dystopian, Horror, young adult, Zombie

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

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Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 322 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Dystopian, Zombies
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Review:
So this is the first zombie book I’ve read and honestly I didn’t know it was about Zombies when I picked it up from the library. I just thought it was a weird fantasy/dystopian and it looked really interesting. I was definitely surprised and I can’t tell whether it was a good or bad surprise.

I appreciated Mary as a character. I both like and dislike her. It was interesting to watch her point of view but she’s definitely an unreliable narrator. I don’t often read books with an unreliable narrator but it was interesting and I finished the book the same day I started it.

My thoughts on this book are a little muddled. I have nothing to compare it since I don’t read the genre often. Some of the characters fell really flat and some were just plot devices. I feel like you don’t really get to understand any of the characters including Mary. You’re in her head but it feels really distanced.

The plot itself was interesting but also, there was no real climax. It felt fast paced but there wasn’t really a climax or a resolution. I think I’m going to read the sequel only to see where this story is going. I’m curious about how Ryan is going to continue the story and whether Mary will continue to be unreliable.

My review is all over the place but long story short. I think I liked it but I’m not 100% on that. I both liked and disliked Mary and I think the story/characters could have been fleshed out more.

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Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 426 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Warning: Might be slightly spolier-y. I can’t tell, but better safe than sorry.

Blurb:
On a continent ruled by three empires, everyone is born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. Now, as the Twenty Year Truce in a centuries long war is about to end, the balance of power-and the failing health of all magic-will fall on the shoulders of a mythical pair called the Cahr Awen.

The biggest thing on Safi and Iseult’s minds is saving money for their planned future in the Hundred Isles. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the emotional Threads binding the world. Safi, on the other hand, is a Truthwitch-she always knows when a person is telling a lie. A powerful magic like that is something people would kill to have on their side-or to keep off their enemy’s side-and so Safi cannot even admit what she truly is.

With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and a ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must rise above their doubts and fight to learn who they are and what they are made of, if they are going to stay alive and preserve the balance of their world.

Review:
I’m not sure if it was just me or not but I found this book a little hard to get into. Once I got past the first 100 pages or so I couldn’t put it down but it didn’t hook me like I thought it would from all the reviews I’d read up to this point.

Let me start by saying that even though the story jumped into the action from page one, the beginning was boring. I had no reason to be invested in the characters or care about why they were in that predicament so I didn’t really want to read it. I also had a hard time differentiating between Safi and Iseult for the first 100 pages or so. I think this is a world and book that could have used a bit of build up instead of jumping straight to action.

I do appreciate the connection Iseult and Safi have. It’s refreshing and fun for the main story line to revolve around a female friendship and have romance be the side thing instead of the other way around. That being said, I had expected more of this because of the hype. The majority of the book Iseult and Safi spend apart. I hope the next book can showcase them as friends more and have them actually be together so I can get more of their dynamic.

I also think that the romance involved is very insta-love. Even more so, it feels, because it’s such a side thing. There’s not love confessions and I appreciate that. But there unavoidable attraction to each other is weird.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Dennard builds out this world and how the story continues. So far the Truthwitch series is a definite improvement over Something Strange and Deadly which I DNF’d before 50 pages. I can definitely see an improvement in her writing.

science fiction, scifi, short story, young adult

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 400 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
The enchantment continues. . . .
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories – and secrets – that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories – five of which have never before been published – and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Review:
As with Fairest I found these short stories to be nice but unnecessary. I could have done with or without them. Of the 9 short stories I only really enjoyed three of them. The rest were kind of boring and I was pretty bored reading them.

Honestly, the only short stories I thought to be worth while to the series was “The Mechanic” the scene where Kai met Cinder but from Kai’s point of view and “Something Old, Something New” the only story about after the series.

I also enjoyed “The Little Android” which was a short story retelling of The Little Mermaid but I liked it as it’s own separate short story not necessarily as something connected to The Lunar Chronicles as a whole.

I would have given this a 2.5 if not for “Something Old, Something New.” This last short story had me smiling like a fool one minute and tearing up the next.

I will say that reading these short stories made me really miss the series. I almost stopped reading these short stories and picked up Cinder to reread.

I like that Marissa Meyer has been fleshing out the series but I wish the stories were more relevant or added more to the world. These almost felt like fanfiction for the series, not official stories from the author.

Fantasy, romance, young adult

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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Title: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 528 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

See my review of the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, here.
Warning: Possible spoilers for book 1 in the series.

Blurb:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Review:
So I actually listened to first 200 pages or so on Audiobook but it was too boring that way and switched to hardback. I think that kind of sets the tone for how I feel about the book.

I was super excited to see what happened next between Karou and Akiva and all their friends and the two worlds but this book was SO SLOW. Both on Audiobook and paper book. Some parts were lightning quick and others just dragged and dragged and dragged. I spent the first half of the book wondering when something would happen and when the point of view (POV) would stop changing.

