Archive | December 2013

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard – Riding the banana train

12558285Title: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Series: Splintered #1

Genres: young adult, fantasy, romance, contemporary

Format: audiobook

Length: 12hrs 42min

Narrator: Rebecca Gibel

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

REVIEW:

In high school, I wasn’t a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland story. I remember having to read it in English class to improve my – at the time – truly awful language skills, but I just couldn’t get into it. It was weird and kind of creepy in a way I couldn’t appreciate at the time. That experience had me overlook this book for quite a while despite so many people’s recommendations, until now. I just didn’t think this story was for me. Once again, I’m proven wrong.
Splintered is a truly fresh twist on the original tale, just the right mix of creepiness (this book REALLY didn’t help my paralyzing fear of insects), romance (I may have melted a time or two…) and humor.
Alyssa is a great heroine. She’s smart and tough with a few insecurities. Her fear of ending up like her mother is quite valid, but she doesn’t let it control her. She’s not afraid to do what needs to be done, but doesn’t come across as stupid or irresponsible. Her love for the people she cares about drives her every action, giving her the courage to succeed. Which brings me to the love interests. There’s two of them, of course, because we just can’t have a fantasy book without the compulsory love triangle these days, right? For future reference: I HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. I REALLY REALLY HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. They create unnecessary drama and take up space that could be filled with far better things. And in the end it leaves a portion of the readers hugely disappointed. But since it’s an inevitable part of most YA series these days I guess I’ll just have to deal. Splintered has the kind of love triangle that was a no brainer for me. I’m not even a little bit torn over which guy I would choose. Jeb is great. Not perfect, but my definition of a good guy. He makes some questionable decisions but he’s dependable and hard-working. He’s there for Alyssa even when she’s doing her best to push him away. He’s making something of himself. Morpheus? Ugh. He represents the kind of dark/mysterious/supposedly-sexy guy I don’t find the least bit appealing. He’s selfish and untrustworthy. He’s only semi-decent when he’s alone with Alyssa. He’s bad news. That puts him on my fictional-hot-guys-I-wouldn’t-go-anywhere-near list right next to Warner from Shatter me. And it doesn’t help that he’s basically a giant insect. Unfortunately for me, I strongly suspect I’m on the wrong team here.
The supporting characters only make fleeting appearances in both the real world and in Wonderland. We see glimpses of Alyssa’s family and her best friend Jen, as well as Jeb’s awful girlfriend (like I said, questionable decisions). In Wonderland we meet all the familiar faces from the original story like the White Rabbit or the Mad Hatter with a few interesting twist on them. The ending ties things up nicely with the possibility of a sequel that we already know is coming. Alyssa made a temporary choice regarding her love life here, but the triangle is far from over. *sigh*
Overall, Splintered is a fast-paced and very enjoyable read. I’m excited to see what Unhinged has in store for us.

Quotes:

“From a distance, we look like we’re riding fireflies across the northern lights, sweeping in and out of one another’s glowing jet streams.”
“Can’t leave you in charge of the place looking like a circus clown reject. What if a hot guy comes in?”
“Some people have no business attending a dignified tea. Gawking as if I belong in a zoo, when they’re the ones who have all the manners and fashion sense of a monkey.”

Narration:

The audio version of this book is a real treat. Rebecca Gibel does a truly fantastic job of bringing each and every character to life, giving distinct and sometimes hilarious (looking at you Humphrey) voices to all of them.

 

 

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Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Love will tear us apart

eleanor & parkTitle: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: standalone

Genres: young adult, romance, contemporary

Format: audiobook

Length: 8hrs 59min

Narrator: Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra

My rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

REVIEW:

