Thursday, August 25, 2016

More Double Reviews: Sabriel & The Song Of Achilles

I originally was not going to re-review Sabriel, which I have already read and reviewed two years ago. But then I was like, "Wait, I need this to level up my Pokemon because why not." Also I can do two reviews in one post, how about that.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Old Kingdom #1
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: September 1st, 2014
Source: The Book Depository
Date Read: 8/14/16 to 8/17/16
396 pages
Rating: 


Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen series, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

Like two years ago, I was again, blown away by Sabriel. So much so that I keep wondering why I haven't finished the series yet. With Goldenhand coming out in October, I'm determined to get through Lirael (again), and then Abhorsen (the one I actually haven't read, oops).

There's something magical about rereading. Whether it's knowing and anticipating what will happen, or simply seeing the characters again, either way I don't do it often, and I regret not having the time to. I was brought back to the world of the Abhorsen, one who, unlike a necromancer, makes sure the dead stay dead. I was reintroduced to Mogget, my favorite (and I will assume the original) non-cat. And the romance between Touchstone and Sabriel, which I do have to admit, happened a little out of nowhere. If I were to recreate it, it would be something like "And he truly noticed her as a woman rather than the Abhorsen", and then BAM they both like each other.

Still, this book holds a place in my heart. And I'm glad I got to reread it for this readathon.


The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Source: Amazon
Date Read: 8/17/16 to 8/21/16
369 pages
Rating: 

The legend begins...

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.


This book. THIS BOOK. I've been wanting to read it for ages, and now that I have read it, I am broken.

This is one of those books where it hurts to read because you know what's going to come next, thanks to well, history. It's obvious from the synopsis that this is a story about Patroclus and Achilles, and the Trojan War. I've watched the movie, learned about it in history classes, yet still I was completely unprepared for how not okay I would feel.

It's pretty heartbreaking to see your favorite characters grow up, knowing that there is some fate in store for them. If you're an avid fan of Greek history and mythology, then definitely add this to your TBR. Because it was everything I wanted and more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #89

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven't Read Yet

I'm sure there's a lot. But this will be slightly tricky for me because I have moved, leaving some books behind in boxes back at my parents' home. Also, before I started blogging, I was in this mindset where I thought I had to read adult books because I was growing up (I was like 15 haha).

Actually now that I've thought about it, I read many books right after I bought or borrowed them. I was so responsible as a youngin' back then! I really can't think of any books I bought and didn't read, except for the first two on this list!



I received 11/22/63 for Christmas because it features time travel, and I love time travel. It's also 800+ pages long. Which is slightly daunting. And one of the reasons why I haven't read it yet.

I cheated a bit, because I did end up reading half of Inkdeath, the last book in the Inkheart series. But I don't remember any of it. And I do really want to get back into it because the first book was one of my absolute favorites. So much that I reread it many, many times.

For some reason 1Q84 was the first book ever added on my Goodreads back in 2012. I have never read 1984. I was just obsessed with Haruki Murakami in theory. (I say in theory because I have only ever read one book by him, then declared my love because I felt that I didn't have many authors I loved.)

I actually added Between Shades of Gray before I knew I had an obsession with WWII. I now have a copy of the book, though I have yet to read it whoops.

Also added If I Stay back in 2012. Not sure why. Mainly because it was super popular and all over Goodreads, so I was like why not. I'm not sure if I would want to read it now.

Ah, Life After Life was added because I wanted to feel like an adult at the tender age of 16. Again, I thought I had to read adult books because I was growing up. Little did I know that this wasn't true at all.

I did borrow A Discovery of Witches from the library, but never got to it. Is it actually any good? Used to hear all about it back when I only looked at the avg. Goodreads rating.

I'm not sure if I added The Rosie Project before I started blogging, but it's been on my Goodreads TBR for awhile. It's another one of those books where I thought I could only read adult books as an adult.

And same with Cloud Atlas! I mean I'm sure the book is good and all, but meh. It would take me awhile.  And I'm not in the mood.

I also felt like I needed to read more classics in my life, so The Picture of Dorian Gray is also on the list.

Where you as responsible as me? I mean I'm not anymore but I have money now, so that plays a role in buying and not reading whoops.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Spontaneous

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Release Date: August 23rd, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 8/18/16 to 8/19/16
368 pages
Rating: 


“Katelyn Ogden was a lot of things, but she wasn’t particularly explosive, in any sense of the word.”

Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons.

Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it with tell-it-like-it-is insight as she tries to make it to graduation in one piece through an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard the President of the United States use over Skype.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Real conversation featuring me (as myself) and my best friend via Skype.

Me: So I'm reading this book about students spontaneously combusting--
Best Friend: Spontaneously what?
Me: Combusting.
Best Friend: ...why????????
Me: I don't know that's why I'm reading it to FIND OUT.

Later.

Best Friend: Can you read me the first sentence?
Me: "When Katelyn Ogden blew up in third period pre-calc, the janitor probably figured he'd only have to scrub the guts off one whiteboard this year."
Best Friend: That was better than I expected, more so actually.
...
Best Friend: Can you read me the entire paragraph?

