Monday, April 28, 2014

Q is for Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Do you really have to read this review? If you follow me anywhere, whether it be here, Twitter or Tumblr, you know exactly who my favourite author is.

But there is a reason Melina Marchetta is my favourite author, and that is because she is AWESOME.


Quintana of Charyn was PERFECT. I loved it. I could not stop thinking about it for days after I read it (always a good sign).

My favourite thing about Melina Marchetta is how good she is at creating characters. There are so many awesome characters in the Lumatere Chronicles, but they are complete and complex and they all have their own story and relationships and wants and needs. You become a part of all of these character's stories, and you root for all of them. A fellow Marchetta fan on Tumblr said once that "there are no minor characters in Marchetta" and that is so true. She is SO brilliant at giving an entire life to each of her characters, which in turn makes them all significant (and also makes you fall in love with all of them). Aside from plot and such, I just wanted to read Quintana of Charyn to stay a part of these character's lives for a little bit.

MM also knows her fantasy. The world of Skuldenore that she's created for the Lumatere Chronicles is so complex and intricate, I had no idea where the plot was going the entire time. But I wasn't really paying attention because I just wanted to spend time with the characters if I'm honest.

Also, Quintana. She's one of the most fascinating characters ever. She really deserves all of the hate she gets and how everyone thinks she's crazy, but MM still redeems her and makes you empathize with her and understand the hurt she comes from.

And the ending? So perfect. Absolutely perfect. *Happy sigh*.

PLEASE read the Lumatere Chronicles if you love fantasy and awesome characters. The first book is Finnikin of the Rock, then Froi of the Exiles, then Quintana of Charyn. (Click the links to find them on Goodreads!)

You can find Melina Marchetta at her website here or on Twitter.

(P.S. Yes I realize I've now skipped K, L and P... I kind of ran out of steam, but I have a few more reviews to post before I'm done!)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

O is for OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

OCD Love Story is about a girl, Bea, coming to terms with her OCD diagnosis, along with a boy she meets, Beck. This is much more about Bea and her relationship with her OCD than her relationship with Beck, though, which I appreciated.



I love books like this, that are not only an interesting story but give me a deeper understanding of something I don't really know much about. I definitely learned a lot about OCD reading about Bea and being inside her head for the duration of the book.

I also thought it was written really well; for example I thought the way Bea's panic attacks were written were done so realistically, I could feel the panic myself (and I most definitely related). Sometimes I feel like writers go for the easiest cliché description (actually I found this was the case a lot of the time in Nobody But Us), but the writing in this book did not do that. The writing and story always flowed smoothly.

It wasn't something that particular stood out to me, but Bea was also a different character. She wasn't a hugely popular snob, or intensely shy. Her character was definitely a contrast from the two types of girl characters that I generally see in YA.

My only complaint is a small one, and that is the fact that while Bea has a father, he is never actually present. In fact, he doesn't ever say a word. He's just a name. If this was an attempt to go against the one parent theme in YA, it was pretty pathetic and not worth anything at all.

But other than that, I really enjoyed reading about Bea, and learning more about OCD. I would not recommend it if you're looking for a love story, since that was a minimal part, but otherwise, definitely put it on your TBR list!

Check out the book on Goodreads here and the author's website here.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

N is for Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Quick summary: Nobody But Us is about two kids, 18-year-old Will and 15-year-old Zoe, who are in a relationship with each other. Will was in a foster home and now that he's 18 he's free from the state or however it works in the US, and Zoe's home situation is less than stellar so they run away to Vegas together.

The main thought I'm left with after reading this book is: what the heck?


I still have no idea where this book was trying to go. Most of the scenes in the book were just Will and Zoe love scenes, which are fine I guess, but when you have so many of them, it gets a little exhausting.

The other aspect was Will and Zoe running away. I was never really sure what the author was trying to say - is this a good thing?

