Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Unleashed

Author: Sophie Jordan
Published: February 24th, 2015
Hardcover, 368 pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change, and that her DNA did not define her... but then she killed a man.

Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she'll be ruled by the kill gene or if she'll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn't even know if she can trust herself.

The first book in this series, Uninvited, blew me away. Sophie Jordan's books have always had a mix of romance and adventure, so I had high hopes going into this one, the second book in a two book series. We left Davy on the run with her gorgeous boyfriend Sean and two friends as they try to escape the white coats that want to use them as weapons. But Davy is haunted by the memory of the man she killed to protect Sean and that feeling just won't go away.

I must mention a huge spoiler here because it's such a big part of the book and I know those who have read this one will understand. Davy gets separated from her friends and ends up in the middle of a rebellion camp, where she meets Caden, a guy she quickly gets attached to. This pissed a lot of us off. It's a two part series and Sophie changes the love interest? I loved Sean and I wanted them to be together so badly, but I will be honest, I loved the new guy. He was a great hero and love interest and his feelings for Davy seemed genuine. The moments they had together were swoon-worthy (as Sophie is a fabulous romance writer) The way she wrote this romance made perfect sense to the story and I was happy with the outcome to everything. I mean it was strange and it took me off guard and I really wanted Sean to be happy, but in the end, I understood why Sophie played it out that way.

The new romance wasn't my pet-peeve with this book. Davy's days spent in the camp were written wonderfully and I loved all the new people she met. Her bravery and power were harnessed and even though she realized having the kill gene inside of her really does make her react differently, she`took that power and used it to gain respect. I wish there had been more focus on the rebellion or anything having to do with HTS. It seemed almost like the hoopla over all of it happened quietly in the background and was all nicely solved into a nice little package without Davy even having to lift a finger. I guess this could be seen as realistic, a young girl may not actually be able to help stop the government, but I wish there had been more to this story than Davy falling in love again and the world suddenly being an okay place for her to live in. It seemed forced and unfinished and I wish, oh man do I wish, that I had loved every last bit of this book. There is no explanation for why the HTS exists or how to actually fix it. Everyone just goes on knowing that they are carriers but trying to live normal lives.

I'm glad I got a happily ever after though. Davy and Caden's short but sweet story ended nicely and as did everyone else's. The writing was great and Sophie is a pro at love scenes. She'll always be one of my favourites in the kissing department. Here's hoping I like her next book better!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors of All Time

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where we make lists of wonderful and bookish things.

This week's topic is: Top Ten Authors of All Time

I love authors as much as I love their books. They are all so sweet on social media and meeting them at events is always exciting for me. Here's hoping I get to be one of those one day!

1. Rachel Vincent: The day I meet her (if it ever happens) will be incredible. She's great with her readers and I've been lucky to win some signed books by her. Can't wait for her new ones to come out soon!

2. Rainbow Rowell: She is literally the sweetest thing in the world. Meeting her was awesome and we even owned the same dress! We had a moment about it, okay?

3. Marissa Meyer: I showed up in a Scarlet cosplay when I got to meet her and she loved it! She was really sweet and her love of Sailor Moon just makes me really happy.

4. Stephanie Perkins: Her books are swoon-worthy and she's really great with her fans. Hopefully I'll get to meet her one day too!

5. Kasie West: My favourite contemporary author. Her books are great, fast reads and I seriously cannot wait for The Fill-In Boyfriend to be out!

6. Courtney Summers: A fellow Torontonian, Courtney's books are so different from what's out there right now and they are so important. If you haven't read All the Rage yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

7. Tiffany Schmidt: I've had some great Twitter moments with Tiffany and she has been fantastic. We pulled an all-nighter together for her book Before the Sunrise (go read it now!) and I kind of decided we needed to be best friends after that. She's also great friends with Courtney Summers and how cool is that?

8. Lauren Oliver: She was a joy to meet! Her books are incredible and they just keep getting better. Her writing is something I strive to even remotely resemble and I love that she was so down to earth in person.

9. Cora Carmack: New Adult at its best here people. Cora is so adorable and awkward and she always sets up book release parties on Facebook with tons of giveaways and lots of interactions. That makes her perfect in my eyes.

10. Miranda Kenneally: Her books are so great and they quickly became my favourites. I can't for more from her and I'd love to have the chance to meet her one day!

