Archive for the ‘BRR: Books Recently Read’ Category

Eleanor & Park

October 3, 2013


Every once in awhile I come across a book that I love so much and find so universally appealing that I just can’t help but recommend it to everyone I see. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is one of those books. You might have heard of it because of the controversy surrounding it lately (and just in time for Banned Books Week, of course!). Or maybe you heard of it because of John Green’s glowing review of it in the New York Times. Either way, it’s getting tons of buzz, and for good reason.

Eleanor & Park is set in 1986 and is the story of two misfits who meet on the school bus. She gets bullied for being a bigger girl with bright red hair. He’s a kept-to-himself Asian-American who would rather read his comic books and listen to The Smiths than hang out with the cool kids. When Eleanor can’t find a seat on the bus, Park saves her from ridicule and lets her take the seat next to him. At first they don’t speak to each other, but one day Park notices Eleanor reading his comic books over his shoulder. This new found friendship grows into love over time, turning into one of the most genuine and charming YA love stories that I’ve read. I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell’s witty dialogue and realistic characters, and I guarantee that you will too.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

May 29, 2013


I almost never read historical fiction, but I heard so many good things about Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein that I couldn’t resist picking it up.  I don’t even want to tell you much about it for fear of ruining the experience; I went into reading this book knowing almost nothing, and that’s the best way to read it.  Set in World War II, the story starts with a girl (code name Verity) who has been spying on the Nazis and has just been caught.  Under threat of torture, she has agreed to divulge classified information in order to save her life.  What you are reading is her written confession to her captor, Von Loewe.

This book is completely captivating from the very first page.  The more you read, the more impossible it is to put it down.  If you aren’t into war books or historical fiction, don’t worry because there is much more to this book.  This is a story about the power of friendship; Verity’s confession is much about her friendship with Maddie, who was flying the plane Verity had just been on when she got caught.  Their story will keep you awake all night reading until you get to that last page.

BRR: Grave Mercy

April 10, 2013


TitleGrave Mercy

Author: Robin LaFevers

Other books in series or Standalone: First in a series.  The second book, Dark Triumph, was just released last week!

First Impressions:  ”Escaping a brutal arranged marriage into the sanctuary of a convent of assassin nuns who serve ancient gods, 17-year-old Ismae learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny that requires her to destroy the lives of others at the high court of Brittany.”  Did you stop reading at assassin nuns and run out to pick up a copy?  Because I sure did.

Last Impressions:  LOVED IT!  This was one of those books that was so compelling that I had to abandon the audio version I was listening to in my car and pick up a print copy that I could tear through faster.  It’s fun and exciting but also smart and complex; Ismae is sent to protect Brittany’s duchess and find out what sort of treachery is going on in the high court, so there’s lots of court politics and intrigue.  But the best thing about the book is Ismae.  She starts off stuck in a bad situation and has to be rescued, but by the end she’s a strong, capable woman who you can really root for.

Thoughts on the cover:  Have there been way too many book covers with girls in pretty dresses lately?  Yes.  BUT not only is Ismae set apart by the  crossbow in her hands, she also has a determined and capable look on her face instead of seeming forlorn or overly lovesick.

People who should read this:  Anyone who is longing for another kick-butt heroine a la Katniss Everdeen.  Plus, there’s also lots of great action and drama, and a bit of romance, so just about anyone could find something they like in it!

People who should not read this:  If political intrigue bores you, this might be one to skip (but if you like political intrigue in your novels, definitely pick this one up).

If you like this book, you may also like:  Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas,Changeling by Philippa Gregory, The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

BRR: Every Day by David Levithan

March 25, 2013



Title: Every Day

Author:  David Levithan

Other books in series or Standalone:  Standalone

First Impressions:  Very unique concept.  “A” wakes up in a new body every morning and has to live that person’s life without making any changes or being noticed.  Everything is turned upside down when A, after waking up in the body of a teen named Justin, meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon and is immediately drawn to her.

Last Impressions: I tore through this book in one sitting, and while I had a lot of questions at the end about the mechanics of it all, I did overall enjoy reading it.  It’s very original and thought-provoking; A is always a 16 year old but can wake up on any given morning looking like a completely different person, and so the book sends some strong messages about love, empathy, and acceptance.

Favorite Moment (SPOILER ALERT):  The first time A tries to explain the situation to Rhiannon.  As you can imagine, it’s tricky.

Dream Cast:  Since A is so many different people, the options are endless!  I would love to see someone like Emma Stone circa Easy A play Rhiannon; she could really bring the combo of feistyness and vulnerability.

People who should read this:  The bonus of A inhabiting a lot of different bodies is that it makes this book appealing to lots of people, since the main character is going through so many unique experiences based on the body he/she is in.  If you’re looking for something totally different from any other YA book you’ve read, and if you’re looking for a quick read, this is for you.

If you like this book, you may also like: some more of David Levithan’s books (like Boy Meets Boy and Will Grayson, Will Grayson), Ask the Passengers by A.S. King, Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak

BRR: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

February 29, 2012

TitleThe Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Other books in series or Standalone: Standalone

First Impressions: A friend of mine took the dive and read The Fault in Our Stars before I did. So, I knew going in that this book was going to be great, but extremely sad.  I mean, it’s about a sixteen-year-old with terminal cancer, there’s pretty much no way that’s not going to be sad.   However, once I actually got into the book, I was thoroughly surprised with the attitude of the main character, Hazel. It was nothing like I expected, and I very much wanted to get to know her better.

Last Impressions: Wow, what an amazing book. The Fault in Our Stars is easily my favorite by John Green. The relationship between Hazel and Augustus was at once uplifting and tragic, and I’m a sucker for beautiful contrast. Their story sticks with you long after you put the book down. I’m not going to say I cried, but—if only that truck full of onions hadn’t driven by as I was reading.

