Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

The Details

Publisher:   Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: April 4, 2017
Genres:  YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

31423196GoodReads Blurb

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true. 

My Review

I was skeptical about this book when I started it. I’m not the biggest sci-fi fan, I got this book through Uppercase in April, and I haven’t been completely let down by an Uppercase book yet, so I figured there had to be something that makes this books one of the best of April. I also signed up for Uppercase to read outside my comfort zone, and this kind of book is not one that I would have picked up on my own. Different can be good if you give it a chance.

This story is told in two in two different third-person narratives, one through the eyes of a young woman from the “new Earth” planet Genesis: Noemi. The other is a Data from Star Trek style robot guy named Able. The two stories have voices just different enough, Noemi thinking with her heart and Able thinking with his robot brain.

I mentioned in my WWW Wednesday post when I had just started reading this book that I was worried about human/robot love. The romance was not a big part of this story, I mean, it’s there, but the love in this story is more of a growth thing than a love thing. Both Noemi and Able have a growth arc that was interesting to read.

It took a little bit for me to get into this book, again because Sci-Fi isn’t exactly my thing, but I did greatly enjoy it. As our pair of heroes travel to the different planets that Earth has colonized, I became more interested. There’s a lot of really interesting elements that evolve as the story continues. I liked the Greek Myths that get intertwined in the story, as well as the religious aspects. Neither are overt, just themes that weave through the story and become part of the mythos of this series.

Watching the evolution of Able was an interesting aspect of the book. He starts out as a robot, just a machine with orders that he can’t walk away from. As Able learns and grows how he adjusts to the differences in the new world is cool to read about. His arc is the biggest of all the characters in the book.

Overall I think this book is an excellent one, even for a read that doesn’t exactly love Science Fiction stories.

I look forward to seeing the sequel, which is expected sometime next year. (My 2018 TBR is already getting pretty long lol)

Have you read this book? What did you think? I would love to hear from you!

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis

I received an E-read ARC of this book from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review.

The Details:

Publisher: Wednesday Books
To Be Published: October 3rd, 2017
Genres:  YA, Contemporary, Coming of Age
My Rating: 4.75 Stars

29401441Goodreads Blurb

Flora Goldwasser has fallen in love. She won’t admit it to anyone, but something about Elijah Huck has pulled her under. When he tells her about the hippie Quaker school he attended in the Hudson Valley called Quare Academy, where he’ll be teaching next year, Flora gives up her tony upper east side prep school for a life on a farm, hoping to woo him. A fish out of water, Flora stands out like a sore thumb in her vintage suits among the tattered tunics and ripped jeans of the rest of the student body. When Elijah doesn’t show up, Flora must make the most of the situation and will ultimately learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.

Told in a series of letters, emails, journal entries and various ephemera, Flora’s dramatic first year is laid out for all to see, embarrassing moments and all.

My Review

This book was something else. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the blurb and the cover intrigued me as I clicked through the net gallery listings. When I saw the “told in series of letters” bit, I knew it was something that I had to try to check out.

The book is about a young woman, Flora, finding herself. She does it in a very weird way, but as the story unfolds you (as the reader) can see the change in her.

As I read the first part of the book, I read Flora’s voice with that obviously fake British accent, kind of like Madonna does sometimes. Flora is an upper east side Manhattan private school obsessed with fashion, but the fashion of the late 50’s early 60’s– very Jackie Kennedy. Her crush/ mild obsession with her history tutor/photographer Elijah reads exactly like something like that would read in my high school diary. I mean, it was just so relatable. Would I have applied to go to a somewhat ridiculous artsy private school in the middle of the woods to be close to a guy? No, but for Flora, that choice felt like something that could happen.

There are parts of this book that feel a lot fantastical, but then, it’s written in journal entries and emails by people who over exaggerate and love drama. So maybe the narrative isn’t exactly what happened, but that’s how Flora wants to tell them. Once the slightly ridiculous stuff starts to happen, as a reader, I was so used to how Flora spoke and saw things that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

I liked the Miss Tulip subplot. I think it balanced Flora’s life before Quare and after Quare. It’s a great reflection of the end of the book to the start of the book.