Having the opportunity to meet my favourite authors has been fantastic. I've met some great people, had some great interactions and it made me feel closer to them. Even just having them reply to me on Twitter or Facebook is a great experience. Their books are important too, but how they treat their readers is more important to me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold
Published: March 3rd, 2015
Hardcover, 352 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange." After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travellers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Mim is one of kind and so is her story. From the first page I was drawn into this book and it's still holding on to me. I'm still waiting for Mim to go on another adventure and meet more people and find her way through the darkness that is life. This is exactly the kind of book I look for, a road trip book where there are new characters around every corner and you can meet someone who changes your life in such an impossible way and suddenly your regular life doesn't seem so bad and maybe your new family really does love you.

Hopping on a Greyhound bus alone to make her way back up to Cleveland, Ohio, Mim thinks she's doing the right thing by leaving her dad and her new stepmom, who's pregnant with who will soon be her new sister, to go see her sick mom. Along the way, she writes letters to someone named Iz, but we do not find out who she's really writing to until the end of the book, and when I found out I bawled my eyes out. The Greyhound trip starts out quietly, except for the creepy guy who seems to really want to talk to her and the old lady who carries a locked box that she wants to bring home to her son. It's not until the bus crashes and she's shipped onto a new bus that she starts meeting people who will change her forever. Suddenly she has a mission that the Greyhound bus can't help with. Tagging along with her is Beck, the cute guy from the bus and Walt, a kid with Down Syndrome who is wiser than anyone she knows.

This isn't just a story about a road trip. This is a story about finding yourself when you feel like you've been drowning. Mim has been on medication for as long as she's remembered and through flashbacks we find out that there is a history of mental illness in her family and her dad thinks she may not be all right. She's been prone to hallucinations and tends to black out and wear her mom's favourite lipstick like war paint. The hallucinations make her a bit of an unreliable narrator, and the further we get into the story, the more we believe that she does not need medication as she hasn't been taking it and is fine. Well, not fine, but are any of us fine?

This book shows us how it really is. There's no way you could travel across the country without some sort of disaster or unwanted things happening to you. It was not all good for Mim, but the moments that were good made everything worth it. Poncho Man was a creep, and Mim held her own against him. The old lady was wise and helped Mim realize a lot about herself. And I think I found more about myself as I read her story. It's important to be yourself in a world where no one is. Don't take the medicine to make you like everyone, let your freak flag fly. It's what makes us stand out, what makes me people love us. And you can find wonderful people in the most uncommon of places, like on a Greyhound bus, on the roof of a gas station, or on the side of a highway. The characters, the writing, the adventures were all perfect and I think this is such an important book for anyone who's suffering or doesn't feel like they belong. You belong, you matter.

A debut author, David Arnold has proven that he can write the perfect YA novel that would work for both boys and girls, young adults and adults alike, and can take each and every one of us on a great adventure without even leaving the United States. We're all weird, we're all crazy and we all just want to be happy. Wear your war paint.

"Home is hard. Harder than Reasons. It's more a storage unit for your life and its collections. It's more than an address, or even the house you grew up in. People say home is where the heart is, but I think maybe home is the heart. Not a place or a time, but an organ, pumping life into my lie. There may be more mosquitos and stepmothers than I imagined, but it's still my heart. My home."

Review: Burning Kingdoms

Burning Kingdoms
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 10th, 2015
Hardcover, 320 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead get buried in vast gardens, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Interment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they're caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They mat have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Interment with them?

Lauren DeStefano has a beautiful, brilliant writing style. I know she could make a grocery list sound wonderful and make me wonder what would happen next. Her Chemical Garden trilogy was amazing, the second book in the trilogy moving the story in a way I didn't think was possible. The second book in her Internment Chronicles proves she knows how to make a story move in the right direction. No longer on the island of Internment, Morgan and her friends find themselves hauled off as soon as their feet hit the ground. They are taken to the hotel that the advisor to the king owns and move in with his family. It had a bit of a Sound of Music feel with the kids on different ages and the strict father who looked after them without a mother. I loved it. Quickly, we find out that not all the kids behave the way they should. They sneak out to speakeasies and the theatre and we all know how well sneaking out works out. Most of the book circles around the group getting used to being on the grounds, seeing snow, eating new food and discovering new things.

