Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review–Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

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Jellicoe Road
 
by Melina Marchetta

Summary: I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the best-selling, multi-award-winning author of
Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

I wanted to love this book. I was so sure I would. I remember epicreads posting quotes and pictures on Instagram and I immediately bought the book. So what happened?

The book began in a very confusing way. There was no introduction to the character. It went from a italicized prologue to a 22 years later heading and then straight into the narration of Taylor Markham. Her voice was not different from the italicized sections, so at first I thought my Kindle bugged out and I wasn’t reading the beginning because I was so confused. Who is narrating? Is this not the same person? Where are we? What is happening? What war? WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?! Why am I supposed to care? What is important? WTF?!

I felt like that for about 30% of the book, which is quite a large section to be confused and irritated. I knew from other reviews that the book would pick up soon and make sense, but I promised myself I would not rate it 5 stars even if I loved it because I wouldn’t forget how irritated the beginning was. Yes, now that I’m done it makes sense. Yes, it was a good story. Yes, I even cried. But the execution of Jellicoe Road was horrible and it’s not okay. I don’t forgive the author for the beginning. It should have done what beginnings of stories are supposed to do and explain, build, and draw me in. Not confuse the hell out of everyone. It’s not brilliant that it all “comes to together in the end” and makes sense. It’s crap.

I loved the actual plot. I eventually enjoyed Taylor’s narration, even if I never quite connected with her. I still don’t feel like I knew her at all, but at least the pieces of her life were put together. I loved the end result of Jellicoe Road. It could have been an unforgettable and amazing story. I cannot say whether anyone was believable because I felt so disconnected from everyone. I was so confused for so long. I was angry at Taylor for being dull and not giving me more information. I liked figuring out who was who and finding out so many memories and layers were all interconnected, but I wish the execution of the story was different and smoother.

I wish I could give Jellicoe Road more credit for being amazing, but I just couldn’t get over the way it was told. I am frustrated that it wasn’t better and more organized because I would have absolutely loved it. I am used to strange writing styles, being thrown into a story, and being told two different stories. I’m used to YA. I’m used to this kind of fiction. Unfortunately, this just didn’t work for me. I am giving it 3 stars because it was a good story, so I don't want to underrate it.

3%2520star

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review–The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

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The Edge of Never
 
by J. A. Redmerski
 
Summary: Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.
Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.
With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.
But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?


Due to sexual content and language, this book is recommended for 17+ – Adult Contemporary Women’s – New Adult Fiction

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Source: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

The Edge of Never was an an addictive and satisfying read. I had forgotten what it was about when I started to read it randomly on my Kinde, but the book just sucked me right in. I liked the straightforwardness of the narration and I connected with Camryn’s character. I didn’t realize that the book was a NA Contemporary Romance, since I had forgotten what the synopsis was, but I figured the plot was heading into the romantic direction once Camryn met Andrew on the bus.

I have a love/hate relationship with most romance novels, especially the New Adult category. I read far more NA novels that end up being more like erotica with terribly flimsy plots than actual stories and romances with those more mature scenes peppered into a good plot. Fortunately,  The Edge of Never was a good example of what I think New Adult should be. I enjoyed the story, I thought the plot made sense, I connected with the characters, and their relationship formed slowly. I was able to watch the characters connect before the book ever turned into a romance at all. Nothing is wrong with erotica or even books with more sex than plot, but nothing irritates me more when I’m in the mood for a good story than getting a disappointing one. I’m very happy that The Edge of Never delivered a decent story that stole my heart.

Andrew and Camryn were two similar souls that randomly found each other as their paths crossed. Their personalities meshed really well and they settled into a familiar friendship pretty easily. I loved how they both looked at the world and how well they connected on a deeper level. I was rooting for them the entire time and I enjoyed watching them go from strangers to friends to a couple.

I thought the story had a decent mixture of humor, sappiness, seriousness, and fun. The characters could joke around one moment and have a serious conversation the next. Andrew was tough, but he had his softer moments. They both seemed like very realistic characters and I think that’s what captivated me the most. This wasn’t a story about some rock star, millionaire, or tough guy with some cowering female lead waiting to be noticed like so many other romances. Andrew’s tattoos or musical talents were simply parts of a bigger person.

I knew I was taken by The Edge of Never when I became emotionally invested in the characters and I was on the edge of my seat near the end. I definitely recommend the book.

4%2520star

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review–Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis

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Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3)
 
by Beth Revis
 
Summary: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.
But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.
Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.
FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.


Source: I purchased a Kindle copy

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Review:

Shades of Earth was very addicting and interesting. I preferred it over A Million Suns and I enjoyed the direction of the book. Shades of Earth was so different from the first two books, mainly because Amy and Elder were off the ship and on a completely new planet with hundreds of possibilities.

