Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Review: Frozen by Erin Bowman

Title: Frozen
Series: Taken #2
Author: Erin Bowman
Published: April 15, 2014 by Harper Teen
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: The second book in Erin Bowman's gripping dystopian sci-fi series, this exhilarating sequel to Taken is perfect for fans of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and Variant by Robison Wells.

Gray Weathersby has escaped Claysoot and uncovered the truth behind the Laicos Project and the Order's twisted plans. Determined to fight back, his small group of rebels is on the hunt for more answers and more allies—a search that will take them on a harrowing journey across a frozen wasteland, and even deeper into a world built on the Order's lies.

In Frozen, discover more of the nonstop action and riveting plot twists that made Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, call Taken "an action-packed thrill ride from beginning to end."

Because I typically don't like first books in a trilogy I usually give the second book a try if I found redeeming qualities in the first. While I didn't love Taken it was enjoyable so I decided to read Frozen but sadly it still quite work for me.

What I didn't like much about Taken was the characters. In Frozen they were actually much better. In Taken I did not at all like the MC, Gray because he was reckless and frankly a jerk and didn't seem to care about the poor consequences for his actions. In Frozen he had a bit of an "aha moment" and is developing and learning that he needs to think things through more. He is kind of growing on me. But I also felt similar about the secondary characters. I like characters like Bree and Clipper much more than I like Gray but the fact that I didn't have a favorite is very telling for me. They all just seem very similar and more easily identifiable by their negative qualities over their positive. I didn't hate them but I didn't quite like them either.

That also how I felt about the pacing. It was totally better in this book. It didn't feel as much like a disconnected series of moments. In the case of Frozen everything flowed a lot better and the chapters connected to make a more connected story. It was however a bit of a slow rise and took a little while to get interesting. This was the kind of book where I would pick it up the next day and have to take a minute to remind myself what was going on. But when it did get interesting it was very engaging.

What I liked most about Taken was the action packed plot and the mystery. Frozen was just as full of adventure with tons of daring escapes, fights with a shady government entity, and more than one battle scene. It definitely read like an action movie and had some very thrilling moments. But what it wasn't full of was mystery. It seemed to ask more questions than it answered but there was a lot of info-dumping and telling about the world rather than showing. And for me the twists in Frozen were quite predictable. Many of them I predicted back in Taken. It did manage to surprise me a few times though and keep me engaged and curious. I honestly kept reading to prove that I was right more than anything else.

But while the plot was interesting and engaging at times it was a little confusing. Frozen picked up right where Taken left off and developed the larger world of this universe even more but what I didn't quite get from the series is the connection between all these storylines. There seems to be the main plot line of the series and then lots of smaller storylines that I thought were independently working within this universe. These varying storylines felt like pointless distraction from the larger problem and "villain" of the series but then I realized the themes of the book and that I was completely misinterpreting them. I realized it's more Hunger Games and less Divergent. More about the political intrigue and a shady entity suppressing it's people and less about finding the truth behind this world. I did eventually get there but I had to work to make the connection between where the series began and where it is now. When I finally made the connection I enjoyed the book so much more.

I give Frozen by Erin Bowman a 7 out of 10


Despite my criticism I am invested in finishing this series. I want to see how it ends and the conclusion of the larger story. I feel like I misinterpreted the themes of this book and know that I have made the connection to everything I will enjoy it much more. Have you read this series? Leave me a comment with your thoughts? Am I being overly critical because I have misinterpreted the themes? Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Fans of Downton Abbey

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This weeks prompt is to recommend books based on a different type of media (movies, TV shows, etc.). My original thought was Lost, one of my favorite shows, and the book I just finished (The Maze Runner) had Lostian overtures, but that ended up being harder than I thought so I changed tactics. I love Historical Fiction so I figured I'd recommend book based one of my favorite period pieces on television. So here are my Top Ten Books if You Like Downton Abbey.

Recent Fiction
1.) A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
A great piece of YA Historical Fiction about a young woman living in Edwardian London and trying to find her way as an artist in a changing world. It's got feminism, the fear of ruining your family's reputation, and a swoonworthy romance which is very Downton. Lady Sybil would approve of Vicki I think.

2.) The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
One of my favorite series so I had to mention it but it totally fits! The Luxe is Gilded Age Gossip Girl. It's got an interesting cast of characters all of which are aristocrats adapting to the modern era, a complicated love story, and a once great family struggling to survive. The Hollands and their money problems remind me of the Crawleys.

