1.10.2015

INVINCIBLE by Amy Reed

INVINCIBLE (INVINCIBLE, #1)

by Amy Reed

to be published by HarperTeen / Katherine Tegen Books

5 owls


***

Invincible tells the story of Evie, a girl who is trapped in her own mind and struggling to find her identity after a miraculous recovery. She is stuck in a place between what others think of her and what she wants to be. With her miracle came a destructive tragedy, which only adds to her sense of emotional burden.

As a character, Evie is rarely likable, but she is real. Reed does not sacrifice truth to create likability, which I respect and admire. Evie has suffered, almost losing her life to cancer, and it shows. She has lost her sense of identity, and it shows. She makes bad decisions; she says mean things to people she loves; she is indecisive. These things forge Evie as a tangibly real person. She has leapt off the page and burrowed into my brain. She resonates. Reed gets adolescence more than most other YA writers.

Invincible is Reed's best book yet, and the first of a planned duology. I'm not going to say it's the next The Fault in Our Stars, because it's not; it's so much more than that. Reed touches on love, identity loss, hope, friendship, expectations, reality, depression, addiction, family, losing yourself, finding yourself choice, and recovery in one brisk novel. I may never read another book, if only because I'll be rereading Invincible over and over again.


1.09.2015

ELEGY by Amanda Hocking

ELEGY (WATERSONG, #4)

by Amanda Hocking

published by St. Martin's Griffin


4 owls

***


This review contains spoilers for the first three novels in the Watersong series! Read with caution!

You know, the length of this book kind of took me by surprise.

542 pages. For Hocking, this is abnormal; her Switched books were all short, clocking in at around 300 pages apiece, and the other Watersong books were each around that length, too. In a 542-page tome, I was worried Hocking would stray from the main mission and divulge too much side information. I was worried the series she has spent three books crafting would crash and burn with an overbearing fourth installment.

Those worries were definitely unnecessary.

In Elegy, Gemma is closer than ever to breaking the siren curse. With the scroll in her possession, she is almost there. With Penn's impending threats and a ticking clock, she needs to crack the case. The Watersong series ends with the best book, in my opinion. Family drama, sizzling romance, and a touch of the paranormal combine to make Elegy a spellbinding finale to the series. The characters read like your favorite TV family. The strongest offering of Hocking's and my favorite underwater series I've read yet!

1.08.2015

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

STILL MISSING

by Chevy Stevens

published by St. Martin's Griffin

read via Kindle store



***


3.5 owls

First off, let's get this out of the way: my Kindle ruined, or at least severely tampered with, my reading experience with Still Missing. (Yet another reason why these blasted things should be read on paper. But, hey, I did read it on a Kindle; I'm the one at fault here.) 

One of the most crucial design flaws of the Kindle is the way the extra crap hastily included at the end of books (reader discussions, interviews, and But Wait . . . There's More! teasers of the authors' next books) count toward the overall percent-read figures of the book. I expect to reach the 100% mark when I finish the last chapter and hit the acknowledgments, but because of all the extras at the end of the Kindle editions, the actual end of the book hit me at 85%. That means that a whole fifteen percent of this book was dedicated to excerpts from Stevens's other books and reading group discussion questions, which was severely disappointing when I expected that 15% to include more plot points. That's what screwed things up for me: my belief that something big was coming, that more things were happening, maybe a jaw-dropping twist at the very end to leave us guessing, something infuriating and rewarding. Because I had fifteen percent left, I expected more. What I got as a conclusion wasn't more: it was sadly less than what I hoped for.

I enjoyed the way Still Missing unfolded. I enjoyed how the story was told from the perspective of a bitter, traumatized woman looking back on her traumas. I enjoyed the blossoms of Stockholm syndrome strewn throughout -- the book was, for the most part, psychologically accurate. (Somebody did her research!) The plot kept me turning pages; even though none of it particularly surprised me, it still led to feverish, nail-biting reading. What I don't think was the smartest choice, however, was the storytelling method Stevens employed, wherein Annie conversationally accounted her tragedy to her "shrink." It gave Stevens an excuse to write lazily (so many clich├ęs!) and didn't trust readers very much to pick things up on their own (for example, the way she explicitly spelled out the irony -- I think we got it).

