Thursday, November 14, 2013

Defy by Sara B. Larson

by Sara B. Larson
Publication Date: Jan 7th 2014
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Publisher
Find This Book: Defy
Rating: 5/5

I won this book in a giveaway on Goodreads. This has not altered my opinion in any way and my review will be honest, as usual.

I just want to start off profusely thanking Sara Larson and Scholastic for an arc copy of Defy! I loved this book and it’s characters and have definitely become a fan :) I can’t wait until it comes out and I’ll have people to talk about it with haha. But for now I’ll have to settle for a review.

Defy is about Alexa Hollen, a girl disguised as a guy to serve in the king’s army. Her parents were killed when she and her twin brother, Marcel, were 14. Male orphans are forced into the army, and female orphans are forced into the breeding house where once they hit puberty they are raped to breed more men for the army. To save herself from that fate she and Marcel become twin ‘brothers’ and she now goes by the name Alex. She is pretty badass and unbeatable in a sword fight, which earns her a spot on the elite prince’s guard. How she manages to do all of that without revealing her secret, I have no idea. However, she’s no match for a sorcerer that abducts the prince, herself, and her fellow guard Rylan. Being in close quarters soon makes it obvious that she isn’t a guy, but fortunately for the reader, unfortunately for the characters, everyone has their share of secrets as tensions rise! Now Alex/a must trust the very people who might break her heart in order to stop a war and save the kingdom from an even deadlier enemy.

So as mentioned above, I LOOOOVVVVVED this book. I didn’t read it in one sitting (time not permitting), but I wished I had. I did, however, finish it in less than 24 hours since it showed up at my house though, so that must count for something. This book was so beautifully written that I found it hard to believe that Larson was a debut author! For me, the mark of a good author is A) me wanting to quote parts, scenes, or something a character says (Check!) and B) developing the characters to the point where the reader can just KNOW who is talking without it necessarily being specified (Check!). Alexa’s brother, Marcel was easily one of my favorite characters in the book. Even though he wasn’t in it long, he was so intellectual and caring, always protecting his sister even when she didn’t know it. This book’s Love Triangle consists of Rylan, her long-time friend and crush, the sweet, caring, concerned, brotherly type, and then there’s Damian, the lazy spoiled brat who isn’t all that he seems. In fact, it turns out that Damian is actually a great guy in his own right and god did I ship Damian and Alexa together <3

Most importantly, Alexa was a well-built character that is respectable and a great role model. Despite all she goes through, she learns about love and sacrifice, but most importantly she learns about how to be herself. With great side characters to back her up, she manages to make it through the intense plot twists in this splendid face-paced novel. Another enjoyable aspect of the novel was the setting in the rainforest. I found the concept and it’s affects on the characters intriguing and refreshing.

I just have a couple things I’d like to say about what I didn’t like about the book, because there was a couple. There were plenty of unexplained parts that would’ve really added to the book if they had been addressed/ addressed in detail. Such as how some people caught on to the fact that she was a girl. Never explained, they just know! Also, how the heck did she possibly keep her secret, especially whenever it was her time of the month…. I think that would make her gender quite obvious. How Hector became king in the first place, building up the land and countries’ history would’ve been nice too. I felt like the reader didn’t know anything at all until the end of the book, which doesn’t work with huge chunks of information. Lastly, I wish that the whole ‘sorcerer’ thing had been better clarified, especially since it seems to be more complex than other author’s versions of sorcery and magic. There are clearly different kinds of sorcerer’s and I feel like the reader should have been enlightened, especially considering the number of characters who are sorcerers. Actually, I lied; I have two more last things to nit pick about, though they have nothing to do with things not being explained. At the beginning of the book there were so many names all at once that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who in the palace. And also why was Tanoori added to the book? She didn’t detract from the book of course, but she didn’t seem to add anything to it either.

All in all, this book is completely worth reading, despite it’s little irks, and I can’t wait till book 2 (which will hopefully answer some of my questions). I think it will definitely get good reception and that fans of Graceling and Iron Fey would enjoy this novel. Either way I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on more of Sara B. Larson’s works in the future and watching her grow as an author :) 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Brunderfold by Jason M. Burns

by Jason M. Burns
Publication Date: Sept 17th 2013
Publisher: Plymoth Rock Creative (PRC)
Source: Author
Find This Book: Brunderfold
Rating: 4/5

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

The book is about Aiden Holmes and his father Don (letter is read about Don’s experience) and how they face this boogeyman named Brunderfold. Let me just say that Brunderfold was extremely creepy and scared the heck out of me in every scene he was in. He reminded me of Smeagle/Gollum except without the 'pity me/lovable' side. Brunderfold is basically a book monster that eats the imagination of children and the book titled 'Brunderfold' grows with each of his actions (self written). He also travels around by coming out of books. So Don trapped Brunderfold in locker 13 when he was a kid. Aiden opened that locker and accidentally released Brunderfold, which is our big dilemma.

I really liked the characters in this book (aside from Brunderfold), which isn't always the case in books I read. The dad was lovable, Aiden was lovable, Ethan was ADORABLE, heck even Ronnie was likable. Chester was by far my favorite <3. One thing I disliked was that there didn't seem to be much character depth to Olivia. There was basically nothing to her and it felt like she was only there to cause tension between Ronnie and Aiden and to be the love interest. It didn't feel like there was any substance to her at all. Aside from that, I felt like all of the character's actions and background were believable (except the ending. You're telling me that this book has been around for who knows how long, and NO ONE thought of ripping up the book? NO ONE???)  I also enjoyed the character growth and how the reader doesn’t know about the bad thing Aiden did until later in the story, it gives the reader a chance to like the main character without the bias, which is what all of the other high school kids in the book are going through. 

