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Fangirl. Book lover. All around nerd, really. :D

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The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)
Rick Yancey
The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton What to say about this book. I ended up skimming a lot of it because I had a bad feeling that turned out to be pretty justified. The book starts off good, and has potential... But it needed to be fleshed out more, certain aspects of the plot needed to be slowed down, the mythology had my eyebrows lifting and there are problematic aspects of the book as well, considering it's written by a white author and set in New Orleans (or New 2, as it's now called.) 1. As I got a bit further into the book, I had to stop and consider it, because the main character is white, and other than one of the characters being described as having light brown skin, I had the impression that most of the others are, too. I can think of at least one character who was definitely black, and he was the one who was practicing voodoo. Considering the setting and then the pairing of a black person + voodoo, this really soured my impression of the book. 2. Sebastian. Okay. Vampire? Check. Dark hair? Check. Brooding? Check. Magical powers, sex appeal and the ability to have the heroine fall in love in approximately twenty-four hours? Check. Sigh. Is it too much to ask to want more from a book? Attraction isn't love, but books like this always seem to present it that way, and they always dwell too much on how the heroine feels every time she looks at the subject of her feelings. It's not that those sorts of things aren't accurate, it's that I'm tired of books focusing on it so much. 3. The mythology. Idk. On the one hand the idea is really interesting, on the other hand it didn't feel quite believable, to me. Normally I'm all for interesting interpretations of popular mythology but I wasn't sure that it was fleshed out well enough for me. There's potential here - I like that this is ultimately about women and the power they carry, in ways. Ari, Athena, Josephine - they're the ones at the heart of the conflict, and I like that. If Ari gets to grow into her powers and not be so ~in love~ with Sebastian, all the better. All in all, I feel like the framework was there, in this book, but it could have used a lot of smoothing, some editing for problematic aspects, and less focus on teen romance. Hopefully the second one is better.
Hemlock - Kathleen Peacock Review to come.
Quarantine: The Loners - Lex Thomas I'm in a bit of a bind for time right now, but I wanted to post my thoughts on this book. It's enjoyable in a lot of ways, though there were times when I was very frustrated with some of the characters. Of course, that's part of the interesting bit when it comes to reading about teenagers... They can be very frustrating and be realistic. I got a vibe from this book of it being strongly aimed at boys - a lot of the points of view that we get in the book are from the boys. Not so much about the plot, because I'm of the opinion that both genders can and will and should read any book they like. Just something about the book made me think the author had boys in mind as he was writing. More here... - Short on believability factor. Having just finished reading Blackout, I can't help but compare it to Feed where the explanations were scientific and logical, everything backed up and well fleshed out. Right from the very beginning in that series, everything was very well laid out and I never once doubted that the science was well thought out. Here, I'm not so sure. - It feels a bit like it's checking off the dystopia boxes - children separated from adults, divided into factions, death. Sound familiar? - Grating and yet realistic, the relationship between Dave and his brother Will - but you can't help but want them to get along. - Not enough background to draw you into why you should sympathise with any of the characters. I knew that I was supposed to sympathise with Dave, but sometimes I really questioned why. I would have liked more reasons to want him to succeed. - The writing is crude in some ways, felt unnnecessary. I don't have specific examples on hand, but that was the impression I was left with. - The writing is a bit jerky, at times - for example 'the girls reached out and touched him with affection' - just distracting from what I'm reading, when I read lines like this. On the one hand, the imagery is effective, on the other hand, it doesn't fit what I expect a teenage boy to be thinking. - A bit too 'Lord of The Flies', at times.It was an interesting read, but I felt it lacked some of the depth it could have had. A bit too intent on painting a very grim landscape without necessarily delving in to how you get there, that sort of thing. Still, I'd be interested in reading the next book and seeing if we get more depth there.
