Thursday, July 31, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This is one of those books that I would never have put down if I didn't have, you know, like responsibilities and such.  If I didn't know that my kids were gonna rouse me from my blissful "I just finished this awesome book" sleep at like 6 blahblahblah AM, I totally would have powered through and finished it last night.  But, alas, I have a life, and therefor I had to wait to find out what happens.  It was a great wait though.  This book was suspenseful and dramatic, descriptive and imaginative in a way that kinda made me wish it were longer.  I would have liked more story, but alas, I think that would have screwed up the point, the whole idea of being liars and all.

Final Recommendations: if you like a quick-paced mysteries, affluent families and their copious problems, idealistic youth

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I don't know why I didn't love this?  It had all the elements of a book that I would love: magic, magical creatures, fantastical worlds, mysterious identities, blazing-hot angels!  But something in it just did not click for me?  It was a very fractured tale.  Because the reader (and I guess Karou, the main protagonist, as well) are a bit in the dark about what is going on in the story, it is at times quite confusing.  I am not saying I did not like this story.  There were elements that I found fascinating: the magicians shop, the use of wishes, the historical background of the epic war between angel and beast.  I found myself very invested in Karou's un-extraordinary life and her plight to find herself.  Unfortunately, the twist in the ending was kind of predictable and left me a bit sad, and actually not very interested.  I will continue to read this series.  It is definitely not one that I am planning to abandon, especially since I have high hopes of learning more about the monster universe.

Final Recommendations: if you like magic, slow-burn mystery unraveling, hot-angels (cause really who doesn't), fantastical creatures, epic wars.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

I think the key with this one is to get through the 1/4 mark.  The beginning is a bit laborious especially due to obscure mythological references (this part probably took me longer due to the constant back and forth between the book and Wikipedia, although I actually did not have a problem with this, I found out a lot about obscure mythological beings).  Once the characters traveled into the mortal realm, that's where a lot of the action, suspense and relationshippy stuff goes down (and this is my favorite part of any book right?).  I enjoyed Ireland's main character, although I wasn't wholly convinced of her turn from nobody failure to complete bad-ass (but then I don't think Zephyr was either, and maybe that's why I liked her more).  There were a few parts where stuff was just too convenient, too fast paced or too foreshadowy without much of an "aha" moment.  But for the most part I really did like the creative spin on this mythological based tale.

Final Recommendation: If you like mythology (all of it, it's quite the jumble), super-powers, super-villains, awesome girls, awesomely hot guys.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Let me preface this review with a few of my random reading preferences.  I traditionally prefer contemporary YA written by dudes with a male narrator.  I think I have realized why...female narrators hit too close to home.  That being said, this book made me super-uncomfortable and wonderful all at the same time.  The raw, beautiful narration captured so many of the true emotions of being a teenager, that I could not put it down (I actually finished it in less than 24 hours).  All of the characters were so well written, I wish they were my friends!  This is a definite addition to my classroom library!

Final Recommendations: if you like contemporary YA, great characters, angsty teens, or fabulous music.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Of Triton by Anna Banks

You know what's the best part of a book about mermaids?  The mermaids!  This second installment in Anna Banks' Syrena Trilogy was far batter than the original (which is not the usual fair with a trilogy I find).  I enjoyed it more because as a reader I really enjoy the background and build-up of a fantasy world.  In the original book, Of Poseidon, the main characters spent far too much time on land and we did not get to experience the true underwater world of the Syrena.  In this book, however, much of the mystery, conflict and intrigue occur in the deep blue sea!  I also enjoyed the development of Banks' characters and their relationships from the 1st book to the 2nd.  There is a 3rd book (which I will totally read) and I am interested to see where it goes since I felt as if Of Triton really tied up a lot of the story.

