Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

~Official Synopsis~ 

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.” 

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. 

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. 

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. 

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. 

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore. 

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

Pages: 409
Published by: Scholastic Press (Sept. 18th, 2012)
Genre: YA paranormal

My rating for The Raven Boys:
I got 54% through this. I did not finish. But not because it was a bad book because it wasn't bad. It was a good book. But it wasn't my thing and I didn't want to finish it and give it a bad rating solely because I had poor choice in deciding if it was my kind of book.

What I liked:

Beautiful writing - Maggie Stiefvater's writing is absolutely beautiful. It's enchanting, a bit mysterious, and interesting. It stands out amongst other YA books.

Characters - I actually really liked all the characters, even with their weird, moody, or just simply unlikable traits.

What I disliked:

The subject - Psychics, spirits, and magic searching, I realize, are not subjects I enjoy reading about. I just am not interested in them. The concept of the story was completely original and brilliant, but I feel like I already have a set taste of books so I personally am unable to enjoy books outside of that range.

Recommended to readers who like: beautiful & unique writing styles; stories about psychics, spirits, & magical elements; mysterious and tense, slow-building (like a wave) plot, YA, some romance (The romance barely started when I stopped reading it, but I've heard it doesn't pick up much later on.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Novella Review: Crossing the Line by Katie McGarry

Official Synopsis:

Katie McGarry captivated readers with her “riveting, emotional”* Young Adult debut, Pushing the Limits. In this gripping novella, she tells the story of Lila and Lincoln, who discover that sometimes it’s worth crossing the line for love…

Lila McCormick, Echo's best friend from Pushing the Limits, first met Lincoln Turner when tragedy struck both their lives. But she never expected their surprise encounter would lead to two years of exchanging letters—or that she’d fall for the boy she’s only seen once. Their relationship is a secret, but Lila feels closer to Lincoln than anyone else. Until she finds out that he lied to her about the one thing she depended on him for the most.

Hurting Lila is the last thing Lincoln wanted. For two years, her letters have been the only thing getting him through the day. Admitting his feelings would cross a line he’s never dared breach before. But Lincoln will do whatever it takes to fix his mistakes, earn Lila’s forgiveness—and finally win a chance to be with the girl he loves.

Pages: 67
Published by: Harlequin TEEN (April 1, 2013)
Genre: YA romance

My rating for Crossing the Line (Pushing the Limits, #1.5):

Note: Crossing the Line should be read after Pushing the Limits.

This novella shows another side of Lila that we don't really get to see in Pushing the Limits. In Pushing the Limits, we don't get to see her fears and dreams; what her real relationship with Stephen is like and we have no clue that the person she is closest to, is someone she's actually only ever met once. All of these things are shown in this novella and then, of course, we are also introduced to Lincoln. 

Something I love about Katie McGarry is that her characters don't have "normal" lives. Drugs, pregnancies, abuse, psychological problems, and more are present in the lives of her characters and then she shows how they deal with/balance those issues with other aspects of life. Katie McGarry does this for Lincoln and we get to see how what he's had to deal with effects his relationship with Lila and Lila's life.

Really my only complaint is that it was so short! I think Lila and Lincoln deserve their own novel. It didn't take me long to finish this novella and some may not think something so short isn't worth the price, but I didn't feel entirely shorthanded because the story was full of emotion and life and love. Again, I could see how some would not like that aspect either because since it was so short, we were kind of forced to feel the emotions rather quickly; we didn't get to grow used to them. BUT I loved it nonetheless. :)

I loved getting to read some of the letters Lila and Lincoln sent each other over the past two years. They filled my heart with warmth and longing for a relationship that's so personal and dependent as the one they share. 
"I close my eyes and hug my body to his. Two years of letters, two years of redefining myself and two years of falling for my best friend. As I cuddle into Lincoln, I know that I would relive it all in order to experience this moment again."
I loved learning more about Lila and being introduced to Lincoln, as well as catching another glimpse of Echo! I love Echo :) Lila and Lincoln's story is such a sweet one.

"You are like a sunrise in my life." - Lila


My review for Katie McGarry's first novel, Pushing the Limits, is right HERE if you'd like to check it out. I HIGHLY recommend reading it--it's magnificent! The SEQUEL to Pushing the Limits called Dare You To, came out May 28, 2013, which follows Noah's friend Beth, and a third novel, Crash into You, comes out November 26, 2013 and follow's Noah's friend Isaiah. Beth and Isaiah were introduced in Pushing the Limits and like I implied, Katie McGarry's characters always have a story to tell.

