07/6/15

Book Review: Nearly Found

20522640Novel: Nearly Found (Nearly Gone, #2) by Elle Cosimano | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

The sequel to the highly praised and intricately plotted Nearly Gone–a YA urban mystery that’s perfect for fans of Bones, Numbers, and The Body Finder

After Nearly Boswell starts working as an intern at a crime lab, a girl from her trailer park turns up dead. Then the corpse of a missing person is discovered, buried on a golf course, with a message for Nearly etched into the bones. When Nearly finds out the corpse is the father of Eric, a classmate of hers, she starts to worry that the body is connected to her father’s disappearance five years ago. Nearly, Reece, and Nearly’s classmates–Vince, Jeremy, and Eric–start a dangerous investigation into their fathers’ pasts that threatens Nearly’s fragile romance with Reece, and puts all them in the killer’s path.

 

If you haven’t read Nearly Gone and you love a good gritty mystery then you haven’t lived yet. Nearly Gone is one of my favorite books of all time – it’s incredibly well written and leaves your heart racing. Nearly Found doesn’t disappoint – it picks up a little while after its predecessor ends and is equally as intricately woven and addicting.

I fell in love with Nearly all over again. Her raw emotion, love, determination, and smarts made me want to be best friends with her. Her drive to achieve her dreams reminds me of myself, and her dedication to her schoolwork not only reminds me of myself but also countless other teenagers I know. In Nearly Found, Nearly has a new internship at a crime lab (!!!), an element I adored in this book. We get a new cast of characters with this new setting, which show another side to Nearly. However, we also have many of the same people involved – Jeremy, Reece, and Vince, for example. We see how alone Nearly is without the friendship of Jeremy and Anh, and quite honestly, I despised both of them throughout this book. They essentially dropped Nearly as a friend because they blame her for the events that occur in the first book, and although she was a player in them, she doesn’t deserve the way they treat her.

Then there’s Reece. Oh, Reece. You make the part of me that adores Pushing the Limits sing. I admit, in Nearly Found he seemed quite a bit… sketchier? His new assignment isn’t at Nearly’s school, and so their still new relationship is tested, requiring both of them to trust one another more. The secrets that Reece keeps from Nearly about his new assignment drove me insane – it was obvious that they still loved each other but just needed to be honest with each other. Their relationship would’ve been so much easier. Despite this, I still adored them together. They’re so different and yet so right for each other.

Nearly can’t seem to stay out of trouble, I swear. She’s always in the thick of things, ending up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The mystery in Nearly Found revolves around a serious of threats and acts that seem frighteningly close to Nearly and her father’s past. In Nearly Found, we learn more about Nearly’s father, as well as the night that ultimately sent him away from her. I loved the new elements of the mystery, as well as the action, the secrets, and the risk. Nearly Found is one heck of a sequel.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I absolutely ADORED it. I need more Nearly, please. Right now.

(But can we also talk about Elle’s next book, HOLDING SMOKE?! Like holy jesus I need it.)

Pitched as The Shawshank Redemption meets If I Stay, the story tells of a boy serving time for a murder he didn’t commit and who, after a near-death experience, finds himself able to separate his soul from his body and travel in a quest to find the real killer and clear his name.

07/3/15

Book Review: Playlist for the Dead

20522640Novel: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff | Goodreads
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

I went to the library. Why did I go the library? To return books. I intended not to get anything. But I did. Obviously. Playlist for the Dead jumped out at me because of the cover. It’s simple yet striking, and once I read the synopsis, I was in.

Sam is one of those character I didn’t really know how to feel about. I loved his honesty, his anger, and his regret. After Hayden’s death, he’s confused and hurting (obviously). The plot is driven by Sam’s quest to find out what led Hayden to suicide, and what the playlist Hayden left Sam means. Over the course of the novel, you see Sam wrangling with his future – a future without Hayden.

One thing I loved about this novel was its brutal honesty about the aftermath of teen suicide. I haven’t dealt with the same situation Sam is in the book, but I feel that Falkoff did a fantastic job of showing the anger and remorse that those left behind often feel.