The setting completely changed, as did the conflict. It wasn’t just about Amy and Elder and the shipborn people. The frozen people were unfrozen, creating an entirely new dynamic. There was a distinct line between the shipborn and Earthborn people and the military personnel on board went into military mode immediately, which undermined Elder’s rule. And the even more complicated part? The military leader was Amy’s dad. The social structures and relationships were incredibly interesting. The Earthborn people treated the shipborns as less than human at times and there was a constant struggle for trust among the survivors.

I still can’t stand Amy and disliked her throughout the entire novel. I loathed the fact that her dad was the military leader because it gave Amy another excuse to be the immature girl she is all the time. Her dad completely dismissed her, despite knowing she had been awake for three whole months. In his defense, I would probably dismiss Amy and her concerns, too, but it was frustrating to see that whole dynamic in place. Fortunately, Amy did grow up a little. She made great decisions for the most part and didn’t whine at all. Sometimes, I was frustrated because she wasn’t sympathetic to the people from the ship adjusting to the planet and I worried that she’d alienate Elder.

Mostly, I was curious about the planet. Something was happening and I had no idea what. People were dying and the alien creatures were much smarter and sneakier than I imagined. The best part about the conflict as far as the planet was concerned was not knowing the direction the author would take. It was part mystery, part science fiction, part horror. Some moments reminded me of the Riddick movies, with the strange planet, pterodactyl type creatures, and evidence that maybe the people who landed weren’t the first people there. I enjoyed that aspect, but I also loved the mystery of finding out other connections and the overall mission of Godspeed, FRX, and the military.

I loved the conclusion. It was unique and exciting. The mystery escalated throughout the novel and I loved not knowing what would happen next. I definitely recommend the series. Amy is my least favorite character, I think, but I was able to enjoy and love the books anyway, which really says something.

5%2520star

Monday, April 14, 2014

Review–A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis

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A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2)
 
by Beth Revis
 
Summary: Book 2 in the New York Times bestselling trilogy, perfect for fans of Battlestar Gallactica and Prometheus!
GODSPEED WAS FUELED BY LIES. NOW IT IS RULED BY CHAOS.
It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to act on his vision--no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news, he and Amy must race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed, all the while dealing with the love that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.
Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: THEY HAVE TO GET OFF THIS SHIP.


Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

A Million Suns was addicting, mysterious, and frustrating. Instead of the calm, secretive, and malicious dystopian set up in book one, this installment was mass chaos. Elder tried so hard to give his people awareness, truth, and facts, but he gave them too much truth at once. People were rioting, not working, injuring themselves, and tearing the ship apart with their newfound awareness. Depression was a major problem as people could not longer find the point of living when the ship was so far away from Centauri-Earth.

I found A Million Suns to be addicting because I was so eager to find out what would happen next. Orion somehow knew Elder would be ill equipped to lead without causing chaos because the truth was so hard to bear, so he gave Amy clues that could help her help the ship and make the biggest decision of all. More secrets were uncovered and it was up to Amy and Elder to find out what to do with those truths. I couldn’t wait to find out what was happening, who was harming people to send a message, at what point would the riots escalate and how would the ship leader handle it? What was wrong with the engines? Could they be fixed?

Again, in this novel, Amy was not a favorite of mine. I don’t know why I find her so annoying, but I can’t really stand her. She was so young and immature. I found myself taking Elder’s side when they’d argue. Orion seemed to think she was the best person to make the final decision (which we knew nothing about), but I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone would choose her when she was so emotional and had such a distinct view. The world, as it was clearly illustrated in A Million Suns, is not black and white. Both Eldest and Orion had reasons for their actions and she should get over her anger at both of them and use her brain and not her emotions to lead her through things.

Also, I really disliked the leftover baggage from her attack in the first book. I get it, I really do, but A Million Suns had a million conflicts and Amy’s emotional responses and fear of men really wasn’t necessary to the plot or necessary for dramatic purposes. There was enough of both. I usually don’t get annoyed/mad about rape scenes/plots/tools in fiction, but Amy’s circumstance was pretty much unnecessary in the first place and I thought it only gave her a reason to cower in fear when there were literally thousands of other reasons why she could have done so. It just bothered me because I didn’t think it fit with the story other than to make Amy more fearful, but as I said, there were tons of other avenues the author could have taken to achieve the same result.

