Monthly Archives: January 2014

ARC Review – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347Title:  We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 / ★★★★★

Synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love.  The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.  Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

River’s Review (4.5 Stars)

I received an advanced copy of this from the publisher and I’m writing this honest review to say thank you.

4.5 stars. Only because I didn’t cry and I was almost kinda sorta promised crying from the other reviews of this. But holy fuck. The ending. I saw it coming a page before it happened. Then I was just like ‘oh…’ and ALL. THE. FEELS. Only I didn’t cry. Maybe because when the dog trauma happened I was so numb from that that… I couldn’t? IDEK. But guys, yes. This book is beautiful and traumatic and I READ IT IN A DAY.

And the more I think about it and reflect on it, the more sad I get. Maybe I will cry after all…

Just read this.

Sam’s Review (5 Stars)

I read this in one sitting. Unless I am completely in love with what I am reading, I don’t do that very often. This review of We Were Liars isn’t going to be long because there’s so much packed into this very short book that I feel like if I gave anything away, it’d be a spoiler.

I will mention a few things about this book: the prose is stunning. It’s lyrical, clever, and it has this wonderful flow that whisks you through the narrative of this book. There are no likable people in this story, there are no deeds that do not go unpunished, and for every ounce of freedom, sometimes people have to pay a price. That’s what these characters represent and the issues each of them faces are beyond words.

This is a beautiful, messed up book. That is probably the best way to describe it. There are feelings thrown all over the place (dog feels no less!), and it’s a portrait of a very disturbing family and its situation that you can’t help but turn the pages, the book demanding more and more of your attention. The forward to this book is 100% right in a lot of what it sets the reader up for, but how heavy a lot of it is still feels so unexpected and hellish that you feel emotionally drained.

I loved this book, I cannot wait for it to release so that I can get a physical copy for my shelf, and seriously: just read it. There’s so much to this book that putting anymore of it into words means I’m ruining the experience for it. Read this book, and live a little through it.

ARC Review – Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

16069167Title:  Fire & Flood

Author: Victoria Scott

 

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything. Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race. The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for the advance reader copy of this book!

 

River’s Review (3.5 Stars)

As much as I enjoyed this, I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. I LOOOOVED Scott’s first novel, The Collector, and while I knew this would be VERY different, I was still super excited to read it. Tella was great, the writing was snappy, fresh and fun, and the Pandoras were sooooooooo cute! But I had some trouble with the world building. As much as I just wanted to let go and accept this ‘down the rabbit hole’ world I really would have felt more… settled? if it had been set a bit more in the future or in a more obvious dystopian world. It really bothered me that Tella was like I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS and then never really pushed for answers. She just accepted things along the way and when she’d start to get answer I’d get really excited but then whoever was giving them to her would stop and she’d just be like ‘oh I want answers but… oh well later’.

The action was really good, and I love that the book only covered half the race, but I would have liked to have connected with the characters a bit more. There were moments when I really felt for them, and other times when I just couldn’t connect at all. I liked Guy and Tella, but I didn’t really feel their relationship as much as I would have liked. The build was slow, but I would have liked more. Same for Tella and her brother. We get a lot of her telling us how close they are, but she leaves her home at the beginning SO fast that we don’t actually see them TOGETHER. I guess a lot of the relationships just felt under-developed.

So yeah, I liked this a lot (but didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped) and can’t wait to see what happens in the next one!

Sam’s Review (3.5 Stars)

I am very torn on this book. I have not read Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker series which I’ve heard high praises for, so I went into this novel thankful with nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed Fire & Flood and I finally like it’s a promising new series despite its faults.

One of my biggest issues with Fire & Flood is that its a touch light on the world-building. Tella spends the majority of the novel asking questions about being a Contender and being a part of the Brimstone Bleed, but at the same time never seeks answers to ber own questions. That stuck me as a bit odd for most of the story because I felt like the questions Tella had were the same ones I had. Hopefully in book two we’ll see more development in this department.

I did like how fast paced the novel was. Scott doesn’t give the reader time to breath or rest because something is always happening, be it good or bad (though mostly bad), and in that sense this book is good at keeping the reader on its toes. There’s even some uncomfortable moments in the story, particularly any instance that had bugs. Bugs generally don’t bother me, but Scott’s descriptions of the bug incidences were pretty brutal. The action scenes always felt dead on and wonderfully timed since it is a race and it’s pretty damn scary.

I wish there had been more in terms of characterization. I get that there is going to be more than one book, so I’m going to be a bit more forgiving here. I wish there had been a better build for Guy and Tella’s relationship, and I wish that the relationship between Cody and Tella had been more well defined. We are told lots of aspects about these relationships, but the level of show for me didn’t give enough pull for me to feel as connected as I’d like.

