18 December 2011

Quick Reviews: Young Adult

So I've read a lot of books but have yet to write reviews about them and now it's a little too late to write full ones so I'm just going to list a few with quick reviews. Some of these, I haven't read since 2007 or even earlier, and some I've read just last week.

And my God. I really need to stop reading YAs. They're giving me a headache with all the angst. (You may see me bashing on some (of the angsty variety) in here because of my headache... but then again, below are only YA books that I like(d))
By the way, books are listed in alphabetical order.


I think the ending was what won me over. Not the ending, necessarily, but near the ending when Rosalinda, the awkward, kind heroine, had the ultimate revelation. It was so sad and the unfairness of it all had me crying (puppy murder and the like make me sad but dry-eyed (I'm jaded, so sue me) but worldly unfairness has me bawling with frustration).

Anyways, it was an interesting story and enjoyable enough but not very different from most dystopians. 

Although a bit repetitive, it didn't have me wanting to pull my hair out. Samantha really developed as a person and watching her repeat that last day over and over again and the different things she did each time made me feel nostalgic, in a way. Before I Fall was touching and not a story I will soon forget.

I just loved the world Laini Taylor created in this story. Although Karou and her surrogate, demon family were very interesting indeed, I think the world Laini Taylor created was the main attraction. It was our everyday, modern world with a secret teeth-dealing, wish-granting, magical one hidden behind select doors all over the globe.

In my opinion, this first installment was not much of a story, more of an introduction. But unlike most introductions, it just pulled you in from the start and wouldn't let you go till the very end. When I got to the end, I just couldn't believe it passed by so fast! (418 pages, by the way, is not short) But time flies when you're having fun.

Even though it's been a very long time since I've read (err, reread) this cute little fairy tale, I just had to review it. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favorite storytellers and although I feel as if I have outgrown her stories, I will forever remembering enjoying them. And who knows. Maybe I haven't outgrown her stories quite yet.

Ella was such a strong character and I remember really admiring her (and also envying her for her adventures). And the world Levine spun was such an exciting place for the ten-year-old me. I recommend this and any of Levine's other tales to anyone, young or old. (By the way, the movie sucked.)

A love story, simply put. Every character was well developed and it was interesting to see where this story led to. Personally, I wasn't rooting for Bryn and William till near the middle but nonetheless, I was touched by their love. There were happy moments, and sad, and just tugged at my heartstrings. It was a bit Romeo and Juliet for my liking, though. (I thought Romeo was a pompous ass, if you were wondering. And yes, I have managed to read the whole play.)

 Is it really wrong to just want to... live? 

Grace and her companion, whom for most of this journey she does not know anything about, ponder this question and ultimately come up with an answer. That no. It is not wrong. 

Grace had been raised as an Angel, or a suicide bomber, in rebellion to the country in which she was born into. For the people who have scorned her for her mixed heritage, she was to give up her life, but unlike many before her who had done the same thing, she chooses not to, and thus, begins her journey. This story takes place during a train ride where Grace tells us about her past and life before she decided to flee her country. At first it was on the confusing side but then, piece by piece, we get the full story and understand why she chose to do why she did.

This story is one of adventure and action but had one of the sweetest relationships in YA, in my opinion. I really felt the attraction, not just physical, between Katsa and Po, and even though they performed in the carnal acts, I still felt like their love was innocent and sweet. I was rooting for them from the very start and am curious over what has happened to them.

But that wasn't the main element of this tale, I think. The adventure and action was exciting and pulled me in. Katsa was a strong female lead but so was Po and I admired them both for their headstrong thinking and general will to live.

Really, really liked this one. Teenage angst and all. Although, it's been about two-to-four years since I've read this but when I did, I really enjoyed it. Wes, day-um. Edward Cullen's got nothing on Wes. But then again, they're nothing alike. Either way, I loved the slow build of romance between Wes and Macy. It was so cute and innocent, as is most of Sarah Dessen's stories. And the rest of the characters were fun and Dessen really brought them alive for me.

10 December 2011

REVIEW: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Publisher: Razorbill
21 November 2011
356 Pages
Genre: Young Adult

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. 