Show Katie McGarry some love on and her websiteFacebook, and Goodreads accounts!

Add on Goodreads.
Buy on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Pages: 276
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 5th, 2009)

Genre: YA contemporary romance

My rating for The Summer I Turned Pretty:
Maybe like a 4.5...not sure yet.
A cute story about 15 (turning 16) year old Isabel aka Belly (a childhood nickname that stuck like glue) and everything summer! It's a very light, quick read that had be smiling and giggling throughout it.

There were a lot of flashbacks to past summers and each time I came to one, I was initially annoyed because I was anxious to stick to the present, but at the end of all of them, I ended up smiling because they were such enjoyable flashbacks. And they were entirely necessary to give us a look inside what Belly's life had been like as she spent each summer at the summerhouse. I was able see how Belly's relationship with the Fisher boys had been and why this summer was different/more significant than the others. (Explaining the title of the book really.) They also helped me understand why Belly liked Conrad so much because let me tell you, he is a super moody, selfish person who doesn't like to socialize much. He's a hottie, but if I met him, his looks would cool down after I encountered his personality. But because of Belly's memories of Conrad and Jeremiah, and then the cute moments that occurred in the present, I really liked those boys. Really liked those boys. :)

There are a lot of cute as well as funny moments and mostly because the family dynamics between the Fishers (Susannah the mom, Conrad & Jeremiah her sons) and the Conklins (Belly, her brother Steven, and her mother Laurel who is also BFFs since childhood with Susannah) is so enjoyable! They're truly like family and they pick on each other like family. It's very endearing and light.

At one point, there is another love interest named Cam although I don't think he and Belly made the perfect match, I really did appreciate his type of character because you just don't see characters like him as one of the love interests! It's not often that a really smart, handsome, cool and confident (in his own nerdy way) boy is made out to be a decently likable character. There were times when I thought maybe he was showing off his smarts, but for the most part, I really liked reading a character like him.

In quite a few of the flashbacks, Belly's friend Taylor is introduced and I didn't like her at all. Those scenes were good to have because of how Jeremiah and Conrad were shown in them, but whenever I read about Taylor, I was irritated.

I'm not sure if I'm satisfied with the way the book/romance ended. I think I'm just okay with it. Not mad, not happy. I think the ending was necessary and I'll be reading the 2nd book to see how the romance plays out.

It's nothing that'll blow your socks off but if you are looking for a YA romance, light & quick summery read, this'll do the trick!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

Official Synopsis 

A girl. 
A coma. 
A life she can't remember. 

When Emma Walker wakes up in the hospital with no knowledge of how she got there, she learns that she's been in a coma for six months. Strangers show up and claim to be her parents, but she can't remember them. She can't remember anyone. Not her friends, not even her boyfriend. Even though she can't remember, everyone wants her to just pick up where she left off, but what she learns about the 'old her' makes her start to wish she'd never woken up. Her boyfriend breaks up with the new girl he's dating to be with her, her parents want her to start planning for college, her friends want their leader back, and her physical therapist with the hazel eyes keeps his distance to save his position at the hospital. 

Will she ever feel like she recognizes the girl in the mirror?

Pages: 202
Published by: Shelly Crane (March 22, 2013)
Genre: YA contemporary romance

My rating for Wide Awake:
What a wonderful introduction to Shelly Crane's work! This book had some amazing qualities to it including themes, emotions, and tough subjects. There were cons to the writing, but the former aspects listed are so great that they make me want to overlook (and make me believe every reader should overlook) any of its flaws! They were simply that wonderful!

As I read this, I was CONSTANTLY putting myself in Emma's shoes and her family's shoes, thinking about how I would react if I woke up one day and didn't know anyone or anything or even who I was. I thought about what it would be like to have one of my siblings be Emma and for me to visit them, see them not acting like the person they've always been, and mourning for the loss of the "old" them. And then thinking about how I could try to make them feel better, or not as horrible and guilt ridden as Emma did when her mom burst into tears because she didn't remember who her mom was. My mind was reeling the whole day I read this. What if...what would I would I act... Just so many thoughts spun around and I felt completely connected with Emma and the story because of that!

