Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review: This Is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky

Title: This Is How I Find Her
Author: Sara Polsky

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Length: 266 pages
Original Publishing Date: September 1st, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"Sophie Canon has just started her junior year when her mother tries to kill herself. Sophie has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother's bipolar disorder, monitoring her medication, rushing home after school to check on her instead of spending time with friends, and keeping her mother's diagnosis secret from everyone outside their family. But when the overdose lands Sophie's mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, from whom she has been estranged for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family's house is easy. What's harder is figuring out how to build her own life."
 
Main characters: 4/5

The thing that I liked about Sophie was that I could see myself in her. Even though I'm not an artist like her and I don't have the exact same situation, she was easy to relate to. The way she looked at the world reminded me of myself in middle school and high school and that wasn't just by chance. That comes from Sara Polsky having a sincere and true voice that was able to connect with me. When it came to the constant pity-partying though, I was rolling my eyes. I get feeling like you're not good enough for your friends, I can connect to that, but Sophie just took it over the top and I was sick of it halfway through the book.

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

To preview the secondary cast of characters, I enjoyed the way we viewed so many of them just as Sophie did at the beginning. Sophie alienated a lot of people and we see them through her eyes. I love that throughout the story, each character becomes more complex as Sophie learns more about them. James was a little underdeveloped; we don't know a lot about him other than the fact that he's in a band and he is quieter like Sophie. I wish that Polsky had spent a little extra time developing him further. Leila and her mother Cynthia are the main characters who we see through Sophie's eyes. It was difficult to get a read on them for most of the novel, however the way that they were slowly characterized with depth and contradiction was well done. Finally, Sophie's Mom (Amy), kind of played a lesser role in the novel. I wish that she had played less of a role and more of a character.

Writing style: 4.5/5

That opening sequence took my breath away with the delicateness and heartbreaking manner in which it described Sophie finding her mother. Here's the thing about Polsky's writing style: I'm not usually a big fan of the slow-moving, long winded descriptions, but in this novel, it worked. I've been trying to figure out why I like Polsky's writing style so much and why it doesn't bore me like some other books. I think I've figured it out. Polsky has figured out the little details that remind me of high school, but she also slips them into the writing so that you're reading the action and then suddenly you get what Sophie is thinking or  how she sees something.

Plot: 3.5/5
I like that the plot was simple. For some reason, it kept moving even though there wasn't a whole lot going on at any given moment. The reader follows Sophie through her life after her mother tries to kill herself. What keeps the plot moving is the interactions with other characters and Sophie's own complexities. At first I felt like the reason Sophie and her friends had gone their separate ways was a little too easy, but after thinking about it, it felt realistic. I've definitely had experiences like that. All in all, every once in a while I did wish that there was more going on plot-wise, but Polsky's writing was strong enough to keep the novel moving despite that.

Ending: 4.5/5

I actually really enjoyed this ending. Not everything was perfect, but it was realistic and the ending note was perfect.

Best scene: The very end scene


Reminded Me Of: Not sure, what does it remind you guys of?

Positives:
The writing, well-though out main character, the way we see minor characters through Sophie's eyes, the ending


Negatives: Lacks some plot action, Sophie has some over-the-top pity parties, wanted more depth from the minor characters (especially Sophie's mom).


Cover: The colors in this cover are different than I normally see. I like the font, the field and house, but the fading into the girl is a little quirky. All in all, it represents the novel well.


Verdict: Genuine and sincere novel about a parent with mental illness; incredibly strong and elegant writing by Polsky.


Rating: 8.0/10 (4 stars)


What I Was Listening To: 
I don't listen to slow music very often, but when I read I usually need something slower so I'm not tempted to jump up and dance. Over the years, I somehow found out about Mike Hirst and now have a ton of his music. He is great to read to and his voice is beautiful. Check him out!



Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!
Also, just out of curiosity, is there a book out there where the main character struggles with bipolar disorder/schizophrenia? I feel like I've read a lot of books where the narrator's mom/sister/friend has the illness, but I can't remember any where the main character does off the top of my head. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes

Title: Viral Nation
Author: Shaunta Grimes

Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction
Publisher: Berkley Trade

Length: 320 pages
Original Publishing Date: July 2nd, 2013
Series: Viral Nation #1
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.

