Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

     There are some books that lodge themselves deep inside your heart, and you can't point your finger on WHY. That's this book for me.
     Paper towns is about a boy named Q, who is in love with the girl next door. He hasn't spoken to her since they were eleven, though- the day they found the dead body in the park. He admires her from afar, until one night, weeks away from Senior Graduation, Margo shows up outside his window and wants Q to come with her on an adventure. After a night of pranks, Q thinks that maybe they'll finally be friends again, and maybe he'll have a chance with her. But that all changes when Margo runs away and stays away for longer than usual. Margo is famous for her runnings away- a trip to Mississippi, breaking into Universal Studios- and she always leaves clues for her parents to find out where she is, though they never try. This time, Margo leaves the clues for Q, and as he uncovers them, he finds something that leads him to believe that she's going to commit suicide. The race is on to find her- dead or alive- at any cost.
     Paper Towns could be said to have multiple themes- accepting people for who they are, for example- but I think the thing I will take most out of the book is the main focus, which is an element that lasts throughout the book. No spoilers, but it's about the way we see people.
     I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the language and not unfrequent sexual inuendos. I laughed so hard while reading it; the humor was great.
     I would recommend this book to John Green lovers, and people who want to read a mystery that's not only suspenseful, but prolific.
     This is going to be a short review, because as I can't figure out what it was about this book that I loved so much, I don't have much to say. But I can say this: Give the book a shot, because you (like me) will be very surprised at what you will find.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Second Chance by Heather Brewer

     I want to start this review off by doing something different: I want to rant and rave about Heather Brewer.
     Years ago, I read The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites, and I fell in love with that world. I read every book that was already available and eagerly awaited those that were yet to be released. I wanted to be a vampire so badly. And then when Twelfth Grade Kills came out, the perfect world I'd lived in for so long came to a close. I thought I'd never get to be a part of that world again.
     But then the Slayer Chronicles came out, and I got to experience "Life from the other side of the stake" as the tag line goes. I remember when the second one came out, I was supposed to be spending time with my cousin, but there was no way I was taking my eyes from that book. I ended up spending her entire visit on the front porch swing, reading that book.
     Heather Brewer is an incredible author. Her books aren't three inches thick, they aren't difficult reads, and there's nothing vulgar or sexual in any of the seven books based in Vlad's world. I haven't read any of her books from her other series, though I do own Legacy of Tril, so the above statement is solely taken from the one's I have read (Her other books may be the same way, but I haven't read them to tell you). The picture Heather paints with her words and the story line of her books is just incredible. She's so talented, and she's an author that actually cares about her fans (or Minions, as we're referred to).
     That being said, with the last book in the Vampiric world I've come to love being released, I decided to reread the last book in the series, Second Chance, to refresh my memory.
     Second Chance is book two in the Slayer Chronicles series, and it's all about Joss McMIlan, the invisible boy; the vampire slayer. Joss' sister Cecile, was murdered by vampires, right out from under his nose, and he'd been so scared that he'd done nothing to try and help her. He blames himself for not protecting her, and once his Uncle Abraham recruits him into the Slayer Society, he finds a way to get revenge and search for the monster who took his precious baby sister's life. After learning the trade in the first book, and taking an illegal, private job over the summer, Joss is called to Manhattan to help his Slayer family dispose of a fanged serial killer, but once he gets there, he discovers that the Society knows about the private job he took, and they doubt his loyalties. To prove himself, Joss has to take the lead for this job, making all the decisions for the team, taking the falls, and celebrating the successes. It's something he's never done- something he wasn't even sure how to do- but it's the only way to make everyone see that he could be trusted, so he accepts the position and takes on the challenge. As he searches for the killer, things are uncovered that make the task even more difficult than it already was, and when a strange being keeps showing up, giving Joss clues and hints, he starts to wonder who he can really rely on, and who's just playing with his head.
     I loved the book just as much as I loved the other Chronicles books, and I wouldn't change a thing about them. If you're a vampire enthusiast, these are good books for you- it's not necessarily your typical Dracula type vampire, and the stories are set in our modern world. These are some of the best books I've read, and I have nothing bad to say about any of them.
     If you haven't read any of Heather Brewer's books, I strongly suggest- no, I URGE you- to go out and pick up a copy of Eighth Grade Bites. Just look for the cover depicting a boy wearing a black hoodie with a Vampiric smiley face on the front. It's a great world to delve into.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