“Because if none of us is a hundred percent responsible, then it’s probably just as likely that none of us could have stopped this from happening.”

This quote is one of my favorites. Sam doesn’t necessarily think he’s responsible, but he does blame himself for not seeing how much Hayden was struggling. As he uncovers Hayden’s secrets, he begins to understand his friend better, and what ultimately made him want to commit suicide.

The other part of the book (besides Sam’s grief and own emotional growth) is the mysterious person who enacting revenge on the evil trifecta that bullied Hayden during his life. The person chatting Sam in the middle of the night, pretending to be Hayden, who seems to know more about Hayden than Sam does. The identity of this person remains a mystery until the end of the novel, but their actions and the harm they do show Sam’s true colors. He grows to know more about the people he used to this were one-dimensional, and understands more about Hayden’s older brother and worst bully. Although this wasn’t my favorite element of the book, I think it added another layer to the story that was beneficial to Sam’s overall growth.

There’s a nugget of romance in the book, but I love how it was dealt with. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think Falkoff stayed very true to her characters in the handling of their relationship.

Playlist for the Dead is a unique take on the topic of teenage suicide, but also an honest one. Sam shows the darkness of loss, and the struggle that comes with moving forward, with the background of music and growing up. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and would definitely recommend it to fans of Thirteen Reasons Why (which it feels quite reminiscent of).

07/1/15

Book Review: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise

20522640Novel: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow | Goodreads
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: SimonPulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Life threatening cancer brings two teens together in this funny, honest, and heartwrenching novel in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars.

Francis is determined to forge his own way in school and life despite his loony, awkward, broken family…and noticeable lack of friends. Then he is diagnosed with leukemia. It wasn’t part of his strategy, but there are moments when he can see the upside. After all, people are nice to you when you’re sick.

While in the hospital, Francis meets Amber. She’s outspoken and sarcastic, and Francis falls for her almost immediately. Hard. Together, they take on the other cancer ward patients, overbearing mothers, and treatments with lively wit.

But Francis’s recovery is taking a different path from Amber’s. He’s actually getting better. And although he knew who he was before cancer, before Amber, now he has no idea how to live—or how to let go…

I’ve read my fair share of “cancer books”, but The Light of Amber Sunrise is unlike any other.

And that’s mainly because although the cancer is an important part of the story, it isn’t the story.

In TLOAS (as I’m calling it today), Francis confronts his cancer with a very “Okay, now what?” attitude. In the beginning of the book when you learn he has cancer, there isn’t this big “Oh, Francis, you have cancer” scene. It’s just him going to the hospital and going to his room. And I loved that part of this book. As the book goes on Francis has to confront the truth about cancer, the fact that he’s getting better, and that Amber isn’t.

Francis and Amber’s relationship is a beautiful progression from friendship into love. They are there for each other in a way that is different from everyone else in their lives – they both understand what it is like to be sick, and what it’s like to be the odd one out. They embrace one another’s quirks, and fall in a sort of love that’s endearing and powerful. Francis latches onto Amber in a way, and cares for her deeply. He was the emotion of their relationship, as he confesses in the novel, while Amber was the brain.

As Francis gets better, his life begins to change. He doesn’t spend every day at the hospital, and is living at home once again. His family was one of the biggest highlights of the novel. His mother is hilarious, caring, and so supportive of him. Her way of showing him how much she loved him was by supporting him through thick and thin and not caring who he wanted to be, as long as he was himself. His older brother, Chris, was Francis’s go-to for most of his questions surrounding life and love, and Chris gave Francis some hilarious and fabulous answers. His grandmother cracked me up to no end. Francis’s relationship with his family held him together and showed the beauties – and the imperfections – of families, and how important they are.

Amber was an interesting character. I definitely enjoyed her as a character, but I struggled to really get her. She’s complex, and she doesn’t open up very easily. She’s sarcastic and struggles with talking about the reality of her and Francis’s situation. However, I was still able to care for her, and cried with her as she had to face the truth about her disease. The dynamic between Amber and her mom made my heart break – they both love each other so deeply.

