10 Great YA Trilogies

Young Adult and Trilogies goes together like peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs…the sky and the sta- you get the point. There are way too many trilogies out there to list but that doesn’t matter! Who doesn’t enjoy a … Continue reading

Most Challenged Books of 2013

Most Challenged Books of 2013

The Hunger Games? Check. The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Check. Looking for Alaska? Ugh…did not see that one coming? Oh and Capt. Underpants is on there somewhere. Quite frankly anyone who gets to publish a book with a character called Capt. Underpants deserves praise not scorn.

Personally I’m against book banning. I mean did Fahrenheit 451 teach us nothing? And I mean different strokes and all that. But I can’t help but feel like I could’ve come up with better books to ban. Except for 50 Shades – no one should have that forced on them.

Petals On The Wind

VC Andrews – the gift that keeps on giving. My obsession with Lifetime’s perverse need to bring to life the incest riddled, gothic crapfest that is the Dollanganger series brings me so much glee it could be considered unhealthy.

From our good friends at Entertainment Weekly comes the news that on May 26 for the first time ever Petals on the Wind the sequel to the titillating and yet terribly written Flowers in the Attic will be gracing our television screens. Oh the joy! This is great because come next Tuesday my  countdown to Dreams of Gods and Monsters (5 days y’all) will official be over and I can begin the countdown (52 days) to what’s bound to be the best weekend of my summer.

They’re even bringing Heather Graham back! I feel like this is the movie where she’ll really prove herself (heavy sarcasm folks. Heavy.)

I'm their mother FITA

Check out the article here: http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/03/27/petals-on-the-wind-photos/

Also on the book adaptation front (and from EW) DreamWorks has finagled the rights to Rainbow Rowell’s piece of YA perfection Eleanor & Park. Not too sure how to feel about this. Can such a beautifully simple story truly be adapted? Time will tell. On the plus side though it’s bound to have a kickass soundtrack – I mean they fall in love over their mutual love for The Smiths (among other things.) Aww, falling in love to the sweet, miserable yet dulcet tones of Morrissey – that just about sums up teenage love.

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/04/02/eleanor-park-dreamworks-picks-up-film-rights-to-rainbow-rowell-novel-exclusive/

EleanorPark_thumb

 

Book Review: Panic

Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date Published: March 4, 2014
Number of Pages: 408
Standalone: Yes

What’s It About?

Each year in the dead-end town of Carp, NY, every student in the graduating class has the chance to enter Panic – a legendary, and dangerous game of luck and chance. Spurred by heartbreak and revenge Heather and Dodge enter the game. Every decision, every ounce of courage leads to new alliances, chances for romance and a shot in the dark at a way out of town.

Initial Thoughts

My first introduction to Lauren Oliver came in the form of her Delirium trilogy, of which I only ever read (and only half of it) the first book in the series. To many the books are killer, to me they were just, well dull. I found the concept to be beyond reaching and I really couldn’t get down with lead character Lena who I felt was whiny and cowardly. Harsh I know. I’m saying all of this because I was really reluctant to pick up Oliver’s newest book Panic but I’m glad I did.

Panic is nothing at all like Delirium, a standalone book – the overall concept, a mysterious and dangerous game (with a big payout) held for the graduating high school class in small town New York builds to a crescendo in an intense and riveting manner.

Told from the dual perspectives of contestants Heather and Dodge, playing for their own independent reasons, the book is a surprisingly intense commentary on youth and the way in which desperation of all kinds can drive a person to do things they never thought themselves capable of.

The concept is enthralling – Oliver manages to capture your attention from the very beginning. As the game progresses and the stakes are raised you find yourself becoming more and more invested in the characters and desperate to know the outcome.

Dual Narration
The dual narrative can at times come off a little gimmicky – for instance in Allegiant it was evident very early that the reason for the change in narrative style was because the end of the story couldn’t come from the character it had always come from. In Panic the dual narrative makes sense. It offers a great duality in reasoning for the various reasons these kids would put their lives in such danger for a cash prize. For many it’s seen as a way out of small town life for the story’s narrators it’s much more.

Heather

Heather is incredibly likeable. Suffering from heartbreak and a bad home life Panic is a way from her to step away from the stress of everyday life. It’s also a chance to provide a better life, away from her alcoholic/drug addicted mother, for her and her sister. As the story progresses Heather’s growth from wallflower to a confident, beautiful girl is striking yet organic.