The other characters are also fun to follow. Especially as Flora begins to see them outside the view she comes to Quare with. There is a “no shell speak” policy at Quare, which means students can’t talk about how people look. Flora enters the school as someone who definitely is very into the shell and not much about what’s inside, so as she grows, reading how she sees people is interesting. It’s a first impression versus actually talking to people kind of thing.

I had some issues with formatting. Part of it is personal preference, and part of it was probably that I wasn’t used to how things look in an e-reader, and truth be told I read about 75% of this book on my phone which probably messed up the formatting a little bit. I feel like it a physical copy of the book the spacing will be different. Some of the journal entries seem to butt up against each other when I would think they’d be on a different page. But, again, I did read most of this book on an iPhone, so the formatting isn’t going to be perfect.

Overall, I loved this book. If you like coming of age/self-discovery stories, this is a book to look out for in the fall. Flora’s character is a very interesting one, and I found the format of this book different and interesting. There is also a bit that could very much read a slight to Lena Dunham, which I’m all about not giving praise to Lena Dunham.

I read a lot of books where the main character is a shy introverted outcast girl. Because those are the books that are being written and there is nothing wrong with those characters of books, Flora, however, isn’t that kind of girl. She’s shallow and thinks very highly of herself. I wouldn’t call her a mean girl exactly, but she’s definitely the kind of person that would look down her nose at a middle-class person. However, she wasn’t depicted as annoying, I mean, she a little annoying in the beginning, but when you start to imagine people complexly, they change a little.

This book was great, and I appreciate the opportunity to read and review it from Netgallery. I hope that Jenny Fran Davis has more books in the works because she’s an author to look out for in the future.

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

The Details

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published:  January 31, 2017
Genres:  YA, mystery, romance
My Rating: 4.75 Stars

27883214GoodReads Blurb 

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless, she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

My Review

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first heard about it when I started blogging earlier this year. I’m a fan of fantastical TV shows, but I usually have a hard time getting into fantasy books, but there was something about this one that dragged me in from the first page. Maybe it was the letters, it was different than anything I had read before. I was transported to this different world quickly. I learned enough about Scarlett and her family within a few hundred words through those letters.

I loved the synesthesia, how Scarlett feels colors. How she would say that things felt purple or how people radiated different colors. The thread of purple throughout the whole story was interesting too. From her grandmother’s purple dress, to how her father smelled like rotten plums, and there many any other examples. The metaphor and the thoughtfulness that Garber used in creating this world is beautiful.

I, also, really enjoyed the sibling relationship. I don’t think I’ve read too many books that are about sisters, definitely few that are about sisters that actually like each other. Positive female relationships and friendship are for whatever reason are rarely shown in media, so I think that the love Scarlett and Tella have for each other is so deep and pure. I try very hard not to give spoilers in my reviews, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that their love is very important to the whole story.

The world of the Caraval, was so cool. I would love to read about a person who was playing while not so personally involved in the game, just a casual player to see how the world is different for them. This may be a stretch but, the Caraval world reminds me of  GisHwHes and the world that that creates for the players of the hunt. In that week reality is suspended. Nothing is normal. GIshwhEs has strange little riddles and messages from a Misha Collins, who at times in the scavenger hunt, becomes a person much like Legend: a mysterious, somewhat insane, somewhat cruel puppet master. All of a sudden you are out trying to get permission to be on a Nuclear submarine with a hammock while the rest of the world looks at these people wearing pineapples for shoes and lettuce skirts and wonders what the heck. That’s how reading about Caraval felt to me. I was the person looking at the people in the cheese dresses wondering why on Earth anyone would do that. Caraval had that same feel. A feeling of suspended reality, if only for a few days. The biggest difference is the suspension of reality in the book is real, separate from the rest of the world. GisHwheS co-exists with the real world.

I didn’t feel like the romance with Julian was exactly necessary, but I do understand it’s purpose. The idea of choice, which is so huge in the story. This book is just a giant story about choosing what is right for you, taking a leap, running outside your comfort zone.

