Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review of Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Stolen It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

(Summary from GoodReads)

Stolen is not an easy book to put down.  It's the story of a girl who may or may not want to escape her captor, and there also aren't really chapters or breaks, making it easy to read large chunks straight through.  Christopher has crafted a beautiful, twisted story that stands out in my mind because of the stunning prose.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of Stolen is the landscape. Christopher's Outback is a place that is remote, beautiful, and terrifying with descriptions so vivid that you can almost feel how dry the entire place is. It's the type of place that you almost want to visit to see how beautiful is, yet you don't want to go there for fear you'd become trapped and die.

Reading about Ty and Gemma is hard. We get some backstory on Ty, and it's supposed to help us understand why he might act the way he does. While in real life it seems that a person can have Ty's life experiences and then go on to do the things he does, it wasn't believable in this case.  It felt like Christopher crafted character who is both caring and a threat and suddenly needed to give him a reason to be that way.  Gemma has complex feelings for Ty, and I thought Christopher was going to crash and burn and write a horrid and disingenuous ending to their relationship, but man did she nail it.

At one point Gemma describes Australia as "so different and beautiful. I can never get it out of my mind," which is exactly how many readers will react to Stolen.  It's gorgeously written, but also an interesting, in depth look at two people.  I'm eager to reread this one and continue to pick apart all of its layers, meaning, and beauty.
Other reviews:
The Broke and the Bookish
Clear Eyes Full Shelves
Wear the Old Coat 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review of Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Sorrow's Knot
In the world of Sorrow’s Knot, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry and nearly invisible, something deadly. The dead can only be repelled or destroyed with magically knotted cords and yarns. The women who tie these knots are called binders.

Otter is the daughter of Willow, a binder of great power. She’s a proud and privileged girl who takes it for granted that she will be a binder some day herself. But when Willow’s power begins to turn inward and tear her apart, Otter finds herself trapped with a responsibility she’s not ready for, and a power she no longer wants.

(Summary from GoodReads) 

Several things about Sorrow's Knot caught my attention when it first came out.  I'd heard good things about Erin Bow's books, but I was also intrigued by the setting and the magic.   There are a lot of things that Sorrow's Knot does well, but it's not a story I fell in love with.
I'm not sure if I preferred the writing or the characters in this book, because it is beautifully written.  I also got pretty attached to all of the characters--Otter, Kestrel, Orca, Cricket, and Kestrel.  They were all distinct and full of genuine emotion, talent, and at times, pain.  Bow weaves a storytelling element in throughout the novel, and although it's good, it felt as though it could have been done better.
I struggled a lot with the magic system in this book.  It was mildly interesting and I understand why Otter had her ups and downs with it, but the inexplicable spark that would make this book click for me just wasn't there.  A lot of good and bad things happen throughout this story and I never quite felt like the pacing or timing was right.  I wasn't fanatical about where the story ended.
Readers seeking a quieter, thought-provoking folktale type story with a bit of fantasy might enjoy Sorrow's Knight. While there is a lot of emotion behind this story, Bow's pacing and worldbuilding are always just off enough that this isn't a story that truly stuck with me.  I went into this story with a lot of expectations, but even without those, I'm not sure I would have been satisfied.

Disclosure: I received an electronic galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

(Summary from GoodReads) 


Landline, like all of Rowell’s other books, has been pretty well received by the blogging community.  Having really enjoyed both of Rowell’s YA novels, I admit that I went into this one with higher expectations.  While this story had a lot of cute elements and tied up nicely, it felt like a lot of pieces went missing along the way.

I’m not sure what was going on with any of these characters.  Georgie is an extrovert who can make people laugh and she finds herself with Neal.  Georgie is really good at charming people, but this story is about her understanding what it takes to make a relationship work.  I found it really healthy that she was starting to think about why her marriage might be falling apart, I was surprised that she hadn’t run into this kind of crisis earlier.  If she’s as wrapped up her in career as Rowell makes her seem, why has it taken all of these years for the conflict to come to a head?

The scenes between past Neal and Georgie were interesting, though I’m not sure if they really did anything for me.  While they helped Georgie reevaluate what made her be with Neal in the first place, I wasn’t convinced that I saw her conversations playing into her decisions.  The ending of this one felt rushed—which is fairly typical for Rowell’s work—but it was also predictable.  It was cute, but I felt like I guessed almost every moment of what happened.

Landline has worked for a lot of other people.  For me the different elements never fit together the way they were supposed to.  Rowell could have done a bit more to tie up Georgie’s character arc, and on a purely subjective level, I didn’t care for her character much.  I enjoyed reading this book once, but I’m not in a rush to add a hardcover to my personal library.  Maybe I’ll approach it with different eyes should I ever get married or once I simply have more experience with relationships.

Disclosure: I received an electronic galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews:
Effortlessly Reading 
Girl vs. Planet 
Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review of The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

The Start of Me and You Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

(Summary from GoodReads) 

 A huge reason I was drawn to The Start of Me and You was because of its gorgeous cover, but I’ve also read Emery Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer, and enjoyed it.  I had a feeling that she’d step it up a notch in this one, and I was definitely right.  The Start of Me and You is filled with great female friendships, exceptional prose, and a ridiculously swoon worthy romance.

Paige reminded me a great deal of myself.  She can be a little uptight and is focused on her future, but also loves to be with her friends and pursue nerdy interests.  While she is not at all perfect, she is introspective, loving, and compassionate, and has a character arc that is simultaneously believable and touching.

I loved that we got to see so much of Paige’s relationship with her three close friends.  It can be so easy to get caught up in drama that I love seeing friendships depicted positively.  However, what I enjoyed even more than that was her friendship with Max.  I loved that their relationship was playful and romantic.

Emery Lord’s prose here was also much, much better than in Open Road Summer. It wasn’t bad earlier, but here there were a lot more things that stood out to me as poignant and lovely.  I hope her writing only gets better as she publishes more books.

The Start of Me and You is an exceptional sophomore novel.   I definitely want a Max of my own.  Lord is becoming a contemporary author whose books I can depend on, and I’m eager for more from her.

Disclosure: I received an electronic galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews: 
Novel Novice
Writing My Own Fairy Tale

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#WednesdayYA June Pick

Hi everyone! The month of May has been crazy, and I hope to get some more posts up soon, but in the meantime #WednesdayYA is still going strong.  This past month Misty was sick, so I led a quick Twitter chat on our May selection, A Blue So Dark.

For our June selection, we decided to do a vote on Instagram.  We were both in the mood for something that we're hoping we'll be a little more on the light and fluffy side.  Here's what won.

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

(Summary from GoodReads)

We'll have our liveshow all about what we thought of this one on June 24th at 8:30 p.m. EST.  We hope that you guys will read along and we hope to see you there! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#WednesdayYA May Selection

Hey guys!  Misty and I are so excited for another month of #WednesdayYA.  If you missed our liveshow on The Raven Boys but still want to see what we thought, check out the video.

Our choices so far this year have been heavy on the dystopian and fantasy side, so to pick our May book, we tossed all of the contemporary titles on the #WednesdayYA shelf in a bag, and picked one at random.
 Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

(Summary from GoodReads)

We'll be having our liveshow to discuss this one on May 27th at 8:30 p.m. EST.  See you there!


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