Final Recommendations: if you like mythology, mysterious sea creatures, underwater romance, a quick/short fun read!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

I didn't know if I would like this book from the beginning.  I was put off by the present tense of the narrative (I guess I read a lot of past tense).  I also had trouble transitioning between the chapters written in 1st person narrated by our main character Emma and those written in 3rd person detailing Galen's story (I am still not quite convinced as to why the author didn't just write both narratives in 1st person?).  Overall, however, I liked the story.  There was a lot of good set up, a little mystery, and a nice touch of romance.  Still, the inconsistencies in narration, along with several gaps in the story (I felt in jumped time-wise a bit and few of the ancillary characters were a bit unbelievable and too convenient), I would continue to read the story (it's a trilogy, are we surprised?).

Final Recommendations: A light, fun, quick read; if you like mythological creatures, the ocean, romance, a bit of mystery.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

This series is great!  Imaginative, adventurous, romantic and just great.  You know the mark of a good series when you feel like you want more (and rumor has it that Bardugo has another book set in the same universe coming out in the future).  I loved the first book in this series and I feel like this book matched it grandeur and wonder. The world building is good (it's so fast paced however that you don't get to spend very much time in any one location).  The characters are likable (even the evil ones).  The only qualm I had with it was in the end, the big showdown was less epic than I had hoped for.

Final Recommendation: FINISH THE SERIES!!  If you love fantasy, awesome creatures, wickedly good bad-guys, super-sweet romance, fluffy coats & hats...start this series immediately!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Raging Star by Moira Young

I loved this series.  I loved the characters.  I LOVED the landscape.  I loved dialect (and I especially loved that I kept on keepin' on despite the awkwardness of the dialect at first).  I have started several students on this series and while it is not for everyone, you would be surprised how many students really cleave to Saba and her gang despite the difficult reading material and odd sentence structure.  It's a GREAT story!  There were a few things I was unhappy about but only because I wanted more of them (more Emmi, more traveling, more conflict with DeMalo, more JACK, never enough Jack).  On the whole though, I loved the message and the follow through in the trilogy, it did not let me down as many often do.

Final Recommendation: Obviously your gonna finish the series, if you like kick-butt heroins, super-cool dystopian landscapes, adventure & a sprinklin' of romance

Thursday, July 3, 2014

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Was it long?  Totally!  Was it worth it?  Mostly. It wasn't like I was just gonna stop @ #5, although I will admit that I felt City of Fallen Angels felt mostly like angsty filler material before the big showdown. I liked City of Heavenly Fire. I would have liked it to have been oh let's say 300 pages shorter but beggars can't be choosers. I loved the development of friendships that carried out through this series and really solidified in this final edition. I liked the message that love is important and that it can carry you through loss. I liked the introduction of the next Shadowhunter series with Emma Carstairs as the lead (I will obviously read that). I just wanted more epic baddy fights, a better end for Maureen Brown and some other stuff that I will not share due to it's spoileryness. 

Final Recommendations: You are going to read this regardless of my recommendation because you love Shadowhunters and you have read a collective 10,000 pages to get to this part where Clary & Jace finally make out (which is NOT a spoiler, you knew it was coming, how sad would have been if it had not)

The One by Kiera Cass

Finishing a series is always hard. You have so many expectations, things you want to see happen, things you expect to see happen. There are characters you have grown to love and admire and you hate to see them go. There is also the problem of finishing a series in real time. I read The Elite over a year ago and it was hard for me to remember all that happened throughout the series, especially with my penchant for loving YA dystopians (they all begin to blend together after a while). I had to do a quick review to get myself back on track with this one (may I suggest ). I must say I was a little underwhelmed. This was not one of my favorite series overall. It lacked in the depth of a lot of current YA dystopians. There was very loose world building overall. May of the events in America's life seemed to easy, they all just fell so nicely into place. And there were a lot of ends left unexplained (like the Southern Rebels, did they just give up? & Illea's Diary, whatever happened with that?). I can see how my middle school students would LOVE it. 

Final Recommendations: If you love LOVE, and romance, if you are a fan of a slightly irrational but strong female lead, if you read all the other books (come one you at least have to finish the series), it's a great series for teens, the content is fun but not too in depth