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

R E V I E W :

I loved the message this story told us. That a single thing in the present can create a ripple effect and change our future. I've always been interested in this (namely the Butterfly Effect) and seeing the way how something seemingly so simple and mundane can actually cause a huge, drastic change.

Anyways, enough philosophy-ing.

Not being a fan of the '90s, nor having lived through most of them, I didn't really get most of the references but it didn't impair my reading and enjoyment (although, this novel will probably fast become out-dated because of this). And reading about how the people back then lived, although it was only a minor part of this story, was interesting and I felt like I was in on a private joke. When it mentioned that Josh's father thought Ellen DeGeneres might be gay, I had to fight a snicker.

At first, I was expecting suspense at what this 'weird thing' between them was (although I had a hunch) but luckily, as I am not the patient type, it was mentioned near the beginning and I understood why Emma did what she did. I was kind of annoyed when Emma kept changing her future because whatever she saw, she didn't like. But I would've probably done the same thing, given the choice. The characters were likable enough, if you looked past Emma's no-emotion relationships (which I noticed a lot of people have a problem doing). It's not as if Emma's boyfriends were in love with her. They were all looking for the same 'fun times' without the emotion. As I was saying, the characters were likable but I couldn't really relate to them.

The plot. I think that was the best part of this novel. Emma and Josh discover Facebook. Which wasn't invented yet. And because of this, they get closer to each other. Then farther. Then closer again as they deal with what they see on Facebook. Emma decides that she doesn't like her future and goes about trying to change it while Josh, as future graphic designer and married to the hottest girl in school, loves his and tries to make it happen faster. After a few bumps in the road, Emma realizes that she should just live in the moment and not try to fix up her future while Josh realizes that he doesn't love Sydney. Now or probably ever.

The Future of Us was a fairly light, fast read but it was very interesting. I remember the time when I used AOL and how it kept holding up my phone lines. Annoying as hell.

01 December 2011

REVIEW: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Publisher: Feral Dream
21 May 2011
255 Pages

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

R E V I E W :

This book submerges us into the story from the very beginning. Penryn and her family, which consists of an insane mother and wheelchair-bound little sister, choose to risk running into supernatural creatures, which have taken over earth, by leaving their building during the night instead of going out in the daytime which would bring them to the more common risk of being caught by gangs. Whom have taken over the streets. Or at least seem to.

Susan Ee brings us information about this post-apocalyptic world she created in manageable pieces, but sometimes I thought she over-explained Penryn's mommy issues. But Penryn's mother is very complicated. Although seemingly completely loco, and not in the good way, she had a genuine love for her two children and it could be felt through her actions.

Beware: There was some gory and disturbing scenes in this book, but not to worry, Susan Ee didn't go into too much detail on those.

Something, not sure what, annoyed me about Penryn's voice and how she narrated the story (this book is in first person, by the way), but not to the point that I stopped reading, and good thing too because this is now one of my favorite supernatural/dystopian books.

I also liked the romance in this one, which means, it was subtle and took awhile to grow. In fact, it's still growing and there was not, it seemed, a single mention of the word love between the two main protagonists, Penryn and Raffie. But through their actions, one can tell they cared for one another.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd like to say that I'm thankful that I did not have to wade through a hormonal teenager's inane thoughts and pondering. Too busy concentrating on survival and rescuing her young sister, Penryn didn't analyze every single thing that Raffie did and why, like most young adult novels. Which I found refreshing. In fact, I barely thought about the romance between the two. But that's not to say it wasn't there. People who want to read a book with romance will like this too. Unless you're looking for the we-met-five-seconds-ago-but-now-we're-creepy-obsessed-in-love.

please comment on my review. pointers, advice, and constructive critism is very much appreciated. thanks!