The detail in the book was great and really captured the characters thoughts, appearances, what was going on around them, etc. Burns told the book in new and interesting ways. This book had extremely creative description, while also not going over the top, which was something I LOVED. Brunderfold was well written, face paced, and unique. I hope to read more from Burns in the future, though maybe not a Brunderfold sequel…

Loose Ends:
I have a couple critical points I would like to, well, point out. This book ends up leaveing me with more questions than I started out with…. What happens to the other kids!? Carrie and Tricky Dan weren't dead... and how can Brunderfold just create a Volume two for himself? That completely defeats the whole purpose of Aiden and Don's story! Now there basically feels like there was no point to this book. It just starts all over again! Also, does Aiden ever read his dad’s letter? What’s up with that? Most importantly, where did Brunderfold even come from? Don found him in the library, so what was going on before that? Why does Brunderfold need imagination, and if he does so much then how come nothing happened why he was trapped for 30 years?? There were just a lot of loose ends for me and the book obviously didn't leave the reader with a ‘final’ feeling.

For the above reasons I can’t possibly give this book more than 4 stars but I’ve seen some of my concerns in other reviews as well so this will hopefully be avoided in future writing :D

Saturday, October 5, 2013

In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

In Your Dreams
by Amy Martin
Publication Date: August 15th 2012
Publisher: Self Published
Source: Author
Find This Book: In Your Dreams
Rating: 3/5

A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

I found this book really unique to read. The concept of a character having a something about them that they like/hate at the same time isn't new, but the way it was in this particular book was great. The book’s main character is Zip. She lives with her mom, her grandparents live next door, and her dad lives in Chicago. Her parents are divorced which obviously isn’t so abnormal nowadays. Her dad gave her the nickname ‘Zip’ years ago because she’s a fast runner. She plays basketball, loves to read, and what do you know, has new neighbors moving in next door.

Kieran and Kayla are the new kids to town. He has a sleeping disorder. He can't control when he sleeps and sometimes passes out at inconvenient times, such as during school. He also has dreams of the future that always come true. They are only small scenes that don't normally make sense until the event actually happens, but they're always accurate. This happens to him because his mother was taking a new drug while pregnant. Interesting stuff happened back in the day (no spoilers) and now the only person who might know the formula is his biological father. Their hope is that if the formula was revealed a cure could be developed to help Kieran. But does Kieran want to change? Obviously he wants to be in control of when he sleeps, but having those dreams is part of who he is. It's what he's grown up doing. Could he really give that up to be like a normal guy?

Zip just happens to be there when Kieran has his first episode in school and they end up becoming close friends, much to his sister Kayla’s dislike. The formation of their relationship was super cute <3

The main problem of the book was that Kieran's real dad is getting released from jail and might come to manipulate Kieran. His buddy Frank is already in this town and Zip thinks she might be getting the dreams too. Everything goes down on the most important night of the year: Prom. There were engaging twists and turns throughout. This book actually made me not want to read it. The file sat on my phone for like a week because I didn't want to find out what happened on Prom night. I didn't want to hear about anything bad happening. My curiosity won out. I'm glad it did because it was nowhere near as bad as I thought haha. The book was good, obviously, but it doesn't leave me dying to read book two. The book doesn't end in a cliffhanger and I honestly think it could have been a stand alone book. I have no clue what book two will be about, but I most certainly will read it, it's just not going to kill me to put it off a bit.

Typically I put constructive criticism in my reviews but there wasn't really anything that stood out to me. Which can be taken as a compliment and a criticism. I liked this book but there wasn't really anything about it to make it stand out from other books, aside from the fact that Kieran's condition came from his mom taking drugs during pregnancy. What I mean is, in the future I probably won't remember this book, it doesn't have that 'omg' quality that makes a book unforgettable. I’d recommend it if you want a short refreshing read, but I don’t think that the book is something that will stick with you. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Such Great Heights by Chris Cole

Such Great Heights
by Chris Cole
Publication Date:  July 23rd 2013
Publisher: Disembodied Poetics
Source: Author
Find This Book: Such Great Heights (a novel)
Rating: 4/5

A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

The book was really interesting with the HTML code and just the way it was written before even getting into the plot. The modern take made it an easy read and really enjoyable. I honestly think it's a great young adult book, taking a classic and putting your own twist on it. The book was short and to the point, while still having all the details necessary without making the book boring. 

I should probably point out that, as of now, I haven't actually read the Great Gatsby, so I have no comparison. Without that bias, I thought it was a great book. Charlie Middle is Maisy's cousin and he's from the Midwest. He moves out to Silicon Valley (Maisey'e house) for his internship when some crazy stuff goes down. Maisy is married some super old, super rich guy named Reed Graft because her father told her to, even though she loves Joss... Even though she only talked to Joss on the Internet for 6 weeks... It switches back and forth between the present and the past, to kind of show that Joss is still stuck in his past with Maisey (at least thats how I interpreted it?) The initial switch was a bit confusing because it wasn't exactly obvious, just all of a sudden it was Joss's perspective, but it was a quick adjustment. Anyway, Joss has the beginnings of a program called Remake that could very well change the social network world and is set on finishing it to become rich to be with Maisy. He calls up his hacker friends to help him out and do their best to make the program super hard for others to hack.  Maisy's dad won't have it though and will do everything in his power to keep Maisy with Reed. 

He buys a huge mansion near Maisy and while he finally gets to see her again, he's not himself. Somewhere on his journey to that moment, he's become a different person, and by the time he realizes it and becomes his old self, it's too late! As far as I know it doesn't really follow the Great Gatsby plot so there are quirks that should make it fun for anybody to read :D
It wasn't the BEST book in the world, but I thought it was a great start and after I picked it up I found it hard to put back down :)