Divergent  - Veronica Roth I really enjoyed this book. It's not without its faults - the world isn't as well built as it should be, with few explanation as to why things are the way they are, or how the factions were chosen. For me I fairly quickly adjusted to the idea that this was all with the hope of making peace, but what pushed humanity to this point? Where is the background for what we see in this novel? In spite of that, though, the action and pacing were enough that I wanted to keep reading. I've seen other readers reference the main character, Tris, as selfish and a variety of other things... Which is true. But for me that's what makes her compelling. I loved that she was just as much about action and thrills as she was about exploring her new feelings - old relationships and new. I also feel a bit like female characters can't win - if they're pretty and aware of it, they're arrogant. If they're pretty and unaware, then readers roll their eyes and say it's unbelievable and too much. If they're plain, then 'omg why would the hero choose her?!' I'm not sure what would make people happy, to be honest. I liked Tris. She had her faults and flaws and that's what I want in a good character. I could sympathise with her wanting to be selfless and then wanting to be selfish and being torn between the two.The one thing that I would have liked to see was more of an emotional connection to what was going on with the Dauntless soldiers at the end. I know that most of the time Tris was in a situation where she had to kill or be killed, but I still would have liked some sort of an opportunity to see her have to deal with the idea that these are her friends, the people she trained with. I think I'll have more to say later, but for now I'm just going to sum it up by saying that I really enjoyed it.
Insurgent  - Veronica Roth I think how fast I plowed through the two books in this series speaks for itself. I didn't really know what to expect going in to this series - the covers caught me, and how many positive reviews. I was still wary going into the second book, because I've read many trilogies where the second book is the weakest link. I can't give my full opinion until the next one is released, of course, but still!There were elements that I disliked, especially in the first part of the book. Authors always have a careful path to tread when it comes to female characters, because the expectations are so much higher. It's not just writing someone believable, it's writing someone who doesn't fall into sexist tropes, etc. There are many things that both male and female characters can do, but when writing a woman you have to walk a fine line - not necessarily fair, when male characters are not held to the same examination, but that's the way it is. Anyway. There were time when I found Four patronizing, and there were times when I found myself wondering if the main character would have such a problem with killing and death if they were male. I really don't know the answer to that, and I think that's representative of the balance we do in terms of offsetting realistic characters with making men too strong or women too weak. The story, though - it is compelling, and sucked me in again. We get to learn more about Four's past, and the other factions - about those who have no faction. We get hints that there is more to this world than we think, and if we get the answers to those questions in the last book, I think it'll fill the gap that some people have been bothered by, so far. We get insights into other characters, too - glimpses that make me want more, sometime, but are still nice to have. They soften the surroundings, make everything more human. That's where another one of my problems, though. Caleb and Peter... I find them to have the least satisfying background. Peter's change of heart isn't really explained well enough for me - he just didn't want to 'owe' her? There's nothing throughout the first book that would have given me any indication that he would do something like that. This is the man who tried to kill Tris, after all. Caleb - again, not enough explanation. Are we just supposed to believe that Jeanine got to him at a young age, and that's it? Nothing more? (Though I have to say, I was pleased that I guessed from the moment I read that someone had just left the room before she came in that someone she knew was involved.) The ending of the book is a brutal cliffhanger - I just hope that the plot coming after it is compelling enough, and not just a letdown. There's potential there, but it'll have to be handled right. I hope it is, because I really enjoyed this book so far. It's undeniably dark, but not in the soul-crushing way that The Hunger Games was, imo.
Hourglass - Myra McEntire 2.5 stars. What to say about this book. I finished it rather quickly - I had a slow day at work, so I had the chance to get through it, which is good, because Timepiece is next. In many ways, the book was enjoyable. I liked the concepts - basically, everything that's in the summary. Yes, in many ways they are cliches, but I don't actually judge books for having cliches - a lot of literature relies on cliches. They just have to be written well. So, things I liked/disliked - going behind a spoiler tag. Likes: - Emmerson's spunk, for lack of a better word. She's not meek and retreating, and she certainly lets the others know that. - Kaleb. I'll get to the one thing I didn't like about him in a moment, but overall he was an interesting character. I'm looking forward to learning more about him. - the idea of time travel being possible by combining different powers. Not just one person having that ability, but multiple ones needing to work together. Dislikes: - I wanted more depth, particularly in the secondary characters - the love triangle. Oh, I am very aware that love triangles are a tried and true part of Y/A, but they are so ubiquitous that I want more from them, now. Less 'as soon as I see her I fall in love' and more build-up, please. - literal ~sparks~ flying between Emmerson and Michael. Oh, please... And going on and on about how hot he is. Sigh. We've seen this before. I want depth, I want true build-up, I want slow falling in love. Not instant-lust-so-it-must-be-meant-to-be - I am very well aware that depression and mental illness can cripple a person. But I would have liked a bit more depth than just 'oh you were a drooling mess because you lived through a crash'. In the end, my issues with this book are the same ones that I have with a lot of books, now... I wanted more from it. Hopefully Timepiece provides.