I also felt connected with Emma because of how she evaluated her old self. The girl she could no longer remember was spoiled, ungrateful, and cruel to others and Emma resented her for most of the book. The post-coma Emma tried to be good. She wanted to catch up in school, to work at regaining her strength, and she was grateful for the little things because when she woke up from the 6-month coma, she was stripped of all those things that we take for granted every day. I emphasized with her. But one of the messages of the book was that people can change and Emma learned to not hate the old her and I loved that even more.
"It doesn't matter who you were or what you've done in the past. The only thing that matters is who you are right now." -Mason
Apart from Emma, I didn't feel a great emotional pull towards the other characters with the exception of Mason. I honestly love Mason because he was such a gentleman and cared so much for Emma. In everything he said and did, it was written all around him. It may bother others how the other characters didn't hold a ton of meaning, but it didn't bother me that much because it just meant I was able to read more about Emma and Mason. Another thing I loved about Emma and Mason was that they shared silly facts with each other. I highlighted every one of them!

"An octopus' testicles are located inside its head."

Some things about the writing: I wouldn't say the pacing was weird...but I guess I'm not used to this style (and I'm kind of grasping at straws trying to find a way to describe it). There really wasn't much scenic description. It was all very in Emma's head and she only described actions like "his hands cupped my face to look into my eyes". That sort of description. There was never any background information that can make stories boring at times. It was weird not having background information, but I guess that was part of the point. Emma couldn't remember anything earlier than the first sentence of the book so how could there be any background information? It was very in-the-moment and even the times where a few weeks in the hospital were clumped together in passing, it was done well.

There was only one part of this book that I didn't love. I can't specify it because it is spoilery, but it was the climax of the story involving a character other than Mason and Emma. In hindsight, the actions of this character up until this point hinted that something crazy might go down, but I wasn't prepared for what actually happened and I'm not entirely convinced that all the little hints could actually lead up to the drastic action that occurred. If you've read Wide Awake and know what I'm referring to, leave a SPOILER-FREE comment below telling me your thoughts on this part of the story.

Overall, the themes of this book were incredible, covering a wide range of highly relevant things that we struggle with in real life: mistakes, guilt, forgiveness, change, loss, learning. There were so many good quotes from this book that had to do with the themes of the book. This was the book's strongest asset and I think people should read this book solely for that benefit.

"You can't take responsibility for someone else's actions."

Recommended to readers who like: YA romance, tragedies, overcoming struggles/hardship, growth in characters, awesome themes.

Sexual content: mild--it's pretty conservative, but there is discussion of sex and such, so one could categorize it as mature YA.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Official Synopsis 

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose... 

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory. 

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Pages: 327

Published by: Razorbill (April 10, 2008)
Genre: YA paranormal + romance

My rating for Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2):

I really enjoyed this just as much as I did the first time around. Loved the characters, the conflicts, the action, the romance. Rose develops more in this book, stronger mentally and physically. You can see her slowly mature and act more like a guardian would. I love the side characters and the portrayal of friendship and how they're just as important to the series as the main characters. I really liked being introduced to Adrian again. That was surely interesting. The action/fighting was wonderful. Everything that I look for in a good book was there, but just like last time, I'd give it a 4 star, and I realize now the main reason why.

I think it could have used more romance. 

Not for the sake of it simply making this book more romantic instead of the good balance of action, friendship, and love that it is, but for the sake of the romantic development that IS present throughout the series. Rose and Dimitri's relationship begins as a mentor and student relationship in Vampire Academy. As they train together, they're relationship of respect and formality takes a turn because Rose and Dimitri can understand each other on a deeper level. They each have that deep need to protect who they care for, to perform their duty and responsibilities. They connect to each other in a way that no one else has ever been able to connect to each other and that's how their love begins to take form.

But although I can feel this connection between them, there really aren't THAT many scenes that they share together. The ones they do share, they're phenomenal in serving their purpose. They show how Rose and Dimitri are able to understand each other, how they just get each other. I don't think there were enough though because at the end of Frostbite, when  they finally make their choice (whether they are going to ignore their feelings for each other) I almost felt like it was a bit unrealistic. I knew that enough time had past and they had spent enough time with each other to feel how they did for each other, but I wish I had been able to see more of it for myself. The first two books are pretty short anyway and since the romance isn't the main focus, I just felt like their wasn't quite enough there...

Like I said, I don't really even know how to describe it. I LOVE Rose and Dimitri to DEATH. I think they bring out the best in each other. I think what they have is beautiful, strong and vulnerable at the same time. They will forever be one of my favorite fictional ships. I just know that as I read this book for a second time, there was something missing there and I think the story really could have benefited from more of it.

Recommended to readers who like: strong female lead character, paranormal, vampires, magic, good mix of action and romance.

Sexual content: mild-medium (nothing major, but some sexual references here and there. You know, high school stuff.)