30 November 2015

Review: Coraline

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Neil Gaiman
Format: eBook
Pages: 162
Rating: 6 out of 10

This review, upon review, may contain some spoilery info and is mostly a rant about it's creepiness.

Summary (Thanks Goodreads): Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.
What I Think: This book is the creepiest thing ever. The movie? Just as creepy! Button eyes? This is a children's book? Coraline, why did you go through the door? Look what happens when you don't listen to your parents! This is what you get! Chased by a hand off a lady with button eyes! See. I bet you wish you didn't steal that key, don't you?
A lot of weird stuff happens in this novel that is kind of fantastic (Fan-tas-tic: /fan'tastik/: adj. 1.imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality). It was hard to follow at some points but I loath to admit that since it's a children's novel. Whatever. 
I think that the writing and vocabulary was great. It's a simple read and it's becoming one of those novels that people just read to be up on what's happening in the world. It won't take you too long should you choose to endure the super scary story.

25 November 2015

Review: Between Shades of Gray

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 9 out of 10

Summary (via Goodreads): Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

My Thoughts: I am going to keep this brief because I don't think that I can do it justice, and I also read this in February, and it is now November. This book threw me through the ringer. It devastated me, it informed me and it made me question a whole lot of things on a whole bunch of topics that I admittingly know next to nothing about. This book was written beautifully, and once I started it I couldn't put it down. Don't let that fool you though, because it is still absolutely heartbreaking. The struggles that the main characters faced are unparalleled to anything I can think of, and I'm shocked I didn't know more about the events that happened. Even if you're not into historical fiction, I urge to give this one a chance anyway. It's made me want to get to know more about the events that took place. Lina was the perfect narrator for this story, because she had you hoping or despairing or crying or laughing right along with her. She offered an insight into the world that is hard to achieve, and I cannot recommend this book enough. 

Final Thoughts: There's not much insight I can shed that hasn't already been spoken about in regards to this book, but I hope that I've somehow managed to convince to pick it up and give it a try. It taught me about a world I was completely oblivious to in an amazing way. 

23 November 2015

Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Robin LaFevers
Format: ARC
Pages: 444
Rating: 9 out of 10

**This is the third in this series. The review for Grave Mercy is HERE but I don't think this is too spoilery**

Summary (Bless Goodreads heart): Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

My Thoughts: I won this novel from the love of my life, Goodreads. 

I really enjoyed this novel. I think that it might have been better than the first (I haven't read the second but I have it). I love the time period it's set in. It affects everything about the novel, especially in this one, I think. 

The characters are great because they don't take anything from anyone. I fell in love with this characteristic in Grave Mercy and it seems to have been something the author continued on with. And I felt bad for Annith. All she wanted was to serve the person she joined the convent for and they wouldn't let her. All she wanted to be was who they made her to be. She was the most loyal of all the girls in that place. 

I knew what was up one of the characters before anything happened with them but that didn't make it any less important when it happened. Guessing didn't make me sad because it was so well-written that it didn't matter. 

I think the ending was sufficient but I'm not so sure that immortal characters would react in the ways that we write them. 

My favourite thing about this novel is that it's the kind of novel that puts you in another place with a bunch of people that you feel like you know. You go on an adventure that you could never go on otherwise (not that I would necessarily want to) and you get to experience a million things that will never happen to you (in most cases, it's a good thing). It's just so outside your experiences that you learn something else about the world and you get to be somebody and something else. This is the kind of book everyone means when they say that reading means living a thousand different lives because you get to be something new when you read it. I love that this book, this series, had the ability to make me feel strong and smart and like I can do anything (not unlike Black Widow, I won't lie to you). I think that we need more books like this one. They are the best kinds of books.

So: If you are into that adventure/action thing and are looking for a good series, you can kind some kickass female leads in this series. They are strong and do what needs doing. I like that these books can be read together or apart. Check it out.