My Name Is Memory - Ann Brashares This looks suspiciously like Fallen, which I hated, but I'll see when I get to it.
One Moment - Kristina McBride One Moment is a book about Maggie Reynolds, a teenage girl going into what she thinks will be the best summer of her life. She loves her boyfriend, she has four awesome friends, and everything seems to be going her way. This book is one that brings alive what it means to be a teenager as their summer takes a sudden turn, spinning on a moment that takes one of them away forever, and threatens to tear their group apart. The writing in this book drew me in - it is incredibly descriptive and lyrical, so much so that at times if I closed my eyes after reading a sentence, I could exactly picture that in my head. Lush summer days, the rush of first love, days at the beach - it's there, painted in words across the page, and I really enjoyed it. That's exactly what a book should do, and it made the pages leap by, taking me into Maggie's head as she struggles to cope with her feelings. She's a teenage girl who is incredibly in love with her boyfriend, whose life up until now has been incredibly normal.. School and homework, friendship, summer and swimming and parties. Then everything changes in the span of one afternoon - the description for this book is very accurate, here. It shows how everything can change in an instant. The rest of the book takes us through Maggie's memories, and her struggles to deal with the realization that nothing is quite as perfect as it seems, including her friends and Joey, and how she finds her way forward from having her life fall apart around her. I found all of the characters very believable, here, and it seemed to be an accurate examination of what it's like to lose someone and then find out that on top of them being gone forever, they're not who you thought they were. Maggie's pain is very real as she deals with the loss of Joey and then slowly realizes that the people around her have been holding things back, including one of her closest friends, Adam. Through her thoughts and memories we see her struggle to deal with her heartache and pain over losing Joey, and the pain of realizing that he was never quite the person that she thought he was. Tanna, Shannon and Adam come alive through Maggie's eyes, and through them you sometimes see Maggie reflected back - the expectations that she has, and how naive they think she has been, in some ways. And even if Maggie can't see their pain, it comes across in their conversations, things that Maggie notices but might not understand - that was one thing that stood out to me about the writing in this book. The book isn't completely perfect, which is why I only gave it four stars. The sessions with the therapist - the one part that I would have changed a bit. Coming off of the whirlwind of emotions that the rest of the book has explored, it feels too rushed - I didn't feel it quite matched, that the characters or the reader is quite ready for it. Overall I found this book to be one that touched me. I could feel Maggie's pain, confusion and frustration, and it was easy to sympathise with her situation as she deals with her loss and her memories, and finding a way forward. Life as a teenager isn't as easy as we like to think, sometimes. An e-galley was generously provided through Netgalley for review.
Spell Bound - Rachel Hawkins My thoughts coming into this book were that it was a nice little trilogy so far. It hadn't blown me out of the water, but I liked Sophie and her spunk - her sense of humour, and that she felt real. She was torn between two boys, she wasn't sure whether she wanted her powers, she was conflicted about her father and she cared a lot about her best friend. This book left me with a sense of wanting more - I created a new tag, actually, though I'm sure it'll be used on other books that I read. I just wanted more. When you spend three books building up to a climax, I guess I just expect more of it than for it all to be over within a matter of ages. Mrs Casnoff and Cal did more to save the day than Sophie did, I felt, and that disappointed me - I want a female heroine who kicks butt all the way to the end, and isn't rescued by others. I wanted to learn more about the Brannicks, more about the villains, more about Sophie's feelings about Cal and Archer. I was also incredibly saddened by Cal's death - it felt like a cheap resolution to the romance subplot, which I didn't feel was completely resolved before this happened. Elodie basically implying that she'll 'wear him down' didn't sit right with me, either.That's why I ended up giving this one three stars - it was good, but I wanted more from it. It doesn't disappoint, but it doesn't surprise, either.