     After falling in love with not only the story line, but John Green's writing style as well, of The Fault In Our Stars, I picked up Looking for Alaska. I was told by many people how great this book was, and I was excited to start.
     I get that most teenagers nowadays are all about drinking and smoking and sex, but geez- almost the whole book had SOMETHING to do with one of those three things. I skipped so many pages due to vulgarity, and I was shocked. If that's what you're into, if you like that type of behavior, and support it, then this is a book for you, but I don't agree with it, which was a major reason that I didn't like this book.
     The first half of Looking for Alaska was about a boy named Miles who leaves his public school in Florida to go to a boarding school in Alabama, looking for a Great Perhaps. At this new school, he immediately falls in with a group of friends, something he never had at his old school, and his life changes. His new friends include his roommate, known as the Colonel, and the sexy, mysterious, Alaska Young. In this part of the book, Miles becomes close with these kids, and discovers his feelings for Alaska. Along the way, Miles goes from the innocent, do-good kid, to the kid who smokes and drinks and has sex just like the Colonel and Alaska. To sum up the first half of the book: leaves home, goes to new school, smoke, cuss, smoke, drink, cuss, cuss, smoke, drink, smoke, pull pranks, drink, smoke, hook up, smoke, smoke, make out, smoke, drink. In the second half of the book, the sexual scenes cease, but the rest continues. The book is separated into two parts- the first being before the death of a character, the second being after the death- and while the first half is about Miles fitting in and finding himself, the second half is about the group of friends searching for answers about their friend's death.
     Where is the "Don't change yourself for other people- Be you"? Because Miles changed his entire self t be like his friends. He picked up smoking and drinking just because his friends did it, and if they could do it, so could he. What does that say to teens? Be who your friends are, not who you are? Don't stand up for what you believe in? Go along with everything your friends do, and join in?
     I wanted to put this book down multiple times wile reading it, but since I already knew which character was going to die -Thank you, Spoilers!- I had to find out what happened. It did keep me laughing, though, which is why I gave it two stars instead of one. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
     If you loved this book, then I respect your opinion, but I was just honestly disappointed with it. The language and behavior was not my forte, and I hope the rest of his books aren't like this. Again, this is just my personal opinion.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

     I'm not a big fan of contemporary romance, but everyone was raving about Fangirl and I knew I had to give it a try, so I started it last night. I did not want to put it down for anything. I couldn't sleep very well- I left off at an important chapter!- and then I had to endure a family dinner when there were less that 20 chapters left in the whole book. I was entranced. I adore this book for multiple reasons, which I will get to, but first: A synopsis.   
      Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is based around the life of Cath Avery, a freshman in college, an introvert, and, obviously, a fangirl. Cath has been one of the major fangirls, along with her identical twin sister, Wren, for as long as she could remember- The Simon Snow series was a worldwide phenom, books and movies and posters and fanfic. Lots and lots of fanfic. As a matter of fact, Cath is the creator of the biggest fanfic story of the past two years. When she and her sister head off to college, Cath has to learn to adjust to the lack of time she has to write her story, as well as figuring out her roommate and her roommate's overly-friendly-always-smiling personality. Between classes, writing her Simon Snow fanfic, studying, and going back home to check on her hare-brained dad, Cath can't handle much more stress; but that's just what she gets. Her mother, -who left when the girls were in third grade- suddenly wants to be a part of their lives, and Wren wants it too. Cath is strictly against anything that has to do with her mother- How dare she have the nerve to show up AFTER the parenting job was already done?!- and won't have anyone changing her mind. And then, to top it off, there's a boy. A boy who loves her fanfic, who loves farming, and who loves HER, and that was not something Cath hadn't planned on. That being said, she hadn't exactly planned on growing so distant from her sister and built-in best friend, either.
      Though the characters in this book were in college, I could actually relate to Cath a lot. She was part of a world-wide fandom, and she dedicates her life to it. You could say it... consumes her. It's nice to have a character so dedicated to her fandom- it's a real-life portrayal of how us bookworms really are. 
      Like I said, contemporary romance... Not generally my thing, but Fangirl... definitely broke the mold for the category. It was truly a wonderful read, and I'm so, so pleased to say that there were NO SEX SCENES!!! Quite a lot of language, and cussing, and she took her shirt off once, but other than that, I was elated to finish the book and not have found a single sexual scene. Refreshing, so refreshing. My respect lever for this author has skyrocketed.
     Most times when I finish a book, I'm sad that it's over and I want more. More, more, more! For Fangirl, though, I was extremely satisfied with the ending. There was a feeling of closure and rightness and "That was just perfect". It's the only novel that actually makes me giddy while reading. I'd stop to speak to my family and I'd be in a good mood- all smiles and laughs- just because the book had that affect on me. It just made me happy. Now that it's over, I don't want more, because I feel that anymore would ruin the perfectness of the story.
      I would recommend this book to every nerd girl out there. It's easy to relate with is you're a booknerd, and it makes you feel like, hey, maybe there really is a guy out there who will not only accept my obsession with books and fictional characters, but who will also encourage it. 
     Sorry if that's been an extra long and peppy review, I'm just really enthusiastic about this book. It's an absolute masterpiece.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Review: If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

