Saturday, February 1, 2014

Characterize It is hosted by Em @ The YA Book Butterfly.
This week's theme is:
Wild Card - Any character! From any book! Just come up with a favorite!
One of my all time favorite characters is Stargirl Caraway from "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli.
She is super quirky and fun, and she does her own thing, which makes her automatically awesome in my book. In the first book she got caught in a rough patch and tried to change herself. But by the end, she accepted the fact that she was different and she just went with it. I love that she's not afraid to be unique (and she has a really cool name!)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: October 6th 2009
Pages: 374
Genre: YA
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 5 Starfish

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind. -
Summary and cover image from Goodreads

Where to begin?!?!?!

I had heard about "The Maze Runner" some time ago and thought to buy it, (which I took my sweet time doing) and let me tell you... I couldn't put it down! I fell instantly in love with the world James Dashner had created. The idea of using people like rats and putting them into a maze was perfection. I had really high expectations that the book met in spades!

Writing Style: The writing was really straightforward and I liked that, but I know that a lot of people took issue with it. Instead of showing how the main character felt, it was just said. For example: "He doubled over, hunger tearing at his empty stomach", instead it was, "He was hungry, or dying of hunger". See the difference?

Plot: The plot was definitely the strong point of the book. It was original and fast-paced. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! The twists and turns came up at just the right moments. Everything was logically connected and well thought out (it made me think of "National Treasure"). It's not a predictable plot at all, but one that keeps you guessing!

Setting: I love dystopias, and this one is one of the best I've seen so far. It's set in a world slowly dying from disease, where a super creepy organization called "Wicked"(yeah, they sound trustworthy) slaughters children by tossing them in a man-made terror called The Maze for scientific reasons.  

Shock Factors: Mind-boggling. That's all I have to say about that.

Thomas: Thomas struck me as kind of a guy's guy. I couldn't relate to him much, and his overall character was really strange to me. I honestly don't know what to think of him.

Newt: I love Newt's personality! He's kind of rough around the edges, but he has a sweet side too.

Minho: Minho is the sassiest character I've ever read about. I loved his big mouth and hot temper. He ended up being my favorite character. Well done Dashner, well done.

Secondary Characters: There are quite a few characters in the story, so in the interest of keeping my review from being too long, I'm going to talk about them as a whole. The characters were fleshed out and fairly complex. Most of them were pretty likeable with the exception of a small few that I had hoped would get taken by Grievers.

Strengths: Fun fact about me, I LIVE for bromances! So of course, the bromance between Thomas, Newt, and Minho was a big reason why I was so wrapped up in the book. I would definitely consider their friendship to be a strength, along with the plot twists and killer suspense.

Weaknesses: It took me several chapters before I got pulled into the story, so it might be a little slow in the beginning. But keep reading because it gets super crazy later on.

I would recommend this book to thrill-seekers and anyone looking for a satisfactory read.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: The Elite

Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 23rd 2013
Pages: 323
Genre: YA
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 4 1/2 Starfish

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. -
Summary and cover image from Goodreads

The Elite was every bit as good as its predecessor.

Plot:  The plot was slower than in the first book (29 girls were eliminated in the first book while only one was eliminated in the second), but the author kept it interesting by throwing in a few surprise twists.

Setting: These books are set in a dystopian-type world where the king and his government rule all through a very strict and unfair “caste system”. The world that is set up in this story is not unrealistic or too “out there”. Not much about the setting was said in the first book, but the Elite digs deeper into the history of Illea, and reveals a shocking truth about its esteemed founder, Gregory Illea.

Shock factors: Like I said before, the plot ran a little slow, focusing mostly on the love triangle. There were a few revelations having to do with the government and the rebels that were nice to sort of play around with and build theories on. There was one event at the beginning of the book that I thought was silly and could have been done much better.

Prince Maxon: Maxon was, yet again, the best character in the story. He was his usual charming and sweet self, totally in love with America, willing to do anything for her, etc. But then there’s this thing that happens that drives a wedge between the two of them. He kind of backs off a bit through the rest of the story, paving the way for Aspen to have his time in the spotlight. But Maxon later steps in to rescue America and pays some serious consequences for it. Now if that doesn’t prove how much he deserves her, then I don’t know what does!