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein I wasn't sure about this book, when I started reading. I had come across it here on Goodreads when someone marked it as a book that they wanted to read, so I added it to my own list. Then it was available as a 'Read Now!' on Netgalley, so I picked it up.My hesitation lasted as I started the book, up until about a quarter of the way through - but something about it intrigued me, so I kept reading.I'm very glad that I did.Code Name Verity is a book that will tug at your heart. It is the story of two young women - Maddie and Queenie - and their friendship, set against the backdrop of World War II and their contributions to it. Queenie has been captured, and in the book she sets out to tell her story, partly seen through her eyes, partly seen through Maddie's.The point of view and tense changes are what threw me at first - I felt distanced from it at times, wondering in the back of my head whether a person would really write about themselves this way, looking at themselves through another person's eyes. At times there would be an observation that would come across as arrogant, because in the back of my head I would remember that this was Queenie, writing about Maddie's perception of herself.I wanted to keep reading, though, and the book drew me in. Through the story you get the background, the setting of what it was like during World War II - what the people were like, not just the main characters. It is a story of two strong women - and let's just stop for a moment, and appreciate that. How often is it that we get a book about a woman that doesn't have a male as the main secondary character? Code Name Verity defies those odds, and it passes the Bechdel test in flying colours. One thing I loved about this book is that the men in it are really part of the backdrop - women are at the forefront. What the war was like for women who wanted to play a part, and of course, Queenie and Maddie's friendship and love for each other - and ultimately, about the strength that each of them has.It is a story of the impossibilities of war, the choices that people make when they think they have no choices left. The strength that they find inside themselves when they think that they are impossibly weak, and true bravery. At times the book is bleak, at other times it is triumphant, and at times it is incredibly poignant - I will admit that it had me in tears more than once, by the end.I'd recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction, anyone who loves reading about strong women and friendship. If these aren't your thing, I'd still give it a try. It's an amazing book, one I can see myself rereading.
All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot I have such good memories of these books... Charming, warm, funny, engaging and even sad at times, James Herriot writes about animals and farming and life and love in a style that appeals to all types and ages, I think. I may have to create a 're-read' tag just for books like these!
Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West - Marguerite Henry I remember reading this as a teenager and loving it. A spirited girl named Annie, who encounters more than her fair share of trials growing up, a dash of romance, and a love of horses... I was hooked. I'd have to do some research to see how accurate it is, but from what I remember, it's a good combination of story telling and history - definitely a favourite I remember.
The Sword of Shannara - Terry Brooks This book will always have a fond place in my heart, since it was one of the first older fantasy books that I read. Terry Brooks is fond of repetitiveness and there are a lot of tropes in his writing, but at the time I loved this book and its sequels with a passion. I'd still recommend them to younger readers as an introduction to fantasy.
Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins Wow, I zoomed through this!I really enjoyed this book. Our heroine, Sophie (not Sophia!) is sarcastic and easy to empathise with - even when she's terrified she can come up with a quip or two, and there were only a couple of times when I found this grating. At first I was reminded very strongly of HP, but that faded as I got in to the main part of the book, and learned more about the setting and the characters. Yes, there's the school, the love interest - but there's more than that, enough to keep me reading and interested.There were a few things that were predictable, but the heroine was interesting enough to keep me engaged, refreshing and interesting. It's nice to have a female heroine who gets scared but is strong, who has a crush but doesn't swoon, and who is awkward but makes friends. Too many authors seem to have characters who are either too perfect or plagued with doom, this was a good balance. If I have any complaint, it's that things weren't fleshed out more - I would have liked to read more of the interactions at the school. You've got me interested, tell me more! A promising start for this series.
The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss The first book was really good, so I wanted to like this one... But I feel like a huge chunk of it was indulgent and took away one of the flaws of the main character (awkwardness with women) without serving the plot at all. I really feel as though a portion of this book could have been left out, and the main character is approaching a canon Stu. I'll read the third one when it comes out, but mostly because I hope it'll be better.
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss Engrossing. There's a lyrical style at work here, and it really drew me in and it has me eager to find out and learn more - about the main character, about the world, about the people around him... About story arcs that have been begun here but clearly not concluded. There's romance and friendship and vengeance and antagonism, and it's not bogged down and... heavy in the only word I can think of that's descriptive enough. Some epic fantasy seems to get dragged down, and I find it difficult to get through. This is about the opposite - the kind of book where you read for almost two hours and barely notice the time passing. I'm looking forward to the second one!