As you can see, who doesn't want to read a book about spontaneously combusting students? When I first heard about it, I was quite intrigued, confused, and overall thought the book itself was a joke. To my surprise, Spontaneous delivered. Tremendously.

It's the last year of high school, and the last thing Mara is expecting is for students to suddenly start exploding, one by one. First it was seen by chance, never to happen again. But then, as more and more Covington High seniors start exploding, it's seen as a virus. Or a government conspiracy. Either way, the students are seen as contagious, dangerous, and a threat to the rest of the world.

Yet even so, Mara finds romance in this time of chaos. And although I found the relationship between Mara and Dylan a little too quick for my liking, it didn't necessarily bother me. Mostly because the focus of the story stayed on the plot. The spontaneously combusting students.

What really made this book stand out though was how it was more than just the explosions. It wasn't just about the problem, but also about friends, family, how an entire class of students got together, reestablished their classes, and tried to regain some sort of normalcy in their lives. Because as fun and hilarious as spontaneously combusting sounds, this novel says otherwise. Mara, and the other students, go through phases of being determined, indifferent, desperate, because to find out you can die at any moment is very frightening.

With that in mind, I do want to point out that this book has a lot of dark humor. Contrary to my expectations, this wasn't a light-hearted read.

Then there was also the ending, which although meaningful, was a little disappointing to me. I don't think there's much else I can say without spoiling, but I did want more.

If you happen to see Spontaneous around, I definitely urge you to check it out. It might not be a book for everyone, but it's not every day you find a book about exploding students.   

Friday, August 19, 2016

Reviews That Never Happened


It appears that I've been reading a lot of books that I don't necessarily have to review. It's kind of freeing to not have that type of responsibility, but then I realize, I still have thoughts! So presenting, "The reviews that were never meant to be", or more concisely, the "reviews that never happened".

    


The Memory Book by Lara Avery
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Source: Amazon
Date Read: 7/22/16 to 7/26/16
357 pages
Rating: 


They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie's notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

I heard from Shannon about this book, and even without her rave review, I think I would have still bought it. You know why? Well let's just say I am a huge sucker for the..uh.."memory loss trope".

The plot is self-explanatory based on the title. Sammie is suffering from a disease that affects her cognitive abilities, and in turn, her memories. But she thinks she can overcome it, and so she keeps with her a diary, like a memory book. One that she can read when she's having trouble remembering. And Sammie is amazingly smart, a writer, a debater, ready to go to NYU, and overall, her own person. But that doesn't stop such a debilitating disease *sobs*.

I'm not sure if you have heard of Still Alice, but this is the adult version of The Memory Book, only with Alzheimer's. It's no surprise that I absolutely loved The Memory Book, seeing as Still Alice is one of my all time favorite novels.

     

The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: October 18th, 2010
Source: Kindle (Thanks Shannon!)
Date Read: 7/22/16 to 7/26/16
497 pages
Rating: 

Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee - whose thoughts Todd can hear, too, whether he wants to or not - stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden - a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
HAHAH I stayed up until 2am to finish this. I couldn't put it down. Who knew that a society of mind readers could be twisted into such an engaging and action-packed story?

I'm not even sure how to sum this up? At first, I was completely misled (on my own accord) as to what this would truly be about. I don't even KNOW what I expected. Not a dog that's for sure. Not the "noise" from the minds of men. Not the lack of women. Not an adventure from start to finish. And for sure not aliens? That was the furthest from what I expected haha.

There are two points in this novel that I felt shocked and 100% emotional. I'm sure you'll know which points these are if you read this.

     

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner's Trilogy #2
Publisher: Farrar Strauss Giroux
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Source: Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag (Thanks Jordin!!)
Date Read: 7/9/16 to 7/10/16
416 pages
Rating: 

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
I'm a little sad about The Winner's Crime because I so very much liked the first book, but honestly I just couldn't get into this one. This seemed way more political, with both characters meeting in secret, but then having huge misunderstandings, etc. I just felt a little bit bored.

Though I have to say, I'm going to keep reading the series. I do have one book left after all haha. I'm just sad that this didn't live up to The Winner's Curse. But I have faith because others have mentioned that this was their least favorite out of all three!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Do We Favor Attractive Characters?


I originally was going to include this discussion (more like my neverending questions) in my review of Metaltown, but I don't plan on publishing that review until September. But if you do read my review at that time, you'll see what sparked this!

Recently, I've discovered how rare unattractive main characters, mainly girls really, are in YA novels. It's come to the point where I've noticed myself imagining characters as extremely attractive, beautiful, gorgeous, etc., especially when no description is provided.

Just a couple of days ago, I caught myself not liking one of the characters because of what happened to her face, caused by an accident. (More specifically, my first thoughts for her were "Not her face!")

