Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fairest

Oh my word, how I love Marissa Meyer. I remember I put off reading Cinder for the longest time because it didn't look like "my kind of book." Oh ho ho how wrong I was. Dystopian sci-fi world with a focus on Chinese culture? Retellings of fairytales? Awesome heroines and exquisite writing? Yeah, definitely my kind of book. Now the last book in the series doesn't come out until November (sadface) but in the meantime Marissa Meyer has released a companion novel about the evil Lunar queen, Levana. Oh wow. So much excitement going on over here.


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Levana is a princess in the Lunar colonies, but she won't be queen. Now that her parents are dead, assassinated, her sister has been crowned queen. Levana has more of a talent at politics and governing, but at fifteen no one cares what she has to say. Not even the love of her life, Evret, a royal guard who's not only married, but also has a child on the way with his beautiful wife. Levana wishes she were beautiful, and the queen. But she's getting better at her glamours, and who knows how long her sister and niece will live...

So twisted, so sad, so so so good. I read this book in one sitting. This story really helps shape Levana from a villain who's cool but whose motives seemed to just be "do evil" into someone tragic and flawed and increasingly sadistic. The last half of the book I felt so sad for her and so scared for her. This book starts and ends before Cinder starts, but you get to see so many links to the books and the characters who will become important. And oh my gosh, little Cinder! Knowing what happened to her, what her mother was like. Yeah, I guess you could say I loved this book because it was so sad. Levana lived a life without real love, and it really screwed her up. As always Meyer's writing is beautiful and tight and flows seamlessly. I can't wait for Winter to come out.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What A Boy Needs

What A Boy Needs is a companion novel to What A Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn. I read the first book I think about two years ago after reading YAtopia and seeing it promoted there. Well, I thought it was a nice, quick read, so I thought I'd give the companion a try. I've got a crazy busy week ahead of me, and I can't believe it's only Tuesday, so I'm making sure to give myself time to read for fun.


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Jaden knows he's not good enough for Pris. His father's always telling him how he's worthless, and his mother never sticks up for him so he might just be right. It's graduation time, and Jaden's supposed to go on a road trip to New York with Aspen, Sebastian, and Pris before they start at NYU. But Jaden's not sure he should go. He's always freeloading, and he didn't get into NYU, and besides, better he leave his friends before they inevitably leave him. If only he could set things right with Pris after their disastrous nearly-kiss last summer, maybe he'd feel a bit better.

The editor in me cringed every time I found a typo. But all in all, another quick read. I thought the pacing was off, with too much time spent on small things and conversations not lasting long enough, and there was a lot of repetition of what Jaden's problems were so the reader wouldn't forget, and far too many uses of "man" and "or whatever." I knew the author was trying to get inside a guy's head, but seriously it started to wear on me. The ending was good, and vindicating, although I also had some issues with Jaden's resolution with his mom. I don't know, this book just didn't grab me. I didn't laugh like I did with What A Boy Wants, but it wasn't so dark I felt really sad for Jaden. Also, Aspen basically never talked. That bothered me. I think this book just wasn't for me.

Goodreads Rating: 2 Stars
Up Next: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Monday, January 26, 2015

Requiem

It's taken me a few years, but I finally finished the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver, now the fifth book of hers I've read. This comes on the tail of some incredible news: it's almost midterms. HOW is that possible? I don't understand, really, how time manages speed up like this. It's even more upsetting now because I'm in my last quarter of school so it feels like things are ending. I'm keeping busy of course, and trying to read more than I did last quarter to prevent the inevitable binge-reading that would leave my eyes sore for days. Anyways, back to Requiem!

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There is all-out revolution against the people who have cured love, and Lena is right at the heart of it. She's travelling to a camp of resisters with her own group which includes her boyfriend Julian and her still-alive ex-boyfriend Alex. Tensions are high and something is going to snap between the three of them, and soon. At the same time Hana Tate is set to marry Fred Hargrove, mayor of Portland. She should be content, but she's not. And she's worried it might be because the cure didn't work perfectly on her. She still dreams, and she still remembers feelings she used to have. As her wedding day draws near, so does the revolution.

There are very few times I've gotten to the end of a book and thought "Wow this could have really used an epilogue." But Requiem doesn't wrap up its loose ends. And I felt like they really needed to be. What happened to the US after the walls between the Wilds and the Valid cities came down? Is the cure gone for good? What happens to all the cured people? I also wasn't really emotionally invested in who Lena chose to be with. This story was much more about the revolution than romance, which is odd considering the first book is basically about falling in love. But that's not a huge issue for me. Overall, it was a pleasant read. As always, Oliver delivers beautiful scenes and nice details. Her characters are flawed and things aren't perfect. I liked reading Hana's cured perspective a bit more than Lena's. I wished there had been some sort of resolution to the story that delivered on relationships and the future. Honestly that's my biggest complaint about this book. I wanted to know what happened after, and I didn't get to.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: What a Boy Needs by Nyrae Dawn

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In Your Dreams

As promised, here is my review of Kristan Higgins' 4th installment in the Blue Heron series. I adore Kristan Higgins. Her books are sorta light in romance, but they are funny and spunky and sweet and at times excruciatingly awkward. And they are perfect for a week like the one I've had. I'm so tired, and haven't been sleeping well. I've had quite a bit of work, much of it the kind where I nod off while doing it. So it's been nice to take some time to slip into the world of Manningsport, New York where there are cute puppies and baked goods and laughs abundant.


