Monday, August 13, 2012

Mini Review Bonanza Part 3

Wow, so I was busy reading in July while I was trying to avoid real work. I read some fantastic books but, again, slacked off on the reviewing side. So here is one more month of mini reviews and August, I will try to be back to full on reviews!

July Stand Alone's

Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

My Rating: 5 Peaches

I know I love a book when only a few chapters in I have a list of people I need to pass it on to. Cline has a created a disturbing future where reality is ignored by most in favor of an ideal virtual world. Both worlds are seen through the eyes of Wade, a high school student and "gunter". Wade builds a vast knowledge of 80's trivia, first to win a major contest and then because it resonates with him, giving him a sense of hope and a reason to remain connected in a world that seems to offer neither. The 80's trivia is fun but a lack of 80's knowledge won't detract from enjoying the novel and it may just encourage you to immerse yourself in it as Wade does! So whether you love gaming or can't stand it and whether the 80's bring back fond memories or blank stares, you should definitely give this book a try!

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My Rating: 3.5 Peaches

A Zombie love story? When I first heard this pitch, I was a little aghast. I get the attraction to vampires, faries, werewolves, even ghosts, but common zombies? But I'm on a zombie kick lately, so why not?  Marion presents a very fresh take on the Zombie genre and, amazingly, I found myself understanding, then connecting to, and then finally caring and rooting for R by the end. The "flashback" scenes help to contrast R to Perry and raise questions for who was truly living. I wish we could've seen as much growth from Julie and depth from some of the other secondary characters. Must say, I am very curious to see how this plays out as movie. 
Would I recommend this book? If you are going to see the movie, you should read the book, but then I think that should always be a requirement... 

July Series & Sequels

Storm: The Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer

My Rating: 4.5 Peaches

When I first heard about this series- 4 powerful and hot brothers- I thought it would be pretty shallow but Brigid Kemmerer proved me wrong. First off we have a smart, sassy heroine who doesn't just go all doe-eyed over the main character's afore mentioned hotness. Becca's dealing with enough problems of her own without the added trouble Chris and his brothers bring with them. It's very refreshing to see a relationship start on rocky ground, build into a friendship and then slowly turn into something more. Secondly, we have a whole surrounding cast of characters that aren't one-dimensional, yay! With the brothers, Becca's family and friends, and Hunter, this book could have very easily been lost right there but instead there are changing/growing relationships and meaningful interactions. Thirdly, the story itself was exciting with plenty of conflict and powerful magical showdowns. Would I recommend it? Yes! I can't wait for the next book Spark, coming out the end of August! 

The Ask and The Answer: Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

My Rating: 4.5 Peaches

Aaarrgggghhh, Patrick Ness is the King of cliffhangers. I didn't think anything could be more suspenseful than the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go, oh I was sooo wrong. All in all an absolute heart-stopping follow-up. We find out what happened to Todd and Viola after they reach Haven, and it isn't happy fun time. This story questions what it means to be a leader and what sacrifices are necessary in a war. Trust, betrayal, forgiveness, obedience, leadership, responsibility and love are all experienced through Todd and Viola's eyes. So far this is my favorite series of the year. Monster's of Men is staring at me as we speak, daring me  to enter the world once again, but I don't know if my heart is ready for this series to conclude. I do know, I can't wait much longer, not after where I left Todd and Viola! Would I recommend this series? It's violent for sure, so I'd recommend to more mature readers. 

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

My Rating: 3.5 Peaches

Corrinne's life falls apart when her father loses his job and she is shipped off to live with her grandparents in Broken Spoke, Texas. This is a solid book about growth, family and friendship. Makes me want to unpack my cowboy boots and move to a small town in Texas. Of course, things just seemed to be getting interesting when the book twists again and end. No spoilers, but I wasn't really a fan of the end and I wish we could have seen some more interactions between Corrinne, her mom and her grandmother. The shinning star, in my opinion, isn't Corrinne but local, country born Kitsy Kidd, who just so happens to be the star of the sequel, so I guess I will have to pick that up. Also, I love this cover, can't tell if it's the yellow dress or the boy in the hat and boots, sigh.

Would I recommend it? Eh, I wouldn't discourage it but I'd be far more likely to recommend Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins), Graffiti Moon (Cath Crowley) or Looking for Alibrandi(Melina Marchetta) first...

My Rating: 4.5 Peaches

My first laugh out loud book of July. This book made me laugh so hard while at the same time keeping me so enthralled that I couldn't put it down! Sam is easily one of the most unlikely of heroes, college drop-out and a fast food working slacker but through his interactions with friends and family, his efforts to not be the expected evil necromancer and his totally "smooth"  moves with local werewold hybrid, you see the awesome hero inside. My favorite part of this book has to be Ashley, the  waffle loving, catholic school dressing, harbinger of death.  Hope to see much more of her in the sequel!
Would I recommend this book? Some violence, sex and language would make me wary of passing this on to students younger than high school.