Overall I think Scott has a very fun and action packed novel for young readers. There’s definitely a lot of tension and creepy factor for those into that. I look forward to seeing the development of this world and these characters because I do think they have the potential to be fascinating to say the least.

ARC Review – Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd

18929091Title:  Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2)

Author: Megan Shepherd

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this tantalizing sequel to Megan Shepherd’s gothic suspense novel, The Madman’s Daughter, explores the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

Back in London after her trip to Dr. Moreau’s horrific island, Juliet is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget her father’s legacy. But soon it’s clear that someone—or something—hasn’t forgotten her, as people close to Juliet start falling victim to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes. Has one of her father’s creations also escaped the island? As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

River’s Review (4 Stars)

Huge thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy. I’m writing this honest review to say thank you

Wow. And wow that ending. So I read The Madman’s Daughter for my creepy Halloween read and somehow I ended up reading this for my Christmas read… and it was bloody and not very merry at all. But very brilliant nontheless.

I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but if you liked the first book, you’ll love this. It’s just as dark, just as gritty, and just as horrific as the first one. It’s also sexy and smart and I love Juliet so much.

CANNOT wait for the next one though, so can’t wait to see where that’s going.

TTT – Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In / Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In OR Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

River’s top five

1. The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant — guys, if you know me, you KNOW I am deathly, terribly, horribly pee-my-pants-scared of zombies. It is literally my biggest fear in life (yes, I am being serious). In order to face my fears (because, how dumb am I?) Sam kindasorta forced me to read this series and holy. shit. I had some nightmares. This is my nightmare world.

2. Rowan from Me Since You by Laura Wiess — This book broke my heart and I would wish Rowan’s situation on no one.

3. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne — If the zombie apocalypse doesn’t happen first, then this is how I imagine the world ending. Giant balls of ice falling from the sky. Huge earthquakes. Loss of power. And then add in a government experiment leaking out (not zombies) into the world turning people into monsters (not zombies). Yeah, the world in this book… not something I’d ever like to experience.

4. Fia in Mind Games by Kiersten White — I love Fia, but I would NOT want to be her. I wouldn’t want to be inside of her mind, or do the things that she does. I also wouldn’t want to feel the way she does when she goes against her perfect intuition.

5. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis — NO WATER. This world was gritty and just, no thank you. I enjoy turning on the tap and having the water come out. I enjoy buying a bottle of water on a hot day for a buck fifty. I’ve lived through enough Michigan winters to know what it’s like to NOT have water and no, no thank you.

Sam’s top five

1. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami — while it’s not a YA or MG choice, this is one of my favourite novels and it’s one that is in the mind of one man living in two different worlds… did I mention both worlds suck? Hardboiled Wonderland is a world where people are constantly on the run, fearing technology and other worldly disturbances, while End of the World is nomadic, desolate and malicious. Both worlds focus on the isolation of the protagonist, but they never give the reader a sense that either world is, in fact, ideal to live in. Having mentioned this book again, I feel like a reread is in order because it is SO AWESOME.
2. The Rule of Three by Eric Walters — Walter’s most recent novel exploits one of my greatest fears — a world without power. Not mental power, but electricity. Considering how much we depend on power for heating, air conditioning, to power our various needs (computers, internet, etc) it’d be terrifying in this day and age to live without it considering how spoiled a lot of us are by it. I don’t know if I could trade places with Adam and Todd and survive because admittedly I love my comforts of home. But of all the worlds I’ve recently read about, this one in particular sticks out in my mind because it has the most possibility of actually happening.
3. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami — Let’s face it, no one wants to live in a dystopian society where you’re asked to murder your fellow classmates on live television. For all of Shuya Nanahara’s troubles, he’s forced to witness the deaths of many of his friends and classmates in a deadly game presented by a hype Confucianist/Tyrannical society, and he is forced to relive memories of what made those people so good, yet do such dastardly things for the sake of survival.  The Hunger Games really has nothing on this novel.
4. Any Heroine in a Courtney Summers novel, but particularly Regina in “Some Girls Are” — Let’s face it, Courtney Summers writes some of the ugliest girls in YA and does it with intense ease… it’s kind of terrifying really. Regina’s clique in “Some Girls Are” is probably one of the scariest I’ve ever read about in a novel because they come across fearless, unafraid of consequences, showing no signs of remorse. Regina when she leaves the clique really has her hands full, and for all the torment and fighting back, you get an ending in this novel that is just really unnerving. Anna Morrison (leader of the Fearsome Five) is legitimately one of the scariest girls I’ve ever read about.
5. Gotham City from Batman — I am huge Batman fangirl, but I never ever would want to live in Gotham. Gotham is one of the darkest cities to grace fiction and it’s one full of demons, ghouls, psychopaths and sociopaths, and yet it’s a world I always come back to because it gives me the chills. I’d never want to be in Bruce Wayne’s shoes because every day always feels like it could be the last — you never know who might try to take you down. It’s hard in some ways, because every author who takes on Batman has a unique way of showcasing Gotham but lately I’ve had a lot of love for Scott Snyder’s interpretation because it’s a genuinely horrifying version of Gotham. He treats it like there’s no escape, and that gives me the chills.

