Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Divergent by Veronica Roth

January 27, 2014

divergentAnd now for a review from our newest guest blogger, Bethany!

In Veronica Roth’s dystopian book Divergent there are five different factions that a person can be a part of. During the year a person would turn 16, they decided which faction they are going to join. Most choose the one they were born and raised in. Here are my interpretation of the five factions:  the AP student- as in “going to Harvard for free” people, the super kind people (sometimes you wonder if they’re being legit because they’re too kind), the “really rude because they’re extremely honest” people (don’t we all know the phrase: ‘No offense, but’), the BA people (as in jumping off moving trains and being stupid YOLO) and last and the least- stereotypical 60’s hippies.  In this make believe world everybody’s genes are wired towards one of these five personalities. (This is when I started to doubt the book.  Get me on a day with little or no sleep and count the different personalities I have). If you do not have one of these five personalities you are an enemy to the state!  Ok, well not right away, but you are Divergent. And if you’re Divergent, don’t you dare tell anybody because it’s bad.

My first issue with Divergent was the whole idea of these five factions. It’s silliness! Go to work, go to school, heck, go to mall and you will see many more than five different personalities. The book presents five different core beliefs, and you can only have one. Right, because there are only five different religious beliefs in the real world which make this seem plausible….but that wasn’t my only issue with this book. The main character goes from going to school, to choosing your life. One day you’re in school, you get this test and then the next day you choose your faction. For the next month or so you’re in training and BAM you’re an adult with a job associated with your special faction. Huh? Does this happen in real life? I can answer that for you, no. Also, the lack of adults really drove me bananas. There were kids teaching kids stuff, that wouldn’t really happen. I would not be qualified to teach a class after a year, maybe two, of study. How do you become a teacher, oh, just four years of school, at least! So that didn’t make any sense. But at this point I shouldn’t really be expecting the book to make any sense.

As much as I wasn’t a fan of this book, there were things I liked.  Beatrice, the main character, I liked. Though her world was far from every being okay, she could exist. Her character was real, and I could imagine seeing her walking down the street. In fact, most of the characters I liked. Wonderful character development all around; but you can only get too attached to a character that is in a world that would never happen. And, when the fighting happens, people die. Though that might sound odd, I personally cannot stand when a huge epic battle happens and none of the characters you’ve come to love die because that doesn’t happen in real life. Even though this society would never come to be, Roth does try to have the things that happen in it buyable.  Let’s see…what else did I like….yeah, I think that’s about it.

So maybe I’m being a little harsh on Divergent; after all, I had to put it on hold because of its popularity in order to read it. There is obviously something there or it wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Fangirl

October 16, 2013

FANGIRL

I know it seems like lately all I’ve been doing is gushing about Rainbow Rowell, but trust me, she totally deserves it.  After I read Eleanor and Park, I had to rush out and get her newest novel Fangirl pretty much immediately.  The main character, Cath, is obsessed with the Simon Snow book series.  For years she and her twin sister Wren have built a following online by writing fanfiction about Simon Snow and Baz, Simon’s enemy (or something more, in Cath’s mind).  But now that they’ve gone off to college, Wren is ready to build her own identity separate from Cath, which means ditching all that fanfic stuff.  So now Cath is on her own and dealing with the challenges of college life:  having a surly roommate, figuring out where to eat in the cafeteria, getting attention from a couple of charming boys, all while balancing classwork with writing Carry On, Simon.

I love this book not just because it’s well written with lots of witty dialogue and an understanding of what going away to college is really like, but also because I’m a BIG fan of Harry Potter, who has clearly heavily influenced Simon Snow.  Rainbow Rowell really gets the fandom thing right.  If  you’re part of the HP fandom, or any fandom really, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.

June is Audiobook Month!

June 19, 2013

audiobooks

I love listening to audio books!  It makes your drive to school, commute to work, or time exercising go so much faster (and it makes it easier to juggle multiple books at a time, since it makes it harder to mix them up when one is print and one is audio).

Never tried an audio book?  Here are some of my personal favorites from the YA section:

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, read by Jim Dale – My all-time favorite audio books.  Jim Dale has a way of really bringing all the characters to life.

The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, read by a full cast – Yes that’s right, a full cast of people doing different voices, like a radio play.  It took some getting used to but it was definitely cool to listen to and very well done.

Fire by Kristin Cashore – This is an AWESOME fantasy series.  I read the first and third books but listened to the second one, and the reader did a great job of capturing the story and setting the right tone.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Most of the time for audio books I like something light and fun, since often I listen to them in my car.  So this love story was the perfect choice!

 

Tell Us Your Favorite YA Books of 2012

December 28, 2012

We want you to tell us your favorite YA reads of 2012.  So, what is your most favorite YA book of the year?  Why is it your favorite?  Have you read other books by the author?  Who would you cast in the movie version?  What would you change about the book?  Or if that doesn’t work for you tell us about the worst YA book you read in 2012 and why it was such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad book.  Ready, set, comment!…

My top YA pick for 2012 is Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  Check out the book’s description courtesy of the publisher:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  — Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
 

And here’s what a few others had to say about the oh-so-terrifical read:

“Benjamin Alire Saenz is a writer with a sidewinder punch. Spare sentences connect resonant moments, and then he knocks you down with emotional truth. The story of Ari and Dante’s friendship widens and twists like a river, revealing truths about how hard love is, how family supports us, and how painfully deep you have to go to uncover an authentic self.”–Judy Blundell, National Book Award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied

“This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don’t we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending – and the way it unfolded – was so satisfying. I could go on and on…suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I’m sure I’ll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end.” –James Howe, Author of Addie on the Inside

“I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz’s best work by far…It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect…It’s already my favorite book of the year!”–Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and YALSA past president

Oh, and is it too late to tell you my favorite book of 2011??  Probably.  But I’m going to anyways because, coincidentally, if you like Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe then you will love, love, love I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan as well.  Trust me on this one.

Don’t forget to comment and tell us your faves of the year!

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!

 

Northanger Abbey

November 1, 2011

After seeing the movie The Jane Austen Book Club, I was inspired to read all of Jane Austen’s novels. That was three years ago and here I am with only one left to go. I remember being particularly excited for Northanger Abbey. Why? Because it was Miss Austen’s first book…side note, first written last published for those of you would look it up to see if I even know what I’m talking about.

As somebody who pretends they write, a popular author’s first work is exciting and enthralling. So, when I finally opened the book my eyes were filled with glee and I danced on the words. My mind began following Catherine around hoping she’d achieve all her goals. Even though I knew what was going to happen, and even a little of how it was going to happen, I was still hooked.

Now, why am I telling you this; because so many of you have read Pride and Prejudice, or have seen the movie, or have seen contemporary interpretations of it such as Bridget Jones Diary. And though that story is and will always be a classic, we must acknowledge beginnings! Northanger Abbey is, well, cute. Is it my favorite? Nope, Mansfield Park has that title, but Austen’s first novel is Austen’s first novel. Watching a classic author write through her first novel, debating what’s good, what should be, what makes a good novel, it’s enduring. You can hear Austen figuring out what makes a novel a novel in Northanger Abbey. Outside of that, you can also see the easiest to understand and clearest to spot Austen humor in this novel.

So, I dare you to read Austen’s first novel. Oh, and a little encouragement, it’s also her shortest.

BRR: Divergent by Veronica Roth

September 12, 2011

BOOK READ RECENTLY:

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