After finishing and absolutely loving Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl earlier this year, the bar was set pretty high for Eleanor & Park. I’ve had this book for a while, but kept putting it off, worried it simply wasn’t going to live up to my crazy expectations. WRONG. This book is every bit as amazing everyone says it is (except those people in Minnesota I’m pretending don’t exist).
Eleanor & Park tells the story of two high school misfits falling in love. Eleanor is the new girl who doesn’t fit in (that’s putting it mildly) and as a result she’s everyone’s favourite punching bag. Park is better off, but tries to fly under the radar as much as possible regardless. Truth be told, the book isn’t heavy on plot. It’s not particularly fast-paced. There are no crazy twists and turns that will make your head spin. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It certainly didn’t make me any less eager to find out what happens next, and keep going until the very end.
I absolutely adored both main characters. They were wonderful, their stories, both separately and together, sucked me in from the very first page. I’ve especially felt for Eleanor, her struggles at home and at school were heartbreaking. Their relationship unfolded nicely without feeling rushed or dragged out. The 80s setting was a nice touch, and the lack of cell phones made for some hilarious scenes. The music nerd in me really enjoyed the bonding over their shared love of music (Park’s mixed tapes were totally adorable) and I even knew most of the songs/artists mentioned which I wasn’t expecting. Wasn’t so lucky with the comic book references though, those were totally lost on me.
The side characters were a mixed bunch, my favourites were Park’s parents. It took some time to warm up to them, but I totally loved both by the end. Eleanor’s parents are a whole different story. Her stepfather, Richie, is abusive and clearly meant to be the villain of the story (along with the bullies in school). Not the first abusive relative I’ve come across in YA, and not the worst. Which leads me to my only problem with this book. ELEANOR’S MOTHER. I’ve read reviews where people felt sorry for her, or wanted to comfort her. NOT ME. I’m sorry, call me unsympathetic, or heartless, but NO. JUST NO. Letting her husband throw out her teenage daughter on the street just because she’s not agreeable??? SERIOUSLY??? What kind of mother does that??? And even after she can come home at the beginning of the book, her mom makes excuses for him EVERY TIME. She makes Eleanor feel like there’s something wrong with her, like she’s not trying hard enough to put on a smile and pretend everything’s fine. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU WOMAN??? You should NEVER EVER make your children feel like there’s something wrong with them. NEVER. Some of the things she said made me seriously angry.

“We’re a family, Eleanor. All of us. Richie, too. And I’m sorry that makes you so unhappy. I’m sorry that things aren’t perfect here all the time for you… But this is our life now. You can’t keep throwing tantrums about it, you can’t keep trying to undermine this family – I won’t let you.”
“I have to think of everyone,” her mom said. “Do you understand? I have to think of myself. In a few years, you’ll be on your own, but Richie is my husband.”

And before someone thinks I’m drawing from personal experience here, I’m not. My parents love me to pieces, and I’m lucky to have them. I just feel very strongly about all parents doing their best for their children, and the fact that she never once stood up for her own really bothered me. OK, rant over. Sorry.
Regardless of this, Eleanor & Park is a great read no one should miss out on. Looking forward to more from Rainbow Rowell, no more hesitation.

Quotes:

“She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
“Fine,” his dad said from under the sink. “Just don’t get anybody pregnant.”
“You’re not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know.”
“Eleanor was trying really hard not to be overawed by Park’s driving skills, but every time he changed lanes or checked the rearview mirror, she caught herself swooning.”

Narration:

Both narrators did an excellent job, especially loved Park’s mom’s Korean accent. 🙂

Book Beginnings on Fridays #3

book beginnings

Hosted by: RoseCity Reader.

Description: Every Friday we share the first sentence (or so) of the books we are reading, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

This week’s selection: Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

7824322Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Beginning:

“THEY TOOK ME IN MY NIGHTGOWN.
Thinking back, the signs were there—family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape.
We were taken.”

Thoughts:

This book is partly based upon the stories the author heard from survivors of the Genocide of Baltic people during a visit to her relatives in Lithuania. I’m still working up the courage to read it, but hopefully will get to it really soon.

That’s What He Said Thursday #2

that's what he said thursday

Hosted by: Chapter Break
Description: Every Thursday join us by posting a favorite line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. The quote you choose does not have to be romantic – it can be anything spoken by a book boyfriend. Keep in mind these are direct quotes from dialogue in a book. It is NOT a physical description of a male protagonist or a paragraph of dialogue. It is a line spoken by our favorite heroes to their lucky ladies (whom we so wish we were!!!!!!).

This week’s selection: Tod Hudson (Soul screamers series by Rachel Vincent)

soul screamers

Quote:

“So what you’re really saying is that kissing me is one of those things a girl shouldn’t die without experiencing, right?” (Tod to Kaylee, If I die)

Read the entire Soul screamers series in a week after the last one came out this year and loved each one!!! Never really warmed up to Nash but Tod was THE BEST! Funny and romantic! What more could you ask for?