26 November 2011

"If I could find the butterfly that flapped its wings before we got into the car that day, I would crush it."
-Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler


Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
1 June 2009
290 Pages

"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

02 June 2011

COMING SOON: Possession by Elana Johnson

 Oh I'm always in the mood for a good dystopian. Elana Johnson's debut novel Possession is one such tale. As common in most dystopian novels, the citizens are a bit clueless and just follow along. I'm not sure if the citizens are really brainwashed or just seriously convinced (I haven't read the book yet) but it's obvious what the Thinkers are for in this society. Yup. They think. The Thinkers. No fancy name like The Society (Matched) or The Elder (Across the Universe)... Anyways! There is that one boy (jk. It's a girl) who thinks outside the box; Vi (short for Violet?). Then there's the dreaded love triangle. I don't really like love triangles because I always feel bad for the one left behind.
So, YA Highway is having a giveaway! Hurry up because it ends on the sixth!
Oooh. And an excerpt!

By the way, this post kind of sounds like I'm making fun of the book but I'm not. I'm actually kind of interested in reading it.


Possession (Possession #1)
by Elana Johnson 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
07 June 2011
416 Pages

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

30 May 2011

REVIEW: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

by Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
07 September 2010
288 Pages

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

R E V I E W :
I really liked this book. Maybe I even love it (I'm pulling a Bianca). Bianca, the main character and Little Miss Cynical, refused to believe that a teenage girl at the tender age of 17 can truly be in love. In fact, she refuses to believe to the very end. Which brings us to the ending. Which is my favorite kind of ending. 

All the characters (not just the two main ones) were very well developed and had their own problems but not to the point of being in danger of being a soap drama. Kody Keplinger really brought the characters alive for me and I came to care and sympathize with them all. By the ending of the story, all the characters were working through their problems and well on their way to the allusive happy ending, but not quite there yet. There was no tidy Cinderella ending where Bianca and Wesley marry or something absurd like that, such as Bianca's mother, who was MIA for several months, coming home and rekindling her crumbling marriage (didn't happen, by the way). But even so, I was really satisfied with how the story left off.

But my favorite part of this novel had to be the characters. Again I will say, I fell in 'like' with them all. Sure, there were a few times when I wanted to strangle a particular character (*cough cough* Bianca *cough*), but admittedly not as much as in most books.
The romance... 'like' between Bianca and Wesley is, I think, believable and I really saw the connection.

Predictable, yes. Flaws, yes. But there was just something I really liked about this book that it would be dishonest if I didn't give it all five stars.

 Now for more detail...
Bianca's life seems to be falling apart. Her mother is touring the states and leaving her alone to deal with her father's declining sobriety. Oh, and a few other things, including her obsession over what that butthole Wesley called her before she downed her Cherry Coke on his expensive polo. 

Designated Ugly Fat Friend. 

To escape reality herself, she has sex with Wesley, the man slut of her school; the guy she hates. He's a son of a female-dog and an-illegitimate-son (this is a curse, not an actual description), but he's pretty darn sexy and knows how to kiss (and other stuff...) pretty darn well. Wesley helps her to escape her emotional, inner turmoil and become a physical, sensual being and pretty soon, she's visiting him a few times a week. This doesn't really help her problems though, which she, and her mother, realizes later, but it helped to run away from it all, even for just a few hours. Then comes a problem, it's not just physical anymore.

I loved Bianca and her sharp wit even if she was a bit cynical and bitter for my taste. I enjoyed seeing the world from her perspective and I could relate to her, especially when she gave names to things, like the Skinny Squad for the cheerleaders. She was an enjoyable and funny character and I admired her dedication and loyalty to her friends, even if she went off track with them for awhile.
Wesley was the classical misunderstood bad boy. He was a player and desired the 'company' of girls because of the neglect of his parents and disapproval of his grandmother. At first, he came off as an arrogant 'horn dog poop' but once Bianca spent more time with him, she saw that he was... less arrogant and more genuine than she first thought. I loved how Wesley got her to play pool and video games with him before they did 'The Deed'. Very sneaky.

"I wanted to make sure you were fine...
and that he was okay, too. You didn't,
like, stab the boy, did you? I mean, I
totally disapprove of murdering hotties,
but if you need help burying the body,
you know I'll bring the shovel."

I loved her friends. They had their quirks and flaws, but who doesn't?

"Functionality is overrated."