Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Wrap Up and November TBR | 2013

Which features a very unstructured TBR for November! I had a great reading month in October and I'm still in a really crazy reading mood so hopefully that continues on!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Series: The Mara Dyer Trilogy, #1
Publication Date: 27 September 2011
Number of Pages: 452
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong. (Goodreads)

I was a little afraid to read this book for two reasons. One, I had been told it was creepy and I'm a baby and  get scared very easily. And two, it got a lot of hype. A lot. Books that get hyped up make me nervous because I get all these expectations and I don't want to be let down. And let me tell you, I was not let down. This book was great. It was a little creepy at times, but in a good way.

First of all, Michelle Hodkin's writing is fabulous. The way she writes from Mara's point of view makes the entire book suspenseful and intriguing. Half the time I was worried that what happened didn't actually happen. All of the characters are great, the family dynamic in the book is well developed and believable. So is the school dynamic and all the rest of the settings and character interactions. Basically the entire book is believable.

As I've said in previous reviews, I generally don't get into the romantic books, but I think reading from the point of view of a potentially crazy person made it way more interesting. Basically Mara is awesome. Also Noah is pretty awesome. He's got a good mix of mystery and crazy. I'm not saying I trust him or like him. But I'm saying I like him.

I gave The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer a full 5 out of 5 stars. I'm really looking forward to reading the next in the series and I'm pretty sure the final book comes out pretty soon here. Let me know in the comments if you've read it and what you thought or anything else!

NaBloPoMo 2013!

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Alright everyone, so November is coming and while most of you are gearing up for NaNoWriMo, I'm preparing for NaBloPoMo. What is it? National Blog Posting Month! I've thought a lot about doing NaNoWriMo and, sadly, this is the first year in 6 years that I will not be participating. I really don't think I'll have the time to do it. I don't have any new ideas and I've found that forcing one out usually ends in total disaster.

However, I do want to do something. And I like to do things to help me get my content out. This seems like fun. I've never done it before, but there's a first time for everything! A lot, if not all, of my posts will continue to be about books. But I'll be branching out from just reviews and video updates, which is something I've wanted and planned to do for a while. This will just get the ball rolling finally!

It'd be great if some of you wanted to do it along with me. (They're even giving away some iPad minis as a prize if you need some incentive.) Everything's more fun with friends! Okay, maybe not everything, but most things.

So you can click on the badge above to take you to the website, or click here to read more about what's going on.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Catching Fire Final Trailer Reaction

I am so excited for this movie I can't even explain it to you. The final trailer for Catching Fire came out today and it's a short one, but there's so much packed into it! This is my reaction. Enjoy!

Watch the Trailer:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 2013 Book Haul

I managed to stay on my book buying ban for a whole 3 weeks, but I finally broke on Thursday and got some books so here they all are! Let me know in the comments if you've read any of these and what you thought of them or if you want to read any of them!

Books Mentioned in This Video:
Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston
The Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky
House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Allegiant by Veronica Roth | Book Review

Veronica Roth

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Romance
Series: Divergent trilogy, #3
Publication Date: 22 October 2013
Number of Pages: 526
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

(There are a couple spoilers from the first 2 books in this review. You have been warned.)

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. (Goodreads)

Well Veronica Roth certainly knows how to go out with a bang. Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy, did not fail to disappoint. It was slower paced than the first two in the series, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t intense at all. At the end of Insurgent, we found out from a video of Tris’s ancestor that Chicago is an experimental city run by someone on the outside. Allegiant picks up right after that and takes everyone out of the city.

Out of anything, I really admire Veronica Roth’s character development. I know I’m fairly alone in this opinion, but in Divergent, I can’t stand Tris. I love the book and in a way I love Tris, but I was always really frustrated with her decisions. I was even more frustrated with her decisions in Insurgent, but in Allegiant, I actually found myself liking Tris. She grew a lot after events of Insurgent and started making a lot smarter decisions. Also Evelyn’s character development was probably the most impressive and coolest thing to read.

I also really enjoyed the mental obstacles and prejudices characters struggled to get over in this book, like the absence of factions. And other things that I will not mention to save you from spoilers. If you want tohear more about that, you should go watch my Book Talk about Allegiant which may or may not even be up yet.