There was a lot of tension, with Morgan and Pen, Morgan and Basil, and Morgan and her brother. It's there in the background the entire time, but rarely did it take centre stage. There isn't really a big plot in this one either, they are on the ground, they explore, and bad things don't start happening until the last quarter of the book. To me, it didn't matter too much because the writing was beautiful and DeStefano knows how to make a sentence become the most beautiful thing in the world. And I hope it means that Book Three will be action packed and involve the king more and having them potentially make their way back up to Internment. As a second book, I know there sin't much that will happen, this tends to be the way it goes, they are not always the strongest in the series, I wish there had been more moments between everyone. conversations to let us know how everyone was feeling now that they were off Internment and more inner dialogue with Morgan. There was so much focus on them being on the ground that I found I wasn't sure how they all felt about being down there. I was a also a little shocked when Morgan had a moment with someone who was not her betrothed and I'm not sure how I'll feel if that becomes a bigger plot line in the next book.

There are secrets, lies, tension and changes and it seems like so much is going to happen in the third book and I can't wait to ind out where our characters end up. Will they stay on the ground, no loner dreaming of living in the sky? Or will they find a way back up there and forfeit everything they've worked so hard to get away from? I for one can't wait.

"There is a need, in every world, to believe in things that cannot be seen."

Friday, April 3, 2015

An Open Letter to My YA Self

Each time I discover a contemporary novel, it causes me to reflect back on my own youth and how certain themes played a significant role in my younger years. All of this propelled the idea to write my own letter, and ask others to write a letter to their YA selves as well. 
Over the next month bloggers, readers, and authors will be sharing their open letter to their YA selves. Please join me as we reflect back on our youths, recommend books to our younger selves, and share personal stories waiting to be told. 
- Ginger of GReads!

Dear Jen at 14,

High school kind of sucks, right? You're too skinny, those glasses are awful, and that hair! Blonde curls that won't flatten no matter how much product you put in them. I'm so glad you have a great group of friends to help you through the struggles of high school. Some of them are going to stick through for a long time, some of them will not. That's life unfortunately, things change, people change and it will no longer make sense to be friends with them. But a couple few will be who you need to survive life and they will become very big factors in helping you through.

Being shy is okay. Waiting to trust people before opening yourself up to them is good, but soon you'll find it easier to make friends and not worry so much about what other people think of you. Grade 9 will be the worst of it, I promise. You'll make more friends and actually get a boyfriend(!) and that first kiss you've been dreaming about, and even though you won't be popular, you'll be happy.

Speaking of boys though, Jen, your focus on them is too much. Life isn't about getting the boy, talking to the boy or flirting with the boy. The boy will not make you happy, only you can make you happy. The first kiss will suck, he'll try to stick his tongue down your throat and pressure you to do thing you aren't ready to do. Your second boyfriend will seem like he's the right one for you, but you'll realize you're only in it because you feel like you need a guy to make you happy. Never stay with someone because you're lonely, never. The third boyfriend will break your heart, but trust me on this, he wasn't the right guy. Now, the fourth one was a good one. But a guy who doesn't take you to prom and make you feel like a princess for a night is not worthy of your time. There will be more guys, more mistakes, but you will wait for a good one to lose your virginity to and soon you'll get to college and find the right one. He'll treat you right and you'll forget all those other boys even stood a chance.

So my wish for you is to focus on you, not these guys or what people think of you. Have fun with your friends, write lots of stories and read whatever makes you happy. I wish you had discovered Sarah Dessen in high school, because her books ring true to me now and I know you would have loved them. You would have loved The Great Gatsby and would have fallen in love with the 20s much earlier in life. There are great books now that I wish had been published in the early 2000s so you would have read them, like Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson and The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes.

You'll gain a bit of weight and it'll make you look so much better, people will not think you're sick anymore. You'll get contacts and it'll make a huge difference and you'll finally get that hair under control (you may even like it some days). So spend time with your family, make your friends your first priority and yes, have some kisses and fall in love and mend that broken heart, but just live, Jen, live life to the fullest and don't let anything hold you back. Keep dreaming those big dreams, because even though I'm still trying to get us published, I haven't given up. Thanks to you, I still love to write and love to love.

Everything is going to be okay, fairywings.

Lots of love,

Jen at 29

Popular Posts