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.