The Light of Amber Sunrise isn’t exactly a light read, but compared to some other cancer-related books, it’s on the lighter side. It focuses on the before, the during, and the after of cancer, and the friendships that develop between patients. It’s heartwarming and a beautiful story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

06/30/15

June Wrap-Up

june-wrapup

On the last day of every month I’ll be doing a wrap-up with my favorite books, music, and posts from that month. 

June was all work and barely any reading for me. Oh well!

Check out last month’s wrap-up: May

books

18798983Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta | Goodreads | Review

Guess who read Jellicoe Road for the eighth time this month? That’s right, ME! I reread it in honor of my birthday, June 19th, and I cried for the entire last fifty pages. Fun fact: crying makes it very difficult to read.

19542841The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes | Goodreads | Review

This book surprised me in so many ways. It’s a touching and gut-wrenching story of friendship, growing up, and learning about the world around you, with the backdrop of a frightening Kevinian Cult.

23015948A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass| Goodreads | Review

NO WORDS FOR THIS BOOK. Holy. my. goodness. I just. Sarah J. Maas, I love you. I worship you. I am floored by you over and over and over again.

23492282Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry | Goodreads

The sequel to Nearly Gone, and just as gritty and intricately woven. NEarly Found is one heck of a book. Review coming soon!

music

“Remember Me as a Time of Day” by Explosions in the Sky

Note: The soundcloud track below has been uploaded by someone who is NOT Explosions in the Sky!

“American Oxygen” by Rihanna

<iframe src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify%3Atrack%3A0bHA8LApeZHv7ZlhVUWg8X” width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true”></iframe>

“Forget” by San Cava

“Heart Like Yours” by Willamette Stone (from If I Stay)

posts

I didn’t do as many fun posts as I like to, but I did do a couple! At the beginning of the month I did a post called A YA Inspired Summer, which features books that I want to do something from. It’s a bit hard to explain, so I’d recommend just reading it. I also posted my book goals for the TBR Takedown (which I completely failed at – I read NONE of the books I wanted to and instead went to the library). Last Saturday I posted my thoughts on The Great Gatsby and why I don’t think it’s all that great of a book, a post I love.

For reviews, I had a month full of them! I had two particularly awesome reviews (in my opinion) – my review for Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry, and my review for Weightless by Sarah Bannan. My review of The Boy in a Black Suit by Jason Reynolds also got a lot of love on Twitter, so I thought I’d include that too.

 


It’s JULY you guys. June went by so fast for me. I’m working two jobs so I had about zero time, and the time I did have I spent watching Star Wars with my best friend (by the way, I’m a TOTAL Star Wars nerd now. #AnakinandPadme4ever) or sleeping. I’m starting my Italian class in July (!!!!) and I’m hoping to do some more reading.  I’ll also be doing my first solo swim lessons! I’ve been shadowing this past month, and so it’s time for me to do my own. I’ll be teaching kids starting at the age of three all the way up to adults how to swim and I’m so excited about it.

What did you do this month?

06/28/15

Book Review: Magonia

20522640Novel: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher/TT4L

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds… two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

This book blew my mind.

Literally.

The entire time I was wondering how Headley came up with this concept. It’s unique, crazy creative, and it works. It’s based in myths and stories (but I don’t know if those are real – anyone know?) which makes Magonia seem a bit more probable and also closer to home. Unexplained phenomenons and weather patterns are also explained by Magonia’s ships, and crops going missing are explained by Magonia needing the crops for food. Headley builds this world that makes sense to that science-loving part of me, and I loved that part of it. Aza and Jason’s craving for explanation and their love for science worked really well in this book because it pushed them to challenge not only their own beliefs but also what they learn about Magonia.

As believable as the world is, it was some of the plot that caused me issues, especially Jason and Aza’s relationship in the beginning of the book. It felt so sudden that they loved each other. You’re introduced to them and then BAM they realize they love each other. I wish there had been more lead up into this part of the story and you could’ve learned more about Aza’s life pre-Magonia. As well, the ending of the story was a bit confusing. For me, I felt like it was rushed and almost out of place – this is one of the few books where I WANTED it to end on a cliffhanger and be the beginning of a series. I want to see Aza as the ruler of Magonia, bringing Earth and Magonia together and somehow making Jason Magonian.