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Emmaline Neal needs a date to her ex-fiance's wedding. Just someone to help her survive watching the man she was with for 17 years get married. But in Manningsport, single men are hard to find these days. But when Faith Holland offers up her brother Jack, it seems like the perfect solution. Neither of them are looking to be in love, he's one of the nicest men around, and it'll get him away from all the people who've been calling him a hero for saving those kids. But when the wedding night takes a passionate turn, Em's heart might be in danger.

Oh the people of Manningsport, New York, how I love you all. Four books in, I feel like I know this town very well. So when I get to see little snippets of Lorelei's bakery and Colleen O'Rourke busting on her brother, and Levi Cooper going sappy when his wife is mentioned and Goggy and Pops bickering, it feels like home. I could just curl up in this book and go to sleep it's so comfortable to be in. Higgins' employs delicious flashbacks that are sometimes a bit too long but always a pleasure to read. There are awkward moment and sizzly ones, and (as always) laughter. Jack is an endearing love interest with a White Knight complex and suffering from PTSD. His conflict with the parents of the one person who he couldn't save made me so sad. Emmaline is funny and very real, having suffered from a stutter and an ongoing image problem. When the two had their sweet moments I awwed out loud, which is a feat. Love Higgins', will always love her, when's the next one?

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
Up Next: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Panic

Back in the saddle again! I just started my final quarter at university, and it's shaping up to kick me in the butt. I've been spending most of my time reading, and sadly most of it isn't for pleasure. But in the last couple days I've been feeling withdrawals, so I simultaneously read Panic by Lauren Oliver and In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins. I'll probably post the review of In Your Dreams tomorrow if I'm not too buried with reading. Anywho, on with the show!

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Panic started as a way to fill the empty days of summer in Carp. Graduated seniors could participate in the challenges, and the last one standing (literally) took home the huge pot. This year Heather entered. She wasn't planning on it, but her boyfriend had just dumped her, and suddenly she was competing in the terrifying challenges that could leave her dead. Dodge is doing Panic for other reasons. Two years ago his sister Dayna had almost won Panic, but in the final event someone tampered with her car and now she'll never walk again. He intends to get even or die trying.

I've seen some people complaining that from the description on Goodreads this book sounds like another Hunger Games rip-off. Well, I'm here to tell you it isn't. It's a contemporary setting, and it's almost scarier for it. The stuff the players have to do/survive is not glossy or highly mechanized. It's simple, dangerous, scary, like breaking into the house of a gun-happy drunk and stealing something. I enjoyed these parts because Oliver can write suspense pretty well. The beginning was choppy and threw me. I didn't really understand what was happening till a few chapters in. And some suspenseful parts ended too quickly. And the ending felt a little too gift-wrapped to fit the rest of the story. But the characters are delightfully flawed and there's some great imagery of life in Carp. It's a nice, quick read, and a standalone. I liked Before I Fall more, but this was still a good book.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Goals

Another year has passed. I have just started my last undergraduate quarter of college. It's been a wild ride and I can't believe it's almost over. As many people this time of year, I want to set some goals for myself. So I have them written down somewhere, I'm going to post them here. Well, here we go!

  • Read 75 books. I read 85 books last year. I want to keep up the high amount of reading, but I don't want to be so frantic about it. I want to take my time and read what I please.
  • Finish writing Spiral. Or any new manuscript really. Spiral is the last companion novel in my Balancing Act series and I really want to write it.
  • Rewrite Griffin's Song. I want to reinvent my first novel as a high fantasy novel with a nautical theme.
  • Get into grad school. I've been working on my applications for two graduate publishing programs and I'd love to get into at least one so I can further my dream of being an editor at a largish publishing house.
  • Learn to cook. I've sort of been doing this, but I've slacked off the past few months. I am a pretty good baker, and the chocolate chip cookies I make for my apartment disappear within a couple days. But I have little to no experience cooking meat that isn't in a crockpot. It makes me really nervous that I could make people sick. I'd like to overcome that fear.
  • Give myself a break. There are times when I just run myself into the ground. And it's not good. Don't get me wrong, I love hard work, but there are times when I shouldn't take on another project, shouldn't feel guilty about taking an evening to relax and read or watch TV.
Well that's all I can think of! I hope it's a great new year.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Stargazer

Well this post is coming a lot later than I anticipated, but I read this back before 2014 turned to 2015. I'm recovering from a migraine currently so I'm going to keep this post brief. Stargazer is the second book in Claudia Gray's Evernight series. So here we go!


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Although they've been separated, Bianca and Lucas still love each other. Bianca is starting her next year at Evernight Academy, which specializes in teaching vampires how to fit in the modern world. Lucas is back with the band of vampire hunters called the Black Cross. The pair struggle to see each other, but more sinister things are happening. Ghosts are appearing at Evernight, and they seem to be targeting Bianca. And to make matters worse, Balthazar's vampire sister is back in town and the Black Cross is hunting her.

I liked this installment a lot more than the first book. While it has a big reveal like the first book, there are actually hints at it, instead of it happening completely out of the blue. Bianca's blind love for Lucas still bothered me, as did her assumption that because Lucas loved her he would put aside all hatred of vampires and become one. I did like Bianca's dynamic with her parents and how it changed over the course of the book, as well as the introduction of a couple big plot points. The ending felt rushed, but the final scene makes me think the next book is going to be interesting! I'm not a huge fan of paranormal, but I'm willing to give it a try by finishing up this series.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Winner's Curse