     This book was recommended to me through Twitter- I was told it was just as emotionally damaging as The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Call me masochistic, but those are my favorite kinds of books- the ones that pull me into the story so much that I cry my eyes out when tragedy strikes. To me, the book is not good enough unless I cry during the sad moments. Sometimes there is an exception, but this rule stands true for most of my reads. So I went to the bookstore the next day and bought this book, then after finishing my stack, I started If He Had Been With Me, ready for tears that never came.
     Autumn is a misfit. She wears a tiara to school everyday, her jeans are ripped, and she is far from popular. Finny lives next door. They used to be best friends, but in middle school they drifted apart and now they hardly speak. Autumn misses having him around all the time, but they're at such opposite ends of the spectrum, that it would be considered wrong for her to associate with him. She has a boyfriend, Jamie, and he's just as much of an outcast as her. Actually, their whole group of friends are misfits- and they're okay with that. One day, Finny is driving in the rain, arguing with his girlfriend, and they crash. The girlfriend makes it out unscathed, but Finny doesn't survive. This is the story of Before- of what happened leading up to that night- told by Autumn.
     I didn't care too much for this book. It was contemporary romance, and everything was high school and teenage drama and relationships and sex and bad choices. I was tempted to abandon it more than a few times, but I didn't, only because I liked Finny's character. Not once did I cry, but like I said, it doesn't always happen that I do, but I just couldn't get into this story. It wasn't my normal read, but I thought I'd give it a shot, and I wasn't really a fan. That's not to say that you wouldn't like it, as the person who recommended it to me was into it, but it just didn't snatch my attention. I give it a 1 1/2 of 5 stars, and I recommend it to those who like contemporary romance revolving around high school drama. It's nothing personal to the story, I just don't play into drama and things like that- I'm not big into everyone's personal problems.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Land of Dragor: The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki

Land of Dragor: The Gift of Charms by Julia Suzuki, is the first in a fantasy/adventure series for children ages 8-12, and can you guess what it's about? No? Okay, then I'll be happy to tell you. It's about Dragons. It's mystical and innocent and sweet.
     Yoshiko is a red dragon of he Nephan Clan. He and all the other dragons live in Dragor- a place hidden from all humans- a place where they are safe. As Yoshiko grows up, he becomes the blunt of jokes at Fire School, and it doesn't help that he has to hide the fact that his scales change colors. One day after some taunting, he flies off to the forbidden Cattlewick Cave to seek refuge; It is there that Yoshiko meets Guya, a wise old dragon who tells him that if he masters a set of three tasks, he would find out why it is that his scales change color. The young dragon sets to training with a family friend, who is part of the Guard, and he builds his skills so that he can complete the tasks given to him by Guya. Once he has trained for a long period of time, Yoshiko returns to Cattleswick Cave to display his skills. Guya shows Yoshiko a prophecy- his destiny to restore peace in the land of Dragor by returning the lost Charms of the dragon clans- and gives him the instructions he needs to send him on his way. But there's a catch. To bring the Charms back to Dragor would mean the young dragon would have to break the rules of the dragons and leave their safe haven. Has all the training that Yoshiko went through been enough to prepare him for this journey? Will he be able to recover the Charms in time to save his friends and family?
     With an underlying message about embracing everything that makes you different from others, I recommend this book to children who like fantastical books. It's a series, so there're more to come, and it's an easy read- most children should have no trouble reading this one. Every elementary and middle school library would benefit by adding The Gift of Charms to their collection. It could be that book that sparks a child's interest in reading.