21 November 2015

Funny Book Titles

I Win! by U. Lose
Robots by Anne Droid
Danger! by Luke Out
Cloning by Irma Dubble II
Hot Dog! by Frank Furter
Cry Wolf by Al Armist
Wake Up! by Sal Ammoniac
I'm Fine by Howard Yu
Gambling by Monty Carlos
Mensa Man by Gene Yuss

(source: http://www.allowe.com/laughs/book/Funny%20Book%20Titles.htm)

18 November 2015

Review: Red Queen

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Pages: 338
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads, I love you): The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Thoughts: I really need to stop being skeptical about hype surrounding young adult books, especially fantasy books, because without fail, I always end up loving them, and Red Queen was no exception. I loved the world that Victoria Aveyard created, because it was the perfect dystopian setting without being ridiculous or over the top or unbelievable. Everything that happened felt like it  could happen, which isn't even when you're playing with fantastical ideas and characters. 

Maven was definitely a character that I didn't see coming. I didn't expect to root for him even after that huge reveal about him. But, despite that, I'm actually looking forward to what he does next and how it affects Mare and everything that is going on around her. I'm not sure what I think about Cal. If you've read Throne of Glass, he kind of reminds me of Chaol, and I've got some seriously mixed feelings about the both of them. I'm thinkin I'll need to spend some more time with Cal in the next instalment before I decide what to think about him. 

But Mare. I love Mare. Seriously. She is fantastic, and quick, and smart, and extremely capable and she is going to change the game, I just know it. She is a game changer, and she is giving the palace a run for it's money. I'm super excited to see what happens next, because her character could go in either direction. I'm super excited to see where Aveyard takes the rest of  the series because I love literally every character that she introduced.  

Also, how amazeballs is that cover?!

Final Thoughts: If you are a lover of all things young adult and dystopian, this is the perfect novel for you. I cannot wait for The Glass Sword next year! 

16 November 2015

Review: Me Before You

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Jojo Moyes
Format: Paperback
Pages: 369
Rating: 9 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads before me): Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

My Thoughts: THIS BOOK IS THE WORST! IT'S SO MEAN! IT MADE ME CRY SO MUCH! I ugly cried people. Wept. Tears streaming down my face! It's so mean to its readers. 

I loved Lou and that she fought and that she fought for Will. I love how wonderful of a person she is. 

I hate that Will is so sad and that he gives up and that he needs Lou as much as he does.

Kristen says that I should tell you this book is fantastic and that you should read it and that you will never be the same for reading it. All that is true. So you should buy it, and a kleenex box and maybe some chocolate just to be safe.

The writing is great. The language is great. The idea (though heartbreaking) is wonderful. The whole thing is great and I wish I had more to say but I write long posts when I hate books and I loved this one even though it made me cry. I think that if you are ready for a cry than you should check this one out but don't say I didn't warn you.

IT'S JUST SO GREAT (and horrible. I hate crying. I'm so disgusting. Snot everywhere. It's awful.)

10 November 2015

Review: Cinder, Scarlett, Cress, & Fairest


In honour of the release of Winter, I'm doing a big old post about what I thought about the entire series! Let's do this and then immediately dive into Winter, okay? 

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 390
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary (you are the best, Goodreads): Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Thoughts: This book is a Cinderella retelling. This book has one badass main character. Could it get any better? YES. ADD SOME ANDROIDS. AND MARISSA MEYER DID THAT. AND MARISSA MEYER HAS CREATED A MASTERPIECE THAT SHOULD BE READ BY EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT EXISTS. Seriously. I don't know how else to sell it. I had to be sold on it. And I'm so glad that my friend literally forced the book into my hands and said "Sit. Read." If it wasn't such a fantastic book, I would have been insulted. I want to keep most things about this vague just incase you haven't read this, but I will say that this spectacular book was my least favourite in the series. What? Yeah. It only gets better, buckos, and that is a testament. Also, what is everyone thinkin about Prince Kai? Do we like him? I'm indifferent. 

Final Thoughts: Go get. 

Reviewer: Kelsey

Rating: 7 out of 10
Why: This is such a unique way of retelling this classic story. I was impressed by the badassness of the main character and I came to kind of like Kai. I would recommend it.

