like they're my friends, my Raven Boys. And Blue is still one of my favorite characters in YA fiction right now. Maybe even of all fiction. I love how much depth these characters have and their loyalty to one another is beautiful to see. As always, I love that the adults work together with the teens to figure out what's going on. It's important to see involved families because it's not a common situation in YA. The plot of this book is just as wonderful as the last two, but this time, the focus is more on Blue. We do see the others' POVs which is great because it brings more to the story and makes it more character driven. I could rave and race about this wonderful book, but here are some of the little things that I liked: the squash song (I want to know the actual melody so that I can annoy everyone with it), the great Blue/Gansey scene of her driving the Pig (I love how you can see how much they love each other without them physically having to show it), and the relationship specifically between Adam/Ronan/Gansey. 

What I didn't like: There wasn't anything specific that I didn't like in this book. The only thing I was a bit confused on was what the title actually meant. Like, I know the song/rhyme thing, but I'm still trying to piece it all together. But like I said, it just confused me, not made me not like the book or anything dramatic like that.

I've found now that the only bad thing about reading this arc is the fact that I'm only going to have to wait even longer for the next book in the series--the book I'm fondly calling When Everything Bad Happens. So for all the tears that I cried during this one (and yes, many a tear was shed), I'm already mentally preparing for the final installment. Counting down the days!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

(2/5 stars)

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity

I've always had a morbid fascination with abandoned mental hospitals, and this cover is super creepy, so I figured it would be a no brainer that I would enjoy this book. I expected darkness, scary insanity, and maybe something that was bit disturbing, but I was sadly disappointed.

What I liked: There were two things that I liked about this book, and they can be summed up in two short bullet points.
  • The premise- like I said, insane asylums are one of my favorite literary tropes. 
  • There was a Peeta Mellark reference that I thought was cute and witty and I even snapchatted it to my friend.
  • That's it.
  • No more bullet points.

What I didn't like: This book was cheesy and shallow and the characters were unbelievably flat.  Dan was, to say the least, lame. There was nothing special about him. His awkwardness and curiosity felt forced, and I hate to say that I didn't care for him one bit. And not in a good way. Basically, the writing was immature and undeveloped. The plot line was painfully in your face predictable, and though there were some moments when I thought it was going to go somewhere, it took a turn back towards an unconvincing narrative that almost made me put the book down for good. Honestly, I'm only giving it two stars because I at least had a small part of me that wanted to finish the book. Oh, and the pictures looked photoshopped and did nothing for the story.

I hate giving bad reviews, but there was no way around this. I had such high hopes at the beginning so you can see just how disappointed I am. So much potential was wasted; it really is a shame. Now, somebody go find me a good insane asylum story, pretty please!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Infinite Sea, by Rick Yancey

(4/5 stars)

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

After such an intense cliff-hanger in the first book, my patience to read The Infinite Sea was practically nonexistent. Especially since The 5th Wave was the very first review I ever did for this blog. The series has a special place in my heart because of that. But, like the first book, I had my ups and downs throughout the story.

What I liked: The darkness. This book is so much darker than the first, and you can see that through the setting, conflict, and characters. The character development is really well done. They still feel the same, but they're also so much more. They've grown into themselves and their situation without losing those traits that we love the most. Ringer has become my favorite. There's so much going on internally with her loyalty to Teacup and distrust and tension in her specific plot line. I still love Cassie, I will always love Cassie (but I will say, she did not get enough page time for my liking). The writing is well done, just like the first book, and there are moments when I had to put the book down and consider the depth to what Yancey was saying. Very impressive. 

What I didn't like: First things first, I love the title and metaphor that comes with it, but if you use it every other chapter, it loses its meaning. "Infinite sea" was repeated wayyyyy too many times and that bothered me like crazy. Another thing that bothered me was the irregular changes of point of view. It felt like multiple separate books (and yes, it is separated into Book 1 and Book 2), and just when things were getting good, the character's story disappeared from the rest of the book. I also didn't like that we had two characters written in first person, and then the other point of views were in third. It threw everything off for me. Lastly, until the end, I feel like nothing actually happened. Only Ringer's POV at the end moved the plot along. Everything else was just filler. They didn't even move locations. I didn't like reading about the group trying to figure out the next plan, all while these other predictable plot points happened. 

Like I said, I really enjoyed this book. There were so many positives and I'm obsessed with the characters, but I wish more happened. I liked the twist at the end of Ringer's story (ugh and I love Alex) but that could have been figured out in a much different way that made the characters more active. Instead, they're extremely passive and aren't the ones driving the story. In an alien invasion story, I think the characters need to be the one causing the plot to move forward. But I'm still excited to read the next book. Now, I just have to wait...