Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Length: 433 pages

Rating: 4/5

Cath's world is the Simon Snow fandom (she's kind of a big deal in the fanfic world), her identical sister Wren, and their dad. But college is a whole different story. Soon she's dealing with a sister who isn't talking to her, a surly roommate with an overly-friendly boyfriend, her dad who is a mess, and a fiction writing teacher who doesn't think fanfic is real literature. And all Cath wants to do is stay in her room and write. Can she learn to live in a nonfictional world?

Things I loved about this book:
  1. This book takes place freshman year of college. What's more life-changing than freshman year of college?! It's wonderful to read a book set here with all the trails and tribulations without it being this-will-be-life-changing preachy.
  2. This book really focused on family, and what it means to rely on them without being dependent. Plus, my sister and I always wanted to be twins, and now I live with twins, so I loved reading a story about twins (and not the Sweet Valley High version).
  3. Fanfiction. I loved the interspersed bits of fandom, especially Cath's own fanfic.
  4. Rainbow Rowell knows how to write a good romance!
Things I didn't love:
  1. Why is Cath so afraid of herself (especially herself in relationships)? The boy seemed to have more patience than is humanly possible (but I loved him for it).
  2. It's impossible to read this story without drawing direct parallels between Simon Snow and Harry Potter, and a large part of this book was focused on Cath growing out of the fandom and moving on without it, because it is often looked at as childish. This is great for Cath's character growth, but I didn't like these particular parallels, because I don't ever want to grow out of Harry Potter!
Overall, a great story of learning to take charge of your own life.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seraphina (Rachel Hartman)

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House
Length: 451 pages

Rating: 5/5

In a world where dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce and dragons can assume human form, Seraphina, whose mother died giving birth to her, grapples with her own identity amid magical secrets and royals scandals, while she struggles to accept and develop her extraordinary musical talents.

Seraphina is like Teen Wolf, and I mean this as the highest compliment. You think it's just going to be a stupid book about dragons and then you're addicted. I've read a lot of great books lately, but it's been a while since I've been thrown into a world so vivid and compelling that I couldn't stop reading, and when I did, all I wanted to do was pick the book back up.

It's part mystery, part fantasy, and a tiny bit of forbidden romance. I loved all the little details, from the garden in Seraphina's head to the fact that dragons can't have facial hair in human form. As readers, we don't only get to join Seraphina's journey of self-discovery, but we feel like we're on our own journey of world-discovery!

Occasionally I was a little confused as to why everyone loved Seraphina so much--she can be very prickly--but eventually came to love her, despite her flaws. 

I'm anxious for the second book to come out not only to find out what happens, but because I want an excuse to read this book again! Fans of high-fantasy, Tamora Pierce, and great books- this one is not to be missed!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Dream Thieves (Maggie Stiefvater)

Title: The Dream Theives
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Length: 439 (*ARC)
Rating: 5/5

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after... (Summary from Goodreads)

Remember how much I loved the first book in this cycle? You should probably just go read that review because I felt all those things and MORE after reading this second book. We get to know all the characters better, flaws and strengths, as well as the introduction of new characters, who range from awful to redeemable. Plus, there’s more bromance, and even a little more forbidden romance.

If you’ve read the first, you will LOVE this book. If you haven’t, watch this video, and go read it. Seriously, do it!

*I was lucky enough to snag an ARC at BEA of this, but the book comes out September 17th, and you can bet I’ll be at the bookstore that day! And then the day after, flailing about how much I want the third book. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Never Fade (Alexandra Bracken)

Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Hyperion
Length: 507
Rating: 4.5/5

In this sequel to The Darkest Minds, Ruby reluctantly joins with the Children’s League to bring down the corrupt government and destroy the camps she loathes. But when a crucial secret surfaces, Ruby embarks on a mission to find the truth, which is hidden in the most unlikely of places: on an unsuspecting Liam. In her search to find Liam, Ruby is torn between her mission with the Children’s League, and old loyalties. Ruby desperately fights to protect those she loves and bring justice to a corrupt world.

This book was just as wonderful and heart-pounding as the first. Ruby is thrown into a position of leadership, based on her ability to control others’ minds. But she is still frightened of that power, and the corruption she has seen it create.