And the ending was... what? And it wasn't a good "what", like the ending of Ender's Game, more like a... this makes absolutely no sense, what is this book even about? It just didn't make any sense to me.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts, if you've read it. You can check it out on Goodreads here. (Also this is a Goodreads review that said some of my thoughts much more eloquently than I did.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

M is for MIND GAMES by Kiersten White

So far I've managed to do A through J of my A to Z challenge, but I kind of only completed half of the letters because I kind of burnt out after being in the midst of exams and reading so many books in a row. So I didn't read any K or L books, so we're onto M today with MIND GAMES by Kiersten White.

If I was to describe this book in one word, that one word would be "INTENSE". I think my heart is still pounding from reading this.



MIND GAMES is about two sisters, Annie and Fia, whose parents both die in a car crash. As a result they're left to fend for themselves, although since Annie is blind, Fia feels it's up to her to do everything it takes to protect her sister. That also means they end up trapped in a school for people with psychic abilities, which includes Annie. Fia has other abilities that are useful Keane, the man who runs the school.

That's basically the strength of the story - Fia's fierce love and need to protect her sister. I loved that that was at the centre of the book. I can definitely relate. I loved the complexity of the characters, Annie, Fia, and also James, Fia's love interest, I guess? I could never really figure him out, probably because neither can Fia. I loved it.

MIND GAMES definitely kept me hooked the entire way through, and I'm definitely putting the sequel on my TBR list.

Find it on Goodreads here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

J is for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Two things.

One, I listened to this on audiobook which is a very different experience from reading a book (like I tend to fall asleep a lot more often). (Also, since the narrator was British I kept thinking that Jane was addressing the book to Rita, and I was wondering who the heck Rita was, until I read some quotes on tumblr and realized she was just saying "Reader" with a British accent.)

Two, I feel like reviewing a classic novel that's already loved by millions is also an entirely different experience.



I actually wanted to read Jane Eyre because of my new obsession with the Autobiography of Jane Eyre, a web series based on the book (made by Canadians!).

I have to say, these slow romantic books that are mostly dialogue and slower writing are not my cup of tea. I have a really hard time paying attention. Especially since the main plot points happened through long back and forth dialogue, and the parts in between were huge chunks of telling by Jane the Narrator. I just don't like that kind of writing.

I did like Jane, though, I thought she was fun and clever and a strong young lady who definitely stood up for herself. (Go, Jane!) I thought Rochester was weird and didn't really like him (it didn't help that the audiobook narrator's voice for Rochester had a snobby sneer at the end of every sentence), and St John (Sinjin? The audiobook narrator kept saying Sinjin) was also weird. I don't really know how Jane likes either of these guys. The entire story was kind of weird, actually.

I did very much love the happy ending, though, of course.

(Just kidding. Rochester dies.)

All in all, I much prefer the web series, where I actually like Rochester and you get to see more of all of the other characters. You can watch that here, if you so please.

Also check out the book, not that the book needs any more support.

(Also, does Charlotte Bronte have a hard time coming up with names or something? There are like 5 Johns and 3 Marys in this book.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I is for Ink By Amanda Sun

I really, really wanted to love this book. It's about an exchange student from America living with her aunt in Japan and going to a Japanese school. I loved the setting, and how the Japanese language and culture permeated so much of the book. There's a lot of times when various versions of names are used, and in Japanese culture a specific name is used for if you're close to someone or not - I loved how that was done. I definitely want more books set outside the West (although it'd be nice if there was more than just American exchange student stories).


The main story of this book is about this guy, Tomohiro, who goes to the MC Katie's school and can bring things to life by drawing them with ink. It's a unique idea, and I was so ready to get into it.

But... the writing. The writing was really awkward and simple and made it impossible to really get into the story.

Actually, the story itself wasn't all that clear. I never really understood how "the ink" worked, or what it even was. I also didn't understand the relationship development between Katie and Tomohiro. It seemed like their friendship came out of nowhere, so much so that I felt like I'd skipped a section.

I definitely thought "ugh, I could definitely write better than this" a lot. And Katie used "shit" waay too many times to express herself and her emotions. It was the kind of writing that I feel like telling the author, Okay, go practise some more, then start again.

