Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: The Forever Song

Author: Julie Kagawa
ISBN: 0373211120
Book Genre: 15th April 2014
Release Date:PYA Paranormal/ Supernatural
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:
VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS 
Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? 
With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. 
MONSTER 
Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. 
In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.


Review:

Okay so, wow. It's kind of hard when a series comes to an end you know? Especially when you loved that series very much and the ending was actually well done. Excuse me while I try to gather my thoughts.

The Eternity Cure left off on Sarren the deranged psychopathic vampire kidnapping Ezekiel and torturing him as well as murdering him with proof to torture Allison with. Allison alongside her sire Kanin and her blood brother Jackal are out for vengeance. They want to put a stop to Sarren once and for all, especially since he's out to spread the Red Lung disease and kill everyone on the planet. 

Now I don't know about you but it's clear that the stakes are freaking high. I remember being completely distraught once I finished reading The Eternity Cure, because it was the absolute worst cliffhanger. However, I don't want to give any spoilers because the entire book held a lot of interesting points as well as a surprise I had not seen coming. The book followed similar themes to books one and two with the traveling, the exploring, the searching. The only difference is what they were looking for and who was a part of the journey. I can safely say that having Jackal around was pretty much the highlight of this book. Not as great as book two though, because let's face it, Jackal in book two was epic. I've been sharing some of my favorite quotes of him from TEC all morning because there's something about a psychotic evil brother that you hate that you love, but also know that you hate. The journey in search of Sarren was the most ridiculously hilarious portrayal of a dysfunctional family road trip with two bickering siblings and an exasperated father. Except that the family in question is made up of a bunch of vampires.

Anyhow, the book is too good for me to accidentally spoil some of the key points and surprising events so I'll just leave it off with this, I was really satisfied with this end, I got closure and accepted everything that happened as very well done. Kagawa's writing was as amazing as always and I hate to see those characters go. But I'm excited for the rest of her The Call of the Forgotten books as well as looking  forward to her new Talon series.

Rating: 4.5/5!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira
ISBN: 0374346674
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: April 1st 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.


Review:
I know I mentioned before that I sometimes had difficulty in deciphering my feelings towards some books, since I was unsure whether I liked them or not, but let's face it, I wasn't always that confused with them. I did lean towards a point or the other. But I can safely say with all certainty that there was genuinely only one book I felt an agonizing amount of uncertainty classifying. Emphasis on agonizing. That book would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I could relate to that book so much that it scared me, I wasn't sure whether that was a good or bad thing. The reason I'm mentioning this is because this would be the second book I got those exact feelings towards.

This book is about Laurel, a girl whose life was absolutely perfect until two years go when her parents got divorced. Things spiraled out of control from there, her parents weren't the same, and neither was her sister. All of a sudden she felt alone, especially with her sister keeping her school/social/new life as far from home as she can, which upset Laurel so much. So when her sister gives her a chance to be a part of her life again, Laurel does everything she can to make it stay that way, even if it meant keeping quiet about what happens to her when her sister is supposed to be watching out for her. Now Laurel is starting her freshman year of high school, partly living at home and partly at her aunt's place and going to school as far from home as she can to avoid the sympathy and pity of everyone who knew what happened six months before. Her sister May had died. Laurel hasn't talked to anyone about it, she won't even tell her new friends she had a sister. But she feels oddly attached to writing letters to the dead. For an English class assignment that Laurel never hands in, she writes a letter to Kurt Cobain, who her sister had loved so much. Then another, then to other dead celebrities, feeling a stronger connection to them, like it's safer to tell them about what's happened than to the people in her life. She soon learns that she can't keep hiding things, and that she needs to confront her feelings in real life.