Thoughts on the bookcover: The cover is very elegant and simple. While this may not seem so amazing, think back on the cover of any classic you’ve seen. They’ve almost all been elegant and simple! That’s just the publishing company putting their faith in John Green, preemptively believing this novel will be a classic.

Anne Frank House stair entrance

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): It has to be, and this scene plays out with the utmost respect, making out in the Anne Frank House. Yeah, I just typed that. But really, that whole scene was perfect.

Least Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): I actually don’t have a least favorite moment, per se. But when Hazel says she doesn’t want to be close to anyone in order to avoid “collateral damage” when she dies, her situation really hit me hard. 

People who should read this: All NerdFighters, of course. Anyone looking for a book that’s tragic, yet beautiful. Those not afraid to cry in order to feel fulfilled.

There is No Dog

If you like this book, you may also like: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

***Also, there’s a Tumblr for The Fault in Our Stars for those that have finished the book, featuring a direct Q&A between you and John Green. However, it’s password protected (the last word in the Acknowledgements, case sensitive), so make sure you jot it down when you check out the book!


BRR: Divergent by Veronica Roth

September 12, 2011


Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Other books in series or Standalone:  First in a trilogy.  Look for the second book, tentatively titled Insurgent, in spring/summer 2012.

First Impressions: I had almost grown tired of dystopian novels since every author out there is trying to replicate the wild success of The Hunger Games, but the premise of this novel (not to mention the stellar reviews) piqued my interest.  It’s set in a futuristic Chicago where all citizens are split into different factions based on what they value: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity.  When kids turn 16, they can choose to stay with the faction they were born into, or they can switch.  Beatrice was born into Abnegation, who value selflessness.  But when her test marks her as a Divergent who doesn’t truly belong to any one faction, she chooses to switch to Dauntless, where courage is valued above all else.  There she must learn to function in a group that is totally different than what she is used to and discover what it truly means to be fearless.

Last Impressions:  Of all the dystopian YA books that have come out in the wake of The Hunger Games, my favorite is definitely Divergent.  This is probably due to the fact that Beatrice (who goes by Tris once she becomes Dauntless) is a really cool, tough girl who is more like Katniss than any of the lovestruck girls in the other dystopian tales I’ve read lately.  In choosing Dauntless as her faction, and going through with all the trials involved in becoming Dauntless, Tris proves that she’s worthy of being called brave and self-sufficient.  There’s also a love story, but like The Hunger Games, it’s not the main focus.  It’s much more action-based, and figuring out who you are is the core of the story.  Divergent was an exciting and interesting read, and I’d definitely recommend it!

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT):  Tris gliding along a wire off of a 100-story building on a Dauntless adventure.  I’m scared of everything and could therefore never be Dauntless, but this sounded so cool!

Thoughts on the bookcover:  I know you’re “not supposed to judge a book by the cover”, but the cover is one of the reasons I picked up the book.  The big fiery symbol is a great depiction of what Dauntless is all about, and it’s always nice to see the Chicago skyline.

People who should read this:  If you liked The Hunger Games, I’m pretty confident that you’ll like this!  It’s really got a little something for everyone.  There’s lots of action, a new world to imagine, a love story, and more.

If you like this book, you may also like:  Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Matched by Ally Condie

BRR: The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

August 20, 2011


Series: The Leviathan Trilogy

Titles: Leviathan – Behemoth – Goliath

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Illustrator: Keith Thompson

Genre: Steampunk, Alternate History

First Impressions: What an awesome concept!  The story takes place in an alternate World War I.  The main difference?  Steam engines evolved early and in a big way, and are used by the Central Powers (mostly the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire), called Clankers in this series.  Whereas the Entente Powers (mostly Britain, France and the Russian Empire), here called the Darwinists, developed genetic engineering, and used it to create animals for war—an example being the Leviathan, which is basically a whale hydrogen airship with a delicate ecosystem.

Last Impressions: Leviathan moved a bit slower than I would have thought, given that it’s a war novel, but then you have to remember that it’s the first book—the world and characters need to be set up!  The two main characters, Deryn/”Dylan” (a Scottish girl posing as a boy to get into the British air force) and Alek (the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his commoner wife, Sophie—you may know them from their assassination that is thought to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and started WWI) don’t even meet until well into the first book.  Behemoth is where the story really takes off.  The final book in the trilogy, Goliath, is coming out September 30th of this year, and I cannot wait!  On a final note, you certainly don’t have to be a World War I aficionado to enjoy this series. In fact, Scott Westerfeld definitely takes some historical liberties—such as the fact that Alek is not a real person.

Thoughts on the book covers: LOVE the artwork of the first cover!!  It’s easily the reason I even looked at these books in the first place.  And then, randomly, they decided they were going to redo the covers with people on the front.  Now, I do like the cover for Goliath, but still not as much as the initial artwork.  I mean, don’t they ask a sample group or something about these things?!  Arg, oh well.  Anyway, can I just say I’m totally in love with Keith Thompson’s Darwinist vs. Clankers map (pictured at top)?  Go on, click on it; it’s awesome!  In fact, saunter on over to his website and click around (be aware there is some creepy slight nudity).  It reminds me a bit of something Guillermo del Toro (director of Pan’s Labyrinth) might put into a movie.

Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): Probably when Deryn gets a kiss, and it’s most likely not who you think it’s from!

Least Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): Not really a huge spoiler, but it was a little disappointing that Alek still doesn’t know Deryn is a girl by the end of Behemoth.

Dream Cast: Carey Mulligan as Deryn; Alexander Ludwig as Alek.

People who should read this: Anyone looking for a YA novel that’s a little different.  Boys, this means you, too!

If you like this book, you may also like: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

Please enjoy the following book trailer: