Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Rootless by Chris Howard


Chris Howard
Print Edition: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: November 1, 2012
Source: Aubidle

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using salvaged scrap metal, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree--they were destroyed more than a century ago--his missing father used to tell him stories about the Old World.

Everything changes when Banyan meets a mysterious woman with a strange tattoo--a map to the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts . . . the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.

I first learned of this book from Asheley over at Into the Hall of Books when she posted THIS gushing review.  I added it to my TBR.  And now I’ve finished it. 

I can honestly say, that if Asheley hadn’t convinced me in her review, this isn’t something I would have chosen on my own.  The names, the setup, the lure of trees…it all seemed kinda hokey.  But I would have judged wrong.  Way wrong.

What Howard gives us in a world that is raw and vast and void and so many unknown variables.  There are some clichés, things/people/places typical of the post-dystopian genre.  When you look at the big picture it all works to weave an intriguing, enrapturing story that kept me rooted to my seat reading this.

I love the world that Howard created with the Big Bad Guy and the fighting-tooth-and-nails-to-survive little guy.  I love the intrigue and suspense.  And that people die at a Game of Thrones pace—that you being to care about them, and then Howard kills them off!  I love that it’s heartbreaking and nerve-wracking.  I love you don’t really know what’s coming next.  I love that each character has a unique voice (yes, I read this as an audiobook, but even without the voice actor, each character was unique), that they were true to themselves through the entire book, even if they made the wrong choice.  I love that there are difficult decisions that have to be made, and they are torn to shreds over what to do.

The things, and there’s only a couple, that annoyed me are Banyan's single-mindedness and that Howard used the various forms of “reckon” frequently.

Y’all, there was a point where I was sure that I would finish Rootless, but not continue the series.  Then Howard put some more words down and changed my mind.

rating 4 of 5

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Print Edition: 304 pages
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Source: Library

Goodreads | Amazon

Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.

Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl make her a movie, and Greg must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.

Y’all, when I found this, I thought it might be a little like The Fault in our Stars.  To some extent it was.  What it was not, however, is heartfelt, life-affirming, or serious. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not so much about the dying girl (Rachel) as it is about how being friends with Rachel changes Greg and Earl and their journey through this growth.  It’s irreverent, funny, and so strikingly honest that it will beat you about the head and neck.  It reveals how teens deal with death, and sickness, in a way that you can relate and understand, but also as the same time feels genuine yet tongue-in-cheek. 

Andrews writes Greg in such a self-deprecating way that at times, and there are very few of them, that you want to slap him and say, “Just get on with the story!”  I do like that Greg isn’t taking any of this seriously from beginning to end.  I enjoyed Andrews’ voice, pacing, story-telling.

MEDG is definitely irreverent and almost offensive.  But ultimately, it’s a good read, lots of fun, and, if you like things a little disrespectful, you should check this out.

rating 4 of 5

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson


The Name of the Star
Maureen Johnson
Series: The Shades of London (Book 1)
Print Edition: 384 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: September 29, 2011

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Y’all, I didn’t really know what to expect when I started this.  I did know that my 18yo sister-in-law really enjoyed this book.  And that it had been on my TBR list forever. So I finally downloaded it from Audible.  And I’m so glad I did!

The Name of the Star is all kinds of amazing!  The storytelling, the world building, both the relationship and personal growth.  And obviously the paranormal parts!

I know I’m seriously late to the game on reading this one (it released in2011!), and even though most of you all have read it, I’m going to try hard to keep this spoiler-free…for the small fraction of society that hasn’t read it yet!

Rory is off boarding school in London.  She’s like the fish out of water—grew up in Louisiana, as Southern as they come.  I appreciated that Johnson didn’t overdo Rory, or make her a caricature of a Southern teen—her voice is authentic and honest.  All the characters seem that way, too—genuine.  There wasn’t a single character (except the bad guy) that I didn’t like!  And then, just when I’m pretty comfortable with everyone, Johnson surprises us with Boo…she is so great, mysterious, but great.  And you know something’s up with her.  And the something doesn’t disappoint!

I swear, Johnson is a magician!  She knows exactly when to mix things up!  There’s the thing with Boo and Rory during the dance with a phone and a car and…you just don’t know.  I almost cried!

And then there’s the big event.  And it’s HUGE, and it’s masterfully written.  And it ends on a perfect note.

So, y’all, if you haven’t yet read The Name of the Star, you should.  I will continue the series!

rating 5 of 5

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Beautiful Curse by Jen McConnel

"Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at “Breaking the Spine”, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What I'm Waiting On?

Beautiful Curse

Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Mya Jones is cursed.
She is, hands down, the most beautiful creature on earth. But beauty can wound, and Mya finds herself reviled and shunned by her peers. If there is even a chance that she could start over, Mya longs to take it, no matter the risks.
So when the strange Mr. Merk offers her a new life away from home, Mya is hesitant but hopeful. Only she didn't count on the mysterious Ross, or her feelings for him.
BEAUTIFUL CURSE is a contemporary retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid.


Why I’m waiting

I honestly don’t know much about Beautiful Curse, but I am excited to see what Jen McConnel has done with this myth. I also think the cover is nice! What do you think?
Is Beautiful Curse on your to read list?
Can’t wait to see what books you are wanting this week?

Review: The One by Kiera Cass


The One
Kiera Cass
Print Edition: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Library

Goodreads | Amazon

The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America's whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth's Divergent, Ally Condie's Matched, or Lauren Oliver's Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

Y’all, I reread my review of the first two books (HERE) and I surprised myself…I actually liked them! 
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I actually forced myself to finish The One simply to have finished it.  I didn’t care about what happened to anyone.  I can’t figure out how Cass managed to get a 3-book deal on this—the entire plot line could have fit neatly into one 3-400 page book.

The One moved so incredibly slow that it felt like I was moving backwards most of the time, and when something exciting did take place, it was a brief page or two.  America annoyed me so much.  I couldn’t get over how unbelievably stubborn and idiotic she was—throughout the entire series. 

One of the things I look for in a series, is “Do the characters grow?”  I think everyone had substantial amounts of growth while America grew only slightly.  Also, “Are there holes?”  Cass opened up plotlines that weren’t addressed (i.e. America’s dad was a rebel?!?!  What are the implications of that?  And what about Kriss?).  And, how could Maxon recover so quickly from the loss of his parents?  And what about Celeste?  Did Maxon change the world, were they able to make a difference?  …See, too many unanswered questions. 

I do not agree that this book was enchanting, beautiful, or romantic.

I did, however, like the Epilogue, except for the cheesy last two lines of it. 

rating 1 of 5

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