Despite those issues, I still loved Magonia. It was fresh and unique, and the characters were relatable. Jason and Aza felt like people I would love to hang out with, and they also were total nerds. I WANT MORE NERDS IN YA. I want to see people who love to learn and who are motivated. (Jason is incredibly motivated and super cool. He also struggles with some issues that I could relate to because a friend has them, but I’m not going to go into that.)

If you’re a high fantasy lover, Magonia is the best new high fantasy out there. Get your hands on this book now.

06/27/15

Why The Great Gatsby isn’t all that “Great”

gatsby banner

I’ve never quite gotten the serious love for The Great Gatsby.

From the time I read the book the first time to now, after reading it an additional time, I still don’t get it.

It’s not Fitzgerald, because I love his other works, particularly The Beautiful and the Damned, and highly recommend to friends who are looking for classics. It’s also not the time period, because I love literature set in the late teens and twenties. It’s also not the materialism, because that is present in Gatsby’s other books as well.

I think, more than anything, it’s the character.

I hate all of them.

There is not one character in the book who I like even the tiniest bit. They all do stupid things and have absurd opinions and are so obviously depressed. Even Nick was annoying. (Like come on dude. Gatsby is obviously a nut case and Daisy is a wilted flower. Get over it.) I wanted a character that would snap some sense into all of them, or for there to at least be some humor in there, like there is in The Beautiful and the Damned and in This Side of Paradise. The humor is what kept both of those books fresh and interesting, and without it, Gatsby was just a bit flat for me.

I completely understand that you’re supposed to not like most of the characters. But my thing was that I hated them all so much that I didn’t care. I didn’t care if Gatsby got with Daisy because I hated both of them on their own that I knew they would be horrible together too. I hated the way Daisy’s husband treated her, and the way she was wasting her life away. (Also, do we even want to TALK about that one scene? You all know what I’m talking about. The one in the apartment?) Plus, half of the events of the book felt pointless.

Actually, the entire story felt pointless.

If you’re a hardcore Gatsby fan, I apologize for my bashing of the book, but I felt like I needed to let out my emotions. I’m genuinely curious why people like this book so much, because I’ve never been able to find anything remotely redeeming.

So please, if you’re a fan, tell me why. Let’s chat about Gatsby!

 

 

06/26/15

Book Review: Joyride

20522640Novel: Joyride by Anna Banks | Goodreads
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher via TT4L

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

I picked this book up for two reasons: 1) I love Anna Banks, and 2) I was fascinated by the influence of immigration on the storyline. There are so few books about deportation and the immigration issues in our country, and as someone who lives in Texas and is surrounded by the culture and news every day, it’s one I hold dear to my heart. I’m so happy that the stories of these people are being published and shared with the world.

Joyride, at first glance, could be a bit stereotypical. I’ve seen a couple people wondering if it’ll be a stereotypical and boring storyline, but it’s a riveting one. Carly and Arden are complex and honest and their growing relationship was joy to read about. The real story for me wasn’t their relationship – it was the story of their families and the ways they grew into themselves.

Carly works as much as she can and pushes herself to stay on honor roll so she can earn a scholarship and be the first in her family to go to college. She gives most of her paycheck to her older brother, who has been taking care of her since her parents were deported, and the money goes towards her parent’s return. When she meets Arden during her shift at the corner store, she doesn’t expect to end up enjoying his company. His dogged pursuit of spending time with her (and her eventually giving in) shows her that they aren’t too different. They both struggling under the expectations of their families and trying to figure out who they are. The nights they spend pulling pranks and their conversations began to give into a friendship that both of them value more than they expected.

When Arden’s sister died, he quit football, let his grade drop, stopped sleeping, and stopped caring what his father, the sheriff, thought. Since then, he’s made it his goal to make his father as angry as possible with him by pulling pranks around town. When he meets Carly, he wants her to become his accomplice, and once he gets to know her better he starts sleeping again. She pushes him in ways he hasn’t been and shows him that there is more to his life, just as he does for her.