                                                                Author: Julia Suzuki

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


      Usually, my reviews are long- a few paragraphs at least- but I'm going to keep this one short and sweet.
     I've been wanting to read Th1rteen R3asons Why for about two months now, but I had to read the stack I had at home first. I bought this book, literally two days ago, and finished it about an hour ago, after which I sat and just thought. Thought about life. About how I treat others. About the snowball effect. About suicide (Not committing it, but the concept of it). About this novel. It's a very deep read- I mean... Wow.
     Thirteen Reasons Why is about Clay Jensen, a boy who comes home one day and finds a mysterious package on his doorstep, with no return address. When he opens the box, he finds a set of cassette tapes, and what he finds when he plays them sends him on a whirlwind. The tapes were voice recordings from Hannah Baker- a girl who just recently committed suicide- a girl who Clay had had a crush on for quite a while. As he listens, he finds out that each cassette is dedicated to a person, and each of those people had something to do with her decision in swallowing that handful of pills. Unsure of what he did to be a cause of her death, Clay is forced to listen to each of the tapes as instructed by Hannah through recording, or her story- the real story told through the cassettes- would be given to the public to hear.
     A strong novel about suicide, and how your actions affect others, I think this should be a required read. In fact, I'm calling my old English teacher this afternoon to see what I can do about that. I cannot urge you strongly enough to go out and pick up a copy of this book. Go out, snatch it up, and please... just take the time to read it. It could save someone's life.
     I would recommend this story to every single person out there - reader or non-reader they may be. I've never read something so deep and thought provoking, which is saying something, since I'm a fan of John Green. I give this a five of five stars. On a ten scale rating, I'd give it ten in a heart beat. I spouted off the number ten with ease and certainty when my mom asked about twenty minutes ago. I hold this book with the highest regards- now the only trouble is deciding whether I want to keep this copy for myself, or pass it around so that more than just myself can get a chance to experience the rollercoaster I've just ridden.      
     Well... So much for a short review. I just don't want to stop talking about the Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. If you've already read the book, I suggest you follow the links:

Share Your Story:
Listen to Hannah's Tapes:
Share Your Thoughts:
     Mr. Asher, if you have taken the time to read this review, I just want to say that this is one of the most awe-inspiring books I have read in my sixteen years. I want to personally thank you for writing this, and if I could find that "extremely dark road slicked with ice" on the way to Sheridan, Wyoming, I would go there to see the birthplace of Thirteen Reasons Why. I really would.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Book Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

     The first book- I had my doubts.    
     The second book- It got better.   
     The third book- It stole my heart.
     The story of Tessa, Will, and Jem is continued in Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, as they search for Mortmain and work to keep Charlotte at the Head of the Institute. When Jesssamine is brought back home to the Institute from the Silent City, Mortmain sends his Automatons to attack the Shadowhunters. It's a bloody fight, with lives lost, and amongst it all, Tessa is kidnapped and taken to Mortmain's hide out. To make things worse, Jem falls suddenly and deathly ill from the lack of yen fin, and Will is torn in two. Should he stay with his parabatai, or go after the girl he loves- his best friend's fiancee? When Jem, on his death bed, sends Will to go rescue Tessa, his best friend agrees, reluctantly, and the story is set in it's direction.
     I genuinely loved this book. The love triangle is the only true triangle I've read about, where each person loves the other two with all of their heart. All of the relationships in this book are so true and endearing, and with the story based in the 1800's, I couldn't get enough.
     Conclusion as it may be, the ending of the series was perfect in my eyes. I won't give any spoilers, but you will need a box of tissues more than once throughout the book. I advise you not to wear mascara while reading Clockwork Princess- all of mine came off on tissues.   
     I would recommend this book to any fans of Mortal Instruments, and if you've read The first two of the Infernal Devices series, you definitely need to read the finale book. I cannot give this book enough praise- not enough stars for me to rate it with!   
     "At last, the wheel comes full circle."

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