Brilliant but autistic, sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future.

When one of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined… and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
"

 
Main characters: 4.5/5

I don't really know where to start about Clover's character. I think I'll start off by saying that I've never read a book in which the main character has autism, and I don't have a lot of experience with autism. That being said, I appreciated the fact that the book wasn't about the fact that Clover had autism; it was just something about Clover that made her unique. Clover dislikes crowds and being touched, and she can be blunt when she speaks, but what I found really intriguing were the passages where Grimes outlines what's happening in Clover's head. I could relate with Clover over so many things: the way she had a million thoughts in her mind, the overwhelmed feeling that she gets around crowds, and yet the way her mind worked was fascinating to me, especially the ways that Grimes described it.
West's voice was less distinct that Clover's, if only because his main concern was keeping her safe. Grimes switches points of view between Clover and West but West felt significantly less important. Clover's voice was really the defining aspect of this novel.

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

Jude was a fabulously crafted secondary character. He held the perfect balance of sweet and hardened but I wish that I knew more about his background because at times he seemed a little underdeveloped.
I was so excited for Bridget's character at the beginning of the novel, but she fizzled out for me. I thought her interactions with West were initially so fiery and forward, and then she turned into a swoooning, crying mess.
What is it with books and GREAT secondary dog characters lately? Mango the bulldog was a fantastic addition and I loved his connection with Clover.

Writing style: 4.5/5

I'll try not to make this too fan-girly, but I LOVED the writing style of Viral Nation. First, the prologue was impeccable. It created so much tension and laid down the perfect backstory for the rest of the novel. Next, can I just say how much I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter? They're quotes from former presidents that pertain to that chapter. Some are serious, others are funny, some have wisdom that come into play for that chapter. It was perfect. Another point about the writing style was that it held the perfect balance of description and action, and the descriptions were gorgeous. The way that Grimes explained how Clover's mind worked was powerful, vivid and truly beautiful. The dialogue was realistic, the action was heart-pounding and the description was flawless. The only fault I can find is that the pacing slowed down a little bit too much in the second half of the novel.

Plot: 4/5
The premise for the dystopian world was well thought out in the prologue and the worldbuilding was for the most part impeccably done. The minor details included added a realism to the world and it wasn't so out-there that it seemed completely unbelievable. The time-travel aspect was rather unique for YA dystopian fiction as well. One of the flaws was the logic behind some of the dystopian characteristics. The decision on the governments part to wall off the cities after finding the cure made zero sense to me and I didn't understand why the citizens would be fine with it either. The mystery/conflict took a while to kick in, but I was okay with how long it took to get there because I was so entranced with learning more about this new world, and when the first inkling of mystery entered, I was hooked! The second half of the novel held less excitement and action than the first, so some of it felt anticlimactic, and that's my one big negative on the plot.

Ending: 3.5/5

I was pleasantly surprised with the ending of Viral Nation. I loved the epilogue because it provided just the smallest teaser of what was to come in the upcoming series. The things I didn't like were that it seemed like the end was just a big prep for future conflict to come (the characters were actually prepping) and then the book just ended. This goes hand in hand with the lack of major conflict in the second half of the book: there was no climax really.

Best scene: Clover re-meeting Jude on her first mission


Reminded Me Of: Minority Report

Positives:
Clover (everything about her- except her name), the writing of Shaunta Grimes, the unique aspects of the plot and combination of a couple different dystopian/apocalyptic tropes into something new, the snuggliness of Jude


Negatives: Less developed minor characters, lack of action and conflict in the second half,

Cover: I really like the gritty look of it and I love that they included Clover and Mango on the cover. I do feel like it has too much of a post-apocalyptic feel, when the story was more dystopian.


Verdict: An engrossing dystopian novel with a unique and distinctive main character voice that combines old tropes into something new.