3.) Atonement by Ian McEwan
A piece of Adult Historical Fiction set in World War II with a similar tone to Downton. The characters have to deal with the world at war and their doomed love story (an aristocrat in love with the son of a servant). Plus it has an unreliable narrator which you know I love. It's very reminiscent of season 2 of Downton Abbey.

5.) Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
This is the story of a wealthy house in the English countryside similar to the Crawleys and we follow both the aristocrats upstairs and the servants downstairs. The main characters are two women searching for person independence in the Edwardian era. This is probably the book on the list most similar to Downton.

6.) The Gemma Doyle by Libba Bray
Just like the other books this is set in Edwardian England and the main characters are young women struggling to find their place in a world that is changing. Their torn between what society expects of them and what they want for themselves just like the ladies of the Crawley family. Plus there's magic!

Classics
6.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
While this book is set in a different era in England the romance reminds me so much of Lady Mary and Matthew. It has a similar kind of love story where first misunderstanding leads to affection and love. Plus the Bennett sisters are very similar to the Crowley girls (Mary is totally Edith!) and who doesn't love Jane Austen?

7.) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This book was first published in 1910 and season 1 of Downton Abbey takes place in 1912. The book deals with similar themes and follows a young girl as she explores a mansion in the English countryside. I bet the characters would have read this book. Plus the idea of the medical practices of the time being helpful or harmful comes up in season 3 of Downton.

8.) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolf

This book was first published in 1925 and is about an aristocratic woman living in post-war England and planning a party. She is dealing with her position as a "society wife" in a world that is changing and modernizing. And how many similar parties have we witnessed in Downton Abbey? Plus it's Virginia Wolfe so like Downton it's full of feminism.

9.) The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The story of wealthy aristocrats torn between the rules of society and their own passion. The Age of Innocence is a complicated love story and scandal threatening to ruin a family's once great reputation only adds to the similarities. The themes of marrying the person you love or marrying the person society expects you to are themes that Downton has touched on a few times.

10.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The seminal Jazz Age tale, just like season 4 of Downton Abbey it bursts with romance, excitement, and the music of the era. I'm pretty sure Rose would want to be friends with Daisy and go to a Gatsby party! Plus it's a fun and interesting piece of fiction so it definitely goes on the list!


Are you a Downton Abbey fan like me? What books would you recommend? I know there are lots of great Historical Fiction novels set in the Edwardian Era and the Jazz Age. Make me some recommendations. It's one of my favorite periods to read about! Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Author: James Dashner
Published: 2009 by Delacorte Press (Random House)

Synopsis: If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

                                                                            Remember. Survive. Run.


The Maze Runner has been in my TBR pile for quite some time now. I had heard great things about it and by the sounds of it, this was the kind of book that I would enjoy with lots of suspenseful action, tons of mystery, and a world that both confuses and intrigues. I was definitely not disappointed. This book was a mind-blowing page turner.

The Maze Runner is full of action and suspense. The plot is non-stop adventure and gripping excitement that kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat for beginning to end. The book relies very heavily on its mystery and suspenseful plot points that had me asking so many questions and wondering what the hell was going on. I usually hate books that intentionally keep information to themselves but in the case of The Maze Runner it worked. We as the reader are just as in the dark on what was happening as all the characters were. I felt like I could completely empathize with them and their confusion. I was just as traumatized and curious as they were and I wanted to learn what it all meant just like they did. The main character Thomas wanted to know everything and so did I. His search for the truth kept me intrigued and interested in this crazy messed up world he was thrown in to. 

As far as the world goes, it was one of the best parts of the book for me. The world-building was just fantastic! Things were revealed slowly and in a show-not-tell kind of way that is always so much more interesting. We are immediately thrust into the world of “the Glade” which is unlike any world I have experienced before. In most dystopian worlds there is an element of confusion and curiosity about what led up to the world being this way but in The Maze Runner it was like a typical dystopian world on steroids. I spent the entire book with “huh face” trying to figure out what was happening and searching for some logical explanation. This book and this world messed with my head in a way that few other things have, it was like the TV show Lost in that way. What made the world even better is the characters usage of slang words as if they had a language all their own. At first it adds to the elements of confusion but when you start to figure it out not only do you use the language but it helps you connect with the characters.