I would most definitely recommend this book widely. Although there are fantastical elements, and magic does play a large part of the book, it is so rich with metaphor and symbolism. I am going to re-read it before I read the sequel when it comes out next year, I know have my first got to read book of 2018.

Garber has created an amazing world with Caraval, and I anxiously await the second book of this series.

Have you read Caraval? Were you dazzled by the world?

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: The Impossible Knife Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Details

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Published:  January 7th, 2014
Genres:  YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
My Rating: 4.75 Stars

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GoodReads Blurb

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain 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.

My Review

Laurie Halse Anderson’s books hold a special place in my reader’s heart. Her books always touch on difficult issues that aren’t discussed fully, in my opinion, in the YA community, yet are issues that teens and young adults face. Most of us know of or have read Speak, Anderson’s amazing book about a young girl dealing with the aftermath rape. Speak is top 10 best books I’ve ever read. Anderson also tackled eating disorders in Wintergirls. I found that book heartbreaking and brilliant. The Impossible Knife Memory discusses PTSD, and mental health issues is a way only Laurie Halse Anderson can deliver.

Hayley’s voice throughout the story stuck with me. She has a pessimism about life, that feels so real. She’s snarky. And everything about her worldview makes sense as we are introduced to her father, a man who is a war vet suffering from PTDS.

To be honest, I don’t know much about PTDS, I do know that Laurie Halse Anderson does research that anyone who does research should be envious of. I have been following her blog for a long time, and while she was writing this book as well as Wintergirls, she shared some of her research and discussed her ways of learning and understanding the issues that she was writing about.

Hayley’s snark and voice hides deep issues that she is struggling with while trying to deal with her father and what he’s living through. Hayley trying to fix everything and everyone while not dealing with herself is, just, so relatable.

This book is wonderful, I could never praise Laurie Halse Anderson enough. This book is another excellent example proving that Anderson is one of this generation’s best and most powerful writers.

Have you read this book? Have you read Laure Halse Anderson’s other books? What did you think?

 

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Details

Publisher:  Harper for Teens
Published:  September 6, 2011
Genres:  YA, contemporary, Romance, Realistic fiction
My Rating: 4.25 Starts

 

10429005GoodRead Blurb

Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy.

Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss—a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.

 

My Review

This book was not as depressing as I thought it was going to be when I started reading it, don’t get me wrong, it’s sad, but I was expecting it to be sadder. In the first couple chapters, the destruction of Laurel’s life takes place, her whole family dies in a car accident in what could be a drunk driving accident but no one is really sure what happened. Laurel goes through what I found to be a very authentic grieving process. She does things that don’t make much sense, she fosters some kittens, she pushes all of her friends away, she tries to not be the girl with the dead family, but in her small town, she was never going to be able to escape that. This book follows Laurel for about a year, the beginning of this new part of her life where everything is different, and she had to relearn her whole life.

I’ve talked a little bit about survivor’s guilt and how it’s this terrible thing that makes you do the weirdest stuff, things that you would never do in a time before this huge event happened. You’re trying to elevate this pain that you feel because you feel such terrible guilt about what happened even though it was in no way your fault. Laurel’s whole character is created in a way that I understood and related to. Her journey through this grief is well thought out and feels real.

I loved the difference between how Laurel and David, who also lost part of his family, deal with the loss. Laurel is trying so hard to pretend everything is normal, and David knows it’s not and it never will be.

Laurel wanting to not be the girl with the dead family, wanting to spend more time at her job where no one knows her, is incredibly relatable. The whole story hit home with me on multiple levels.

There is an underlying sub-plot of romance, which I don’t really think is completely necessary but didn’t take away from the overall story. I think that part of the story feel right at the point where it comes into the story.

I think this book is a good one if you are looking for something a little bit deeper but is still a fairly quick read. This book is very character driven– the plot revolves very tightly around what is happening emotionally to Laurel. I enjoyed that because of the process that Laurel goes through to deal with her grief.

Have you read this book? Or know a book that is like it to recommend? I’d love to hear about!

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday- Summer reads

Top 5 Wednesday is currently being hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to learn more about the group or are considering joining in, check out the Goodreads group. Each week has a different topic, and you just post five books that fit that topic.