ARC Review – Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

18599748Title:  Guy in Real Life

Author: Steve Brezenoff

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Lesh and Svetlana, two teens from St. Paul, Minnesota, are adrift in a sea of social coterie, desperate for something to change. When they crash into one another in a drunken bicycle accident at two am, they don’t yet know how close they are to finding it. For now, Svetlana is simply looking for a fifth member to legitimize the Central High School Gaming Club, and Lesh is looking to escape his being grounded for said drunkenness by entering, reluctantly, the world of online role playing games.

Lesh’s gaming life takes an interesting turn as, unable to figure out how to speak to Svetlana, he “becomes” her in-game. When real life and in-game life inevitably become entwined, Lesh and Svetlana both start to realize that the lines they draw to keep their lives in order are not so easy to maintain. Especially when you no longer understand why you drew them in the first place.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Steve Brezenoff for this advance reader’s copy of his very awesome book.

When I read the premise of Guy in Real Life, I was convinced it was a book written just for me. I’m marrying a gamer, I am a gamer myself, so clearly a nerdy gamer romance sounded perfect. What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of laying within this novel — gaming was only one half of what this story entailed, as Brezenoff gives us a story about two misfits, one completely unsure of himself and another who knows herself wholeheartedly.

First off, this novel is written in four multiple perspectives, though two belong to Lesh’s gaming characters, and one is more for entertainment purposes than anything else. The perspectives are very easy to identify, cleverly developed, and it creates a wonderfully woven narrative that connects throughout with ease. While some people might not be interested in reading someone’s D&D campaign or someone’s MMO character, these aspects are so important to the narrative as they give you a stronger sense of who Lesh and Svetlana truly are.

And that’s essentially what I loved about this story. It’s a novel about finding your identity and looking at the roles in which we play in our daily lives. Sometimes these roles make us hate parts of ourselves, while sometimes these roles strengthen out beliefs in being the best person we can be. What I love is that both characters have some doubts about themselves, but each attempts to harness qualities that they want the other to see on the outside.

That’s what I loved about Lesh and Svetlana’s romance: it became more about the qualities on the inside, and they got to know each other in more ways than one. Gaming was an easy connection, but gaming gave them more to explore about each other. The “Guy in Real Life” aspect is also explored so well because it is a topic that often comes up in roleplaying communities, but I love that Lesh has a lot of unsure aspects about himself. He wants to grow, learn who he is, and he’s a surprisingly sweet character as the story unfolds. I mean, as a gamer I love playing male characters because it’s not the gender I am, and much like Lesh, there is this desire to explore the other gender in such a way where you feel like you could get a sense of who someone is.

I also loved the secondary cast, particularly Reggie and Roan. They are the exact types of people you’d have in a gaming group, but they are such amazing friends and I think Svetlana as a character is a lot more fortunate in the friendships she’s forged compared to Lesh. Her circle of friends (for the most part) is very strong, they take care of each other, whereas a lot of Lesh’s story is also trying to find people who he can connect with on a level that makes him feel comfortable.

This novel is beautifully written with such an amazing message behind it. It shows gaming in a positive light (which I appreciate) and the characters are so memorable and strong, though not entirely likable (which I think it’s part of the point). This is a book that i find myself hugging against my chest because it does so much right but asks very little of its reader’s other than an open-minded. While the gaming elements will definitely being hit-or-miss for some readers, I feel like this novel is more than playing games and forging friendships — it’s about the roles we play in our lives, be them real or virtual.

I urge those out there who don’t have this on their TBR to give it a shot, because the amount of surprises within the narrative are plentiful, and there’s so many questions worth asking upon its completion. I cannot wait to reread this novel, because I feel like one read isn’t enough to absorb everything that the novel is attempting to accomplish. Guy in Real Life is a sweetly awkward tale of first loves and new beginnings.

ARC Review – And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

18951963Title:  And We Stay

Author: Jenny Hubbard

Rating: ★★ / ★

Synopsis: Sent to an Amherst, Massachusetts, boarding school after her ex-boyfriend shoots himself, seventeen-year-old Emily expresses herself through poetry as she relives their relationship, copes with her guilt, and begins to heal.

Huge thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this advanced reader copy. Saying thank you with an honest review

River’s Review (2 Stars)

Well… this book was not what I was expecting it to be. I can’t really say much without going into spoilers, but there was a topic that I LOVE to read about and a topic that I HATE reading about. So there was that. I was REALLY into the story until the reason for Paul’s suicide was reveled then I was just… ugh. Why did it have to go there? And the way of it all… not cool and I’m not even totally sure I understand the mechanics of it all… like, just… how?

I did enjoy the writing a lot. I loved the imagery and some of the lines were brilliant. The poems were really well done, but I got a bit sick of them towards the end and started skipping them. I felt a little bad about that, but I really just wanted to get on with the story.

For a book dealing with the aftermath of a school-gun-assault-suicide-something else I was really surprised that there wasn’t a bit more… emotion in Emily’s voice. She just seemed to detached and emotionless. Maybe it was the way she dealt with everything, but I really would have liked a lot more emotion.

Wow, this review is really hard to write. I just… wanted more and less at the same time.

Sam’s Review (1 Star)

The topic of suicide is never an easy one to approach. It’s definitely a topic that has to have a lot of care and thought put into it — to give people a reason to react. While I feel like And We Stay does the former correctly in terms of creating a thoughtful story, it’s one that couldn’t be more devoid emotional impact.

Considering the topic, I expected an emotional read out of And We Stay. What I ended up with was a dull read with awkward transitioning between instances of Emily’s brother being alive and dead. A lot of the writing just failed to get me to care about a lot of what happened to the characters in this story because they were written without personality. I found myself often forgetting names, though oddly never forgetting what each character was a victim of. Every character, particularly Emily, comes across so detached and yet I found myself unable to care about her detachments, which made me pretty damn sad considering the way the story is built, you feel like you SHOULD care and DON’T.

I’m also all for poetry, but this book got too excessive with it and to the point where I found myself skipping them. I thought they were great until they started to get gimmicky. These were the only instances of Emily’s real emotions (or emotion even in the story as a whole), but to me that’s not a way to pull at my heart-strings, but in fact, do the opposite — make me feel like I wasted my time.

There’s just nothing that makes And We Stay a book to invest in. There’s no emotion, the writing is bland and uninspired, the poetry is all right but gets to be too much as the story goes on… I just can’t recommend this book. If you want to read a better book that deals with the topic of suicide, check out Me Since You by Laura Weiss. That’s a book that does so much right on the topic and makes you feel like what you’re reading actually matters.

Blog Tour – The Rule of Three by Eric Walters (Review)

18483588Title:  The Rule of Three

Author: Eric Walters

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: One afternoon, every single machine in sixteen-year-old Adam’s high school computer lab stops working. Outside, cars won’t start, phones are down, and a blackout is widespread. Soon Adam will discover that the problem has paralyzed not just his town but the whole country and beyond. As resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends, he will see that his suburban neighborhood must band together for protection.
 
Violence will erupt and Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government agent living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys
to his survival.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for the advance copy of this book. The Rule of Three is out now in book stores everywhere!

I am generally not a fan of survivalist stories. There’s always this uncomfortable vibe about reading a story where the potential for it to happen is surprisingly high. In the case of Eric Walter’s The Rule of Three, the reality he has painted is one that really does have the potential to happen.

What I enjoyed about this book is how close to home it hit. Recently Toronto was hit with a devastating ice storm that caused over thousands of people to be without power. Interestingly, however, no one resorted to the level of what the characters in the Rule of Three face, but it was interesting to have that happen while reading this book.

The Rule of Three, for the most part, is surprisingly action-packed read. There’s always big conflict, big problems, and Adam is a wonderfully engaging protagonist in the sense that he’s always trying to find the best solution, but struggles to trust ever person who comes to their group with a problem. Heck, he struggles to trust people within his own group, so I really enjoyed how multi-layered he felt on a whole. I did find some of the other characters a bit less dimensional (particularly the women), which frustrated me somewhat because there was a lot of potential for genuine emotion in such a terrifying situation, and those moments were few and far between for me.

Still, I think this is the type of book where if you’re okay with discomfort, there’s a surprising amount to enjoy. I appreciate the realism that this novel has and the real warning that it presents. Characterization is very important for me as a reader, and I know that’s where I really did struggle with this book because I wanted more than I got. Still, there’s some wonderfully descriptive moments in this book, and Walter’s gives us a reality is that is both very real, yet he doesn’t deny the power of hope and change.

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