Thursday, March 26, 2015

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

(3/5 stars)

A huge thanks to my good friend Lisa for sending me this book for Christmas! I'm so glad I got the chance to read this, because I'm not sure I would have picked it up on my own if someone hadn't suggested it to me. 

What I liked: This idea fascinates me. Like forget all the ways this concept couldn't be physically possible (especially for him to remain exactly the same), this is so freaking cool. It also makes you question a lot of things about life and death. And the writing was great with doing just that. There were some really poignant moments that stuck with me, and I could really sympathize with Travis at times. Mostly though, my favorite part was watching this poor kid keep up with the times, even though it was only five years later. Just think about how much has changed in the last five years, and if you can't think of any, this book will point them out. It's funny but sad, and really makes the book.

What I didn't like: Oh boy... I was incredibly frustrated by Travis for the whole book. Dude, I understand that it feels like you just woke up from a nap, but things are completely different from when you were last alive. Some behavior is just not acceptable. Like, he is obsessed with getting his girlfriend back even though she's ENGAGED to someone else. He acts annoying, ridiculous, and so immature and it really bothered me. That's not okay. There come a point when you have to just accept the facts and move on with life, but throughout the whole book, he refuses to do that. It's childish, and it made me not really like the book. I just couldn't get past it. Especially since he absolutely refuses to respect Cate's decision and doesn't listen to her at all. Not cool. 

So that was annoying and I had a hard time liking the book because Travis himself was so unlikeable and selfish. For someone who was given a second chance at life, I really expected much more from our main character. He's kinda lame. There's not even a lot of character development for me to change my mind. There was never a point where I saw him change and mature, which is sad because I liked the idea of this book so much. Bummer. 


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

(4.5/5 stars)

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I had heard a lot about this book before it was published, and the premise itself intrigued me to the extreme. I mean, who doesn't want to read a book about jumping through parallel universes?! And since I've always been a fan of all things Claudia Gray, I knew (or at least I seriously hoped) I could add this to my list of favorites. After reading, I can definitely say I'm staying a fan!

What I liked: So, I touched a little on the premise, but it's so much more complicated than you could anticipate. After the murder of her father, Marguerite teams up with her friend Theo to find her father's killer. All while bouncing around different universes. The parallel universes thing was the most fascinating because it's explained in a way that actually makes sense. I mean, I'm no physicist, but I believed it. The worlds that Marguerite visits are for the most part so different from our own, and they are fascinating to read about. It's so vivid and the writing is absolutely stunning. Now, the romance is also really well done. Especially since it revolves around the question of soulmates and whether or not that idea exists. And science is kind of involved in the theory of soulmates and that was fun! Anyway, the romance is gushy and cutesy, and will make you feel all warm inside. 

What I didn't like: Okay, so plot line wise, it was a bit predictable. A few chapters in, I already could figure out what actually happened and what was going to happen: betrayals, death, bad guy stuff. I also had a bit of a hard time relating to Marguerite. There were a lot of things about her that I loved but I couldn't get past how easily she trusted and believed people. Like so and so says something that contradicts everything she's learned thus far and she's all, "yeah, okay, you're right". No questions asked really. That bothered me a bit. Especially since she's risking her life and jumping through dimensions, I wanted her to be tougher and less trusting of everyone, even herself. 

Overall though, I loved this book and had such a hard time putting it down. I can't wait for the sequel and I definitely recommend it if you're a big scifi fan!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

North Texas Teen Book Festival 2015

This past weekend was the very first North Texas Teen Book Festival in Dallas and boy, oh boy, was it a blast! I have about a thousand things to say about the festival and every single one of them ends with a happy exclamation point. I got to meet some lovely authors and made new friends, and every conversation I had was about books. It was epic.

So basically, the set up was like a lot of other festivals and conferences I had been to before. There were panels set for all day, and let me tell you, these authors are hysterical. Here's what I was up to during the festival:

  • 10am- Boarding Pass, 'take the YA highway to love', with Adi Alsaid, Ally Carter, Elizabeth Eulberg, Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith
    • #TeamJaredPerkins and #TeamLampPost were the biggest highlights. Basically, we all want to marry a man like Jared Perkins
  • 11am- Unlikely Place for Love, 'Explore how characters find love in the face of epic battles, monsterious mysteries, and devastating prophesies', with Leigh Bardugo, Julie Kagawa, Sherry Thomas, April Genevieve Tuchokle, Rachel Vincent
    • everything that comes out of Leigh Bardugo's mouth is golden comedy
  • 12pm- Captivating Fantasies, 'explore these fantastical works', with Sarah Rees Brennan, Rae Carson, Ally Condie, Tessa Gratton, Julie Kagawa,
    • remember that one time Sarah Rees Brennan stood on her chair and then preached about not doing meth? Yeah, that happened here...
  • 1pm- Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, 'Editor and contributors discuss their upcoming horror anthology', with Leigh Bardugo, A. G. Howard, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, April Genevieve Tuchokle
    • we talked a lot about scary movies and now I have a ton I want to watch. Also, I'm super excited for this anthology, it's going to be so good!
  • 2pm- Thrill Ride, 'Dark and mysterious thrillers? Yes, Please', with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Ashley Elston Natalie C. Parker, Kathy Reichs, Victoria Scott, Nova Ren Suma
    • not only did I get to see my friend and former professor, Dr. Barnes, but they also talked about what's so fun about thrillers and things that give them thrills. Special notes from this panel are: monkeys are fluffy balls of death, don't skip school, and stop hating on the cheerleaders. 
It was overwhelming in the best way possible. Then, at 3:30, it was time for the author signings. Lines were so long, and it was so hard to narrow down which authors I wanted to talk to. I ended up seeing Rachel Vincent (who really liked my personalized book embossment), Jennifer E. Smith, Sarah Rees Brennan, Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and Ally Carter. They were all so nice and excited about the event. 

I literally have nothing but praise for this conference, and I hope this becomes a long lasting tradition in North Texas. A million thanks to all the volunteers and people involved in making that day so special, you the real MVP. 


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

(3/5 stars)

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

So I'm incredibly split on this book. There were so many things I liked, but then certain things just didn't work for me and it's hard to explain why. So, just go with me as I muddle through this review and if it doesn't make sense, I'm going to apologize now.

What I liked: Adelina is full of darkness. She's not a hero character and I love that about her. She's that blurred line of good and evil and it's hard to trust her as the narrator. It's awesome. The world building is great, it's set in a past Italy of the sorts (or at least, that's what I was feeling by their names an whatnot) but it's full fantasy. The writing is very visual and believable. It was super fun to read and get into. I especially loved that at the end, it all turns out to be about the bond between Adelina and her sister. Sister bonds are a trope that I fully love, and the relationship between Violetta and Adelina is so complex.

What I didn't like: I'm not sure, I just couldn't get into it like I can with other books. For such a big cast of characters, I didn't care for a lot of them. There was nothing special about them, or anything that helped me distinguish between them. I can't remember who is who to be honest. There was also a big spoiler thing that happened and I didn't feel like fit in this book. It was something that maybe should have been saved for when I was more invested in the story. Like, I should have cared, but didn't. Oops.

Not going to lie, for as split as I am, I'm still going to read the sequel. Especially since my reasons for liking it had nothing to do with the actual writing of the book, just my reaction to it. I'm interested in finding out what happens next. So, fingers crossed and hopefully this review makes sense? Still not sure on that one...