Monday, February 27, 2017

Review of When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided
We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

When I first heard about When We Collided, I was surprised, but in a good way.  Lord’s previous novels had both had serious heavy moments, but it felt like When We Collided might put some of the serious subject matter more in the foreground.  I was eager to see how Lord would handle this, and I was particularly intrigued when I heard that the story would deal with mental health.  When We Collided is a stunningly written novel about teens going through some of the most difficult phases of their adolescences.

Vivi struggles with bipolar disorder, and after a particularly bad year, she and her mother have moved to Verona Cove, California.  Jonah and his family already live in Verona Cove, where they are struggling with the recent passing of Jonah’s father and the question of how the family business will stay afloat.  The two of them meet when Jonah’s little sister, Leah, invites Vivi to the house for dinner, and Jonah makes a frankly delicious sounding pizza.  It doesn’t take long before Vivi and Jonah find themselves falling for each other in a deeply passionate and vibrant way.

All of the characters in this story are extremely well developed.  As I read When We Collided, I felt like I was part of Jonah’s family, or that the tensions that Vivi and her mom had could have been between my own mother and me.  Verona Cove was so well drawn that I could easily visualize each setting the characters were in.

Lord draws some strong parallels between Vivi and Jonah’s family.  Jonah has a huge, happily family whereas Vivi doesn’t know who her father is.  Lord is also careful to address the different ways that mental illness manifests.  Bipolar feels like something Vivi has struggled with for a long time, and the mental illness struggles within Jonah’s family feel triggered by his father’s death.  I appreciate Lord addressing that mental illness doesn’t always take the same form or happen for the same reasons.

While this story is filled with the charm of Verona Cove, Vivi’s energy, and the warmth of Jonah’s family, there is an edge throughout the story.  Throughout the novel, it feels as to though things could go horribly wrong at any moment.  Lord never shies away from this feeling but instead addresses it straight on.  I know some readers didn’t care for the ending of this story, but I loved that it didn’t hold back.

When We Collided deals with mental illness, grief, and romance in ways that are honest.  This isn’t just a story about how being in a relationship can change your life, it’s a story about how taking care of one’s own mental health is necessary to help keep healthy relationships.  Never for one moment is this story didactic.  It is about people who fall, everything one can go through while falling, and the afterwards. 

Disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of this book from a friend, but I also purchased a hard copy once it came out.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review of Winter by Marissa Meyer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

(Summary from GoodReads)

I was extremely excited when I heard that Winter would be over 700 pages. I really wanted Winter’s story after reading Fairest, and there was a lot to tie up given everything that happened earlier in the series.  Winter was an epic and satisfying conclusion to this series and I adored it.

I loved reading this story of Winter and Jacin.  It felt as though Meyer really stepped up the quality of her prose for this installment of the series.  Winter’s story had some particularly magical elements to it and I adored the romance between her and Jacin.

Of course, we spent a lot of time with all of our other characters as well, particularly Cinder and Levana. I loved seeing how characters grew throughout the series, and I loved the little glimpses we got of them as the story wound down.  The ending of this series tied up the relevant storylines, but not too neatly.

I freaking adored Winter.  This is a series that I want to reread again and again.  The best part of it is that for those who haven’t read the series yet, it’s totally bingeable now that it’s all out.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Review of Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

How is anyone supposed to know what to expect going into a story about an evil queen?  Sure, it was obvious that Meyer was going to give us reasons to understand why Levana is the way she is, otherwise this book wouldn’t have lived up to its full potential.  While I knew that Fairest was going to satiate my desire to learn more about Queen Levana, I was impressed by how it was woven into the series as a whole.

I just want to say how fulfilling it was to treat this as book three and a half in this series and read Winter immediately afterwards because while one could read Winter without having ever read Fairest, one will appreciate it much more.  You could skip it, but you’d be missing out on a great deal.  For those wondering, this book covers bits of Levana’s adolescence and childhood, as well as some romantic relationships she once had.  Of course, we get glimpses of other major characters in the series.

This book did make me feel more sympathetic towards Levana, which is good.  However, what’s even more important is the other characters that I met as I read this one.  I don’t want to say who, for risk of spoiling the series, but let me just say that I had ALL of the feelings.  I also found the writing in this story and the descriptions of Luna to be absolutely gorgeous.