But these characters are not very hard to connect with. They are all interesting, complex, and diverse. First and foremost there is Thomas, our main protagonist. He is reckless and impulsive but it makes him endearing and likeable. He wants to know everything and he thinks the only way to find it all out is to explore and experience things for himself. His behavior gets him into a lot of trouble but he always has a way of getting himself out of it. But with Thomas there is more than meets the eye. Throughout the story he slowly learns about his past and what led him to being in the Glade and it makes him all the more interesting. But Thomas isn’t the only interesting character. The Glade is full of characters that are not entirely good or evil. They are intelligent, heroic, and strong leaders but they are also rash, ill-tempered, and selfish. But considering this fact what I found really interesting is that the book wasn’t at all character driven. Unlike a lot of dystopian books I read it was about them solving the mystery, not about them finding the strength within themselves to be heroes.

I did have one small thing that I didn’t love about the book. While the pacing was good and kept me interested, many of the plot points that didn’t occur until much later in the book felt like completely obvious solutions to me. It almost felt a little too obvious, like they were choosing the easiest possible solution but coming to that conclusion way too late for it to be helpful. I found myself thinking “well duh” more than once as the book reached its climax. But it wasn’t enough to take me out of the story. The book was still incredibly suspenseful and mysterious and I cannot wait to keep reading. 

I give The Maze Runner by James Dashner 9 out of 10 stars

It was a fantastic and thrilling read and I would recommend it to people who like books with tons of mystery and suspense, dystopia fans, and anyone looking for a book with a crazy and interesting world. Have you read The Maze Runner? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

If you loved the book like me head over to  http://www.theeyeofminds.com/dashner-army/ and join the Dashner Army and the newsletter for exclusive info about the author and future book plus swag and other cool things!

And don’t forget about the conclusion to the Read Along and your opportunity to win the amazing giveaway thanks to Random House Kids. Enter the rafflecopter on the Read Along Post, and link up your review for an opportunity to win the prize package and then there is one more chance to win tonight during the twitter chat under the #MazeRunnerRead hashtag at 8PM EST where we can share our thoughts about the book together. See you then!  


You are next... Click here to enter
This list will close in 2 days, 13 hrs, 39 min (4/30/2014 11:59 PM North America - Eastern Standard Time)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #23

A weekly meme hosted by
 Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View



How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.
This Week's Question:

Have any pets? Tell us or show us.
This Week's Answer:

I do have a pet! I have a cat named Eponine (I enjoy singing A Little Fall of Rain to her) also known as Munchkin or Freakazoid depending on my mood and her behavior. She's a big fan of me reading because then she can rub her face all over my books! She also likes to hang out on my bookshelf, specifically on the YA shelf, because she has good taste!



And before you go, a shameless plug! This weekend I am hosting a read along for The Maze Runner by James Dashner. If you haven't read the book and want to or have read it and want to read it again then you should join! There are three opportunities to win awesome prizes. Check out my post for more information and to sign up!


Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post. Don't forget this is a blog hop, so take a look around. If you like what you see give me a follow. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter. (I am dangerously close to 100 GFC followers though). Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ARC Review: The Break-Up Artist by Phillip Siegal


Title: The Break-Up Artist
Author: Phillip Siegel
Published: April 29, 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 



After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy



If you are a follower of this blog you know that I do monthly themes where I read a particular genre and this month is dystopia. By the sixth book I realized that this was probably not a good idea. Dystopia tends to mess with my head. It's full of action and makes you think critically about power and society. A lot of the books I read were slightly traumatizing and so many of them all at once left me wanting to curl up in the fetal position on my floor.  So needless to say, I needed a break from dystopia so when The Break-Up Artist arrived in my mailbox from On the Same Page ARC Tours I was so excited to read it. It was not at all what I was expecting in a Contemporary novel, but that made it better. This book taught me to not judge a book by its description. 

Upon first appearances The Break-Up Artist seems like your typical rom-com. A slightly jaded singleton meets a guy she can actually love but can't be with him because of unlikely circumstances but in the end they realize that nothing can keep them apart. But that was not what this book was about at all. This book was less about how love can conquer all and more about friendship and that true love isn't the cheesy romantic sort that we see in movies. It looks at love a lot more critically than most YA contemps do and was basically a parody on the insta-love we see a lot in the genre. If you like insta-love (but who really does?) and are looking for a heartwarming romance this is not the book for you. Now don't get me wrong there were classic rom-com elements and definitely a big storyline that has a "love can conquer all" message but it didn't feel predictable or generic. Everything about this book felt unique and refreshing. It had all the humor and lighthearted moments without any of the cheese factor. Plus like all good Contemporary books it effortlessly walked the line between heavy and light, making you laugh and making you think at the same time. 