The story itself centers around Carly and her brother Julio’s efforts to bring their parents and younger siblings over from Mexico. When their efforts are threatened, Carly and Arden’s relationship is tested and you see their true feelings come out. I loved seeing these two characters grow over the course of the novel, and by the end be able to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

Joyride is a story of growing up, told through the achingly honest eyes of Arden and Carly. It’s an incredible novel, and an especially important one in light of current events. Anna Banks, I want more, please.

 

06/24/15

Book Review: The Heartbreakers

20522640Novel: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | Goodreads
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: E-book
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Ali Novak wrote her debut novel My Life with the Walter Boys when she was just 15 years old, and has since penned her next book, The Heartbreakers. First a hit on the online community Wattpad, her second novel has over 38 million reads and is loved by readers around the world.

This book really surprised me. There was so many places where it could have become so generic, but it held its own.

Part of that uniqueness was definitely Stella’s voice and her character as a whole. The book opens with Stella and her twin sister, Cara, and you learn about both Cara’s diagnosis and her deep love for the band, The Heartbreakers. Stella and her other twin brother (triplets!) decide to get Cara signed swag by the band, and on the way, Stella meets Oliver Perry, the lead singer, in a Starbucks. Except she doesn’t recognize him. Until she’s standing in line and sees him. And again when the band is staying at their hotel. And again when they’re in an elevator together. She’s witty, sarcastic, creative, and incredibly kind. I immediately loved Stella and her passion for photography, especially when it won her an incredible opportunity.

The band were such a joy to read about. They all were so different, but also meshed really well. Alec was by far my favorite (maybe a bit more than Oliver, even?) because he was so observant and kind. JJ and Xander are two straight up hooligans, but I loved them all the same. Oliver is this stereotypical dream boy – but also so much more. He’s hilarious, really kind, and has a nerdy side that I loved to see come out.

The overall story line was addicting. It’s a total fun read – and perfect for a beach/vacation day. I gobbled this book up in two hours, simply because you don’t want to put it down. It was a nice change from some of the heavier YA Contemporary I’ve been reading lately! The element of Cara’s cancer also doesn’t overpower the book, which I had originally worried about. Cara encourages Stella to pursue her dreams and to not feel obligated to stay at home, something I felt was incredibly realistic, especially as sisters.

If you’re looking for a nice fluffy but also heartwarming book about friendship, family, and love, this is one for you.

 

06/22/15

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

20522640Novel: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardback
Source: Bought

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

And I thought the Throne of Glass Series was as good as it could get.

It’s official. Sarah J. Maas has joined the ranks of Queens of Willa’s Favorite Books.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is everything I loved in Throne of Glass (kick-ass heroine with serious behavioral problems, some attractive men, a bit of magic, royalty drama, and lots of danger) and more. Maas’s new series tops TOG for me, and left me utterly breathless.

And sleepless. (I stayed up until 3AM and then woke up at 8AM to read more.)

The world of ACOTAR, as it is affectionately called, is stunning. The tensions between Fae and humans, the years of lies and secrets about the past, and the possibility of an endangered future. Feyre is a once rich and now destitute nineteen-year-old girl, fighting to keep her family alive by hunting. But when she kills a wolf (well, it’s actually a Fae) things get a little…messy. Forced to return to the land of the Fae, who Feyre has been taught to hate (and fear), she finds herself stuck in a mansion. With two Fae.

And that, my friends, is where things get interesting. Feyre is this firey, badass, sharptongued, and loyal woman essentially trapped with the things she hates the most. But as she gets to know Lucien and Tamlin, she begins to realize that what she had been taught may not apply to all of the Fae.

The romance with Tamlin is a bit Stockholm Syndrome-y, but believable and engrossing all the same. Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship grows out of trust and understanding, and both of them must confront the beliefs of everyone they hold dear in their effort to be together. Tamlin surprised me in so many ways, and actually reminded me a bit of Beast from Robin LaFever’s Dark Triumph (which I adored). They’re similar in the I’m-a-beast-but-actually-a-super-softy-and-really-hot thing. (Very appealing.)

