12/30/14

The Rithmatist

Author: Brandon Sanderson 
Pages: 378 
Publisher: Tor 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles. As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. 

Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.



My Summary: Joel has had one dream for as long as he can remember: to be a Rithmatist - someone who has the power to bring chalk drawings to life and make them do his bidding. He's spent his life studying and learning everything there is to know about the world of the Rithmatists.  

But despite his expertise and vast knowledge, it's too late for Joel. All he can do now is watch the Rithmatist students train to protect the American Isles from creatures known as Wild Chalklings and wish he was one of them.

Until Rithmatist students begin disappearing from their bedrooms under suspicious circumstances. With the police baffled and all clues leading to dead ends, Joel and a kindly old professor are recruited to help figure out who is behind the attacks.  

My Thoughts: This was a thoroughly engaging novel that pulled me in right away and did not let up until I had turned the final page. Joel was a character I was instantly able to relate to, and one whom I sympathized with throughout the novel. Joel's passion for the world of the Rithmatists was infectious, and it was fun to watch his quest to study amongst them intersect with the mystery surrounding the disappearing students. 

The premise was incredibly intriguing; the idea of the chalk drawings coming to life had me wanting to read more from the second I read the summary. Needless to say, I'll be eyeing the chalkboard with a little more suspicion when school starts up again in a few weeks. 

Although it is listed under YA, I think this novel would be perfect for anyone looking for a quality middle-grade read. This was also one of the first novels that - upon finishing - I rushed to check when the sequel would be released because I couldn't wait to get back to the world of the Rithmatists. Unfortunately, fans of this series have a bit of a wait ahead - book two is set to be released in 2017. Fortunately though, Sanderson has a slew of other novels to keep me reading until then. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys steampunk, historical fiction, and fantasy novels.

12/29/14

A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness 
Pages: 205 
Publisher: Walker Books 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. 

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... 

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 

It wants the truth.





My Summary: Conor has been having the same nightmare for months - one that shocks him awake every night, shaking and covered in sweat. So when a monster appears outside his window, Conor reacts the way anyone who has been scared out of their wits would: he calmly converses with the creature, asking what it wants from him.

Because something else has been haunting Conor, and the monster outside his window is as cuddly as a puppy in comparison.... 

My Thoughts: I did not expect to enjoy this novel this much. Oh my goodness, it was AMAZING. 

Conor was a great character. My heart went out to him as he suffered through the monster's visits and the ordeal of his mother's illness. This is the first novel I've read by Patrick Ness, and I can tell I've been missing out. His writing was lyrical and flowed beautifully - I seriously can't believe I waited so long to experience his writing first-hand (I've heard great things and own a few of his books, but they got lost in my TBR pile). 

I really enjoyed the monster's stories. I think Patrick Ness should consider writing a collection of fairy tales like those the monster tells - I know I'd devour them gladly. The entire novel read like a dark, Grimm-brothers-style fairy tale, and I loved every minute. The atmosphere was perfectly composed and the simplicity of the novel made it hit you that much harder.

This review is not doing justice to this amazing novel, so I suggest you go out and pick up a copy so you can experience it yourself.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for a refreshing, unique read. 

12/21/14

On Dublin Street

Author: Samantha Young 
Pages: 414 
Publisher: CreateSpace 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare… 

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. 

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. 

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to the very soul.



My Summary: Jocelyn - Joss - Butler has seen her fair share of drama. Four years after she packed up and left America for Scotland, things are finally going the way she wants them.

Until her roommate moves away, and Joss is left to scramble to find a place to live. She finds what appears to be the perfect apartment - and the perfect roommate - on Dublin Street. But her new friend comes with an added complication: a handsome and infuriating brother that Jocelyn can't seem to get out of her head.

My Thoughts: This was the first novel of Samantha Young's that I've ever read, and it was a really enjoyable experience. Jocelyn's story was heartbreaking, and I couldn't help but root for her and Braden. The family dynamic between the Carmichaels was endearing and heartwarming, and I loved the way they pulled together when things got bad.

The story grabbed me from the first few pages and kept me interested from start to finish. 

The romance element was well done, and I definitely felt like the characters cared deeply about one another. I liked Ellie and Adam - I really hope they get their own installment in this series. 

I also really liked that we got to see Jocelyn's interactions with her therapist - I think it really helped the reader to understand where she was coming from and why she reacted the way she did, even if they were bad reactions that made her seem unlikable. Props to Samantha Young for giving us a great set of characters.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel (and this series) to anyone who enjoys new adult romance.

12/19/14

Texts from Jane Eyre

Author: Mallory Ortberg 
Pages: 240 
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.



I'm going to keep this short and sweet: this book was fifty shades of hilarious. I don't think I've laughed that loudly and obnoxiously while reading a book in years - and I'm talking ugly laughs that make people think there are dying cats nearby. And if you're someone who loves literature and laughing, then you should get yourself a copy of Texts from Jane Eyre as soon as humanly possible. 

Slammed

Author: Colleen Hoover 
Pages: 321 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Layken's father died suddenly, leaving her to gather every ounce of strength to be a pillar for her family, in order to prevent their world from falling apart. Now her life is taking another unexpected turn... 

Layken's mother gets a job which leads to an unwanted move across the country. However, a new home means new neighbours... and Layken's new neighbour is the very attractive Will Cooper. 