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 452 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 9 out of 10

Summary (I love you even though you're not an android, Goodreads): Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Thoughts: I know, I know, I am a broken record. But this series just got a whole HECK of a lot better. When I first started this, I didn't know what to expect. I went into it completely blind and because of that I wasn't aware that we didn't follow Cinder and Prince Kai but instead got introduced to the wonderful characters that are Scarlet and Wolf. Hello. Scarlet. Badass. I love her almost more than Cinder, and I am preparing myself for heartbreak because I just love way too many characters from this series. Except Levana, screw that witch. Though, I'm more unsure about Wolf than I am about Prince Kai. I think I like him. The latter, that is. I'm unsure about good ol Wolfy Wolf. 

Final Thoughts: Have you gone and got? Have you loved it? 

Reviewer: Kelsey

Rating: 8 out of 10
Why: This book is every BETTER than Cinder. It is another extremely creative way of retelling this story but the characters are even better. Wolf was a tad creepy and Scarlet did a lot more for him than she needed to but I guess I like him well enough. I love that old characters come back into this story to make the cast even more entertaining than it already was. Give this book a chance, even if you weren't a huge fan of Cinder. I did and I'm so glad.

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 550 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 9.5/10

Summary (love you long time, Goodreads): In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Thoughts: I LOVE CAPTAIN THORNE AND NO BODY CAN STOP ME. HE IS MINE. I LOVE HIM TO INFINITY AND BACK AND HE IS SO PRECIOUS. I also love Cress she is precious and she needs to protected at all costs. And also I love Scarlet. And Cinder. And literally everyone and this series is so good that I've been reduced to a rambling buffoon but I don't care. Cress was definitely my favourite book of the series. The only reason I didn't give it 10/10 is because I put it down for a while, and it took me a really long time to pick it back up. I don't know why. I was loving it, I was invested in the characters. I just got distracted, I guess. 

Final Thoughts: How much do you love Thorne? I love Thorne. 

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 220
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Summary (I love Goodreads as much as Levana hates mirrors): In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

My Thoughts: I LOVE villains. Seriously. Villains are 9 times out of 10 my favourite characters. Evil characters are just so intriguing and I just want to know everything about them. And, ladies and gentlemen, Levana is one of the wickedest (and not in a good way) villains that there is. I'm glad that I read this because we get so much information about Levana and what makes her tick and why she is the way she is and her upbringing. I think that it has added so much to the story without taking anything away. The only reason that I didn't rate this higher is because I thought there was like 100 more pages at the end of the book, but it was a preview for Winter that I didn't read because then I'd be way too excited and I AM STILL BITTER ABOUT IT.

Final Thoughts: If you love this series, and how could you not, you definitely won't regret picking this up. Levana is one wicked mothertrucker. 

And now I am peace-ing out because Winter is waiting for me! Expect a review soon! 

Reviewer: Kelsey
Rating: 7 out of 10

Thoughts: This was both fast and easy to read. I thought that getting some insight into the queen. I was very impressed with how absolutely crazy the author managed to make her sound. I loved getting the back ground and all the insights we have after reading this novel. I was so surprised at the stuff that happened to her. I don't want to spoil anything but holy heck. I didn't have any expectations before reading this book and that made it even better. I'm so glad that I read this novel. 
Also, I agree with Kristen. I love villains. They are so great. Enjoy it! 

9 November 2015

Review: Through to You

Review: Kelsey
Author: Emily Hainsworth
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 out of 10

Summary (Only Goodreads can get through to me): Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. He’d give anything to have just one more glimpse of her. But when Cam visits the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees an apparition. Her name is Nina, and she’s a girl from a parallel world. When Cam follows her there and makes an unbelievable discovery, it’s as if all his wildest dreams have come true. But things are very different in this other world. Nina is hiding a secret, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with the truth, he’s forced to make a choice that will change his life forever.