The first book didn’t feel so jumpy when there were POV changes but I think Taylor went a little crazy in the second book with unnecessary character jumps and it made the book feel that much slower.

Eventually, around the 250 page mark, it really picked up and I wasn’t able to put it down. Still, the first 250 pages shouldn’t be that slow in the second book of a fantasy series. This book could have gotten a solid 4.5 folded pages if it wasn’t so excruciatingly slow in the beginning.

However, it’s definitely worth reading once the plot picks up. Also, the book ends with a massive cliffhanger so I’m eagerly awaiting my hold on the third book. Overall, I think it was good but it could have been so much better and I’m disappointed Taylor didn’t manage to do it because her writing is beautiful.

contemporary, romance, short story, young adult

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

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Title: My True Love Gave to Me
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Author(s): Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler, and Kiersten White
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: 12 Short Stories, 336 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Review:
Originally I was going to write this review like I wrote my review for Let It Snow, going story by story. However, I think with 12 stories that would make this review a little too long. So I’m going to talk about the anthology as a whole.

I am a hardcore sucker for Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Most of these stories felt like those movies but for a younger audience. I really enjoyed this anthology and it put me in the Christmas spirit for sure.

I do think some stories were better than others and there was a story or two that I didn’t like in the least but you’ll get that when you have a bunch of short stories in one volume. I think my favorite story in the anthology is “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor. I like the way she writes and the story made me wonder why I’ve never read anything by her before. The imagery is amazing and it feels like it’s own story that could stand on it’s outside of this anthology unlike a lot of the stories.

My second favorite is definitely “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell. I generally like her writing as well. Her story held good emotion and also felt like it could stand outside of the anthology. I actually wished it was a little longer so we could get more details but I understand the need of keeping short stories short.

I think my least favorites are “The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link and “Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan. “The Lady and the Fox” felt very all over the place. It didn’t seem to have a clear plot and in a short story that just doesn’t work. The ending was satisfying-ish but I generally found myself just waiting for the story to end as I was reading it.

I generally don’t like David Levithan’s writing. It’s just not for me I think. I’m not sure why but everytime I try to read something he’s written I find myself just not liking it. I think part of it is how he words things and shapes his characters. It just doesn’t pull me into the story. That was no different with “Your Temporary Santa.” I also found the plot of the story boring.

Sorry this Christmas review is definitely late, but better late than never. 🙂

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

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Title: Let it Snow
Author(s): John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Speak
Length: 352 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Review:
This book is composed of three short stories each written by a different author. Maureen Johnson starts it off in her amazing way. I loved her short story from beginning to end and I feel like she kept throwing curveballs. It was super cute.

John Green’s story was kind of meh. It felt very like all of the other stories I’ve read from him. Even his characters felt very samey. I still really enjoyed the story though it was cute.

Lauren Myrcle’s story was less than ideal. I kept getting super annoyed with the writing and I feel like it could have been several pages shorter. The plot also didn’t make much sense. I liked that she ended it with all the characters from the previous stories meeting. That was cute but I skimmed the majority of this story.

To get further into detail, Johnson’s story had great characters. I truly felt for Jubilee and her situation. I wanted her to find a better boyfriend and make Christmas her own. I also really liked the guy she ended up with. He’s super sweet.

I found Tobin, Green’s MC, very the same as his other male characters along with the side characters he made. They were all snarky males, except the Duke, who were very wittier than thou. The Duke was a good character who found ways to point this fact out to the other characters but ultimately that was just a plot point for the love story. I would have liked this better if it veered from Green’s typical way of writing teenagers.

As for Myrcle, I found Addie to be the most annoying character I’ve read in awhile. I found myself skimming the paragraphs of dialogue and inner thoughts because I just couldn’t deal. I did appreciate that she had the biggest character development. But the way her character was written just annoyed me to no end. I think it may have been better for me if I were younger and still identified with the feelings she was going through but the me of right now just had a constant eye roll going.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book though. It was cute and fluffy, just what I want at this time of year.

PS I am back!!! I’m super excited to be back. Hopefully, this wasn’t a fluke and I’m finally out of my reading slump. We shall see. 🙂

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Title: Emma
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Length: 16 hours and 38 minutes
Genre: romance, classic
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb (from Audible):
One of Jane Austen’s most popular novels. Arrogant, self-willed, and egotistical, Emma is her most unusual heroine.

Review:
Decidedly, Emma is my least favorite Jane Austen novel that I’ve read. It’s taken several tries to actually get through it (thank god for audiobooks tbh) and I finally have. I definitely like the book the more than any of the adaptations I’ve seen (2009 BBC Emma and Emma Approved) but I still find Emma completely unlikable.

For the most part, Emma annoys the ever living shit out of me. She’s bratty and conceited and can’t see the consequence of her actions before she acts. Frank Churchill also makes all these traits worse.