This series is strange for me because I dislike Amy so much as a character, but I like the story a lot. There are just so many different conflicts and decisions to make and questions the arise about leadership and what is right vs what is wrong. A Million Suns was stressful to read. I had to put it down a few times because there was just that much chaos with no real solution in sight. The residents of Godspeed were revolting, twisting things around, and showing that they were better off as zombies on Phydus. But could Elder really do that? Lead like Eldest? Amy wouldn’t approve, but I also didn’t think Amy had the capacity to really understand where Elder or the other residents of Godspeed were coming from, especially as the book came to an end. It’s not okay to give them Phydus, but she was trying to get Elder to force them to do something else “for their own good” without realizing she just didn’t understand. Basically, while I get that Amy showed Elder the brilliance of truth, she is still very naïve when it comes to leadership. Her experiences on Earth should have given her more knowledge than Elder had about leadership, especially since he was given so much wrong information when he was given any at all under Eldest’s lead, but Elder shows more of a capacity to understand his people and struggles more with what is right and wrong.

My other issue with A Million Suns was the mystery. I liked the fact that Orion was still able to show Elder and Amy the truth that hadn’t been revealed yet, but I didn’t like the way it all played out. The clues were all over the place and, as I said earlier in this review, after meeting/knowing Amy why would anyone pick her to be the one who receives the clues or makes the decisions? She’s been whining and moping around for a long time and any final revelation that would involve any decision ending with her being able to wake up her parents would most likely be the winning decision, whether or not it was the right thing to do. I liked the final reveal, as I figured that would be the case when I first picked up the series. I knew there were a few possibilities and the most ironic one would certainly solve everyone’s ship issues, but be the most horrifying of those possibilities. I wish less time was spent finding clues and more time was spent exploring the reality of the decisions that the characters had to make and the horror of that final reveal. Taking the entire book to uncover clues, but having one meeting where the residents decide what to do and spending a few pages doing it wasn’t really satisfactory to me in the end.

I think I would have preferred to have the plot of these novels without the teenager points of view. I would have preferred it if some of the social elements of Godspeed were better explored, too. I understood Elder most of the time, but even he was immature and didn’t think before he acted. I wish Amy wasn’t so immature, emotional, and stubborn.  Either way, now I have to have to know what happens next. On to book three! I am giving this 4 stars because I need to know what happens next and I do like the themes and questions the story brings up, even if I have issues with characters and execution.

4%2520star

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review–Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis

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Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1)
 
by Beth Revis
 
Summary: A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder....
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end 50 years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


Source: I purchased a paperback. 

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Review:

I loved Across the Universe. A lot. I had it on my shelf for a long time, but I kept skipping over it in favor of something else. Suddenly, I had this incredible urge to read it and I fell into the story immediately. I devoured it.The  plot, themes, and setting of Across the Universe appealed me quite a bit. I loved the elements of a dystopian regime aboard a traveling space ship set to land a new Earth.

 It is hard to believe that I enjoyed the book so much considering I found Amy to be one of my least favorite heroines in popular YA fiction. I didn’t like her voice or narration at all because it felt so young. When the novel first began, I thought it took place somehow in the past because she seemed more like she was 12 or 13 than 17. Then, once I realized she was 17 in those sections, I thought maybe she just came across that way because it was just a big decision to figure out if you were going to be frozen and sent to another planet with your parents or if you’d stay behind with other family on Earth. Maybe in those instances, you’d really attach yourself to your parents. But later, when she was unfrozen, she wasn’t any different. It just got on my nerves.

Fortunately, Across the Universe had a dual narration format. Elder was the soon to be leader of the people on the spaceship Godspeed. He was curious, a bit rebellious, and was eager to learn more about how to lead the ship. Eldest, the current leader, should have been training him and wasn’t doing a very good job. Elder felt like he knew nothing. I really enjoyed the sections told from Elder’s point of view. I liked looking at the world through his eyes and I liked how different he was from anyone else on the ship.  The conflict in Across the Universe was awesome. I liked the mystery of who was unplugging the frozen people, but I also enjoyed the way the societies were set up. I was curious as to why certain levels were isolated and why some members of society were blank and passive.

Because dystopian novels are kind of my thing, I was very intrigued by the set up in Across the Universe and I really liked the way it all unfolded. Some areas were definitely predictable, but that could have been due to my frequent reading and knowledge of dystopian themes and outcomes.  While it seems like I didn’t enjoy the characters, I really did. Amy wasn’t the best character, but I loved Elder, Doc, and the patients in the mental ward. On Godspeed, the crazy people were normal and the normal people were a bit zombie like. Harley, Elder’s best friend, was creative and energetic. He was very sweet towards Amy when he certainly didn’t have to be. Even the recorder, Orion intrigued me.

I highly recommend the book. It wasn’t one of those YA novels fueled by romance and distraction, but one that really explored various concepts about how to lead and at what cost. There were various philosophical concepts that intrigued me. And while parts of the plot were predictable, there were some major twists and developments I didn’t see coming and I enjoyed that, too. I am very happy I bought book two!
 5%2520star

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Fool’s Challenge–Day 11: Series I’m a Fool For

FoolsChallenge
 
 
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hosted by Parajunkee
 
Day 11 – Which series are you a fool for? That you can reread over and over and will always buy the next book, no matter how mental the author goes or how strange the characters become?
 