Dodge

At first Dodge comes off a little slimy – you kind of recoil at the thought of him, but his is a great example of character development and how wrong first impressions can be. Loyal to a fault Dodge is determined, pragmatic and clever. His relationships with his sister, Heather and Nat (Heather’s best friend) paint him as loving guy with a great deal of respect for the opposite sex.

The Minors (characters)

Nat – Heather’s best friend, Dodge’s love interest – I’m not going to lie here. I kind of hated her. She’s incredibly self-involved and without spoiling anything – um, I can’t actually finish that sentence without spoiling things. Needless to say the gif below best describes my feelings about her.

face

Bishop

Heather’s other best friend, and the boy she’s obviously in love with but has yet to realize this fact (trust me I’m giving nothing away) is perfectly likeable but I will say his purpose in the story is fairly obvious – I have yet to determine if it was meant to be this way or if it’s just a weak link in the story. Whenever Bishop entered the scene I always found myself doing that twisty head thing that puppies do…: puppies

Anne, Krista, Lily

All three women play a vital role in Heather’s life, Krista – her mother is a disappointment, forcing Heather to play the parent role. Lily, Heather’s little sister though very minor and not as developed as other characters gives Heather purpose. And Anne – well she’s really awesome. Best way to explain her.

The Writing

There’s a reason people keep buying Oliver’s books, despite not being a fan of her earlier work there’s no denying she can write. In Panic she creates characters with meaning and reasoning. For every action there is a reaction, a reaction that continuously ups the ante. She also manages to create unique character voices. Both Heather and Dodge stand out so clearly as independent characters, yet when they’re brought together they mesh.

Oliver’s writing is also great for its intricacies. She adds in small details that provide so much for your imagination. The town of Carp is so beautifully illustrated by simple additives like Meth Row or as a friend pointed out Nat’s obvious OCD – which is never named but very evident.

The Elusive YA Standalone

What I think I particularly appreciate about Panic is that it’s a standalone – a concept that seems incredibly unique in the current world of YA overrun with dystopian trilogies. It’s nice to read a book and know that the end is really the end. There’s something to be said for an author who tells the story in one go, sometimes it just makes the story so much more rich.

The Final Judgement

Panic is a great story. It’s unique, engrossing and filled with interesting plot twists, strong and likeable characters. It’s the perfect concoction of mystery, suspense, romance and adventure. Throw in a little coming of age and a little revenge it kind of has a bit of something for everyone. If you’re looking for a tightly woven tale that builds to an ultimately explosive crescendo, you should probably pick up a copy.  4.5/5

The Monthly Re-Read – Days of Blood & Starlight

There’s nothing like re-reading a well loved story. In fact there’s nothing better than re-reading a book period. Sometimes it solidifies your love for a story. Sometimes it solidifies your dislike (or epic hatred if we’re going the John Steinbeck route – long story. I’ll explain it another time.) Regardless I’m a big believer in the re-read.

In anticipation of Dreams of Gods & Monsters, the final book in my serious author crush Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy I’ve re-read the previous two books. Having already done a Monthly Re-Read blog about DoS&B, it’s only fitting I write one for DoB&S.

TOP TEN REASONS TO RE-READ LAINI TAYLOR’S DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT

10. The Writing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Laini Taylor’s writing is pure poetry. Her prose is seamlessly woven, it’s the perfect tapestry of words. Quite frankly Taylor is a brilliant storyteller. Eretz

9. Eretz  
I love the world Taylor’s created – she paints a picture of a vast, beautiful and daunting land with a history just as varied and bloodied as our own. Eretz is a land you can easily get lost in (blood thirsty angels and monsters withstanding.)

8. The Stelians
The mystery behind the renegade angels who politely refuse to engage in war with Joram, Emperor of the Seraphim (and Akiva’s father) by sending a basket of fruit is killing me! Who exactly are they? Is Akiva’s mother still alive and living with them? Just how magical are they? And, how – how could they willingly sit by and let the Seraphim and Chimaera tear each other apart for a thousand years?

7. Surprises that Come in Thuribles
Without giving anything away – lets just say with all the heartbreak this series doles out, sometimes happy surprises come in inappropriately labeled thuribles.

6. New Storylines
As much as I wanted nothing but 500 pages of Karou and Akiva there’s no denying their separation allowed for the introduction of new storylines – stories that only helped to better create for the reader the depths of misery, desperation and courage war can create. Plus it leads right to number five…

5. The Perfect Collection of Minor Characters
Zuzana & Mik, Ziri, Hazael and Liraz, even the creepy and possibly crazy Razor – Taylor has a knack for writing great characters. DoB&S is teeming with colourful, unique characters that shine brightly (whether it be for good, Haxaya, or evil, Ten.)