Some of Annie's traumatic experiences really resonated, eliciting lots of emotion from me as I read. It got a bit graphic, but was all necessary to develop Annie's character. Overall, Still Missing functioned very well as a psychological thriller, delivered with a plot that engrossed (but ended, in my opinion, a little too bow-tied and perfect), and captured the facets of trauma very well from a psychological standpoint. People aren't the same after they experience traumas, and it can take years for them to return to how they were before, if they ever do. Stevens captured this beautifully.





12.03.2014

Review: BURNING KINGDOMS

BURNING KINGDOMS

book two of The Internment Chronicles
by Lauren DeStefano

to be published by Simon and Schuster
on March 3, 2015

read as an ARC

                        

***WARNING: This book summary is SPOILEROUS in regard to the first book!***

After escaping through the bottom of Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives aboard the great mechanical bird land on the ground to finally learn what has lived beneath their floating island home all these eons.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and customers watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park. 

It is also a land at war. 


Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven. But caught under the watchful eye of another king that wants to dominate his world, they wonder if coming to the ground will drag Internment down with them.

                      

***WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Perfect Ruin!***

4.5 owls

"There is a need, in every world, to believe in things that cannot be seen."

This second installment of The Internment Chronicles is my favorite DeStefano book thus far: she takes the concept of the second-book slump and turns it on its head, filling Burning Kingdoms with intrigue, suspense, thrilling romance, and believable, almost tangibly real characters. This novel is a perfect example of why I love reading.

Fresh off the mystical, floating island of Internment, the one Morgan calls home, she finds herself in a new, strange land. (Hint: the ground.) Stranger than all is the war that builds in front of her eyes, brutal and terrifying.

"'That's the illusion of war,' he says. 'You think the world is over when your city comes down. But then you realize that you're just one city on a planet the size of ten million cities.'"

DeStefano packs her prose with gut-wrenching emotion, from vivid descriptions to soulful sociopolitical commentary. Her writing talent adds to the impact carried by the strong, steadily captivating plot and the believable, distinguished characters, creating a smart YA fantasy novel that packs emotional punches.

Even the included love triangle feels fresh. The issue of the love triangle is, to put it lightly, divisive among YA readers, but I am personally not against it if it works. In Burning Kingdoms, it works; I find myself rooting for both sides, something that takes characterization talent to accomplish.

The conclusion to The Internment Chronicles cannot come fast enough! I will be awaiting it with greedy, open arms.

10.17.2014

REDEEMED by P.C. and Kristin Cast

REDEEMED

by P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast

published on October 14, 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin

                        

In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals. A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world. No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her - unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power…but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness.


TEN by Gretchen McNeil

TEN

by Gretchen McNeil

published by HarperTeen

                        

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

9.30.2014

TAKEN by Erin Bowman

TAKEN

by Erin Bowman

published by in 2014 by HarperTeen

                        

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.
They call it the Heist.
Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.
Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

                        

School / Reviews

Hey all,

Sorry the blog has been a little slow lately! School is kicking back into gear, this time in a completely new place with completely new people, so it's a bit of an adjustment and I haven't had much time for reading. I promise I'll have some reviews and other fun stuff up soon!

Thanks,
Hayden

9.21.2014

My Bookstore Process / Birthday!

   A couple things:

   First off, by the time you're reading this (I'm writing this post ahead of time! Genius), it will be my birthday! Woot!

   I'm turning 18, which is such a big moment in my life. Financial independence, heftier traffic tickets, the ability to possess my own Costco card... the list of benefits goes on and on!

   I'm also off to college, but by the time you're reading this, I'll already be there! That's a nerve-wracking thought. And a huge life change.

   To celebrate my birthday, I'm going to the bookstore at my university's campus, where I will peruse shelves that probably look something like this:


   I've been there before, and the shelves look nothing like that. But I couldn't find an accurate picture, so that will have to do.

   I thought I'd talk a little about how my typical bookstore routine works.

9.20.2014

FIND ME by Romily Bernard

Find Me

by Romily Bernard

published by HarperTeen

                        

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.


                        

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