Will has an intriguing passion for slam poetry, and a matching passion for life. The two feel an irresistible attraction but are rocked to the core when a shocking revelation brings their romance to a screeching halt. Layken and Will must find a way to fight the forces that threaten to tear them apart...or learn to live without each other.



My Summary: Layken has not had an easy year. First her father died, and then her mother suddenly announced that they were moving to Michigan, leaving behind the house Layken grew up in. Still, she forced herself to be strong through it all and never complained, knowing how important it was to her mother and little brother to be able to move on.

But a chance encounter with a neighbour helps Layken to see that she might actually like Michigan - especially if it means getting to spend more time with Will Cooper....

My Thoughts: I'd been seeing so much buzz about this one all over my social media, so I knew I had to give it a try. Slammed was one of those incredibly addictive novels that you can't put down for more than a few minutes, even if it isn't perfect. Despite a few flaws I found Slammed to be an incredibly fun read, and I felt myself rooting for the characters the whole way through.

Will and Layken were endearing. I loved them together, even though I'm not usually a big fan of insta-love.  

The plot moved along smoothly and the writing was easy to follow. I also really enjoyed the poetry aspect of the novel - as a fan of slam poetry, it was refreshing to read a book where it was woven into the plot. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary YA and romance.

12/17/14

My True Love Gave to Me

Pages: 320 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.







This was a heartwarming read that I think anyone would enjoy - even those who have never read anything from the contributing authors before (which, let's be honest, you probably have). I tend to shy away from short stories because I feel like I don't get to know the characters as well as I'd like, but these stories never left me wanting more. Every one left me with a smile on my face and that cuddly feeling you get from watching tacky TV movies about the holidays. I loved every minute, and I think anyone who enjoys staying in and reading while it snows will find the perfect holiday companion in this anthology.


12/5/14

The Replacement

Author: Brenna Yovanoff 
Pages: 343 
Publisher: Razorbill 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world. 

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.



My Summary: Mackie is not your average teen. Sure, he goes to school and plays guitar and hangs out with friends, but Mackie spends every moment of every day making sure nobody guesses his secret: he's not human.

Now, struggling to survive, Mackie discovers where exactly he came from and what happened to the baby he replaced. The world of the Replacements is drawing him in, but Mackie wants nothing to do with them.

Until they threaten to take his sister, and he discovers that his friend's little sister may still be alive somewhere.... 

My Thoughts: This was a great read, although I wish I had read it around Halloween! 

Mackie was a very well-developed character. I loved that he was so easy to relate to - especially his feelings of not quite belonging anywhere. And Tate was such a badass character! I really liked the way she refused to give in and refused to give up on her sister.

The town of Gentry itself almost felt like a character. I really liked the way that we got to see the crossover between the "underground" and the normal side of town. I loved the creepy atmosphere of the book itself, as well as the haunting descriptions of "The House of Mayhem". 

Brenna Yovanoff's writing was - as usual - brilliant. The subtle way she weaved in the legends of the Changelings and the moral questions of sacrifice and what it means to be human added so many layers to the story and had me turning pages well into the night.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA and urban fantasy, 

12/2/14

40 Things I Want to Tell You

Author: Alice Kuipers 
Pages: 286 
Publisher: HarperTrophy 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Amy (a.k.a. Bird) seems to have the perfect life: loving parents, a hot boyfriend, the best friend ever. She even writes an online advice column, full of Top Tips, to help other teens take control of their lives. But after a new guy shows up at school, Bird can’t seem to follow her own wisdom. 

Pete is the consummate bad boy. He’s everything Bird is not: wild, unambitious and more than a little dangerous. Although she knows he’s trouble, Bird can’t stay away. And the more drawn she is to Pete, the more cracks are revealed in her relationship with Griffin, her doting boyfriend. Meanwhile, her parents’ marriage is also fracturing, possibly for good. 

Bird is way out of her comfort zone. All it takes is one mistake, one momentary loss of control, for her entire future to be blown away ....



My Summary: Amy Finch - known as Bird to her family and friends - has everything under control. 

She's a straight-A student, has a perfect boyfriend, perfect parents, and she knows how to take control of her life. Amy knows how to fix things, and she loves it: she runs a website where teens can go to get tips about how to take control of tricky situations.

But Amy feels herself losing control, and even though she keeps giving out advice on how to take control, she can't seem to follow any of it. How is this self-professed control-freak going to be able to fix everything after what she's done? 

My Thoughts: I was enchanted by the cover. I saw it a few years ago and knew I had to get my hands on a copy eventually. Luckily, my local bookstore was having a bit of a sale and I snagged one of the last ones. 

Kuiper's writing was absolutely captivating. I remember reading Life on the Refrigerator Door all in one sitting and crying my eyes out, so I expected nothing less from 40 Things. Bird was a very well-written character - I felt her stress and the way that everything began to overwhelm her. She made a few bad decisions but you could really understand what led her to make them, so it wasn't as frustrating as you would think. 

I loved the advice column element, and the way that Amy opened up to her readers.

One thing that I feel like I need to clarify is the genre: this book is not a romance novel, although the description on the back may lead you to think so. This is a novel about finding the courage to do what's good for you when there are people all around you trying to force you to follow the path they chose for you. 

This was not a very happy book, but one that wraps itself around your heart and doesn't let go.   

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary lit as well as realistic fiction.