4. The Double Twist Ending
No spoilers don’t worry! But if you’ve read this book you know there’s a few shocks along the way but the end? I did not see that coming. Not. At. All.

3. The White Wolf
Okay I know anyone who’s read this book is sitting there thinking “what the hell?” but hear me out – a great adversary is key to uniting reader and hero. In hating Thiago and his evil, manipulative, conniving ways you can’t help but root that much more for Karou and Akiva – that they change their world and that they find their way back to each other, because screw Thiago!

2. Akiva’s Redemption
Talk about soul crushing love – not only did the man live in agony for nearly 18 years believing he lost forever the love of his life, but when he finds her alive, he still can’t have her. He then spends all of his time risking his life to help save her people. All for the sake of a woman who claims to despise him. Oh my goodness – just rip my heart from my chest as it continues to pump why don’t you?

1. Karou
She’s quite possibly the best YA heroine around. Beautiful, smart, kind, courageous, tough, fighter, lover, friend, salvation of the chimaera race – she’s kind of everything. But Taylor writes her so perfectly that every role she plays is believable, heartbreaking, uplifting and well, amazing. She’s either your fantasy best friend, or your fantasy girl-crush.

BLOOD-STARLIGHt

“A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”

20 Days until Dreams of Gods & Monsters!

Book Review: Elusion

Author: Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam  
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)  Elusion
Date Published: March 18, 2014
Number of Pages: 400
Series: Yes

What’s It About?
Imagine a machine that could virtually transport you anywhere in the world utilizing only the power of your mind. That’s Elusion. Now imagine your father is the genius creator behind the invention, that he dies unexpectedly in a plane crash. Imagine your best friend (who happens to be the heir to the tech company your father worked for) takes over the project. It becomes a smash. Only for every great thing about it there’s a rumour to counteract its success. But what if the rumours are true? What would you do? That’s the question Regan is faced with answering. 

The Review
It’s only in the last few months that I’ve made the foray into Science Fiction – and the few books I’ve read I like to refer to as Science Fiction Light. Mindee Arnett’s Avalon was the first I tackled, it was definitely enjoyable, I really dug the whole space opera vibe. So I figured Elusion would suit me just fine. I was wrong.

It’s not that there’s fundamentally anything glaringly wrong with this book. It fits into several of the niche markets that make up YA literature – romance, mystery, dystopian (or kind of dystopian, it’s hard to pin point because despite constant reference to the world – or at least America  – being in a poor environmental state there’s never any real explanation as to what caused it. One of many incongruities in the book.) It also comes equipped with a female lead, and a love triangle. These are all elements that usually land well in YA. But in the case of Elusion they all just, well, fall flat.

Let’s Break it Down
This book is long. It drags. It’s not until nearly three quarters in that the story picks up and really starts to focus on the actual mystery at hand. There’s so much filler and so much build-up, build-up that doesn’t even really set up anything. As I’ve already stated there is some illusion (no pun intended) to the world not being a very healthy place environmentally speaking. However nowhere in the 400 pages of this story does it ever explain why – why do people have to wear what basically amount to gas masks? Why is there seemingly no place on earth one could vacation without fear of death by air? An explanation would have been nice.

Not only is it lacking in explanation but it goes around and around and around. By books end you will feel like a very well exercised hamster. That is if you can manage to finish it.

Least Interesting Lead Characters…Ever
The story centers on teenager Regan – her recently deceased father is the creator of Elusion, her best friend Patrick now seemingly runs the operations of all things Elusion (which is amazing when you consider this guy’s meant to be like 18) and Josh – an ex military school apparent dream boat, loosely connected to Patrick through camp (or something, I don’t even remember.) Not one of these people is remotely interesting. I mean you’ve got a teenage whiz kid millionaire and he just comes off whiny, pathetic and a little crazy. Regan is a stick in the mud covered in a wet blanket. And Josh, good ol’ Josh is basically an excuse for strife and friction.

What’s the Story Morning Glory?
As I’m sure you’ve guessed the story is a love triangle. Patrick loves Regan, Regan has no idea, she’s also put Patrick so far in the friend zone he’s basically related to her, Josh has piqued Regan’s interest. Oh but wait, what about Patrick? Maybe she does like him? Oh no. No she doesn’t. But she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. But she doesn’t mind kind of stringing him along. Oh now she’s confused why he’s angry and jealous that she’d take more interest in a guy she barely knows and not give her best friend of many years even the slightest chance…you see where I’m going here. I didn’t think it was possible to make a love triangle lamer than Edward, Bella and Jacob but the proof is in the proverbial pudding kids.