Rating: 8.0/10 (5 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

What I Was Listening To: This music has no connection to the book (that I can discern), but this is what I was listening to while reading Viral Nation. It's by DJBV, a female DJ from UConn who is actually a member of my sorority. She's pretty good, so check her out. Warning though, this song contains explicit language. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (4)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is Top Ten Thing That Make Your Life As A Reader/Blogger Easier.

  1. Goodreads- duh!
  2. My iPhone- the Blogger app, the Bloglovin app, even my email on my phone
  3. My e-reader
  4. My library's online ebook collection
  5. Netgalley
  6. My friend Maddy! She'll be guest reviewing here starting soon.
  7. Twitter- well it makes it both easier and harder I guess
  8. iTunes- I love listening to music while I read
  9. Scheduling posts
  10. Bloggiesta

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop!

For this giveaway, I'm giving away a mystery box of books! Enter below and then hop along to the next blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Piece of My Heart by Lynn Madelenna Menna


Title: Piece of My Heart
Author: Lynn Madelenna Menna

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Merit Press

Length: 239 pages
Original Publishing Date: June 18th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"Still in high school, Marisol Reyes gets the chance of a lifetime to be a real singer, and she leaps at it. After all, this is the dream she held on to, all the days and nights she spent growing up on means streets of East Harlem. Marisol never gave in--no matter what her boyfriend or her best friend had to say. Who cares if only one in a hundred pretty, talented girls make it? She will be the one. In her rush to fame, Marisol tramples on the heart of her loyal best friend, and Julian, the boy she loves. But will it be worth it?

One night at a private gig in the Hamptons, the little Latino girl with the big voice from East Harlem gets a severe reality check. A famous rapper who claims to be interested in her talents turns out to be interested in something else, threatening not only Marisol's dreams but her body and soul. Will the realities of the gritty New York music scene put out the stars in Marisol's eyes forever?
"

 
Main characters: 3/5

Marisol (and her alter ego Singer Girl) had this great sass, but sometimes it almost became arrogance. We are also told about Marisol's magical transformation into Singer Girl that happened before the book started, but I feel like we would've seen a larger range of character growth if the reader had seen that change happen. Marisol had a good balance of naivety and street-smarts, but there were a couple moments where I just shook my head. Marisol's struggles with her friends over her emerging singing career seemed realistic although I might not have liked Marisol's ideas about why her friends were upset that she was spending so much time on her singing career. The negatives were that Marisol's growth as a character was minimal and she was forgettable.

Secondary characters: 1.5/5

One of my knocks on the entire cast of secondary characters were that they were fairly flat, one-dimensional, and easy to forget. I liked that Marisol went back and forth on what to think about Diego and that he wasn't the perfect childhood crush like she expected him to be. Tatianna and Vanessa each had things about them that I didn't like, in fact they were polar opposites. I ended up not liking either character and they were unmemorable at the end. Marisol's stepmother Lola was unique because of the family situation that made her Marisol's only guardian. I liked the tension between them still trying to work out how to be a family and I ultimately enjoyed Lola's character. Julian was a curious romantic interest. I really didn't like him or connect with him and I ultimately didn't understand why he and Marisol kept coming back to each other.

Writing style: 3/5

The writing style was quick-paced and easy to read. Menna really constructed the world of the music industry and New York City well. There were some big jumps in the timeline of the novel, such as between chapters 1 and 2. I don't mind skipping over some of the unimportant parts, but better transitions would have helped this problem.

Plot: 3/5
I loved the premise of following Marisol's journey to singing fame. The action was realistic and seemed to address the issues that come with trying to acquire a music deal. While I haven't personally encountered a lot of things that Marisol went through, I could 100% believe that they were real, both from hearing about the music industry and from the realistic descriptions that Menna included.  I couldn't decide if I liked the fact that some of the celebrities were thinly veiled versions of real singers and music artists (e.g. Taylor Fox as Taylor Swift). My negatives were that the major conflict got a little lost. It felt like we were following Marisol through a summer of learning about herself and therefore the plot had a bit of a wandering feel. In some cases this was good and in others I would have preferred a typical plot structure.