This will be hard. I’m not the kind of person who really fangirls and is into all the novellas and POV changes and things like that. I don’t like to spend a lot of time inside of a series because there’s always more books begging to be read. For example, I loved Divergent, but I didn’t care as much for the sequels and I will probably never read the novellas. I loved the Delirium series, but I have no use for any of the novellas from Alex’s POV. But some series stayed with me or kept me interested enough to buy all the next books without hesitation.

The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi. I love it and I loved how important the novellas were to the entire story.

The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I kept reading even though things got insane, weird, and crazy. I just had to know what happened to everyone. But I’m glad it’s over.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Another rare series where I actually read the novellas.

The Sweetest Dark series by Shana Abe. I can’t imagine her disappointing me.

The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter. It’s such a fun series, I can’t imagine not buying the next books.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It says it’s a trilogy, but it could be a million books long.. if she ends up with the Darkling, I’d keep reading. And if not, I’d keep reading in hopes that she would. It doesn’t look promising, though.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Fool’s Challenge–Day 10: Tropes I Love

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FoolsChallenge_topics
 
hosted by Parajunkee
 
Day 10 – Tropes you love, but have a hard time admitting to other readers
 
Love triangles. Everyone seems to hate them, but so many novels have them and sell well. I think most people do like them to some degree and just won’t admit it. Sometimes, I crave a good love triangle!

Insta-Love. I’m a MAJOR defender of insta-love. I DO believe in love at first sight. I believe in meeting someone and something inside of you just knows. I know because I’ve experienced it. Yes, you still need to have a connection and get to know each other and still love the person after you’ve truly gotten to know them. Yes, if that instant connection ends up in the bedroom immediately, it’s lust, not love. But people always put down insta-love like it’s not believable and that makes me sad.

Villians/Bad Guys/Tortured Heroes. I do not like contemporary bad boys, but I love fantasy/paranormal/science fiction bad boys. Like Warner from Shatter Me and The Darkling from Shadow and Bone. I find myself nearly always rooting for the bad guy in stories like those. I hate the perfect hero sort of characters. The bad ones are much more complex. Sometimes I still root for the bad guys even if they never become the actually good guys in the end.

Romance inside of a larger conflict. I not only love romance in a good dystopian or sci fi, but I think I prefer it. It reminds me that even in the worst or most dangerous societies, a person can find their other half.

Missing Parents. While sometimes it does drive me crazy, I think I actually like it. I love the coming of age, the shedding of innocence, the emotions, and the optimism that a YA protagonist has. You just don’t get that in adult fiction. You have to build an adult character with history, but with YA, that character can enter into an adult world without any prior judgment. I read YA because I feel like I can connect and relate and the character feels less like a kid and more like an adult. At 17/18, that’s when I met the love of my life and that’s when my adventure began. But if parents are a major part of the story, sometimes I realize just how young the character is or how I can’t relate anymore because their family is so different from my own. I don’t think that YA characters are much like actual teenagers and that’s why I love YA so much. And with missing parents, I can pretend like they aren’t still teens, but get a story with conflicts that I just can’t seem to get in adult fiction.

The OMG I’m a what? I’m the key to what? realization. It drives people crazy when an otherwise ordinary plain person somehow becomes the center of a conflict or the key to saving the world, but I love it. I think it fulfills some sort of psychological need for a lot of people when they read about an ordinary person who somehow becomes crucial and extraordinary. We don’t want to read about privileged people who turn out out be important as often. They are already important. We connect to the Spidermans of the world, not the Batmans, even if we prefer Batman. We want to root for the little guys and watch them become amazing and I think we can relate.

Virgin Protagonist. I don’t agree with the whole good girl = virgin and anyone who isn’t a virgin is the bad girl or the slut because I think it does more harm than good in the message. However, in YA, a lot of it is about firsts. And as I said in my Missing Parents section, I can relate to that YA heroine who falls in love for the first time at 17. I can also relate to her being inexperienced in that way. So I prefer this, only because I have no idea what it’s like to have experience before meeting the person you fall in love with. It’s more relatable to me as a person, even though I have a lot of issues with the virginal trope and what other negative messages it may send if done in certain ways.

Overbearing love interests. There’s a difference between sweet, quirky, and sensitive love interests and controlling alpha males. I dislike both extremes, but I do like love interests to be more towards the alpha side. I don’t like super emotional male protagonists for some reason. I like them to know what they want and take control of the situation.