And now that I'm conscious of this fact, I'm wondering why I thought that way. Is it because I just expect attractive characters in all books, because they pretty much are already? Is it because media is filled with attractive girls (and attractive everyone in general)? And as much as YA now is more representative to LGBTQIA+ and other types of diversity, does it ever touch upon beauty standards?

Maybe it's because I've been reading way too many fantasy novels. Everyone seems to be gorgeous in those haha.

But honestly, has anyone else noticed this? Can you remember any main characters, protagonists, or I guess any character really, that wasn't described as physically attractive? If you did, did you end up liking them?

I've found myself subconsciously imagining the characters to be pretty good looking, and I'm not sure what to think of it. Though I really think this stemmed from the fact that everywhere I look, I'm met with high standards of what society deems as "beauty". And as much as I don't care for it, it's definitely affecting how I think (and visualize). Yet, constant reminders of beauty in novels don't cut it for me. I recently DNFed The Thousandth Floor for this very reason. Two out of the five POVs were of genetically enhanced, drop dead gorgeous girls. So the bottom line is, I don't necessarily always favor the beautiful. But if I were to be truthful, I think looks play a part in whether I like a character or not.

Or at least initially. Turns out, after reading Metaltown, I very much favored the character from above over everyone else :)

How about you? How do you feel about attractive characters?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #88

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books Set In Space


I won't be surprised if many others choose the same setting ahahah. I was going to go with historical fiction, specifically set during a war, but I feel like I've done that way too many times. So I'm going to change it up, by doing an equally easy topic. 

Hitchhikers and Ender's Game have been published for a long while now. I kind of consider them as classics now.

Then of course there is the Starbound series, with These Broken Stars and This Shattered World. I haven't read Their Fractured Light yet but I'll get to it one day. I just love that each book features new characters, but keep the old ones in the background.

And if we keep with series, there is the Lunar Chronicles, though the first two books don't feature that much space. Cress kind of does, so onto the list it goes.

Oh and there is also Red Rising, which is one of my favorite series as well! It's mainly featured on Mars, if I remember correctly.

You know what else fits on this list? The Little Prince of course! Anyone see the movie on Netflix yet? Because it is beyond cute and it made me cry a little bit. It's more of a movie that uses the story of The Little Prince in the background, while creating a new story that goes along with it. It's still perfection.

Looking to comic books instead? Saga also has a space setting, and has so many unique aliens. I love it. I need the latest volume now.


The only 2016 release I've read that is set in space is Beyond The Red. Maybe it's not set directly in space, but it does take place in a Mars like world (Maybe it is Mars? I honestly don't remember)

And lastly, I would never forget Illuminae. Out of all of these books, I think this is the one that truly and exclusively takes place in space. On a ship. WITH DEATH EVERYWHERE. I've excited to get to Gemina soon.

So space. Do you like books featuring space or other planets? Aliens?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: Furthermore

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 3/24/16 to 3/28/16
416 pages
Rating: 


There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

So I actually ended up enjoying Furthermore much more than Shatter Me, which just shows how different the two are from each other. Besides being marketed as Middle Grade, Furthermore

We're introduced to Alice, who so badly wants to go on a quest, away from Ferenwood. She's so self-conscious of the fact that she isn't comprised of color, while everything else in Ferenwood does. Just imagine, everyone is bursting with color from their hair to their eyes. Alice on the other hand sticks out like a sore thumb, with her colorless, clear milky hair. To add on to that, Alice's father has mysteriously disappeared. In order to save him, she plans on winning over the judges with her one special talent, one every child in Ferenwood is born with.

But of course, things go wrong. Alice is stuck with a boy she doesn't want around. And even better, she discovers that her father is stuck in this god awful place, one where logic is basically nonexistent. Now here's where things get interesting. Furthermore is without any sort of order, meaning any strange thing can occur really. This reminded me of the The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which is why I think I liked this book so much. But just to give you a taste, there are rules such as having to carry your own ruler in order to measure the time you have in Furthermore. You also can't steal time, which is why you are assigned only a specific amount. Once your ruler runs out of time, you have illegally trespassed into Furthermore. There's more but I rather you discover the strangeness on your own.

Yet even with being enamoured with both Furthermore and Ferenwood, and of course with Alice and Oliver, I didn't end up rating it 5 stars. For one, I found it "interesting" that the author broke the fourth wall a lot. I mean I didn't mind it, but then again I wasn't such a huge fan of it either. To me if just felt a little out of place I suppose.

I also felt misinformed about what was happening multiple times. For example, I was completely under the impression that Alice's ability was that she could tell the truth as long as she didn't lie once. And I wasn't sure when that was still in effect, because Oliver was definitely telling a lot of lies. And at times she accepted them, even though she should have seen through them. Did I miss the lie she made at one point? Or was that just describing a moment in her past? I felt deceived when I discovered what her real talent was, the one she was actually born with.

Lastly, I found the ending to be incredibly convenient. Though now that I think about it, this is Middle Grade. Plus this didn't bother me that much.

Furthermore ended up being a very fun, unique read for me, even though I don't usually read Middle Grade. Plus just look at that cover. It is absolutely gorgeous.