From the very beginning, I found the idea of this book very intriguing, and I was hooked. You know how when something bad happens to you, you find it difficult to talk about it, but it's so much easier to write it out? Like maybe as a diary entry, or as a story. With Laurel, I felt like she did that by writing those letters instead. It was her way to deal with everything. I am not sure if I'm drawing my own conclusions or seeing connections where I shouldn't, but at first I felt like the people she wrote to had some distinct importance. Not just because they were her favorite or her sister's or a friend's, but because there was a theme or a pattern. Maybe I'm reading too much into it? I'm not sure. But I felt like whenever she wanted to talk about her crush on Sky, her letters would be addressed to Kurt Cobain. Whenever she wanted to talk about being braver, her letters would be addressed to Amelia Earhart. Whenever she wanted to talk about her friends, Hannah in particular, it would be addressed to Amy Winehouse. But again, I'm not sure if they all followed that theme. What I'm sure about, is that she could draw from their lives connections to her own, which I guess is how she justified to herself why she was writing those letters; why she picked those particular people to write to. At first she was admiring their accomplishments, but it soon turns to bitterly accusing them for either OD'ing or committing suicide, and it all resonates with her feelings about her life, her bitterness towards her mother for leaving, and her sister for being dead. She's so conflicted and confused, and it's very easy to see where she's coming from.

It's sad when everyone knows you, but no one knows you. I'm guessing that you may have felt that way.

The similarities I found between Laurel and Charlie from The Perks was that they're both very subservient and compliant just to get others to like them. Laurel so badly wanted to make new friends, avoid the memories and escape her life that she doesn't question whatever Nathalie, Hannah, Tristan and Kristen tell her. Whether it's the music, the drugs, the alcohol, the skipping class. She wants them to like her, so she does whatever they ask. The only times you see her being original and actually smart, is during her English class, with her love of poetry and how she was so enamored with not just the poems she got to read, but with the people behind them, and trying to draw her own conclusions on why they wrote said poetry. It felt like she couldn't make much sense of her own life that she tried to make sense of theirs; tying herself to them. Laurel also appears to be very innocent, and quiet, and eager to please. She's like a child and it felt weird having her innocence and childish thoughts of fairies and magic merged in with all these high school experiences of drunken teens, drugs, and sex. She was the kind of person you want to hug and shelter from these things for as long as you can.

Now, since the entire book is told in the form of letters, the story itself might seem bleak and monotonous at times. I didn't find that to be bad however, since it was befitting to the entire nature of the story, even though with any other book, I would have definitely hated to even get past the first couple of chapters with that. But the writing in itself was great, and the choice of dead people and poetry in this book was pretty inspired. Although I was shaken by the letter to Heath Ledger, mostly because of all the dead people he's the only one I knew much about and dearly loved.

Another element of this book that I forgot to highlight - aside from mentioning Kurt Cobain - is the music. Music, in addition to the poetry in this book inspires Laurel, gives her strength, memories and helps her deal. She relates songs to people and moments and she cherishes the memories that come with the music. But as much as she admires the artists and thanks them for doing things that inspire and forever change generations after their demise, she still holds a flicker of antagonism towards them for the way they caused their own death and the people they left behind, blaming them as well as her sister for not being there anymore.
Nirvana means freedom. Freedom from suffering. I guess some people would say that death is just that. So congratulations on being free, I guess. The rest of us are still here, grappling with all that's been torn up.
 I am one of those people who judges a book by not only how well it's written, but how attached I become to the characters as well as how much it made me cry. I was crying like a broken water faucet whilst reading this book, so yes, I loved it.

Normally I don't do the whole 'if you like this book then you'll love that one' thing, because no two books are the same, and no two authors are. Each one has a different voice and no one can expect to love two books the same, you can't gauge someone's reaction. However, I'm doing it with this book, because in my personal opinion, it seriously does work out. If you loved either Saving June by Hannah Harrington or The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky or both, then I can safely say, you'll more than enjoy this one.

Rating: 5/5* ish.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Best Kind of Broken

Title: Best Kind of Broken
Author: Chelsea Fine
ISBN: 1455583138
Book Genre: NA Contemporary
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:
Pixie and Levi haven't spoken in nearly a year when they find themselves working―and living―at the same inn in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, they were childhood friends. But that was before everything went to hell. And now things are... awkward.
All they want to do is avoid each other, and their past, for as long as possible. But now that they're forced to share a bathroom, and therefore a shower, keeping their distance from one another becomes less difficult than keeping their hands off each other. Welcome to the hallway of awkward tension and sexual frustration, folks. Get comfy. It’s going to be a long summer.