The plot revolves around a couple different points. One is the danger Feyre is in due to her presence in the Fae lands. People are beginning to know about her existence, and the possibility of death frightens both her and Tamlin. Two, there are evil people (ahem PERSON) threatening Tamlin’s people and the entirety of the Fae. Third, there’s a hella lot of tension. That’s a plot point in of itself.

One thing to note: this book is quite a bit sexier than TOG (nothing explicit though, just some more Tamlin/Feyre making out in corners kind of scenes which I had zero problem with). ACOTAR focuses on the romance but also the importance of loyalty (Feyre is fiercely loyal to her family), the difference between wrong and right, and how to stand up to the people who you fear the most.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is an engrossing and riveting tale of love in a place where you least expect it, and fighting for the people you care about. I fell in love with it the second I started reading.

 

06/20/15

Book Review: Weightless

20522640Novel: Weightless by Sarah Bannan | Goodreads
Release Date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: E-book
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

When 15-year-old Carolyn moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the junior class at Adams High School. A good student and natural athlete, she’s immediately welcomed by the school’s cliques. She’s even nominated to the homecoming court and begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn’s bitter romantic rival. When a video of Carolyn and Shane making out is sent to everyone, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut, as Brooke and her best friend Gemma try to restore their popularity. Gossip and bullying hound Carolyn, who becomes increasingly private and isolated. When Shane and Brooke—now back together—confront Carolyn in the student parking lot, injuring her, it’s the last attack she can take.

Sarah Bannan’s deft use of the first person plural gives Weightless an emotional intensity and remarkable power that will send you flying through the pages and leave you reeling.

Weightless wowed me to no end. It was my first time reading first person plural, which took some getting used to, but I grew to enjoy it. The use of “we” as the pronoun added to the story, by placing an emphasis on the importance that groups of people played in the book.

The book revolves around Carolyn, the new girl to the tiny town of Adamsville, Alabama. She’s from New Jersey and is a novelty to the student body at first – she has designer clothes, says “you all”, and was popular at her New Jersey boarding school. She’s nice and funny and does swimming instead of cheerleading. She’s popular within a week of arriving at school, and is dating the most popular boy in school, Shane. Her newfound popularity and her new boyfriend (especially her new boyfriend) earns her some enemies, though, and these enemies come in the form of two girls: Gemma and Brooke. Rumors fly about Carolyn and her past, but those don’t seem to hurt her popularity too much. Instead, it’s the video of Carolyn and Shane that is posted to social media and causes Carolyn’s reputation to crumble. She goes from the most popular girl in school to the one everyone ridicules.

The person/group that tells the story is unknown. I believe it’s a group of girls, because of some of the references to friends that make it sound like they’re part of the “we”. This group of girls befriends Carolyn at one point, and go to her house where they snoop through her things. That’s thing that shocked me the most about this book: how cruel people were. The group took photos of Carolyn’s things and posted them to Instagram. People spread rumors and lies all over Facebook for everyone to see. Photos that should have been private were plastered all over Instagram. Baannan uses screenshots of Facebook posts and newspaper articles to enhance the story and show what the public was both doing and thinking. Part of me wanted to like the girls who narrated the story, but another part of me hated them for the things they did. Ultimately, I could see that they felt bad for the small part they played in Carolyn’s bullying, but they never spoke up – no one did.

Carolyn struggled with many things, but namely an eating disorder. In the book there is a great emphasis put on weight and body image, particularly how much the narrators want Carolyn’s body. No one ever says that Carolyn is anorexic or bulimic (I think it was a combination) but it became increasingly obvious that she was. In fact, multiple characters were bulimic. It was commonplace in Adams High School to hear a girl throwing up in the bathroom. This part of the story was quite possibly equally as important as the story of Carolyn’s bullying. Weightless addresses real issues in society: the skewed image of women and their bodies and the prevalence of bullying.

Weightless is utterly incredible. The writing, the story, and the message all leave you changed. I can’t stop thinking about this book. Everyone should read this one, because it addresses so many important issues in society today, but most namely, the way we see ourselves and others.