Ruby finds herself in impossible no-win scenarios, and still refuses to quit. Not only is she physically beat up more than once, but a reunion with Liam is an emotional rollercoaster that packs quite a punch as well. But Ruby is stronger than she thinks she is, and as determined as she is not to care about the people around her (just look what happened last time), it’s not in her nature. And I loved this new batch of characters, especially Vida and Jude, just as much as I loved the first.

Unfortunately, YA literature has taught me that you can’t save the world without major sacrifices, and the world becomes even darker in this book. I should warn you that the language in this book is also more adult that in the first book* (which I thought was a really great way to indicate that these kids are growing up in a dark world).

I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book!

*I read this book in ARC form, and Alex has said on Tumblr that some of this language has been toned down for the book, coming out out October 13th- go get it! Also, follow Alex on Tumblr, because she's the greatest. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something Like Normal (Trish Doller)

Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Length: 217
Rating: 5/5

Travis is home from Florida, on leave from active duty as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He’s not only haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death, but his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his parents are having marital trouble. What a vacation. But then he runs into Harper, a girl he’s known since middle school, and things start to look up.

This book was awesome. Like read it in one night, cry a little, laugh a little, have the characters grow on you as if they’re real people kind of awesome.

Things I loved:
-A male narrator who seemed REAL (and not just YA girl fantasy real). Travis is kind of a jerk, but the more you learn about him, the more you understand why and love him anyway.
-I learned so much about the U.S. Marines from reading this book. Trish really did her research to get at the issues marines face coming home, but without making them out to be sob stories or overly-dramatized heroes.
-The romance. It was like a Nicholas Sparks novel, but shorter, snippier, and better. Harper’s pretty great, and I liked her spunk.

Let’s keep this review short, because I want to direct you to the coolest thing ever. I’m a huge fan of the blog Real Men Read YA, who read this book, and then challenged Trish Doller to a rap battle.  Check out the comments, because it’s Something Like Freaking Awesome.

*I read this book months ago, and I still love it this much. Also, keep your eyes out for Trish's new book, Where the Stars Still Shine, which I loved EVEN MORE than this one, coming out in September!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2nd Birthday Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

I can hardly believe this blog is already two years old!

So much has changed in my life since I first decided to create this blog at the Denver Publishing Institute in the summer of 2011. I've read hundreds of books, married off two of my best friends, found my dream job working games with Sporting Kansas City, married myself to a trophy, started writing for a sports website, interned at a library where I created a separate blog just for middle grade books, moved to New York, met so many wonderful authors, and found my other dream job working at a children's publisher (just to name a few of the crazier things!). And of course, I've eaten a ton of ice cream along the way.

It hasn't always been easy, and I haven't always been the best at posting regularly, but I love this blog. As a thank you to my followers, I'm giving away these ARCs to three different winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for following and good luck!

PS Here's a present for you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just One Day (Gayle Forman)

Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Length: 369
Rating: 4/5

Sparks fly when American good girl Allyson encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem, so she follows him on a whirlwind trip to Paris, upending her life in just one day and prompting a year of self-discovery and the search for true love.

This book is for every girl who wishes she could break out of her good girl image and do something wild.

Allyson does just this. But it’s not easy, and it actually goes horribly wrong. Willem disappears after their one day together, and Allyson is left inept and changed in ways she doesn’t know how to deal with. She spends the next year dealing with the emotional fall-out, but she becomes out a better person for it.

And not necessarily just because of Willem. Yes, the romance is key in the story, but it’s more because for that one day, she was a different person, and she loved it. She’s been changed as a person, and it takes her a while to find herself again. I loved the parallels in this book of how passive she is at the beginning of the book to how much of a go-getter she is at the end.

Call it New Adult or older YA or whatever you like, but I really like this sub-genre of YA that deals with self-discovery of college-aged protagonists. This book reflected (in more extreme ways) the changes I went through in college and while studying abroad, and the challenges I faced through those changes.

A wonderful book of older self-discovery and change, and I am anxiously awaiting the next book, Just One Year, which will be told from Willem’s perspective.