However, that being said, maybe a couple more books down the road, Amanda Sun could be there. I loved the idea and the setting, and that's a start. And the cover is gooorgeous and actually represents the book it contains.

Check INK out on Goodreads here, and check out the author's website here.



Friday, April 18, 2014

H is for How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Stanford

Sometimes there are books that I absolutely love and that sit with me for days and days. Sometimes there are books that are a slog to get through, and I end up closing them halfway through and throwing on my DNF pile. Then there are some books that are in between. I enjoy them enough to read them all the way through, but they don't make any lasting impression and after a couple of weeks I forget what the name of the main character is.

This was one of those in between books for me. I read it completely, and it entertained me, but in the end it was really just meh.

The book itself is the classic "new girl" story, and the MC Beatrice meets a boy, Jonah, who is known as "Ghost Boy" because of some bullying thing from middle school that's kind of stuck around. He's the classic loner type, and of course they connect. The weirdest thing about this book is despite the obviously classic boy-girl story, it isn't a romance. I think this is what appeals to some people who've read this book - the overturning of that classic story.

However, I didn't really feel it was a very good basic friendship story, either. Bea never really came to any understanding of Jonah, and there just wasn't any deep insights into any of the characters. The book stayed on the surface level of the characters the entire time and never went any deeper.

There's also this whole thing with Jonah discovering that his father put his twin brother with a disability in an institution. I wasn't really satisfied with the way this storyline was carried out. The issue wasn't really explored at all, and the end result was extremely dissatisfying. I felt like it was an easy way out.

The ending itself wasn't satisfying at all, actually. Jonah was in and out of Bea's life, and I was left wondering what was really the point of it all.

This book made me think of this quote from Jellicoe Road:

“What do you want from me?" he asks.
What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.
More.”  


I wanted more from this book. More about the issues presented, more character development, more character relationship development.

Some people did love this book, and here's a review I found of someone who liked it. (Ironically the exact things I hated they liked).

Check out How to Say Goodbye in Robot on Goodreads and Amazon.
Check out the author on her website and on Twitter.




Thursday, April 17, 2014

G is for Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Thank you, Shae, for recommending this book to me! She got me to read this book by saying it was about nun assasins, so yeah, that's what it's about.

However, I have to be honest, I'm kind of done with the whole "kick-ass" heroine thing, because I think it's overdone and a way that authors think they are writing "strong" female characters. There are lots of girls that have absolutely no fighting ability whatsoever and are still pretty awesome (like me. ha). Anyway that's a discussion for another day.


Despite the fact that the main character, Ismae, learns to kill and can take out three men by herself, her kick-butt-ness isn't emphasized in the way it usually is - as a way for boys to be impressed and a way for her to dominate over everyone. Ismae is actually quite scared and confused for a lot of the book, and still dependent on others around her, which in my opinion is the way it should be. So I loved Ismae's character. I also, of course, loved her slowly falling for Duval because I love those kinds of stories.

The plot itself was interesting enough, although it was played out mostly through dialogue about political stuff that a lot of the time I had a hard time following. There was a few scenes of action, but not a whole lot. It moved fast enough, although I'm still on the fence as to whether it is really necessary for this book to have a sequel. (Although I would love to see more of Duval. And Annith, Ismae's good friend from the convent).
 
Oh, and of course the premise that it's a story about a convent of nun assassins is really interesting and unique, and I'm always looking for completely different books, different from what's been done before.

Overall, though, I did enjoy it, and I encourage you to check it out! You can find it here on Goodreads and the author on her website here.

 

Monday, April 14, 2014

F is for Fangirl, Friday Society, and Fragments

So instead of sticking to reading all of my A to Z books like I was supposed to, I went and bought Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell because I loved Eleanor & Park, read it immediately, and I read The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress which I bought before Christmas. But I DID still read Fragments, which is the sequel to Partials by Dan Wells. So I decided I'll do three mini-reviews!!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Goodreads

I loved it. In fact I've already read it twice. Rainbow Rowell is now one my list of go-to YA romance authors (a list that includes Stephanie Perkins, among others). The development of Cath and Levi's relationship is done so perfectly well. And like all well-written YA romances, I love how there is so much more going on than just the romance. There's Cath's self-consciousness issues, her problems with her sister and dad... it's just so awesome. I love how well Rowell writes diverse characters - here I mean diverse by just different. There are so many ways Rowell's characters don't fall back on typical YA stereotypes and I love it. (Also, Levi is super cute.)