What’s next? #2

what's next

Hosted by: IceyBooks
Description: Can’t decide what to read next? Make a post with 3-5 books you want to (or have to!) read soon and link up every Thursday at IceyBooks, so your readers can help you decide by casting votes!

This week’s selection: a bunch of books I have to work up the courage to read

51524781. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

 2. Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys 7824322

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

62704833. Split by Swati Avasthi

A riveting portrait of life after abuse from an award-winning novelist.

Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. Award-winning novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.

Waiting On Wednesday #2

waiting on wednesday

Hosted by: Breaking the Spine
Description: “Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s selection: The impossible knife of memory

18079527Release date: January 7th 2014

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Why did I choose this?

It feels like it’s been forever since I read a Laurie Halse Anderson book and I got super excited when I heard about this one. Her books are all must reads for me and this one’s no exception. And thankfully the release date is only a couple of weeks away.

Book Beginnings on Fridays #2

book beginnings

Hosted by: RoseCity Reader.

Description: Every Friday we share the first sentence (or so) of the books we are reading, along with initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

This week’s selection: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor & parkSynopsis (from Goodreads):

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Beginning (prologue):

“He’d stopped trying to bring her back.
She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja vu.
Like, he’d be driving to work, and he’d see a girl with red hair standing on the corner – and he’d swear, for half a choking moment, that it was her.
Then he’d see that the girl’s hair was more blond than red.
And that she was holding a cigarette… And wearing a Sex Pistols T-shirt.
Eleanor hated the Sex Pistols.
Eleanor…
Standing behind him until he turned his head. Lying next to him just before he woke up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough.
Eleanor ruining everything.
Eleanor, gone.
He’d stopped trying to bring her back.”

Thoughts:

After much deliberation I’ve finally started reading Eleanor & Park today. I loved Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and really want to like this one, too. So far I do and it’s a very sweet story, but there’s also an underlying sadness that’s already reflected in the first few sentences.

That’s What He Said Thursday #1

that's what he said thursday

Hosted by: Chapter Break
Description: Every Thursday join us by posting a favorite line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. The quote you choose does not have to be romantic – it can be anything spoken by a book boyfriend. Keep in mind these are direct quotes from dialogue in a book. It is NOT a physical description of a male protagonist or a paragraph of dialogue. It is a line spoken by our favorite heroes to their lucky ladies (whom we so wish we were!!!!!!).

This week’s selection: Lucas Landon Maxfield (Easy by Tammara Webber)

easySynopsis (from Goodreads):

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

Quote:

“I noticed you the first week. Not just because of how pretty you are, though of course, that played into it. It was the way you lean onto your elbows when you ‘re listening in class, when something catches your interest. And when you laugh, it’s never to get attention, it’s just-laughter. The way you obsessively tuck your hair behind your ear on the left side, but let the right side fall down like a screen. And when you’re bored, you tap your foot soundlessly and move your fingers on the desktop like you’re playing an instrument. I wanted to sketch you.” (Lucas to Jacqueline)

Oh Lucas… Easy is my favourite new adult book and an absolute must read!!! Seriously, who wouldn’t want this guy?! Not just swoony but smart and hard-working too. Now just have to remind myself to keep breathing until Breakable comes out.

What’s next? #1

what's next

Hosted by: IceyBooks
Description: Can’t decide what to read next? Make a post with 3-5 books you want to (or have to!) read soon and link up every Thursday at IceyBooks, so your readers can help you decide by casting votes!

This week’s selection: a bunch of long overdue books I’ve been meaning to read forever but too afraid they won’t live up to my crazy high expectations

pushing the limits1. Pushing the limits by Katie McGarry

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with freaky scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

 2. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norrisunraveling

Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle’s mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died… and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth’s destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

jess rothenberg3. The catastrophic history of you and me by Jess Rothenberg

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning…. Welcome to forever.

BRIE’S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she’s D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there’s Patrick, Brie’s mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick’s help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she’s ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

4. The scorpio races by Maggie Stiefvaterthe scorpio races

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

eleanor & park5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Waiting On Wednesday #1

waiting on wednesday

Hosted by: Breaking the Spine
Description: “Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s selection: Silver shadows by Richelle Mead

Silver shadowsRelease date: July 29th 2014

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Why did I choose this?

This is my first Waiting on Wednesday post, so I’m picking the book I’m dying to read most! I’m a huge Richelle Mead fan, especially the Bloodlines series, and after The fiery heart I need this book YESTERDAY!!!