Fairest is an essential part of Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and I absolutely adored it. I loved learning about all of the characters that we met in this book. I can’t wait to reread it by listening to the audiobook.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cover Reveal: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

As I'm sure a lot of you guys probably know, I'm a pretty big fan of science fiction, both in t.v. and books.  Today I get the honor of revealing the cover of a book that I'm very excited to read, specifically 27 Hours by Tristina Wright.  I've been following Tristina on Twitter for a while now, and I am so excited to read this book based on everything I've heard about it.  Without further ado, here's the cover and a description.

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon's darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

If you want to preorder the book like I already have, here are some links where you can do so:

Author Bio:
Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age and frequently got caught writing in class instead of paying attention. She enjoys worlds with monsters and kissing and monsters kissing. She married a nerd who can build computers and make the sun shine with his smile. Most days, she can be found drinking coffee from her favorite chipped mug and making up more stories for her wombfruit, who keep life exciting and unpredictable.
Still trying to figure out the mermaid thing.

Snapchat: @tristinawright

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

When I read Jenny Han’s summer trilogy, I knew that I didn’t mind Han’s writing too much, but that I simply hated the plot of that trilogy.  I grabbed To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when it was super cheap on Kindle and read it on my phone over the course of a few months.  Lara Jean’s story is utterly adorable, even if it’s not going to top my favorites list anytime soon.

I immediately got a strong sense of who Lara Jean is. Han nails the dynamic between three sisters.  From the very first page the reader could easily get a sense of the pecking order in Lara Jean, Margot, and Kitty’s relationship, and you could see how they each interacted with their father.  It was nice to see their Korean heritage incorporated into the novel.  While elements of their storyline bordered on predictable, it didn’t matter because the sisterhood was so well written.  I will say that aside from the interests Han told us Lara Jean had (like scrapbooking) and her love interests, sometimes it felt like Lara Jean didn’t have a major personality outside of her family.   However, her relationship with her sisters gradually started to grow, which was great.

I think that over the course of the sequel, Lara Jean will come into her own, and I hope that for her that means more than finding romance.  That said, while the romantic plotline was cute, I didn’t feel super invested in either of the love interests.  I know that my opinion of the love interests doesn’t change whether or not this book is objectively enjoyable for a teen audience, but it would have helped me enjoy the story more.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a cute contemporary romance, it just wasn’t a standout for me.  However, a lot of bloggers have enjoyed this one more than me, and I think teens will enjoy the storyline and the love interests.  Definitely pick this one up if you want a quick and charming contemporary novel about romance and family.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review of Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

(Summary from GoodReads)

When I read Looking for Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars, I adored both of them.  If I were to reread them both of them again today, I think life experience would cause me to feel differently.  Paper Towns has been on my radar since I started blogging in 2010 and I was motivated to pick it up when an adaptation of it was released in 2015.  Once I finished this book I finally understood why people tend to think of John Green as overrated.  If you don’t mind a mediocre road trip story featuring the pursuit of a manic pixie dream girl with some clever details, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

I didn’t find either Quentin or Margo that fully fleshed out as characters.  Green excels at writing a history for them, and those parts of the story were good.  Margo isn’t necessarily supposed to be a character that we know a lot about, and Quentin is romantically interested in her more for nostalgic reasons.  I had a crush on the same person all four years of high school, and tried to pursue it, but it never went anywhere, so while I understood, I didn’t find it particularly interesting.  It was realistic, but I didn’t care whether or not Quentin and Margo wound up together.  I liked Radar a lot, but also found myself side-eying parts of his story.

The plot of this story was mildly amusing, though one road trip book about a white privileged high school male may be enough to last me a lifetime.  Sure, Quentin wants to live life more fully.  Sure, Quentin seems to think some of the people around him are kind of fake.  The case of manic pixie dream girl is all too real.  These themes probably sound familiar because they’re in a lot of young adult books, and I just fail to see what Green does to put a new spin on them.  His prose is lovely and from a literary perspective, he incorporates fascinating facts and concepts into his story.  While this was fine, I just don’t feel like anything made up for the serious case of MPDG.

A colleague of mine told me after I finished this that it was her least favorite of Green’s books, and I can see why.  I understand how some teens could read encounter this book and feel like they’ve never read anything like it before.  Paper Towns is not a bad book, but it didn’t do a thing for me as a reader.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.


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