Ending: 2.5/5

While the finale was surprising and exciting, the way that Menna wrapped up the action was a let down. Marisol explains the lessons she's learned that summer about friends, ambition and love. I don't think this was necessary: the writing should do the job and explain what Marisol has learned rather than having the main character list out the lessons like she's in middle school.

Best scene: When Marisol sings at her birthday party


Reminded Me Of: Adios To My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer

Positives: Gritty descriptions of the music industry, a sassy and fun main character, quick moving and easy to read writing style


Negatives: A mostly forgettable story, flat secondary cast, lack of big plot action through most of the story, the writing style at the end

Cover: I'm not really a fan of this cover. I like the idea, but the font is not my thing and the image looks a little fake


Verdict: An entertaining read about the music industry with no real depth


Rating: 5.2/10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco

Title: My Chemical Mountain
Author: Corina Vacco

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Length: 192 pages
Original Publishing Date: June 11th, 2013
Series:
Standalone 
Where I got it: ARC from ARCycling
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"Rocked by his father's recent death and his mother's sudden compulsion to overeat, Jason lashes out by breaking into the abandoned mills and factories that plague his run-down town. Always by his side are his two best friends, Charlie, a fearless thrill junkie, and Cornpup, a geek inventor whose back is covered with cysts. The boys rage against the noxious pollution that suffocates their town and despise those responsible for it; at the same time, they embrace the danger of their industrial wasteland and boast about living on the edge.

   Then on a night the boys vandalize one of the mills,  Jason makes a costly mistake--and unwittingly becomes a catalyst for change. In a town like his, change should be a good thing. There's only one problem: change is what Jason fears most of all."

 
Main characters: 3.5/5

I want to take a moment for a mini side-note before I start in on Jason and comment on what I will call the "Middle of the Road MC". Have you ever noticed that a lot of main characters tend to fall in between the two extremes of their best friends? In the case of My Chemical Mountain, Jason falls between the extremes of his two best friends, the cautious Cornpup and the fearless Charlie. I think that this is, in part, in order to make the main character the most easy to relate to for the reader. And I did relate with Jason on a lot of parts. Even though I am an older female reader who hasn't gone through the same experiences, Vacco was able to create a character that I understood and the parts that I didn't understand, she explained to me. Mostly, I was fascinated by Jason's understanding of the landfill. Sometimes it seemed impossible that the boys are so interesting in the industrial wasteland that they literally swim in toxic water and drink it (!!) but Vacco's explanation of their obsession with it is completely unique.

Secondary characters: 3/5


Slightly more entrenched in tropes are Jason's two best friends Charlie and Cornpup. Each fits into the mold of the cautious vs. the fearless and Jason oscillates between the two. I love how the three of them truly compliment each other and I could see some of the depth within Charlie and Cornpup. I was oddly impressed with Jason's mother too. Her reaction to Jason's father's death through overeating was heartbreakingly realistic in the way that people can respond to death and tragedy. There were a couple other minor characters that were slightly less developed that I would have liked more from.

Writing style: 4.5/5
This book read fast. The pacing was surprising given that it wasn't an action novel per se. It helps that the book itself is pretty short, but Vacco moved the writing along well. The dialogue was realistic and Vacco had an oddly beautiful way of describing the waste and industrial dumps. However, these descriptions don't weigh down the pacing but instead allow the reader to get a grotesque image of the industrial wasteland in their head and follow Jason and his friends through their playground.

Plot: 3.5/5
This book was so different from anything I've read! I was nervous that it would come across with a strong message telling the reader what they should believe. What was so unique about My Chemical Mountain was its point-of-view through Jason, whose identity was formed through his time spent exploring this polluted wasteland. Jason has a connection with this environment and it's so interesting to read an issue from this young boy's point of view. The plot itself ran a little thin at times and was mainly kept moving by the boy's excursions through the wastelands, but it gained some structure later in the novel and I felt the book line back up on track. I just want to give a shout out to the setting in Western New York and all of the references to Buffalo sports- I was thrilled to see mentions of my Bills and Sabres. I noticed a lot of people viewing this as a futuristic or dystopian, and I just wanted to point out that I mentioned the book to my dad (who is from Buffalo) and he brought up the neighborhood of Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York. The descriptions may seem impossible for some of us, but this stuff actually happened.

