1/28/12

The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green
Pages: 318
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind. 




This book was extremely difficult for me to review; and no,  it's not because I'm a fan of John Green and his writing. There was so much emotion packed into this book, and the writing makes it hit you so deeply... let's just say the top of my pillowcase was soaked through by the time I'd turned the last page. To say this book was a tear-jerker would be an understatement. Hazel and Augustus are the kinds of characters that'll stay with me for a long, long time.
 I know my reviews are usually a lot more organized (and probably make more sense than this), but this boko affected me in a way that rendered me unable to form coherent thoughts about it. All I can say is please do yourselves a favour and pick up a copy of The Fault in Our Stars (and some tissues while you're at it).

1/22/12

Foolish Games

Author: Leah Spiegel
Pages: 442
Publisher: Createspace
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Falling in love was the last thing Joie had on her mind when she was thrown into the marketing scandal intended to boost the Grimm Brothers Band's declining sales. Joie thought she knew the players of the game; she was the writer, J.T. Hawkins was the famous rock star, and Lizzie was her beautiful cover to the world. That was until a psychopathic stalker, who seemed to be three steps ahead of everyone else and calling all the shots, upped the stakes. In a situation where many different kinds of games were being played, Joie had to figure out if or who was bluffing because her life. . . and her heart, might very well depend on it.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: The last place Joie wanted to be was stuck in an elevator with the Grimm Brother's Band... but she couldn't just let Lizzie follow them back to their hotel alone, could she?

Soon Joie and Lizzie are forced to be part of a huge scandal to bring up the popularity of the failing band, but things start to go bad when a creepy stalker begins harassing them...

My ThoughtsThis book was so awesome! It was extremely refreshing and the writing was original and interesting. My personal favourite characters were Joie and Hawkins - I loved the chemistry between them!

When I first read the summary for this novel, I thought it'd be just another light romance... After reading it though, I realize how wrong my original expectations were. This book was anything but 'light' - the characters and the romance were complex, relatable, and interesting. Joie was someone I think every girl can relate to, and that fact alone helped me connect with the story more deeply. The supporting characters were also very realistic (we all have a Lizzie , I think!).

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this book to anyone who's looking for something new and refreshing, and to anyone who enjoys a (realistic) romance. Check it out - you'll be glad you did.

1/21/12

Nevermore

Author: Kelly Creagh
Pages: 543
Publisher: Atheneum
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars



Summary (from Goodreads)Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look. 

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares. 

His life depends on it.
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My Summary: From the moment Isobel is told she'll be working with Varen for an English assignment, she knows her life is never going to be the same. First off, goths and cheerleaders don't mix. Second, he already hates her guts. And third? They're going to be doing their entire project on some dead guy's creepy poetry. Things could not get much worse for Isobel.

But when things start to happen and Isobel realizes there's more to Varen than just the eyeliner and the chains, their project takes on a life of its own...

What happens when you can't awaken from your own nightmares? 

My Thoughts: I pride myself on being a well-versed, well-read person with a great vocabulary. Really, I do. But when I finished Nevermore at around 6 am last night (after starting at around 11 pm) the only word I could think of to describe what I'd just read was OMG!!!! (I know it's not even a word, guys. Also, it wasn't even an adjective. I am aware.).

I adored everything about this book. The author's use of imagery was amazing; you could vividly imagine each and every scene, and the eerie atmosphere of the entire thing was reminiscent of one of Poe's poems. I loved loved LOVED the inclusion of Poe's works into this novel - it added so much depth to the story, and rekindled my love of all things Poe (if for some strange reason you have made it this far in life and haven't read any of Poe's work, this novel will definitely make you want to). And you know what else? There was no insta-love! (Thank you, Ms. Creagh. Thank you so much for not ruining a great story with that. I happen to loathe the YA habit of 'OMG our eyes locked and we were in love after only three hours it was meant to be!' with the fiery passion of one thousand imploding suns. And you can quote me on that, guys). I adored Varen and all his complexity, and even Isobel started to grow on me after a while (after standing up to those jerks who called themselves her friends). With this long of a book (around 550 pages) you usually find yourself wishing the story would hurry up and conclude, but with Nevermore I found myself dreading the last 100 pages because it meant the book would be ending soon. And the ending! It broke my heart, so, so bad. I put the book down and raced to the computer to find out when the sequel, Enshadowed, would be coming out, and my heart (or what was left of it) sank when I found out I had to wait until AUGUST (8 months!) to find out what happens next. Oh well. It's going to be worth it.