This week’s topic is a look ahead to the not so distant future to the summer and our favorite summertime reads. I’m not the biggest believer that books have a certain season that they should be read, but I do tend to read more in the summer, and I do tend to read shorter quick reads. So without further ado.

1. Every single book by Sarah Dessen.

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A few summers ago, I think it was almost 7 years ago now, I read all of Dessen’s books up to Along for the Ride which was the most recent release at the time. Most of her books are fun summer romances, some of them take place during the school year, but most are about summer and the beach and love. Thankfully, there is a new one, Once and For All due out next month! I am excited.

 

 

2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

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This is a book is about a girl, Ginny, who’s dead aunt sends her on a mysterious summer adventure/vacation. There’s some love, and a lot of adventure. It’s a fun summer read. I loved it, the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope is also fantastic. All of Maureen’s books are fantastic but I think 13LBE is the most summer.

 

 

3. Ally Carter’s Heist Society series.

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The way I sell this book to my friends is: it’s the TV show Leverage but with teenagers. Right now there are 3 of them, and they are quick reads. There are art heists and mystery and characters in shades of gray. You end up rooting for people who should technically be the bad guys. These books are great one sitting books that I just love. Perfect for sitting under a tree in a park or under an umbrella at the beach.

 

 

4. All Three of Carrie Fisher’s memoirs

I listened to the audiobooks of these three books, but I think they would be great physically reads. Carrie Fisher was such a gifted writer and just so funny. The books are quick reads to read during a day trip to a lake or whatever. Very entertaining and beautiful books.

5. The Peaches Trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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These books are very similar to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They are about a group of friends in Georgia near a peach farm that is a big part of the town’s economy. There is love and pushing the boundaries of friendship as they girls come of age and start to see their town a little bit differently.

 

 

 

Those are my choices for summer reads. I’m excited to hear everyone else’s and add some more to the list as summer inches closer.

Have you read these? What did you think? Anything to add to you list?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review- Unspoekn by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Details

Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers
Published:  September 11, 2012
Genres:  YA, fantasy, paranormal
My Rating: 3.75 Stars

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GoodReads Blurb

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met… a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

My Review

So, fun story about me. I have a terrible habit of calling famous people I follow on Twitter and Facebook “my friend.” In no person am I guiltier of doing this than Jared Padalecki from Supernatural. In the last few years I have said “My Friend Jared” and then talked about the Always Keep Fighting Campain as if a person I actually know was involved in it. I’ve been called out many a time. One memorable one being my mother saying to me “You don’t know anyone named Jared.” Although one time he did like a comment I made on a Facebook Live he did and therefore we are friends and I will fight you.

So I feel a weird connection to Kami. I  have never talked to other people in my head or heard other people’s thoughts, but still. I felt an understanding with Kami.

There were parts of this book that I felt didn’t exactly make sense. I felt that Holly and Angela accepted Kami’s explanation that flesh and blood Jared standing in front of them is the same Jared that Kami’s been talking to in her head too easily. I also felt the romances were a little forced. But overall I enjoyed this novel.

There’s a lot going on in this book, murder, magic, mystery, people that can read one other person’s mind, animal sacrifice, breaking and entering. And for the most part, it’s laid out pretty straightforwardly. I feel like some of the dialogue is wonky, but I think it may be a “language barrier” between American English and British English. There are parts of Harry Potter dialogue that still make no sense to me.

This is a good modern Gothic novel, which after reading some Victorian Gothic novels, I enjoyed seeing how those themes aged through time. I liked those elements that I’ve seen in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in a brand new story. Even my least favorite element, Cousin Marriage, survived. Stop marrying your first cousins. I have seen so much cousin marriage in media the last few months it’s getting a little weird. Everywhere I look COUSIN MARRIAGE.

I like the mystery, the who and why. I think it’ll be an interesting series as I continue reading it. I think there is a lot to explore. The history of the town and Lynburns is going to be interesting as it continues to unfold. I recommend this novel to people looking for something a little creepy and odd. It was a fun quick read.

Have you read any of The Lynburn Legacy? What did you think?

Until next time Internet

 

Deanna