One of the great things about this book for me were the characters. Just like the plot of the book, they seemed at the outset to be caricatures and tropes but were so much more. First and foremost in this category was Becca, the main character and MC. She is masquerading as The Break-Up Artist to destroy love at her high school spurned by her sister being jilted at the altar and her childhood best friend ditching her for a boy, she believes romance is a sham. I loved her voice throughout the novel. Anyone who has ever felt like a third-wheel can empathize with Becca. I felt connected with her from the very beginning. She's snarky, jaded and wise beyond her years but she is also naive and throughout the book learns that she doesn't really know about love. But she's not the only character who is deeper and more interesting than they appear, throughout the book many of the characters surprised me by not being such clich├ęs and ended up being more or less villainous than I expected, I won't say who for fear of spoilers. 

It was a quick read with good pacing. And despite the fact that there were a lot of moving parts to the story everything wrapped up into a nice tidy package which is something I was definitely glad about after reading so many series and standalones that left things unfinished. It was the kind of book that left me smiling and thinking how good it was. I wasn't blown away but it was very satisfying and the perfect break from the mind-explosion that dystopia month has become.

I give The Break-Up Artist by Phillip Siegel an 8 out of 10 

                                                 
If you are looking for a typical rom-com you have come to the wrong place but if you are looking for a unique and interesting Young Adult Contemporary novel with complex and likable characters that will make you laugh and think more critically about love then this is the book for you.
Have you read The Break-Up Artist? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and of course HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ARC Review: Half Bad by Sally Green


Title: Half Bad
Series: Half Life #1
Author: Sally Green
Published: March 2014 by Viking (Penguin Group)

Synopsis: In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.



I received an ARC copy of Half Bad as part of the On the Same Page ARC Tours. I was so excited to read it, Half Bad was one of my most anticipated books of the season. It has everything I love reading about. Magic, action, and the exploration of good and evil. I was not at all disappointed.

As far as the magic and world goes, I read a lot of fantasies, and books with at least some magic as part of the story. I am always looking for a unique magical system, something that isn't just being able to do spells or control the elements. I was definitely very impressed with the magic in this book. As the description indicates the witches in the this world are split into Black and White Magic. But each individual witch also has their own powers based on their talents. At the age of seventeen there is a gifting ceremony where your "Gift" is able to manifest itself. This Gift can be anything from being able to do potions, turn into another person or animal, or become invisible. The idea is very cool and some of these gifts are pretty badass. And while magic is a huge part of this book it definitely wasn't the biggest part.

As the title may lead you to believe this is a book about good and evil. The main character Nathan is the direct descendent of the most evil Black Witch in Britain and because of this fact people are afraid that he will end up becoming just as dark as his father. The White Witches who are in control do everything in their power to make sure this doesn't happen. It becomes much more about nature versus nurture when it comes to good and evil. Nathan is brought up to think he is evil but as the book goes on it makes you as the reader wonder if that's true or not and if he did turn evil would it be because of the way he was brought up or because of genetics. It definitely brings up a lot of questions and makes you understand that nothing is black or white not even witches. 

The fact that there is so much analysis of good and evil in this book it unsurprisingly leads to the characters being incredibly multi-dimensional. The main character Nathan is incredibly likable and easy to empathize with. Right from the very beginning I was rooting for him to succeed and get what he wants most. But Nathan wasn't the only character like that. There were some amazing villainous characters including Nathan's sister who is one of those love to hate kind of characters and some other characters that were surprisingly good in the end. The characters were so interesting and complex that I wanted to continue to read to see what would happen with them in the end.

But the best and most interesting thing about this book was the way it was written. The book began being told in second person with some brutal explanations of the way Nathan is treated. It is not for the faint of heart. There were many times when I was slightly uncomfortable with what was being described and I like blood and gore. But then as the book developed the perspective shifted as it began to be told in first person. But it didn't quite feel like first-person. It was like a superficial form of storytelling making me wonder if Nathan is an unreliable narrator. It had the same haunting sort of tone that I've felt in books like The Handmaid's Tale and The Life of Pi. It is the kind of book that makes you think and feel and when it's all over you're not quite sure what had happened.