Final Thoughts: If you haven't already picked up Nevermore, get yourself to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy ASAP! I recommend it to anyone who loves paranormal YA, romance, and anything by Edgar Allan Poe - especially if you're looking for an original, fresh story. It's definitely one of my favourites so far this year.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 236
Publisher: Poppy
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
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My Summary: The last thing Hadley ever wanted was to be forced to attend her father's wedding. Angry and bitter, it seems like a sign from above when she misses her flight to London by a measly four minutes. Forced to wait in the airport for the next flight, she befriends a cute guy who, like her, is traveling alone to London for a family event. She doesn't expect to see him after their plane lands in London, and she really doesn't expect to fall for him...

It's amazing how drastically things can change over the course of a day.

My Thoughts: This novel was light and sweet.  At just over 200 pages long, it was easy to read in one sitting. The writing was really well done, and the plot had just enough twists to keep you wanting more. The chemistry between the main characters was evident, and I liked that though both had been scarred by family issues, they were able to find solace in each other. My personal favourite character was Oliver  - he was complex and intelligent and incredibly sweet (and who wouldn't love a cute British guy who offered to help you with your luggage?).

I also really enjoyed the author's use of flashbacks to give us information about Hadley's past. It's a difficult thing to pull off - trust me - and she managed it wonderfully. 

Final Thoughts: If you're looking for something short and sweet, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is the novel for you. I recommend it for fans of cute contemporary lit and lighter YA romance.

1/19/12

Follow Friday!

What's the craziest thing you'v ever done to get your hands on any particular book?


Hmmm... Nothing THAT crazy... (yet). I think the craziest thing I ever did was convince my uncle to drive me to Chapters around 10 minutes before they closed on a school night. I ran in with less than 4 minutes to spare, sprinted to the YA section, grabbed a copy of The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong and bolted to the cash register. The cashier just gave me a look and said, "you're the fourth one today who's done that!" Anyways, it was totally worth it :P The next craziest thing would probably be going to New York to spend a day at The Strand, but it's technically just a vacation so... yeah :P How about you guys? Any crazy stories?

1/17/12

Sleepwalker

Author: Karen Robards
Pages: 384
Publisher: Gallery
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)It’s not that Micayla Lange is afraid of the clinking she hears coming from the first floor of the empty McMansion she’s housesitting for her uncle Nicco. She’s a cop, after all. It’s just that finding out her boyfriend was cheating on her was enough drama for one night. Now she’s alone on New Year’s Eve, wearing flannel pajamas and wielding a Glock 22 as she zeroes in on the unmistakable source of the sound: Uncle Nicco’s private office. 

Jason Davis steals things for a living, so unexpected developments are a natural part of the job. Getting caught red-handed by a hot, pigtail-sporting police officer in what is supposed to be a gangster’s deserted house is just one more twist in the game. Kind of like finding incriminating photos in Nicco Marino’s safe, only to discover the cop—and the security cameras—have gotten a real good look at his face. 

Unfortunately for Mick, she also got a good look at the damned pictures. Her “uncle” might love her like family, but if he knows she’s seen evidence that implicates him in the murder of a city councilman, she doesn’t like her chances. Which is why she’s having a hard time reconciling her professional instincts with what she is rapidly concluding is an inescapable fact: She’s about to help a criminal get away with a suitcase full of stolen money. And she’s going with him. 

Mick and Jason’s race for their lives hurtles them through the dangerous Michigan wilderness on speedboat and snowmobile. As their adventure heats up and their enemies close in, Mick is torn between her duty to the force and the combustible passion engulfing her and her unlikely partner in crime. She’ll have to turn Jason in sooner or later…if they survive. But will they ever get a second chance at love?
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an  honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Mick's New Years Eve is nothing glamourous: she's staying at her Uncle Nicco's mansion, guarding it from intruders like the good cop she is. But when she's woken in the middle of the night by some ominous noises coming from the ground floor, she has no choice to investigate. So what if it's a thief? Mick's a hard-as-nails cop, and she's got her gun in case things go bad...