The worst part is – this is just side story, the real story is that Elusion, though praised by many may also be killing its users. Specifically teenage users. And people are kind of getting addicted to it.

No wait the story is that Regan’s dad’s death is kind of shady and there may be more to it than anyone’s letting on to.

Sorry, the stories about how Josh’s sister’s gone missing.

There’s a lot of threads to this book. A multitude of stories, none of which are ever properly explored. Things just kind of happen for about 300 odd pages. It’s frustrating and disappointing.

Writing why you so boring? YUNOGuyMemeFace
The overall writing is cumbersome. Too much. Too many words. Too much description of nothing. There’s not even any witty banter to assuage the readers outrageous boredom.

But the real kicker with Elusion? The ending. I won’t give it away but let me just say if you choose to invest time slogging your way through 400 pages of clutter with a little bit of mystery thrown in you want answers. You want an ending. You want to know that you have not read in vain. Unfortunately when you make it to the end you soon learn that indeed it was all for naught. This book is not a standalone. And it’s important to know that going in.

I’m always weary of books with multiple authors. I find myself wondering how two people can create a cohesive story that makes sense and still demonstrates each of their strengths and talents. When I read Beautiful Creatures I felt vindicated in those feelings. Having powered through Elusion I can’t help but feel that I’m still very much right to wonder. Reader beware. 1/5

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

toptentuesday

It’s that time again – Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week: Top Ten Books on My Spring 2014 TBR (to be read) list.

SideEffects

10. Side Effects May VaryJulie Murphy (March 18th, HarperCollins)
Alice finds out she’s dying of cancer, so she writes the most epic bucket list ever (with pay back a plenty included) and lives it out (revenge and all.) Then she learns she’s not actually dying. Chaos ensues.

Forget About Me

9.  (Don’t you) Forget About Me, Kate Karyus Quinn (Harper Teen, June 10)
If you’ve read Kate Karyus Quinn’s first novel Another Little Piece than you know she’s great when it comes to the whole fantasy/mystery thing. Don’t You Forget About Me revolves around a mysterious town where you never get sick and you live a long life. But there’s a price to be paid, one that comes every fourth year.

Killer

8.  Dear Killer, Katherine Ewell (Katherine Tegen Books, April 1)
(From Goodreads) …a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe. Um – hell yeah.

DreamBoy

7. Dream Boy, Madelyn Rosenberg  (Sourcebooks Fire, July 1st 2014)
Definitely a case of the be careful what you wish fors, this mystery centers on a beautiful and mysterious boy who proves that dreams really do come true. But with this dream comes a nightmare or two.

Dorothy

6. Dorothy Must Die, Danielle Page (HarperTeen, April 1)
Imagine an Oz where the sweet, girl from Kansas who liberates the people from the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West finds a way back to that magical land only to become the dictator she once defeated.

ToTheDead

5. Love Letters to the Dead, Ava Dellaira (April 1st 2014, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
What starts off as a school assignment soon turns into an epistolary tale of first love, dysfunctional families and betrayal.

QueenofTear

4. Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen (Harper, July 8)
Full disclosure – I’ve already read this, but I plan to re-read in celebration of its official release in July. This book is awesome, it’s kind of Game of Thrones meets Reign meets something entirely different.

WeWereLiars

3. We Were LiarsE. Lockhart (Delacorte, May 13)
There’s tons of buzz around this YA thriller – and here’s why (from Goodreads):

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Need I say more?

CityOfHeaven

2. City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry, May 27)
The last book in Clare’s insanely addictive The Mortal Instruments series, this final chapter sees Clary, Jace and the gang face off against her sociopathic brother Sebastian and his army of evil nephilim.  How cool is that?

GodMonsters

1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor (Little, Brown & Company, April 8 )
Really is my number one shocking to anyone who reads this blog? I’m obsessed, OBSESSED with Laini Taylor’s beautiful, seductive, enthralling fantasy trilogy about love and war and everything in between. Will Karou and Akiva end up together (they’d better…) Will the Chimaera-Seraphim war finally come to an end? Will the renegade Stelian Seraphim save the day? I am equal parts excited and anxious, happy and sad – because really, when this series comes to end what will my life become?