Tuesday, May 26, 2015

4 stars: Alive by Chandler Baker

"Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.

After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.

Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.

Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?

After all, the heart never lies...does it?"

Expected publication: June 9th, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion. I received a digital ARC of this story. 

55% of the people who read Young Adult books are adults. Since that is the case, I will make the assumption that the majority of the people reading this review are adults like me. Remember relaxing during the summer and curling up with a Christopher Pike thriller? Reading this book made me so nostalgic, because it brought back those wonderful memories. This is a spooky thriller laced with romance and some gore.  

This is Baker's debut novel, so I'm overly impressed with the writing. Her descriptive narration made this an immersive experience; you could see, taste, feel, smell, and hear everything,

"Inside, the hallway smells as damp and musky as the outdoors. My shoes squeal against the linoleum. My locker's close enough to the open door that the early fall breeze plays with my hair."

Things really start to take off when we meet the mysterious Levi Zin. More nostalgia, because I couldn't help picturing JD from Heathers. He dresses similarly and you can tell there's something a bit sinister, even if it's that he's way too over-protective of Stella. 

This was not by any means a story with a lot of depth or with an important message, but it's an awfully good book for a cozy stormy night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

3 stars: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

"Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats."

Expected publication: June 2nd, 2015. I read an ARC of this story.

I loved the plot description for this one, and I wanted to read it immediately. This was one where if an ARC wasn't available for it (and there wasn't one until recently), I was going to buy it the day it came out. Imagine my excitement when an ARC became available.

Unfortunately, I wasn't a big fan.  The pacing was off. I didn't like how it was revealed who the killer was, and I didn't think that the motivation was strong enough. I also didn't feel connected to any of the characters. I did however like the writing itself; there were passages that I highlighted. 

It sounded like a really smooth pickup line, but it causes an unexpected sadness to catch in my chest and the stars turn into a Van Gogh sky as my eyes sting with tears.

I guess the story just wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and because of that, others might like it a lot more since they might not have certain expectations. Nobody reveals their cards right away, whereas I thought we would know sooner after meeting the two men what was going. I mean the reader knows, but the protagonist does not.

Many books are great but then have a weak or terrible ending. THIS book actually has an ending that I liked, and I think that is why I gave it three stars!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summary of a book based on the cover: Saint Anything

If you want to read my actual review of this book, then click this link. This is me telling an alternate summary of the book by using the cover alone.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23009402-saint-anythingWhile wandering through the woods, Sydney, Mac and Layla come across an old, rusty, abandoned carousel. It suddenly lights up and begins to spin. There sitting on a horse is the caretaker of the ride, named Ames. He tells the teens that they can walk away with their lives intact if they can answer a riddle: What is hot, filled with fire and waiting for Sydney's brother Peyton? While the answer is obvious, Sydney refuses to answer, because she doesn't like the answer. With no answer, the teens then experience a night of terror that no horror movie could ever live up to.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

3 stars: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

"Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time."

Expected publication: May 5th, 2015 by Viking Juvenile. I read an ARC of this story. 

I had to read an ARC of this book, because Sarah Dessen is so popular, and I had never read any of her books. Reviews said that this was her best book in a very long time. This book made me think of restaurants whose reputations are out of this world, and it takes a while to get a reservation there, but then the food turns out to be unseasoned, and you wonder why people like it so much. Is it just because of the reputation?

Two weeks after starting the book, I was only halfway through and I made a note "No pacing. Slow. Nothing is happening. No plot." In the same note, I mentioned that a romance started budding out of NOWHERE. Yeah, you could guess it was going to happen, but there was no build-up.

Here's the most aggravating thing; there were many chances for interesting things to happen. It was written in such a way that a few times you would think "Ooooh it's getting good now! I need to know what happens!" and then NOTHING interesting happened. Like real life pretty much. So much more could have happened with the Ames story line. Especially since Layla never forgets a face and she had been acting strange around him since the start. Did something get edited out?

What's really interesting is that Sydney even mentions how stagnant her life is and how she never takes action, 72% of the way in. So OK, even she acknowledges it, and it appears Dessen is aware that nothing happens in this book, but that doesn't make it better. 92% of the way in, she says "For so long, I'd been waiting for something to happen, a change to come" and I wrote in my notes "Me too. Me too."

Why does every character constantly blush? I think I've blushed about 20 times in my whole life?

As far as realistic contemporary novels go, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel are far better.

I give this three stars because she's not a bad writer, and the book isn't badly written, and it obviously does appeal to many people. It's just not for me. At all. If you like very realistic fiction that showcases the monotony of every day life, then this is for you!

After reading this, I decided to give her another shot and I read That Summer, which was possibly worse, and just as boring, so I don't think this book by her was just a fluke for me.

5 stars: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

"In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape."

Published in 2011 by Random House NY. I listened to the audiobook format.

This is not a young adult book, but it's definitely a crossover book since it could be one.

You know those books that you read where afterward you're thinking "I don't want to leave the world of this book. I don't know how I'll read something else after." That's this book for me.

I listened to the audiobook, which Wil Wheaton narrates, and he did a fantastic job.

The plot description of the book does not interest me. I don't care about video games. I didn't care too much about the references in the book (OK, I loved the Heathers references). You guys, it doesn't matter. I never would have guessed that this would be the book for me, even though I like '80s pop culture. It's just so so so well-written.

This book has it all. The world building... oh my god the world building. Better than Harry Potter. The pacing is fantastic, and there is tension galore. You can't help but get invested in the characters, and everything that happens makes you cheer them on or sit at the edge of your seat biting your nails wondering what's going to happen to them next. There's a lot of suspense. The stakes are always high! There's great character development.

This is one HELL of a debut from Cline. I dear say that it's one of the top two best books I have ever read. I have in my possession an ARC of his upcoming book Armada, which also doesn't seem like a book I would enjoy, but I NEED to read it. Just not right now. I need to let Ready Player One soak in some more.