January 24, 2014

Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Title: Stolen
Author: Lucy Christopher
Release Date: May 4, 2009
Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 299
My Rating: 3.5 stars

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A girl: Gemma, 16, at the airport, on her way to a family vacation.

A guy: Ty, rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar, eyes blue as ice.

She steps away. For just a second. He pays for her drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. To sand and heat. To emptiness and isolation. To nowhere. And expects her to love him.

Written as a letter from a victim to her captor, STOLEN is Gemma's desperate story of survival; of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare-- or die trying to fight it.  - Goodreads

To be absolutely honest, going into this book, I expected a classic cliche; girl meets boy, girl falls "in love" with boy, no exceptions. That's not exactly what happened, though. The tale that was told was one of something much more complex than that. Gemma found herself trapped, but soon started realizing that maybe she'd been trapped all along. Gemma discovered the beauty in things she hadn't paid any attention to in a long time. The tale that was told, well, it was definitely unlike anything I've ever read before.

The manner in which Stolen was told was mostly dark, but it couldn't help but be fascinating, since it's not the type of plot you come across very often. When I say this, I can't help thinking of Ty, the kidnapper. It's hard to understand why he would take Gemma, why he would care about her, or why he would be so desperate for her acceptance. Just when I would start to think, hey, maybe he's not such a bad guy, I would be reminded that he did kidnap Gemma, after all. And then I see that she has the same mindset, and is torn about what to think. He is sweet, but why would he do this, or that? THIS BOOK WILL CONFUSE YOUR FEELS.

UGHHHH. It was so hard to decide on the rating to give, because while I did appreciate the book as a whole, there was definitely times when I wanted to just stop reading because I felt like nothing was happening. There's a lot of in depth description of the new and tragically beautiful place that Gemma is taken to, and at first it was nice to hear about, but at a certain point, I just wanted it to end. Since it's hard for me to be patient and attentive, I usually stick with plot-driven books, so it wasn't easy for me to trudge through the middle part of the story. Obviously, not everyone is like me in this way so I can see how others would enjoy it more than I did.
"No one seemed to have any clue about me, about what I was really thinking. It was like I existed in a kind of parallel universe, thinking thoughts and feeling emotions that no one else understood."
What really redeemed the book for me was the ending. During the last quarter of the book, my heart was beating fast, and I felt it, slowly but surely, breaking. Up until the end, I don't think Gemma really acknowledged her feelings for Ty, or at least not directly, consciously. I actually quite liked that she was unsure; that even after writing out, in detail, everything that had happened, everything she had felt and experienced, she didn't really know what to make of it. Nothing was black or white. What she had felt was amazing, but yet seemed so wrong. When I think of this book, my mind instantly focuses on just the ending, and I can not stop thinking about it. I feel it was perfect in every way, and based on just the last 75 pages alone, I would have probably given it a 5 star rating.

January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: February 4, 2014

Rapunzel's tower is a satellite. She can't let down her hair- or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker- unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
So basically, I am unbelievably excited for this book to come out. Not to mention that those who are lucky enough to have ARCs have put up really great reviews! I really enjoyed reading Cinder, but then Scarlet was like *BAM* FABULOUS TIMES A MILLION. If Cress is (a lot of) people's favorite, then I can't even begin to imagine what kind of amazingness must go down in this sequel. I seriously love how each of the books is its own story, and then the characters intertwine flawlessly. 

What's your favorite thing about this series? Which did you like more; Cinder or Scarlet (or Cress???)? What book are YOU waiting for this week?

January 20, 2014

Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

Title: A Really Awesome Mess
Author: Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4 stars

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Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.

Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm, as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends. A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.  - Goodreads

A Really Awesome Mess is written from the point of view's of Justin and Emmy, two newbies at Heartland Academy, a boarding-school type place where other people their age can go to get mental help. They don't go by choice, and as the story begins, neither of them has come to terms with the real reason that they have to be there. Justin struggles with depression, leaving him numb, and Emmy has an eating disorder that stems from constantly worrying about how people see her. It's a beautiful journey they make, dealing with their problems, and discovering that letting others into their lives might not be such a bad thing, and will keep them from having to to through this hard part of their lives alone.

At the beginning of this book, I kind of thought that everything was a bit too dramatic, portrayed in a way that seemed a bit too goofy, and I don't necessarily know if I just got used to it, but I ended up really getting into it. There's definitely TONS of humor involved, which I thought was a unique take on a topic that would otherwise be entirely serious. I adored every bit of it, and found it to be an appealing way to talk about deeper issues in a usually-lighthearted manner.

It was refreshing to read from the point of view of two teenagers that actually seemed like real people, which is sometimes hard to come by. They didn't sugar coat anything, but were honest in how they felt. Sometimes you just need to feel like you aren't alone in whatever battle you're fighting, and I think this book has the power to do just that for a lot of readers. I definitely found myself thinking, YES, that is exactly how I feel sometimes. 
"And this brittle feeling was really closely related to the anger. Because when you're in constant pain, people who aren't in pain were really annoying. And people asking you to do stuff you didn't want to do were even more annoying. Like, really, why the hell would you ask me to take out the garbage when it took every freaking ounce of energy just to feign normalcy while I was sitting here?" [Justin]
The people they befriended also had distinctive ways of being- from their personalities, to speech and humor, that they honestly reminded me how different a group of friends in real life can be. I can't being to explain how extraordinary it was to see them all find people with whom they could just be themselves. To find themselves, to discover what being a happy teenager is really like, if even for just a single second. It seriously made me smile like crazy, and feel happy myself, just by reading all about their shenanigans. 