America: America is an okay heroine, but she’s one of those girls that sees only half the picture and makes an assumption based on opinion as opposed to actual fact. America did get on my nerves a lot more in this book than in the first book with the whole dating thing. Since it’s a love triangle, she obviously has a relationship with Aspen as well as Maxon. Maxon is sort of “the bachelor” in the story because he dates every Elite girl to try and find his soul mate. In the meantime, America is seeing Aspen behind Maxon’s back, and then she has the gall to get upset with him over dating other girls when she’s doing the exact same thing! Basically, she’s a hypocrite. She’s stubborn, which is not always a bad quality; she uses it as a way to stand up for what is right, and I admire her for doing that.

Aspen: Aspen is my least favorite character. He’s super annoying and way too hot headed for my taste. I honestly have no idea why America likes him so much because he tells her all the time how she doesn’t have what it takes to be a princess. He really never encourages her or supports her decisions. And to top it all off, he doesn’t care if he wins America by default. That, to me, seems like he’s saying that he doesn’t care enough about her to really fight for her.

Secondary Characters: The other characters that were essential to the story line were written very well. They each played a part in getting the main characters were they needed to be. Some of them had dirty secrets that added to the drama, and some had secrets yet to be exposed. I guess they’re saving that for book 3!

Strengths: Elaborating on the political parts of the book was a smart choice. Since the first book didn’t shed much light on why things were the way they were, it was helpful that The Elite went into greater detail on the subjects that were important for readers to understand. The simple writing style of the book made everything flow smoothly together. Throwing several loveable characters into the mix also made The Elite a more enjoyable read.

Weaknesses: I tried really hard to think of something that made this book less than wonderful, but could come up with nothing to say other than there were a few, minor cheesy moments. 

Overall, this trilogy is one of my favorites, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone looking for an exciting read.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 15th 2011
Pages: 338
Genre: YA
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 5 Starfish

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. -
Summary and cover image from Goodreads

Let me start off by saying that Tahereh Mafi is a mad genius. She had me hooked from the very first sentence. The prose throughout were incredibly moving. The writing style wasn’t all clean and crisp like every other book you see; it was messy, hectic at times, and repetitive, but it was so unique, I couldn’t put it down. The writing alone is a good enough incentive to read Shatter Me, and I haven’t even begun to talk about the other aspects of the book!

Plot: The plot was fast-paced and suspenseful. There were no slow parts or parts that seemed too rushed. The majority of the book focused on Juliette’s complicated relationships with Adam and Warner. I liked how all of the events flowed smoothly into each other. There was always something at the end of each chapter that kept me going; it was a definite page turner.

Setting: The setting was fantastic and well thought out. I couldn’t really relate to it, but it’s a future that I could see happening.

Shock Factors: SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED, I CAN’T EVEN THINK… okay, there were minor surprises here and there that added to the excitement of the story. Several major events happened that I did NOT see coming. And just when I thought I had everything figured out, there were twists that changed the direction of the story completely! Overall, the shock factors were done perfectly.

Warner: Warner was, without a doubt, my favorite character. When he first came into the picture, I was immediately drawn into his charm and charisma. I noticed something off about him too that I couldn’t really pinpoint, which only intrigued me more. He seemed a little psychotic at first, but I believed he was more damaged than evil. He was portrayed as being the central antagonist of the story. Juliette was super attracted to him at times, but I didn’t think much of it because she couldn’t touch him without killing him. (Rule number 1 of YA books is to never assume because you might end up being completely wrong!) So, about halfway through the story, I realized that it was playing out to be a love triangle. I actually went back and reread all of the parts with Warner and Juliette before finishing the book!

Juliette: Juliette was not one of my favorite heroines. She was very irritating and annoyingly helpless most of the time. She was kind of screwed up because of her horrible childhood, so her insecurities were understandable. However, I did find it unrealistic that she was able to jump into a relationship with Adam so quickly, having never been touched before. It seems to me she would have proceeded with more caution than what she did. I also found it unrealistic that she was “stunningly beautiful” after being locked up in a dirty cell for ages, but now I’m just getting picky.

Adam: Adam was okay. He was an average guy, not much depth or complexity to his character, kind of bland and boring, but he was nice and a good match for Juliette. He risked a lot to keep her safe, even taking a beating on her account. He also had a sweet relationship with his little brother. Compared to Warner though, he wasn’t anything spectacular. Just a typical love interest.