Ending: 3/5

The ending was explosive but it almost seemed a little rushed. The writing was beautiful, as Vacco had already proved earlier, but that last chapter left a few things unfinished and I wanted to know what happened next. I think the final note was sweet and perfect however; it summed up the whole novel.

Best scene: The first time the boys visit the landfill- the descriptions are wonderful





 
Positives: Beautifully gruesome writing style, pacing, strong characterization, the unique point of view of the landfill


Negatives: Slightly more underdeveloped secondary characters, a little thin on the plot material, rushed ending

Cover: The cover looks like a post-apocalyptic story, so that was a little misleading, however it definitely catches your attention and it's beautiful in its own way.


Verdict: A unique look at pollution and strong characters and writing take this novel beyond being an "environmentalism" story.


Rating: 7.0/10 (4 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!



Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (3)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is Top Ten Favorite Books With (your choice) Setting. I decided to choose my top favorite books with completely made-up settings (in no particular order).


1.  Anything by Tamora Pierce

2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

3. Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

4. Abarat by Clive Barker

5. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

6. Howl's Moving Castle by Dinna Wynne Jones

7. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review: Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Title: Branded
Author: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction
Publishing Information: 252 pages; June 28th, 2013

Series: Sinners #1

Where I got it: NetGalley

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.
Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.
"

 
Main characters: 3/5

After the beginning, which I had trouble with, Lexi ended up being a likeable character for me.
I almost wish she had committed her sin because I think it would have added some complexity to Lexi's character. AHHHH I just wanted to knock Lexi's head into something at multiple points in the story. Part of it was because I became so emotionally invested in her life that anytime she did something I had huge reactions, and part of it was because toward the end I started not understanding some of her decisions. They were explained, but maybe not to the extent that I needed or they just didn't seem to make sense with what I already knew about Lexi. Overall, Lexi was a tough character and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the depth of characterization. There were some points that I was rolling my eyes over because they fit into such an overused stereotype, but somehow all of those stereotypes managed to fade away once I was sucked into the story. One more knock against Lexi was that toward the end I started not understanding some of her motivations and it seemed like she was saying one thing and doing another.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Cole!!!! I'm not usually a "swoon"-y, "book boyfriend"-y kind of reader, but I became exactly that. The chemistry was ridiculous and there were definitely some swoon moments in there. It made me pause and think, "Who am I?! I don't swoon!", but there's no denying it. Zeus was such a character that he made the reader lighter and provided a some much-needed humor. I definitely giggled at his antics a lot. But, here's what really made the secondary characters such a success: Alyssa. She was really the turning point in the story for me and the part that made me get sucked in to the 'can't-put-down' mode. She got my emotions involved and that's all I needed to push the book into a success. There were a couple of minor characters who weren't quite as impressive: Keegan, for one. I was pretty unimpressed with his character and development.

Writing style: 2/5

I had a couple issues with the opening of the novel. I wanted to be swept up in the action but instead I was left with a lot of unanswered questions and an information dump. I prefer the information to be subtly integrated into the storyline rather than dumped on my and shown rather than told. The pacing of the exposition was also off to me: one minute she's about to hang herself, the next she's being chased by the guards, then she's transported to the Hole, then... you get the picture. I felt like I was on a roller-coaster. In general, I liked the simple writing style but I would have preferred more detail so I could really picture things in my mind (when have you ever heard me say that, right?). I'll give you an example (albeit it, kind of a gross one): there's a line that reads "Instead, I lean over and throw up". We all know what this is like- it sucks. The difference is that I feel disconnected from the action. If there had been some descriptor about how it feels to throw up that I could connect with and say, "Oh my gosh, I have totally had that feeling/physical reaction/whatever and it's awful", then I would be more involved in the action. Sorry, I know this part is getting long, apparently I have a lot to say about the writing style of Branded! Here's another point: it improved as the story went on. Finally, I loved the few moments of humor, such as when Zeus the dog popped his head out of the trash can with tape in between his eyes. It was a pleasant lightening of the mood.