But I also seriously enjoyed the plot of this book. It began with an event that happened about a third of the way through the book and then we go back to the beginning of the story to find out what happened to lead up to that event and what happens afterwards. From there things slowly develop to an exciting conclusion with lots of action along the way. This is the first book in a trilogy but it was not very guilty of First Book Syndrome. It had just enough world-building, didn't keep many secrets but had lots of surprises, and there wasn't much of a cliffhanger. I'm interested to see where the rest of this series leads us because I am very invested in the series but I was so satisfied with the way this book ended that I am slightly worried. 

I give Half Bad by Sally Green a 9 out of 10


Half Bad was an amazing start to a new Young Adult fantasy series with great characters, lots of action, and a very cool magical system. It will make you think and make you feel. I loved it.Have you read Half Bad? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment and of course HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Reluctant Heroes

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today's prompt is top ten X characters. These open-ended ones are so much harder for me. I spend just as much time trying to think of what list to make as I do on the actual list. After five different other ideas I decided to play off my discussion post from a few weeks ago where I talked about reluctant heroes. Here are my top ten, in no particular order.

1.) Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - At the tender age of eleven Harry learns that he is the only person to ever defeat the darkest wizard to ever live and he's going to have to do it again. He's so reluctant to save the Wizarding World he spends a whole book whining about being "the Chosen One" but we all know how this story ends.


2.) Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins - Multiple reckless and impulsive moves on her part puts Katniss in a position to save multiple lives and the hero thing goes way to far when she becomes the symbol of a revolution and it's not just about saving the few people she loves. But she doesn't want to be the Mockingjay! It takes her a long time to realize that she has no choice and take responsibility for her actions and be the hero.

3.) Ruby in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken - Ruby is the kind of hero that has these amazing powers and doesn't want to use them because she's afraid of the consequences. She spends most of the first book trying not to use them. When she gives in and uses her powers and becomes a hero it's fantastic and totally kickass! She's had a great character arc and I can't wait to see how her heroism continues in book 3 coming out this fall!

4.) Samwell Tarly in A Song of Ice of Fire series by George R.R. Martin - In a series with more characters than I can count, all with amazing character arcs, Samwell Tarly stands out as the reluctant hero. Sam is constantly told he is a hopeless craven for liking to read rather than fight. This disappointment is what gets him sent to the Nights Watch. But he's constantly performing acts of valor that are equal to or greater than his brothers. (spoiler alert) Seven hells, he's one of only two characters to kill a White Walker! He's basically the Neville Logbottom of Westeros

6.) Neville Logbottom in the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling- Neville is constantly told that he is a disappointment because he doesn't live up to his parents reputation. But more times than not he is willing to bravely fight on the side of good and join Harry in any dangerous situation (except at the end of Sorcerer's Stone but we won't hold that against him). He has one of the best character arcs in the series!

7.) Cinder in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- At the end of the first book in the series we find out just how essential Cinder is to taking down Levana and saving the day. But then she spends the next few books saying how she doesn't know how to do what needs to be done, and she doesn't want to do it. By the end of book 3 she is ready to be a hero and this fact makes me so excited for book 4!

8.) Cress in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- What I love about Cress is she's a self-proclaimed damsel in distress but that couldn't be farther from the truth. She desperately wants Thorne to save her and when he does things get turned all around and Cress has to realize that not only can she take care of herself but she can save others and be a hero.


9.) Alina Starkov in The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo - When the Sun Summoner is told that not only does she have powers but they are super powerful and she's the only person that can right things in the Shadow Fold,  naturally she freaks out a little. She freaks out even more when they raise her up to the position of Saint. But she has an amazing character arc and I can't wait the see how heroic she is in Ruin and Rising!

10.) Gemma Doyle in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray - Gemma is told she alone has the power to contain the magic of the Realms. She is so reluctant to be the hero they want her to be that she petulantly does things to make her inevitable heroism all the more difficult. But she has this amazing character arc and ends up being quite the hero in her own way.

That's my list of reluctant heroes! Who's your favorite reluctant hero? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. To check out more of my thoughts on this trope including why I like them so much check out my discussion post HERE. What did you make you list about this week? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #22

A weekly meme hosted by
 Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View


How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed. 

