Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

(4/5 stars)

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author ofHold Still.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

What I liked: This book blew me away. It does what you want books about LGBTQIA to do: it shows it as normal. There are no stereotypes, there is not an obnoxious emphasis that screams "I'm so progressive because my book is about a lesbian". This book is just real, Emi is real, Ava is real, they're all so real. The relationship between Emi and Ava is so well written. You can feel the attraction, growth, and love without having to see scenes of anything physical. They understand each other and when they do finally get together (is that even a spoiler? Because you totally knew it was going to happen), it's everything you wanted it to be. Fireworks and bells. I'm also really obsessed with the secondary characters. I love them all. I even love Morgan, especially since the whole breakup (for the most part) is handled maturely and professionally. I loved the cinematic references--like David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. (that was my first clue I was going to like this book)-- and the inside glimpses of the movie making business was interesting to read about. Lastly, I was a big fan of the whole 'collapse of the fantasy'. To me, it's like part of the definition of being human. We build up scenes and fantasies in our head and eventually we have to wake up and see life how it really is. Beautiful metaphor.

What I didn't like: It took me a long time to decide whether or not I liked Emi, which was weird because I loved every other character from the start. She seemed a tiny bit pretentious and for most of the book, she was forcing Ava to be her manic pixie dream girl. It was only until she shattered (and I mean straight up destroyed) the idea of the manic pixie dream girl that I realized I was finally starting to like her. And maybe that was the intent of her character the whole time. It probably was. But I was slow to jump on the Emi train, and that affected my reading of the book in the beginning.

Read this book. It's beautiful and diverse and different from other contemporaries, and I promise you'll get something out of it.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

(5/5 stars)

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

This series has become one of my favorite sci-fi series ever. It's so sci-fi without feeling in your face complicated and I had a hard time putting it down. Living life is difficult when you can't put a book down. 

What I liked: This whole galaxy fascinates me. Each planet is so well flushed out and they've thought of every single detail. Try and find a plot hole in this universe, I dare you. Jubilee and Flynn are amazing, together and separate. Kaufman and Spooner know how to write the star-crossed lovers and I applaud them. The character development and personal growth that Jubilee goes through is inspiring. She's such an interesting character. The dreams at the beginning of each chapter are a beautiful touch and I enjoyed reading them--they were so beautiful and deep. The cameos by Tarver and Lilac made me so freaking happy, I just had to squeal, and I liked to see how they were involved in the plot line. Also, I love the whispers. So interesting and ethereal and there was that part at the end that had me tearing up and emotional. Wow.

What I didn't like: There was a point when I got bored of the whole "this is the last time I'm ever going to see him/her again. haha jk" plot. Make up your mind, is this really the last time you'll ever see each other or are you going to sneak back onto base/camp to find her/him? The latter, definitely the latter. But once all that was over and sorted out, I had no more complaints. 

I can't wait for the final installment that takes place on Corinth. I'm so incredibly excited and you should be too. Here's to hoping it has something to do with that hacker person they were talking about at one point. Fingers crossed!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

(5/5 stars)

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what I thought going into this one. I had heard great things, but I had my doubts. But then I read it and all my doubts disappeared. Y'all, this book is just straight up cute. 

What I liked: Harper is literally everything I wanted to be growing up. She's Homecoming Queen, Student Council President, crazy overachiever, head cheerleader, about to have her Cotillion, and bad guy-fighting Paladin. Okay, so maybe that last one is a recent wish of mine, but still. Girlfriend literally kills a bad guy with her high heel. Respect. Not only that but she lives in the shadow of her older sister's scandalous death and still manages to be herself. So Harper becomes this knight/protector to her sworn-enemy (who makes my heart swoon because snark) and shenanigans ensue. Of course, all this is happening while she's trying to prepare for Cotillion, which isn't a walk in the park itself. With a plot like this, I was expecting the book to be cheesy or overdone, but I'm glad to say it was neither. It took Southern life seriously, and did a great job world building inside our world. 

What I didn't like: There wasn't much. Or anything, really. I guess I'm still trying to decide how I feel about Ryan (Harper's boyfriend) and a certain situation that revolves around him, but that's pretty much it. No complaints here.

This book was fun, it was fast, it was intense, and it was everything I wanted. I'm really excited for the sequel. I'm especially looking forward to more Harper/David banter and interactions. Be still, my heart.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

(4/5 stars)

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. I always have and I always will. Now add in the fact that Cruel Beauty has elements of Rumplestiltskin and Greek mythology and I'm ten thousand percent sold. It's like a hodgepodge of beautiful storytelling. 

What I liked: This book is not for the faint at heart- it's complicated and convoluted in all the best ways. Nyx is an intriguing character because she's not actually that good. She accepts the little parts of darkness in her heart and soul, and while she might hate herself every once in a while for it, she still tries to be her best. She accepts a mission that's basically a death sentence and refuses to give up. Even when love is involved. She also has some of the best comebacks that had me laughing out loud. Ignifex as a love interested and character is multi-dimensional, and just as sexy as you wanted him to be. The world is...well, it's almost hard to wrap your mind around it. It's an enigma, a gothic, mystical enigma. But the mythology is really where this book captured my heart. The history around the kingdom and its Gentle Lord was well thought out and beautifully written.

What I didn't like: My only problem with this book was that for the first half, the narration relies so much on showing rather than telling, which makes it a bit repetitive. I'm pretty sure Nix repeated her mission every other paragraph and that was a little annoying. It also didn't help the banter between her and Ignifex because it was a constant "I love you but I'm still going to kill you" thing. At times, that was cute, but then it got old. I also didn't really like how the end was executed because it was suddenly so confusing and different, and it was hard to understand and get a feel for what was actually happening.

I still have to give this book 4 stars because it instantly captured me and was so beautifully written at times I couldn't put it down. Even though I had my problems with it, I still loved the story and characters so much. Definitely worth checking out.