My Rating: 4 Peaches

A strong debut fantasy that can be a little heavy on the telling and light on the showing. Religion plays a key role in Elisa's life since she has been chosen by God to perform a great service. Elisa's growth from an insecure, timid pawn to a confident, leader is driven through loss on many different levels. She interacts with servants, kings, priests, rebels and traitors. The conclusion is solid and I am curious where the series will go, who it will follow next but I am pulling for more of Cosme! 
Would I recommend this series? If you love fantasy, give it a go!

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My Rating: 4 Peaches

A new series by Julie Kagawa that explores a world controlled by vampires seen through the eyes of new vampire, Allie. Allie  grew up despising the vampires until she is forced to make a choice, die or become what she hates. I loved Allie's spunk as a human but even more as a vampire, especially during her training and growth into a kick-butt vampire. She learns some difficult lessons as she begins to slowly release her humanity until she runs into a small band of humans working to reach Eden. A ragtag group that includes Zeke, who makes Allie cling to her humanity and hope again. 
Would I recommend this book? I wasn't a huge fan of the Iron Series (don't hate me, it's more that I am not big into fairies) but I am looking forward to seeing where Allie goes to kick butt next.

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

My Rating: 4 Peaches

The conclusion to the Heir trilogy brings all our favorite characters back together for the Wizard War. This is the first book to focus more on a female character as Madison Moss drives the story. Many loose ends are tied up and lives are changed. Chima doesn't let the story get overwhelmed by the amount of characters while also not losing the depth and growth to each character. She also continues to up the action and suspense throughout the story. A great conclusion to a great series. Can't wait to try her other series!
Would I recommend this series? Yep! There is some violence but nothing that would keep this out of middle schooler's hands.

Bloodlines  by Richelle Mead

My Rating: 4.5 Peaches

A companion/sequel series to Vampire Academy, Bloodlines focuses on alchemist Sydney and Moroi's Adrian and Jill. Sydney is very different from Rose but they are both smart, resourceful and full of awesome. There was some predictability, especially with Jill and Adrian's connection, which I love, but there was also a great mystery, new insight into some favorite characters, and of course, Adrian. I loved him in VA (I still think Rose made the right choice) and I am so excited to see him grow into the man Rose knew he could be some day! He's not there yet and I can't wait to get my hands on Golden Lily!
Would I recommend this book? Oh yes, and you should start with Vampire Academy if you haven't read it already!

Woohoo! All caught up on my summer reads, I've only read a few books in August so I can get started on full reviews for them...

Friday, August 10, 2012

NPR and other Random Thoughts

NPR Top 100 YA

So has NPR released their top 100 YA Book list. Harry Potter is number one, which really isn't that surprising and puts a smile on my, unfortunately, muggle face. Hunger Games follows close behind with To Kill a Mockingbird rounding off the top three with a classic.

Definitely some eye brow raising moments for me (House of Night, Hush, Hush and Fallen series, really?). Plus I've learned that I really must start on the pile of John Green books that have been accumulating on my book shelf! It was great to see some classics in the list (although I remember disliking every minute of A Separate Peace in HS, maybe I should revisit) along with some newer series (like Delirium and Divergent but I'll wait till the trilogies end to decide how much I love them).

A good number of my votes made it on the list (check out my post on votes last month) and I have a whole bunch of new books to add to my list or maybe give a second chance to. But WHERE is Melina Marchetta?? I mean, yay that Stephanie Perkins realistic fiction Anna and the French Kiss made it but over Saving Francesca, The Piper's Son, Jellicoe Road and Looking for Alibrandi? This just proves that more people must be told of the complete and utter awesomeness that is Melina Marchetta.

What about you? Any eye-brow raising moments of your own or books that should have been on the list that didn't make it?

Cover Love

Oh my gosh, just went to a random bookstore yesterday and bought This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. I've seen the book around and thought it sounded good but when I saw this cover up above, I just had to have it. I don't know if it's the raised, pointy silver script or the mix of dark and light colors with the fuzzing around the corners but my heart just had to have it! You have to admit, it is much better than the hard cover on the right.

And finally two things I am super excited about! Only 18 more days until UnWholly comes out!! Plenty of time for an Unwind reread and to check out the new short story UnStrung! If you haven't read Unwind, you definitely should. A mind-blowing dystopia read that has one of my all time favorite chapters in a book!

And there will be a prequel to the Maze Runner series! I absolutely, hands-down, loved the first book in the series. Maze Runner was a thrilling read I could not put down until the end. I enjoyed Scorch Trials but I felt let down by Death Cure. So, I am hopeful that The Kill Order (out in only 4 more days!) is more Maze Runner than Death cure. I'll let you know when we get there :)

Ok, back to work on my July mini-reviews, which are sadly but not unexpectedly behind schedule...