When everyone in the little group started talking about why they were really at Heartland Academy, it was played off as not a big deal, but I kept thinking that it WAS pretty important. I guess there's different ways of thinking about it; they were just trying to brush it off that way like people so often do about things they're not comfortable talking about, and they weren't letting it define who they were. That got me to thinking that a lot of the stuff in this book is like that, in my opinion. How much you enjoy this book depends on how you much you can connect with and understand the characters' motivation, so you might end up really liking this book... or really not liking it. 

January 18, 2014

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 8, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 404
My Rating: 4.5 stars

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It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition- the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. - Goodreads

When I first started reading The Scorpio Races, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I have to admit, I had been a bit hesitant about reading another book by Maggie Stiefvater, since her Shiver series was just okay, and yet everybody had been saying such great things about this specific book. Let me tell you: I AM GLAD I DID. The book's blurb is pretty self explanatory and explains the basic plot of the book- Puck and Sean live on an island where the Scorpio Races are held. Except instead of land horses, there's the capaill usce, or water horses, being raced. They're giant, blood-thirsty (not in a vampire way) creatures, and they aren't always tame, making them incredibly dangerous to other living creatures. 

I know this is going to make me sound incredibly dumb, but at the beginning of the book I was kind of lost in the concept of them. I thought, hmm, maybe it's just a different name for majestic horses who like water? Maybe they're really riding fabulous dolphin-ish creatures? Yeah, NO, maybe not. I couldn't quite focus on the beginning of the story because I was so confused. I seriously don't know why (I feel really ridiculous now), and I don't think it's the book/author's fault, but I'm wondering; am I alone on this? I'm just going to pretend that I'm not. <.<

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the little bits of history of the island included here and there. The background and description of people who live there gave me such a realistic image of it all. I can't even begin to explain it, but the narrations of both Puck and Sean just radiate how they feel about where they live, and that in turn made me feel the same way. Like I, myself, knew the island. Not only that, but all the description of the place gives it a seriously beautiful culture, which plays in a lot with the character's thoughts. Since they're growing up, they have to decide if the island is really home for them or if they want to have a future on the mainland, which I feel a lot of people, particularly teens, can relate to. 

The book is written from both Sean and Puck's perspectives. Most of the time, I wasn't that big of a fan of Sean or his POV, since I found him to be quite dull and boring, but hey, maybe it's just the feminist in me that can't help but be all "YAY 4 FOR U PUCK U GO PUCK!!!" She is strong, sarcastic, and snarky, and I found myself actually laughing in those moments when most people would have kept their mouth shuts, but she just couldn't help herself. That's not all there is to her, of course, and Sean has way more going on in his head, as well.

This book is also pretty great if you're not a big fan of overbearing romance (that's not necessarily me though LOL), since there's way more to the book than that. There honestly isn't that much romance, but every little thing that happened between Sean and Puck made me fangirl. *FLAIL* BC THEY ARE SO CUTE OK *UNFLAIL* The way the entire book is written makes every little thing exquisite and important in its own way, their relationship included.

January 12, 2014

2014 Bookish Resolutions

I know, this post is kind of (okay, REALLY) late, since we are nearly two weeks into the New Year. Ahem, well, I barely decided to actually set some goals for myself and document them so I wouldn't just ignore them. SOOO, here they are!

1. Read 125 books in total (and keep track of them).
As most of you already know, goodreads has a reading challenge every year, in which every member can set their own goal of books to read that year, so I've set mine to 125. I've never kept track of how many books I read before, and on goodreads I would never set a date for when I read my books, so I have no way of knowing how many I've read in the past. That is also part of my goal this year: to ACTUALLY keep track for once. I also made a 2014 Book Jar; every time I finish a book, I write the title and author on a piece of paper, fold it, and put it in my jar! I have 7 books in it so far. :)

2. Read the sequels to at least 10 books I read last year.
If you know me at all, you know that I'm pretty much terrified of sequels. I'm scared they'll bore me or completely tear me apart. (I barely managed to read Allegiant last week) Some of the books I wish to read for this goal:
Unwholly (Unwind #2) by Neal Shusterman
Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness
Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu

3. Read The Mortal Instruments series.
Although I have read City of Bones, I want to (probably) re-read it, then move onto the rest of the series. Part of the reason I want to get read up to at least City of Glass is so I can then read The Infernal Devices series. 

4. Read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
I have read none of the books in this series, but after I do, I also want to read the Heroes of Olympus series. I've heard tons of great things about them and I'm always just like "I WANT TO FEEL THOSE FEELS".

5. Obtain and start the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
I want to at least get through A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by the end of the year. I'm a teen with no job or allowance (cries), so I usually get my books from the library, but since these will probably take a while, I want to actually get physical copies.

6. Be better at sticking to the books I choose to read.
The wording on this one was kind of difficult to decide on, but here is what I mean: I am absolutely horrible about finishing my books because, long story short, my attention span is lacking. Sometimes I will just stop reading a book, and then end up feeling really bad afterwards. Not only do I feel like that's just a waste of time, but I start to think, what if that was a truly amazing book, but I was in such a rush, that I didn't get to find out? I really want to get the most out of books, so my goal is to try to finish all my books (with possible exceptions), because sometimes the most beautiful writing doesn't come with a fast pace from the  very beginning. This could possibly mean that I'm also pickier about what books I pick up (which tbh will probably just end up being checking its rating beforehand), but it's something I've been thinking a lot about, so I definitely want to do it. 


7. Dive into the book blogging world.
I made this blog about 6 months ago, but honestly, I have BARELY used it. This makes me very sad. I absolutely love the community and I just want to be a part of it. There's so many feels about all the books, and I really need to let it out. This year I'm striving to not only write book reviews but also visit more book blogs and interact with other people with a love for books.