And go bad they do. Soon Mick finds herself roped into the thief's plans, forced to put her life  in his hands as they run for their lives. Mick's convinced she knows exactly what to do, but when things go from bad to worse, she has no choice but to cross over to the 'dark side' in order to stay alive. 

Who knew cops and robbers could mix? 

My Thoughts: Karen Robard's Sleepwalker had everything I like in a thriller: some kick-ass main characters, relentless badies, and non-stop action... not to mention the suspense that keeps you hooked from start to finish. The chemistry between the two main characters was great too - it wasn't overdone, and it had that 'forbidden fruit' element that makes you want them to get together even more. I loved the banter between them as well - it was natural and didn't feel forced.

And of course, the plot kept you on the edge of your seat for the entire novel! Robards definitely knows how to weave a good story.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this one for anyone who enjoys a steamy romance or an action-packed thriller. Check out the author's website for more info on Sleepwalker and other novels: http://www.karenrobards.com/books/sleepwalker.asp

1/12/12

Follow Friday!

It's Friday again! This week's question: 


What are some of your favourite bands & singers?


Answering this question correction would take at least a few thousand words and a few diagrams, so I'm just going to name a few of my faves: Florence & the Machines, Adele, and Ellie Goulding. Check them out! :)


Happy Friday!

1/10/12

Fever

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pages: 368
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind. 

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness. 

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary. 

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

My Summary: After finally making it to the outside world, Rhine and Gabriel try to head for Rhine's old home. After climbing the wrong fence and getting captured by a cruel woman known only as Madame, the two are forced to participate in the activities going on inside the tents. 

But when all seemed lost, Rhine and Gabriel were able to escape. Now with nowhere to go, Rhine and Gabriel must find their way to Manhatten - and to safety - before Vaughn can track them down again.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this installment of the Chemical Garden trilogy! I read it all in one sitting - I couldn't put it down without finding out how it ended.  

In this installment we get a glimpse of the world Rhine remembers - one where you can't leave the house without looking over your shoulder, and where nobody has much of anything. Here we see Rhine and Gabriel's relationship flourish as they rely on each other not just for comfort but for survival. We also learn a few things about Jenna as Gabriel and Rhine race back to Manhattan to find Rowan, and we see just how far Housemaster Vaughn will go to get Rhine back. Personally, I enjoyed Fever more than Wither (probably because of the action), but both are amazingly well-written. The atmosphere of these books is creepy and gritty and glamorous all at once... it's going to be difficult to wait for the third installment!

Final Thoughts: If you don't already have Fever or Wither on your reading list, I definitely recommend you put it on there! I really enjoyed it and I know you will as well.  

1/8/12

Lock and Key

Author: Sarah Dessen
Pages: 422
Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Ruby, where is your mother?
Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.
That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.
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My Summary: Ever since she can remember, it's been Ruby and her mom against the world. Until the day her mom doesn't return home, and Ruby's left to fend for herself. For a while it was fun, until things started going wrong and Ruby was picked up by child services and sent to live with her sister Cora and her husband. Cora and Jamie give Ruby everything she could ever want, but she can't shake the feeling that she'd be betraying her mom by suddenly forgiving Cora for abandoning them 10 years ago...
My Thoughts: This was my second Sarah Dessen novel, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the way Dessen wrote the dynamic characters and the growth experienced by Ruby, Nate, and even Cora - it wasn't too fast (like some miraculous transformation or something) and it wasn't too slow either. Dessen set a believable pace, and her characters felt genuine and easy to relate to. The characters were definitely my favourite part of the novel.
I liked the way the author approached the themes in this book as well - Dessen shows us that there are no perfect solutions, and that sometimes you just have to let people go. I found this really refreshing, because  there's nothing I hate more than reading a novel where there's a huge problem or conflict and the characters stress about it for 99% of the book, and when the time comes for a solution it's quick, painless, and lasts for less than 5 pages (you know what I mean, right?). I hate it when all the loose ends in a contemporary lit novel are tied into a nice little bow, because real life isn't like that; not everything is going to work out, and big problems don't go away with 'quick fixes'.
Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of Sarah Dessen's work, and also to anyone who likes edgier contemporary literature. There are some mature themes so its probably best to leave it to readers 16 and up, but other than that I think a lot of readers will enjoy this book!