Review:

I honestly did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I have no idea why, but whilst reading the synopsis I thought it was going to be a light and simple contemporary read to fit a mood when I was cranky or something. It was a light and simple read. It was heart wrenching, devastating, and I absolutely loved every second of it.

Pixie has no place to go for the summer so she settles for a job at her aunt's inn for room and board. What she doesn't expect is to see Levi, her old friend also working there as the handyman. The thing is, Pixie hasn't seen Levi in almost a year, since the day of a terrible accident that neither of them have talked about since then. Both of them are not only torn apart by it, but they have troubles in their lives they've learned for so long to run away from. Both of them know they're broken, but can they help each other heal?

One thing you don't expect to find this book, and honestly I hadn't seen it coming, was the humor. I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions. Both Pixie and Levi are very wry characters and I loved their voices in the book. I also loved their interactions. Like when Levi talks about how he can't do any work in the inn without the old people gathering around him:

I'm not sure what it is that draws retired me to my side while I'm fixing things - maybe they find handiwork fascinating, or maybe they're horribly bored - but sometimes I feel like the Willow Inn sideshow.Take Earl for instance. He's pulled up a chair in the lobby and is now watching my every movement with expectant eyes.And for my next act, I shall fall from this prehistoric climbing contraption and break both legs - with no hands because they'll be dangling from this hanging candelabrum after being torn from my body during my amazing fall!I should set out a tip jar.[...]I flip the light switch, and the chandelier lights up in all its ridiculously complicated glory.The Amazing Levi, ladies and gentlemen. I'll be here all week.

I don't know about you, but I actually quite enjoyed his brand of humor. Or how about when Pixie feels weird about her boyfriend coming to the inn with Levi there as if she needed permission from him to date:

I, Levi Andrews, give my explicit permission for one Pixie Marshall to date whomever she wishes without any feelings that might resemble guilt or betrayal or awkward confusion. Signed, Levi Andrews, platonic third party in all Pixie Marshall-related endeavors and keeper of the east wing hot water.
The last part was because he keeps hogging the hot water and she's not happy with all the cold showers she has to take. But fear not, she retaliates! She also has a bunch of weird quirks and phobias:

"It's okay to be afraid of Lizards. It's really weird, but it's okay.""They're like tiny, terrifying dinosaurs.""And it's even okay to be ridiculously afraid of Disney's Alice in Wonderland-""It is a really creepy movie," I say defensively. "There were talking umbrella vultures and mean flower giants hedgehog croquet balls-"
Basically what I'm trying to say is that it's funny. At least for me it was. But then there were the sad moments, the cry-your-eyes-out moments, the man-this-too-much moments. I don't know how Chelsea managed to mix both of those together, but I applaud her for the ingenuity in managing it. She's a fantastic writer with such well-developed and relatable characters. I love their kind of broken, I love the town setting, and I just love everything!

I can't wait for book two with Daren and everything, I'm already dying to know what the hell happened!

Rating: 5/5!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: White Hot Kiss

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
ISBN: 0373211104
Book Genre: YA Paranormal/ Supernatural
Release Date: February 25th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley


Goodreads Synopsis:
One kiss could be the last 
Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 
Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. 
Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 
But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.


Review:

The first thing I need to say about this book is that I hate the cover, the title and the synopsis. Why? Well, they give a completely wrong impression about the book. When I first saw this book on NetGalley I assumed it was a romantic contemporary read, and I was feeling like contemporary at the time. Only from the first chapter you realize it isn't that at all. So I went back to the synopsis, and sure enough there are gargoyles, demons, wardens and whatnot. But still focused on romance. Then I read the book, and realized it isn't entirely focused on the romantic sides of the story, and I really hated that. 