Plot: 4/5
The premise of the book was so intriguing, it reminded me a bit of The Scarlett Letter the way they branded people. What I didn't expect was the amount of brutality and hopelessness of the situation outlined in the beginning of the novel. The worldbuilding was phenomenal- I really felt like the authors had a good idea of the world they were creating. Some points could have turned stereotypical but I felt like the authors handled all the plot points so well that it solved that issue. There was a bit of insta-love, and the forbidden romance thing had me rolling my eyes at first, but all things considered I really enjoyed the plot and the worldbuilding.

Ending: 3/5

I was a little disappointed with the writing style of the final action scenes. It felt separated from me and I couldn't imagine it in my head. I'm also not sure what to think about the plot twist: in some respects, it makes a lot of sense, but it felt a little too easy and too connected. I liked the fact that it didn't end on a cliffhanger and that it wasn't the perfect fairtytale ending, so props to the authors on that point.

Best scene: Where Cole and Lexi stay in Alyssa's room

Positives: COLE!, and Zeus!, the worldbuilding, getting me sucked into the plot and emotionally involved


Negatives: Some of Lexi's character inconsistencies and stereotypes, the writing (not enough details, telling rather than showing, too fast of pacing at the beginning), the ending?

Cover: I like the background and the girl, but I don't like the writing on the cover. Any of it really.


Verdict: A unique addition to the dystopian genre that had some definite weaknesses but strong enough worldbuilding and emotionally investing characters to make up for it.


Rating: 6.6/10 (4 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know! Also, is it just me or are more books being jointly written by two authors these days?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (2)


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is  Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels.

1.  On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

2.  Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma


3. All Uniquet Things by Anna Jarzab

4. The Silenced by James Devita



5. Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

So that's the list! What do you think?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Review: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson


Title: Flirting in Italian
Author: Lauren Henderson


Goodreads Summary: "Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!"

Main character: 2/5
Violet was stereotypical as can be: the daughter of a gorgeous ex-model who looks nothing like either of her parents, the sensible one. There was a lot of talk about her body in comparisons to other characters which I wasn't a fan of. We get it, she's normal sized, let's move on with the story. She also kept talking about how she knew Luca was bad news but disregarded her own advice about staying away from him, which I realize is often what happens in real life, however the writing made it seem so much worse than reality.

Secondary characters: 2/5
Paige & Kendra very much fit a 'role', and I didn't feel like they were very three dimensional. Luca seemed like a douche at first

Writing style: 3/5
Fun and easy to read, obviously not a lot of descriptive depth or elegance.

Plot: 2/5
Felt like I was asked to believe a lot of things, like the fact that the portrait just happens to look exactly like Violet, her weird obsession with Luca when they first meet, etc. The plot itself was odd; a mixture of romance and family drama. Ultimately, nothing is resolved which lowered this score a lot.

Ending: 1/5
Pretty bad. Cliffhanger + no resolution. Nothing was explained, including the main conflict of the story, the reason why Violet went to Italy in the first place.

Cover: The thing that drew me in! I love the cover.

Rating: 4.8 / 10 (2 stars)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fitzgerald Freakouts (1)

Welcome to what will probably be a regular feature around The Book Analyst for a while. I'm entering my senior year of college and to graduate from the Honors College, I'm required to write a thesis and defend in next Spring.
The journey begins now. I'm writing my thesis on the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and how his childhood time spent growing up in the city of Buffalo, New York affected his writing. I'll be traveling to Buffalo in a few weeks to do some research but first I need to get on my game and start reading!
I won't be alone in Buffalo though- my family is from Buffalo and they'll be helping me through the city and the research process. I'm so excited to be going back to Buffalo and focusing my research on it; the city is beautiful and has so much local culture. I've visited tons of times, but this will be the first time I've gone semi-"professionally".
I'm so excited but incredibly nervous as well. So here's the first of many more posts/freak-outs/reviews/discussions/etc.