1/6/12

Giveaway Winners!

First off, I'd like to say a HUGE thank-you to all my lovely followers who entered my 500 follower giveaway! You guys are all amazing and it's because of you that I can continue to have these fun giveaways (go you!). I'll be  having a bunch more giveaways soon, so check back soon! Without further ado, the winners are... *drumroll*

  • Gwenn W. - a copy of Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • Elizabeth H. - a copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Ashlyn W. - a copy of Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
  • Greta - a copy of Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • Rita L. - a copy of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
  • Christabelle C. - a copy of Stolen by Lucy Christopher
*Sends cyber-hugs to all her followers* Thank you all so much for entering! I'll be contacting the winners soon to get their mailing addresses - make sure to answer within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen to replace you! 

Happy reading, everyone! :)

1/5/12

Challenges!

It's that time of years again! You know what I mean guys... we all sign up for a bunch of different challenges that we give up on / forget about by mid February (don't deny it!). I did it last year, so I know what I'm talking about :P Anyway this year I've decided to go easy on the challenges. Here are the ones I'm entering:




I know there's only 2, but I figure it's best to aim low and succeed than to aim high and fail miserably (right?!). If you're interested in joining these as well (they're not overly complicated so I definitely recommend it), just click the icons and it'll lead you to the host site. 

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Author: Joe Schreiber
Pages: 192
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Format: Hardcover (ARC)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Perry Stormaire is a normal high school senior– he is busy applying to college and rehearsing with his band –until he agrees to go to the prom with the Lithuanian exchange student who is staying with his family. It turns out that Gobi Zaksauskas is not the mousy teenager that she seems but rather an attractive, confident trained assassin. Instead of going to the prom, Perry finds himself on a wild ride through the streets of New York City as Gobi commandeers the Jaguar his father lent him for the prom in order to take out her targets. Perry learns a lot about himself – and ends up with some amazing material for his college application essays.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Perry's life's dream has always been to be a lawyer like his father, and thanks to his father's control over his life, Perry's resume is worthy of being framed. Perry never struggled against his father's control over his life... until the day his mother and father forced him to skip his band's big gig and take the mousy foreign exchange student boarding with them to prom with him.

Perry's sure the night's going to be a total bust... until Gobi - the mousy, quiet, geeky girl he thought he knew - transforms into a beautiful assassin and starts shooting. Soon he's trapped in an all-night wild goose chase through New York city, doing things he never thought he'd do... but what happens when Gobi's job interferes with his loyalties to his family?

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! It was packed with enough action and danger to satisfy any action-lover, and once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. Perry is the sort of kid who just drifts through life, doing whatever he's told, and his night with Gobi changes everything he thought he knew. I loved the character development (of both Perry and Gobi). I also thought the format of each chapter was really cool (at the beginning of each chapter is a prompt from a college application. For example, 'describe a conversation that changed your life'). I thought it really tied the story together, and I loved the way it was incorporated at the end.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this book to anyone who loves action and adventure, and anyone who enjoys spy novels. This would also be a good novel for teen boys who are looking for something new to read, so check it out if you've been in a reading rut lately! 

1/4/12

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Pages: 452
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Summary (from Goodreads)Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.
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My Summary: Before, Mara lived a relatively normal life - she had a boyfriend, a best friend, and her art. After an accident she doesn't remember in which she loses her friends and her boyfriend, Mara and her family pack up and move to Florida so she can move on. But moving on, it seems, is impossible when your past is haunting you...
My Thoughts: This was a really entertaining, quick read for me. The main character, Mara, is as normal as it gets until the accident rips her life apart, and the way the author portrayed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made it seem really believable. The dialogue in the novel was really well done - I can vouch for teens everywhere when I say it was pretty close to the way we usually speak (unlike some novels, which totally, like, make it seem like everyone, like, says like a bunch of times...). 
The writing was really good, but there were a few cliche YA paranormal elements that took away from the story. I think this is one of those novels (like Hush, Hush) that you people either love or hate; it wasn't my personal favourite, but it was pretty entertaining. I'll probably be purchasing the sequel.
Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys YA paranormal romance and is looking to read something that's not about werewolves or vampires. I can't say I'd recommend it to teens under 16, but older teens will enjoy it.