Secondary Characters: Kenji was a really cool guy. He was very funny and played a big part in the ending (bigger than I expected). I laughed out loud a few times at his stupid jokes! James was also a nice character to throw in. He didn’t drive the plot forward any, but it was good to have him around as a sort of light in the darkness.

Strengths: Shatter Me’s strong points were its thrilling plot, beautifully written prose, and its ever-growing, complicated love triangle. Another point worth mentioning was the comic relief provided by the characters (mainly Kenji) in an otherwise intense storyline.

Weaknesses: The only thing I would say was a turnoff, not so much a weakness, was Juliette’s attitude.

This book had me laughing, sobbing, gasping, screaming, breathing fire, and pretty much every emotion you can come up with! I recommend it to anyone who wants to be swept away in a satisfying read.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In!
1. The Hunger Games. I'm old enough that my name wouldn't go into the reaping, but I couldn't sit and watch others dying on television.
2. Unwind. I'm also too old to be unwound, but it's still a sick thing to do. I really don't want to live some where that accepts it and sees it as a good thing.
3. The Maze Runner. I wouldn't last two seconds in the Glade, let alone the Maze. Not only are the characters themselves intimidating, but GREIVERS???? No thank you.
4. The Giver. It does sound tempting to live in a community where you have no memories of the bad things in life or feel any pain (thanks to advanced medicine), but I'd like to remember all that stuff, the good and the bad. Walking around without a clue seems like a form of brainwash to me.
5. Eve. Child birth sounds painful, and the LAST thing I want to do is be told lies and end up in one of those creepy rooms with my belly swollen up like a balloon. *shivers*
6. Whither. Speaking of child bearing, I couldn't live in this world either, (no matter how nice my husband and his two other wives are).
7. Gone. The kids in this world are psychopaths! Not only would I be trapped under a dome with them, but I might actually come across one of them and have to fight them off. Not my idea of fun.
8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I hate zombies. Period. No me gusta.   
9. Uglies. I feel like our world is really similar to this one, except we have a choice whether or not to get plastic surgery. I don't like the idea of being forced into it.
10. Shatter Me. Shatter me is not all that bad. It's definitely the best world to live in out of the above options. But the planet is in need of help, and people don't have enough food, so, this isn't ideal.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: The Selection

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 24th 2012
Pages: 327
Genre: YA
Source: Purchased
My Rating: 5 Starfish

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. - Summary and cover image from Goodreads

Okay, I actually LOVED this book. The writing style is very simple and easy to follow along with. The dialogue and character interaction is very well done and often times humorous, giving the book a romantic comedy type-feel. True, the storyline is a bit “bachelor-y”, but overall unique in the dystopian aspect of it.

I’m extremely glad that the main character’s relationship was slow growing because fast-paced stories tend to have that insta-love that just feels rushed and unrealistic.

America Singer annoyed me through most of the book. She was super judgmental, even going as far as to yell at the prince because she had already set up this mental image of him, which ended up being completely wrong. And, of course with it being a love triangle, she can’t seem to get it together and choose the guy she wants. But she was also very strong-willed and liked that about her.

Aspen is fine as a love interest, don’t get me wrong, but he is a very typical one. I don’t hate him nor do I wish he’d jump off a cliff, but the guy is so boring that he dims in comparison to the Prince Charming of the story, literally the prince, Maxon.

Maxon is the main reason why I love this book. He’s sweet, kind, humble, and practically perfect in every way. His charm makes it impossible not to forgive him for his occasional stupidity. The chemistry between him and America is very cute and sometimes awkward (*cough* groin kneeing scene *cough*) but definitely the most enjoyable part of the book.

The story ends with some unanswered questions regarding the rebel attacks and with the selection still in full throttle, paving the way for the second book in the trilogy, “The Elite”. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet and funny romantic read.   


My first post!

Hello everyone! I started my blog to connect with other people who read just as avidly as I do. I love books and I love blogs, so I thought it was about time that I started my own!

I'll be posting book reviews throughout the week on all my latest reads, including books that have been on my shelves for years. Don't be alarmed if you see a book on here from 2006!

Now that my blog is up and running, let the reviewing begin!