The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Goodreads

This was a simple, fun read. It reminded me quite a lot of the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter actually, although a bit simpler plot-wise. But the characters were super fun. This book is definitely on the younger side of YA, but I would definitely recommend it if you like fun books about awesome girls.









Fragments by Dan Wells
Goodreads


I really liked Partials, and I was impressed with how Dan Wells handled is fairly large cast of characters. I wasn't a huge fan of the twist at the end because I liked the fact that there was no Chosen One element to the main character, Kira. But I loooved the diversity in the characters, and it was very well written and the flow of the story made complete sense. In Fragments, though, the entire time I was trying to put my finger on what my problem with it was. I finally realized there was little or no character development or character relationship development (which is kind of crazy, because Fragments is long). This is definitely a subjectivity thing for me. If you've read any of my blog, you know how much characters make it or break it for me! But anyway, I still think you should read Partials. Laura makes a very good case for it, and her review is why I read it in the first place (you can read her review here).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

E is for Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is the story of a young boy (actually very young he's six years old at the beginning) being taken and trained as a soldier in preparation for a worldwide war against millions of aliens, aka "buggers".

The entire three quarters of the book was basically Ender going up to this space station and descriptions of him going through training. To be honest I didn't really find it that interesting and I just kept wondering when are they going to get to the actual war? He's been training for forever. There was also a lot of detail about his training, and the maneuvers and techniques he used, and the friends he made and left. I know some people thrive on this detail, but I don't and was just waiting for the punch line.

BUT THE END.

Why do books have to do that? Wait until the end to redeem themselves? Because the way this book ended... well, it made it all worth it and completely changed my mind about everything. My brother read Ender's Game before I did, and when I got to the part where everything I changed I just went "WHAT. WHAT." My brother just laughed knowingly.

That moment was soo effective... I'm not going to say why because I don't want to spoil anything, but yeah, it made so much sense.

I'm still kind of reeling and trying to figure out everything that happened in this book. There's the fact that Ender is six at the beginning and only twelve or thirteen by the end. There's also the fact that Ender's genius siblings, Valentine and Peter, have this world domination plan that is actually kind of working? It's a very, very weird book.

The end made me like it, though, and I am interested enough that I am going to read the sequel. It was just such a weird, different book... I'm not really sure how I ended up liking it so much, but I did!

Check out Ender's Game on Goodreads and Amazon.
The author Orson Scott Card is also on Twitter.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

D is for Doll Bones by Holly Black

Okay, I am getting back on track with my A to Z Book Review challenge... starting today, when I am reviewing Doll Bones by Holly Black.

Summary from Goodreads:

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity...


I think the kinds of book reviews I most hate doing are reviews where I didn't really have any big problem with the book, but it wasn't anything special for me. It was just fine.

That's how I felt about this book. It was good, I got through it, the characters were fun. I thought the plot was fairly simple and the creepiness of the doll wasn't really creepy enough to have any effect on me, but it was fine for an MG.

I feel like I'm missing something. If you read it, did you like it? No? Why or why not?

Check it out:
Goodreads
Amazon.com / Amazon.ca

Check out the author:
Website
Twitter

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

C is for Corked by Kathryn Borel

I originally heard about this book on my favourite literary podcast, Literary Disco. They actually had the author on as a guest, and she talked about this memoir she'd written about her and her father taking a wine-tasting tour through France. In the informal interview they did on Literary Disco, Kathryn Borel talked about how strangely, the book had brought her family closer rather than farther apart like sometimes happens when authors write books about real people. I thought that was interesting, so I decided to put it on my TBR.

Or... maybe I just checked the book out because the author is Canadian.



But it was good!