What I Think: This book had a very interesting concept. Sadly, I think it might have been poorly executed. The problem was that there was nothing spectacular about this novel. The writing was decent but that was all. I wasn't floored by the vocabulary, nor was I made to think about too much. I didn't come to question my existence and I didn't fall madly in love with any characters. The characters were on the page and I was holding the book, more aware of my surroundings that I was of the plot and that's not because anything exciting was happening to me while I was reading this novel. I just don't think that it was my thing. I think that Camden was kind of stupid and a little creepy. I thought that it was bizarre that Nina knew so much about what was happening and that she was able to figure it out at all. Then, it wasn't really explained to the reader. Maybe it just wasn't the right time for me to read this novel. I'm not sure. I can tell you that I was excited for it and then, after I read it, I was horribly disappointed. The cover is beautiful and the blurb sounds half unique but I think it wasn't all it could be. There was too much teenage angst and drama and not enough moving on or growing up or making reasonable decisions. It was just not what I needed to read.

4 November 2015

Review: Second Chance Summer

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Morgan Matson
Pages: 468
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary (you rock, Goodreads, don't ever change): Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
My Thoughts: I decided to pick this up because I was in the mood for a light and summery read, something contemporary but with a bit of a punch. And, I'll admit it, this book punched me right in the face. There was just something that was incredibly raw about it, what Taylor feels, especially in regards to her dad, was so real and vivid. It was like I went on this trip with this family, and I was there while they spent the time that they could with their dad. It was heartbreaking and funny and just what I needed to kick off a huge contemporary binge.

Taylor was a shy, and not so confident main character. She had some issues that she needed to deal with and some relationships she needed to figure out. It was easy to forget that she was only supposed to be 17, because a lot of the time she felt a lot older. This summer was literally Taylor's second chance at everything, and it was refreshing to see her grow and change as a person. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster.

So, now that we have that out of the way, I think we should take some time and talk about the romance. Because who doesn't love some romance? I think that the romance was a little to unbelievable for me at times. There was definitely some insta-love and a whole lot of pining that I didn't quite understand when they had been apart (and not speaking) for literally years. I get the resentment that Henry and Lucy felt, I just didn't get why they were so intense about it. So, for that reason, I couldn't rate it any higher. That was really the only issue I had with it though, so I definitely think you should try this one out if you like contemporary romances with a bit of an emotional punch. Sometimes you just gotta be hit in the face with the feels, man.

Final Thoughts: Not my favourite Morgan Matson novel (I mean, how can you beat Amy and Roger's Epic Detour?) but definitely a book I would re-read. It was the perfect summery novel with an unforgettable story.

2 November 2015

Review: The Fire Sermon

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Francesca Haig
Format: Hardcover (Given to us in exchange for a fair review)
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary (Via Goodreads): Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair one is an Alpha - physically perfect in every way - and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.
With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world's sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.
My Ponderings: Ah yes, a novel with a great division between people that must be overcome for the good of humanity lest they wipe each other out completely...where have I heard this one before. Okay, so the idea isn't alone, but it was actually still pretty good. I felt bad for Cass. I was mad that she was being forced to go through all that she was and that there was little she could do to help herself. I'm glad that once she was finally able to do something for herself, she also took the chance to help someone else along the way. That character trait was a huge plus for me. Zach, on the other hand, was just a lot of nasty words that I can't repeat in front of the children.
What else? Oh, like with The Hunger Games, I don't want to live in the world that Haig paints for us at all. A place where siblings hate each other just for existing. Siblings are (in my mind) always supposed to look out for one another, to love each other when nobody else does, to protect each other and Haig turns this idea on its head, pitting everyone against the person most like them in the world. It's a heartbreaking concept.
The whole world they live in is terrifying, especially when scientists get involved. Prisons? This novel was upsetting...
I loved Kip when he finally made an appearance. He was just an interesting mystery (that I figured out too soon and too late because I already loved him).
The ending of this book made me so angry. It wrapped up just enough for it to be an ending without a cliffhanger but not enough to satisfy me. It was just plain rude what happened. I understand why it happened and that it needed to be done but I am still not pleased and you can say nothing to make me feel better about it.
Basically: This was a good book. It wasn't as good as The Hunger Games but it was better than Divergent. It's suitable for teens but very dark. It fit very well into the YA category. This is not a happy story so don't say I didn't warn you.
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