 This Week's Question:
 
Spring Break. Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?


This Week's Answer: 


It's been awhile since I had a Spring Break. Even after college when I worked at a school we planned "camps" for the break. When I did have a spring break I usually just went to my parents house to relax and watch college basketball (my break was always during Championship Week). But if I could go on a Spring Break now I would want to go to Orlando and visit Disney World and the Magical World of Harry Potter. Warm weather and cool things to do... YES PLEASE! 



What is your favorite or dream Spring Break destination? Leave me a comment!


Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post. Don't forget this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow. I am indifferent to the way that you follow so pick you poison: GFC, Bloglovin, or Twitter. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY FF!


The Maze Runner Readalong!

About a month ago I was checking out my fellow bloggers' Top Ten Tuesday posts, as I do. The topic was "popular authors I have not read yet" and I noticed a trend. A lot of people haven't read and want to read James Dashner and The Maze Runner trilogy. This book has been on my list for awhile as well so I got an idea, let's do it together! On my blog I do themed moths and my plan for April was dystopia so it seemed perfect. I put some feelers out and I know a few folks are already interested including Stephanie at Her (and Sometimes His) Reviews, Shannon at Book Devoured, and Rachel at Read Write Ramble (sorry if I forgot anyone else I talked to). So ladies and gentlemen here are the details!

About The Book

Title: The Maze Runner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Author: James Dashner
Published: 2009 by Random House
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: "If you ain't scared, you ain't human."

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.





The premise for this book sounds so interesting and I've heard good things about this series. From what I hear the characters are unique and complex and there is lots of action, suspense and mystery which I love. The book is about to become a movie and like all bookish folks, I want to check it out before I see the movie. Check the Trailer Here

 The Readalong

My policy is the more the merrier. So if you, like me, are interested in reading this book then join in!

It's easy, all you have to do is read the book during the weekend of April 26-27. While you're reading feel free to tweet your thoughts under the #MazeRunnerRead hashtag. Then post your review on Monday April 28th and link your review with me to share with the others joining in (I will have a linky tool on my review). That evening we will be having a Twitter chat to talk about our thoughts under #MazeRunnerRead. If you have already read The Maze Runner you can still join us for the chat to share what you thought about the book.

The Giveaway

To sweeten the deal and encourage you to join I have an amazing giveaway thanks to 
Random House Kids!

-First is the rafflecopter giveaway below. This one is open internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to you. If you live outside of the US you can win a copy of the next two books in the series, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. If you live in the US you can win a full box set of the series including the prequel The Kill Order and a hardcover of the first book in James Dashner's new series, The Eye of Minds.

But there is more than one chance to win. 

-On Monday when my review goes live at 12pm EST the first three people to link up their reviews will also win the box set and The Eye of Minds. And there will be another opportunity to win the package during the twitter chat. That's right three chances to win your very own James Dashner library! Unfortunately these two giveaways are only open domestically (I'm so sorry but shipping internationally is expensive!)

Thank you again to Random House Kids for donating the books for the giveaway.


So join me during Dystopia Month and check out The Maze Runner by James Dashner! Don't forget to leave a comment telling me you're joining up and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Taken by Erin Bowman


Title: Taken
Series: Taken #1
Author: Erin Bowman
Published: April 2013 by HarperTeen
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

I received a copy of this book from the fabulous Lynne Matson as part of the NILtribe giveaway in December. I decided to read it as part of my dystopia month. That definitely seems to be a major trend in Young Adult fiction these days to imagine the most crazy and unique future. Sadly this one did not quite do it for me.

It started out very strong. There is so much mystery and intrigue as the books start. You know things are not quite right with the Heists in Claysoot and that the leaders are hiding something. But as Gray tries to discover the truth I started to lose interest. A lot of the clues were so obvious that the mystery became a little predictable. When the big payoff occured and we learned the truth it didn't seem like that unique a world or story. There were still a few shockers though and I did want to keep reading to find out what happened if for no other reason than to get validation that I had figured things out.