I did love seeing her character growth but she’s just less of those things. The only saving grace is Knightley who I honestly love as much if not almost more than Darcy. I love that he can see Emma’s flaws and loves her anyway.

Still I did enjoy listening to the book. I think the adaptations of the book present a much harsher Emma than the book does. I understand the need to get the point across about her character in not book form but still I see why I was turned off the book for so long.

As usual, Juliet Stevenson did an absolutely amazing job with the narration. I’m sad that the Naxos version of Pride and Prejudice isn’t narrated by Juliet Stevenson because she does such an excellent job.

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London

Title: Aimee and the Heartthrob
Author: Ophelia London
Publisher: Macmillian
Length: 260, Kindle Book
Genre: Romance, contemporary, young adult
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
He never noticed her before, but now she’s all he can see…

Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister–and off-limits–but won’t even give him the time of day…

As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested.Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.

But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…

Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts I really enjoyed and other parts had me rolling my eyes and skimming the pages until it got good again.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so. It was cute and I enjoyed how true to character Aimee stayed. Even around Miles she tried her hardest not to let her old feelings resurface instead of succumbing to them like what happens in similar books.

However, I think this book switched from young adult to new adult and back. Sometimes it felt like they were early 20 year olds and not 16-17. I didn’t enjoy that. There’s a line there that shouldn’t be crossed sometimes and the parts that felt new adult were a bit too sexual.

I do think the romance was super cute. It was just the kind of swoony and cheesiness that I want and expect in YA romance contemporary novels. Even if it sometimes felt a little too mature for the ages of the characters.

I’ll probably pick up the rest of the books in this series just because I’m curious to see what happens to the other band members.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book Review: About that Fling by Tawna Fenske

Title: About that Fling
Author: Tawna Fenske
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Length: 321, Kindle book
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
As the top PR person for the Belmont Health System, bright, beautiful Jenna McArthur knows how to spin bad news and make it sound good. But when her adorable Aunt Gertie—a secret romance writer—urges Jenna to embrace her wild side, Jenna tumbles into bed with Adam Thomas, a guy she’s just met, for a fun and fantastic one-night stand. Too bad Adam is the one guy who’s totally off-limits. There aren’t enough clever words in the world to spin the story in a way that won’t wreck Jenna’s closest friendship or destroy her job.
With the irresistible Adam always around her at work, wearing an aura of temptation like a fabulous cologne, Jenna has to hold tight to her senses to avoid falling for him. Will he take her to the heights of pleasure again—or will their attraction destroy everything she’s worked for?

Review:
I got this book as an Amazon Kindle First and I really enjoyed it. I finished it in about 6 hours so it was an awesome light read while I was marathoning the All Souls trilogy.

My favorite thing about this book is that it was laugh out loud funny. My family kept giving me weird looks because I would just crack up and not be able to stop for a minute or so. I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh like that. Fenske’s writing is quick and witty and I enjoyed that.

Not onto the not so good. I couldn’t stand Jenna’s inability to tell to the truth. There was absolutely no reason for her to lie so much. I suppose the whole she covers things up for a living could help but seriously there was no reason to lie that much.

The other thing is the very abrupt ending. I won’t give anything away but I just didn’t like how fast it all drew to a close. I think the pacing was off for it. There needed to be just a little more build to the climax and definitely a lot more resolution. The way it wrapped up left a sour taste in my mouth.

Aside from that I think it was a cute, fun read. The characters (even Jenna) felt very real. I always like when books have characters that I feel could be a person in real life. This is definitely far from what I usually read but I’ve been in a romance mood lately. I’m assuming you will see more of this kind of genre soon on my blog. Apologies in advance if you don’t enjoy these kinds of books!

dystopian, young adult

Book Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 544, Paperback
Genre: Young adult, dystopian
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

See my review of the 1st novel in the series, The Darkest Minds, here.

Blurb:
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children-and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts-has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future-and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam-and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart-she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Review:
This book took me an absurdly long time to finish. If you keep up with my WWW Wednesday’s at all you’ll know it was on hold for about three weeks. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it during those weeks because once I decided to seriously pick it up again, I finished it in one sitting.

The first 250 pages were almost mind numbingly boring. I understand why they had to be there. They connected the first book to the second book perfectly. But man was it hard to read. However, the last 300 pages or so FLEW by. I would give this book 2 folded pages based on the first half and 4.5 based on the second. I settled on the 3.5 which I think is a just review.

I don’t want to give much away but I think what I hated the most about the first half of the book was how much Ruby had changed compared to the first without any awareness. I now know that there was a novella that bridged the first book to the second but I don’t think that was wise. I’m not inclined to buy or read novellas often and it made the beginning of Never Fade seem abrupt.

Still once the action picked up and things were better explained I ended up really enjoying it. I probably won’t read In the After Light until it releases in paperback and maybe that will give me enough distance to want to pick the story back up.