Now, don't get me wrong, sure I hated the cover, the title and the synopsis, but I seriously loved the book itself. I just feel like it could have attracted the right crowd if all three were done differently. The story is about so much more than just the romance, there's self- discovery, there's a whole paranormal world of mystery, there's attempts to accept yourself, being torn apart about what is right and what is wrong, and yeah there's also romance. Anyhow, back to the book. I've never really read a Jennifer L. Armentrout book before. I've heard a lot about her books though and have been thinking a lot about buying either the Lux or the Covenant series, but I've never gotten around to it. Also, I heard that her contemporary books were great as well, and now after finishing this book, I'm inclined to believe that yes I do need to start reading more of her books. And that yes I think her contemporaries would be completely fabulous if they were written anything like this one.

Layla is a seventeen year old living a very odd double life. She tries to appear like a normal girl on the surface, going to school, hanging out with her friends, and thinking of colleges to apply to once she graduates. However, she has extracurricular activities that no one but her stitched up family knows about, and that's tagging demons. Layla grew up in a household of Wardens - gargoyle like people who protect the world by killing demons. Not being completely a demon or gargoyle she's stuck in this weak state that makes her feel both ashamed of her demonic origins as well as her lack of use to her adopted family, the only thing she can do is actually see the souls. Which helps her identify as well as tag demons for the Wardens to find later. Now, due to her demonic nature she can't exactly have a normal life, because she can suck the soul out of any person she kisses, that in turn means her ridiculously handsome adopted brother Zayne is completely out of bounds. Her life changes drastically once she is attacked by a seeker demon and another one, Roth, comes to her aid. Layla was raised to despise anything with a demon pulse no matter how innocent it is - which included her own self - so being around Roth confuses her, especially when he seems to be saving her life more frequently than her so called guardians. Roth is more accepting of who she is, her true nature, and is more than willing to share more with her about her own origins than the Wardens, which confuses her all the more. She has no idea who to trust anymore and who is out for her safety. It doesn't help that whilst going through all of those new developments, someone really badly wants her dead.

The idea of this book was very interesting for me once I got into it, and once I did, I found myself devouring it in less time than I expected from a non-contemporary read. Layla is a very unusual character and she reminded me so much of Anna from Sweet Evil, she has those two conflicting sides inside her and she has no idea how to balance them out. But with Layla, she knows she has two sides and has been brought up to hate her demonic one. It was so sad seeing her hide herself from everyone, including people who claim to care about her and all. Plus in a way they've all been disregarding her feelings of just anything that might not coincide with their beliefs. They know she's always been crushing on Zayne, but they expect her to never fall in love or understand that she can't end up with anyone because she's not meant to spread her demonic genes onto devilish spawn and whatnot. Which I personally find completely unfair, I mean, aside from the urges to suck human lives of the purely evil or just plain pure people, she's just like any normal teenage girl.

The character that confused me the most in classifying was Zayne. I wasn't sure if I hated him or if I liked him. I mean, he was sweet enough to her growing up, and he was such a sweetheart when she first arrived and everything, but I felt like he was perpetuating the whole 'demons are bad no matter what so don't give in to your whims' crap his father kept telling her. Like, no matter how badly she's treated, how bad things get with her, she's never allowed to give in and suck a bit of a soul or she will be killed. And he keeps telling her to not think badly of herself because she can be good and can ignore her demonic side. I disliked that. He kept making her hate herself without realizing it, and then forgetting about her when this other Warden his father wants him to mate with comes? Ugh, yeah I don't like you Zayne.

Now, as for the character I fell hopelessly in love with, that would have to be Roth. Gosh, think of him as like a really sassy demon and you'd get why I love him. I mean, he's a demon so he's obviously very badass, but he's also ridiculously hilarious, with good comebacks to everything, and basically, just awesome. Also, he has a pet snake, that curls into a tattoo on his arm, who is also called bambi, how can you not love him?

In conclusion, this book was so much better than I first thought it would be. I fell in love with the story and the characters, and who knew how incredible an author Jennifer L. Armentrout was? I do now, but man am I late to the party huh? So yes, please ignore the unsuitable cover/title/synopsis, dive into this read, fall in love and just think of it as Supernatural, but with characters more sassy than Sam and Dean, okay?

Rating: 4/5.