As far as the plot goes it was definitely action-packed. There was one exciting moment after another as the characters found themselves in life-threatening situations or very close to finding the truth. I usually like a lot of action but in this case there was too much and I could have used a little less. While this sort of plot kept things interesting it also led to some weird pacing issues. Especially in the beginning the book felt like nothing more than a series of instances or stories strung together without a segue. Each chapter was a different moment and when the chapter was over we were quickly on to the next moment. As the book went on things calmed down a little and the moments seemed to have more or a logical progression and things didn't feel quite so disconnected.

As far as the MC goes, I was not really a fan. The main character and narrator Gray was not at all likable. I often don't like main characters but I can usually get past that and empathize with their struggle. In this case I just felt like he was being exceedingly petulant. Like I get it, things are are hard out there, but there is no reason to be an outright jerk. He was also rash and reckless a trait that I usually like in my dystopian heroes but in this case it made him seem like a complete idiot. Being reckless was also his main character trait. We were constantly told that he does things without thinking and it didn't at all endear him to me as a character. Over time he did relax a little bit and started to actually realize he should do things differently. By the end of the book I didn't totally hate him.

But what I did hate is the romance. This book was lousy with insta-love. First is Emma, who were are introduced to as Gray's crush since childhood. She, like me as the reader, finds his recklessness stupid and is not into it. Then they have one converstaion and she changes her mind and is totally in love with him. I liked her as a character at first but that sudden shift made her so wishy washy and I ironically quickly changed my mind about her. Then he meets another girl who is bold and reckless just like him, Bree. Suddenly he's in love with her and doubting all her feelings about Emma. That's right an insta-love triangle.

But as problematic as the book was it had a lot of potential. I'm interested to see where the series goes. There are so many questions and theories left unanswered and I have to see how everything ends. The next book in the series Frozen came out this week and I plan to read it this weekend. With all my dislike of first books I will wait to pass complete judgement on this series until I read a little more.

I give Taken by Erin Bowman 7.5 out of 10 stars


I'm not sure I would recommend this book to people who are big dystopia fans or people who want try a little more of the genre. It's a quick and easy read so if you're looking something reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Divergent but a little less complex then check this book out.

Have you read Taken? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


Title: The Handmaid's Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Published:

Synopsis: The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population. 

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best

This book was my choice for a "classic" for my April Dystopia month. And while it is hard to call a book written in 1985 a classic, I have wanted to read this one for a very long time, and it is very different from our modern dystopian books that we are seeing so much lately. In fact it is unlike anything I have ever read.

The first thing that made this book different is the tone and style of how it is written. It has this poetic elegance to it and it reads with this almost rhythmic feeling as if it had a rhyme scheme. All of this added to the tone of the book that can only be described as haunting. Margaret Atwood wrote a book and a world that is terrifying, interesting, and thought-provoking. The events and tone left me feeling uneasy but in the best possible way. Like a lot of other fantastic books, this one hits you in both the heart and the head. 

The other thing that was unique about this book was the protagonist and MC. The book reads like a diary or testimony of Offred, a woman living in a near-future world. The book is written from her perspective but she's very honest about how she doesn't remember the details perfectly. She's a good old-fashioned unreliable narrator that makes you question everything that happens and wonder how much is really true or how much of the "reconstruction" is purely in her imagination. A few times you even have events explained multiple times. The unreliable nature of her and the story add to the haunting and confusing nature of the book, I had "huh face" a lot of the time while reading and it left me both interested and intrigued.

Even more intriguing is this world. With a lot of dystopian novels these days it's all about the action and adventure but this book is all about the world. In a good dystopia the world leaves you as a reader wondering if, and frankly fearing, that this world is possible. In this world population is so low women are both valued and treated as objects or vessels to have babies. Things have devolved into a sort of puritanical theocracy where religion sets the tone and women aren't allowed to read, wear pants, and drink or smoke. As previously stated it's a near-future world and because it is written nearly 30 years ago I can't help but think that they're talking about now. That's always a weird thing and often takes me out of the story if these things haven't occurred yet but in the case of The Handmaid's Tale the world felt like it stood the test of time and felt scary and possible. This world deepens the haunting nature of the book.  

All of this added to this feeling of confused enjoyment and when the book was finished the ending left me with a "WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED." feeling that I haven't had since The Life of Pi. It wasn't quite a book hangover but it totally messed with me head and left my brain mush. 

I give The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood an 8.5 out of 10


I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a dystopia story that isn't so action-packed, if you like unreliable narrators, or if you are looking for a book to make you think. If you have read The Handmaid's Tale leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!