At first, I wasn't really sure where the story was going. It just seemed like a whole bunch of random unconnected stories that were really only semi-interesting. Thankfully, it quickly got interesting and the threads of random story connected in unexpected and refreshing ways.

I loved the narrator's voice, and her outlook on her life. It wasn't too heavy-handed or too snarky, just uniquely human. There was quite a few lines that made me laugh out loud.

I loved the voice, and it was probably my favourite part, but I did also fall in love with the atypical family road trip story of it. It was just such a strange, different, unique story I had to love it. I also really appreciated that the biggest relationship dynamic was between her and her father. (Really I'm just a big sucker for family stories. Give me all of the family stories!)

I also love learning about new topics, and this book definitely made learning about wine and wine-tasting interesting. It's the first time I've really had any interest in learning more about wine. It's definitely a book about a lot more than wine, though, and that is what in my opinion makes it good.

The feelings I was left with when I finished were sadness, because it was over, and happiness because it was just that nice of a story.

If you like France, wine, Canadians, memoirs, refreshing narrators, or me, buy this book!

Check it out on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca / Amazon.com

Check out the author:
Website

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig



First of all: yesterday I forgot to say Happy April, and that April I'm doing an A to Z book Review Challenge where I review 26 books, each with a title starting with a letter of the alphabet. I'm really excited because it's pushing me to do a lot more book reviews than I usually do, and you get to see a little bit more of my bookish tastes!

Today, I'm reviewing Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig.

I did not enjoy this book. (I do like the cover, though).

Blackbirds is about a crazy homeless psychic girl, who meets a random trucker and has a vision that in thirty days he is going to die horribly saying her name.

I had a lot of problems with this book.

First of all, the way all of the characters are introduced basically lends itself to the reader not caring about them at all. No one has any background or anything and they all just appear from off the highway. It also doesn't help that basically all of the characters aren't really fully rounded. They're either tropes or just boring. Miriam is a classic badass-don't-care character that I've seen a million times before. (Heck, even the other characters in the book have seen her character a million times before). Louis, the random trucker guy, is just that: a random trucker guy. I don't know why I'm supposed to care about him. Then there's Harriet and Frankie, who are so completely unrealistic that I question their existence. The reason given for Harriet's weird cruelty is lame, and doesn't really explain anything at all and gives absolutely no additional dimension to her character at all.

Second of all, the plot. The problem with the main plot being a psychic vision thing is that you know one of two things is going to happen: the vision will come true, or something will happen so that it doesn't come true. Or the author can do something completely different and throw off your guard based on your assumption that one of two things will happen. Yeah... the author didn't do anything interesting. The ending was boring, and predictable.

There was also multiple chapters of pure backstory that added nothing to the story (aghh), but I think I'll be done now.

Check it out on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com / Amazon.ca

Check out the author:
Website
Twitter

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Wow. That was unexpectedly good. I actually just finished it, and my heart is still pounding.



I was hooked from the first chapter, and it quickly reigned me in and kept me interested until the very last line. I love the unique idea of focusing on time travel, and I loved how the time travel was written about. It never seemed like it relied too heavily on things that have been done before, which was really nice.

But of course I mostly love the focus on the characters and the development of their relationships. I loved Finn, Marina, Em and James and their interactions and the intricacies of their personalities. They were all fascinating to spend time with and watch grow and interact with each other. I especially loved the interaction between Em and Marina, and how much Em obviously cared for Marina.

The ending was also done really well. I liked how every character's actions made sense in the context of the story. I also liked how there was stuff about Marina coming to love herself, and I loved how that was included in the ending. I also loved how there was no hint of a sequel (even if there is one). Sometimes I feel like books drag on in order to segue into sequels when they don't need to, and the ending to this story was perfect. It all fit well into one book. I mean, I could do with more of Em and Finn, but I think it ended really well.

If you read All Our Yesterdays, what did you think? If you haven't, what have you heard? Good, bad? Well, I'm here to tell you to look at that gorgeous cover, ignore the negative reviews, and go read it!

Check out All Our Yesterdays on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com / Amazon.ca

Check out the author:
Website
Twitter

 

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