This book also takes place from both Tris and Four’s point of view, which was probably the biggest obstacle for me to get around. Because both points of view were written in first person and Tris and Four’s voices sound fairly similar, it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was narrating at any given time. In the end I did like hearing from Four’s voice and gaining a lot of insight of things from his perspective.

All in all I gave Allegiant a shining 5 out of 5 stars. Let me know in the comments what you thought!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

House of Hades by Rick Riordan | Book Review

House of Hades
Rick Riordan

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure
Series: The Heroes of Olympus (#4)
Publication Date: 8 October 2013
Number of Pages: 597
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Two words: Character development. I think one of the reasons Riordan's books are so great is the amazing character development in all of his characters. For a book with so many points of view, I was never once confused by who was talking. Every single character has a very unique voice and personality. Not only that, but the side characters also all have development. It's always wonderful to see a story that has so much thought put into it.

Another two words: Plot development. Let's be real, Rick Riordan is the master of his stories and very much knows what he is doing. The story doesn't get slow and by about three quarters of the way through I'm sure everyone was on the edge of their seats. There were numerous times where I had to stop reading the book because I couldn't read fast enough. Which is the only reason I didn't finish the book a week ago.

And a final word: Realistic. Yes, I know this is a story about demigods. But there are a lot of realistic problems and thoughts that characters go through that I feel are left out of a lot of stories. The physical pain and struggle that characters push through that gets ignored most times is pointed out. The emotional conflicts that everyone goes through with such tough decisions. The panic experienced in battles even if the character has fought before. It is all very satisfying to see the (not so) small things pointed out throughout that add just that much more depth to the story.

My favorite character is definitely Nico and although he was in the story, I wish that there was more from his perspective. He is by far one of the most intriguing characters to me in the entire Greek and Roman world that Riordan has created. I cannot wait to see what else happens with him and where his character goes in the next book.

Like everyone else I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series to see what happens. I gave House of Hades a shining 5 out of 5 stars and strongly think that there is something in this story for just about everyone to enjoy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Crank by Ellen Hopkins | Book Review

Ellen Hopkins

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Poetry
Publication Date: 1 October 2004
Number of Pages: 537
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank. (Goodreads)

I absolutely loved this book. It's really intense and it really got me up close in personal to a side of life that I've never even been close to before. And as someone who has seriously considered going into counseling before, this book was especially interesting to me. I don't pick up a whole lot of books that deal with such human, realistic problems but I usually find I'm happy with them when I do. And Crank is at the top of that list.

My first note is this book is not for everyone. It deals very closely with some very intense, triggering, and sensitive topics. I personally found it very enlightening. The way that the book is written in the free poetry style helped get the story across, especially with the emotions and feelings that come with addiction. Pages could be choppy or chunky or slow or fast depending on if Kristina was coming down or high as a kite. There were also places where extra sentences and ideas were put across by reading singled out words down the line instead of just reading the sentences.

However, the free poetry was also probably the biggest hump to get over while reading though. I found that every time I picked up the book it took me a couple pages to get into the flow of things. This wasn't a big problem. More like a tiny, minuscule footnote to include at the bottom of the page. I also found that once I got into it, the book was very hard to put down because there weren't really "chapters".

I've seen reviews where people talk about how little secondary character development there is, but whether on purpose or not, I feel like this only adds to the book and feeling of addiction. Because an addiction makes the rest of the world matter a whole lot less compared to if a much more stable narrator was telling the story. To Bree, the next hit is a lot more important than how people are doing.

I think this book is a great read for anyone who feels up to diving into a dark, realistic world. I gave it a 5 out of 5 stars, but with a warning of sensitive topics.

Have you read Crank? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cover Reveal! Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. I loved Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and am anxiously awaiting the second in the series. This cover reveal from Entertainment Weekly is super exciting and I am loving the cover. It just gives me so many more questions about what the second book is going to be about. Who is the girl? What are the ruins in the background?

After finishing the first book, I feel like it was all set up for what the next book has in store. I don't really have a whole lot more to say about it right now other than the fact that I'm really excited.

Tell me what you think of it in the comments and who you think the girl is or what the ruins are!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke | Book Review

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: 15 August 2013
Number of Pages: 360
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. 

Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery... who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

I'm going to be honest with you, I very rarely read contemporary novels and even more rare is when I read a romance. However I bought this book on a whim and heard some good things about it so I picked it up. And I'm fairly glad I did. If I was more prone to contemporary novels, this probably would have gotten an even better rating. It's just not entirely my cup of tea, genre-wise.

Before picking it up, I heard that this book was creepy and it was. A little. The first third to even half of the book seemed almost straight contemporary romance, which was disappointing. But then things in the little town of Echo started getting mysterious and weird. The creepy, paranormal side of the book is what really kept me reading. The plot was great and definitely had enough twists and turns to keep me interested enough to finish the book in basically two sittings.

The characters in the novel seemed very developed but at the same time flat. They all had little unique bits and pieces but at the same time some things were very common and almost cliché. I can't really say that I had a favorite character either. There were moments where I really liked Violet but others I couldn't stand her. The same goes for pretty much all of the characters. The dark part of me really appreciates the fact that none of the characters are really lovable and they all have flaws. It was refreshing to not have any perfect characters for once.

At first I gave the book 4 stars but after reflecting on it a little more it's more of a solid 3 out of 5 stars. I think this book would be really enjoyable to someone who enjoys the genre more than I do though.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull | Book Review

Rise of the Evening Star
Brandon Mull

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Children's
Series: Fablehaven
Publication Date: 1 June 2007
Number of Pages: 441
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother, Seth, find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures. Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists--a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper--to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the end of the world. Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble? Can they overcome paralyzing fear?

The Fablehaven series definitely gets better with the second book in so many ways. There's new characters and more character development. There's more world building. And the plot really starts rolling. This book starts out with Kendra and Seth outside of the preserve and they get caught up in the plots of the notorious Society of the Evening Star. Following these events, the two get out of school and head back to Fablehaven for the summer.

With the introduction of all the new characters, there is also a lot of mystery and guessing. Although this book is written for a younger age, I never felt like I knew what was going to happen next or who the mystery double agent was. I found this really refreshing because books written for younger readers seem to be rather predictable for older readers. This book really has a good aspect for everyone.

To me, one of the most interesting things in the books is Seth's character development. Brandon Mull really captures the struggle between wanting to help and do good and be brave and being cautious which is a huge struggle for Seth. I'm really looking forward to how he develops in the next few books.

I'm really curious as to where this series is going to go because past this book I only remember little bits and pieces of overall plot in the 3rd book which is as far as I read previously. I gave Rise of the Evening Star 4 out of 5 stars and I look forward to reading the rest of them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

September Wrap Up and October TBR

Alright here's what happened in the last month and what I'm hoping to get read in the coming month! I had a horrible time trying to decide what to read in October and my list is pretty long. Hopefully I'll get through all of them, but between school and everything else it'll be interesting to see what I can get through.

Books from September (and Reviews):
Scott Pilgrim Graphic Novels
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

October TBR:
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Carrie by Stephen King
House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | Book Review

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Laini Taylor

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Paranormal
Publication Date: 27 September 2011
Number of Pages: 424
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

If I could only say one sentence about this book it would be: "Amazing idea with good writing."  Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor has gotten reviews across the board from boring to brilliant. I fell very much in the middle of this group. By all means it was a good book, but it lacked that extra oomph that left me wanting more.

The idea and setting behind the book are absolutely wonderful and I found it very intriguing by all means. I'm most likely going to read the sequel because I want more of the world that Laini Taylor only gives the reader glimpses of towards the end of the book. Besides the otherworldly setting, I also loved that the book was set in Prague although I feel as if neither world was described very in depth.

With that said, I found the characters all a little flat and underdeveloped. I feel like nothing really made any of the side characters stand out at all. There were characters that I loved, first and foremost Brimstone and Co., but I found most of them left no lasting impression.

As I mentioned at the beginning though, the idea behind the book is very unique but the writing just wasn't all there. The biggest complaint I had overall was in the first few chapters I feel like the author couldn't decide if she wanted the reader to be in the know of Karou's secret life or as confused as Karou's friends. The writing also seemed a little chunky at times.  Overall, the plot flows well and I had no problem reading large chunks at a time, but I was never on the edge of my seat and unwilling to put the book down either. 

In the end, I gave Daughter of Smoke and Bone 3 stars. Maybe 3 1/2. It wasn't bad, in fact it was good. It just wasn't overwhelmingly remarkable.