Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
meant to highlight an upcoming release we're excited for!

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Dial BYR (an imprint of Penguin)
Expected US Release Date: September 16, 2014

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. 
----------------------------Goodreads summary

I feel like I don't even have to justify why I am waiting for this book - perhaps read my review of Jandy Nelson's The Sky is Everywhere to know how much I love her. Or just search it to see how often it pops up on my blog and how much I absolutely love and adore it. Or check out all the brilliant words I quoted here (spoilers!!). And of course, this novel sounds so breathtakingly wonderful I can't even fathom what beauty will be within the pages. Is it selfish to hope she includes more poetry? Because yes. I want.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (eARC)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press, 240 Pages
Expected US Release Date: May 13, 2014
Format/Source: eGalley via NetGalley - thank you!

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.
-----------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
What if we could stop being different colors, different backgrounds, and just be in love?
There are so many ways I want to write this review, so many things I want to say and feel need to be said. The first and only things I’ve ever heard about We Were Liars is how brilliant, how amazing it is—and when you open up the eGalley, there’s a whole page about how moving it is but you can’t say much without giving away things.

And that’s the easiest and hardest part.

You really can’t say much about this book without giving away what’s inside. I can tell you the characters are memorable—some not in a good way, but that’s how they are meant to be so it is ok—and I can tell you that the story moves at this fantastically poetic pace. But I can’t tell you how they are Liars, what makes them the Liars, what moves them through the novel, what creates them.

I can tell you that there is an island, and they are a family. Some by blood, others by love. I can tell you that you are reading with mystery, with a cloud over you because you can feel in every word, every sentence, that there is more to the story and that you may not like it. But I can’t tell you who they are, really. I can’t tell you how the bond can go deeper than blood, deeper than love. I can’t tell you what makes her sick, what makes her tick, what causes her headaches.

But I can tell you that I read this book with bated breath. That I suffered and loved through every page, every single moment. I can tell you that this book will grip you, and shake you, and reach out to you and into you and you will know, with a  certainty, that this is a meaningful book.

I can tell you that while I didn’t cry (since it seems every other person who read this did), I felt it. I felt why, I knew why, I probably should have cried. I can tell you that even though I actually am not as huge a fan as a lot of others are with this book, there is an undeniable attachment and brilliance to it. The lyricism of the words, how they are strung and hung and linked together, make it an experience to read.

And I can’t give you concrete reasons why, but I can ask you to trust me, to trust that this is a worthwhile journey to go on, that you will never regret meeting the Liars and getting inside her head.
4 stars

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: After the End by Amy Plum (ARC)

After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum
HarperTeen, 336 pages
Expected US Release Date: May 6, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

"I have no idea what is truth and what is fiction. I'm all I've got now. I can't trust anyone."

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
---------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
Life is easier in black and white. It’s the ambiguity of a world defined in grays that has stripped me of my confidence and left me powerless.
I was definitely intrigued by this book when I first heard about it. I mean, how would you feel growing up thinking you were the next generation after the apocalypse, living this basic, rudimentary life…and then find out it’s all a lie? That everything you were told about the past was actually alive and thriving? That’s a fantastic concept, with so many possibilities.

After the End definitely took a different turn than I thought it would, but I thought it held up to its potential really well. I’m slightly disappointed by it, but there are some really great facets to this book that make it completely worthwhile to read.

Miles turned out to be one of the most surprising elements in this story to me—not because he was shockingly original or took a weird turn, it’s just the idea behind why he and Juneau are on this trip together was so out of the realm I thought it would be. I don’t really want to spoil it, but his circumstance was so outside ‘apocolyptic’ that it was really startling to switch back and forth. It’s almost the opposite, in a weird way, and I felt like I had to adjust my head each time a little peek of his life came through.

That said, I really liked Miles and Juneau together. Some of it felt forced, and I don’t think they have the best chemistry—but I like them together. They’re solid, and upfront, and I kind of loved every moment when he had to teach her something about the modern world.

There was a delicious amount of anticipation and despair all throughout this book, and it made it a real page-turner. I needed to know where Juneau’s clan was, I was dying to find out where they’d gone, would they get caught, when they’re separated what does it mean?! There were so many great moments where I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, whether I was scared for one of the characters or hopeful or anticipating something, and I really loved that part.

I can’t quite pinpoint why I was disappointed, though. As breathtaking as some of the scenes were, there was a distinct lack of excitement for me as I was reading this. I’m not sure I really liked the flow and pacing, though I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with it. Maybe it was just my mood the few days I was reading it, but I definitely felt like this was missing something.

My unease may have been because of Juneau; I’m not really sure I like her, to be honest. She’s a good character, and everything she is and does and believes in aligns with what she is set up to be. But I just felt like she was a little flat, a little too one-sided and one-dimensional. I wanted her to step up or step out a little, and it never really happened for me.

But something that I was utterly in love with was the creativity put into this book. I loved the situation, how we learn the clan came to be, the circumstances they’re all finding themselves in, watching Juneau discover all these things of the modern world. I love the Yara and that faith, the readings and connections to nature and the world. There’s so much thought and storytelling in After the End, and it’s utterly magical.

I can’t deny that there are some parts of After the End that let me down, but how much I loved the rest of this book make it easy for me to let the others slide. I can’t wait for Book 2, to learn more about this world and how Juneau and Miles will intertwine.
3.5 stars

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (ARC)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster BYR, 368 pages
US Release Date: April 15, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
-------------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
"…it's a lot of responsibility to hold a person's heart in your hands."
There are very few books I’ve ever read that I wish I’d actually written. There are the ones I adore, the ones I want to marry, the ones I want to be or read again immediately—but few make me wish I’d had the ideas and magic to create it.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of those books I wish I’d written. It is every bit the perfect contemporary with all the elements I want and love: friendship, family, relationships, love, humor, nerdiness. It’s all here in various amounts that tie together and make this wonderfully sweet story. Even on the writing side I loved it! The concept is so original and fun (who didn’t write love letters to boys they’ve loved?!), and the story just follows through wonderfully in tone and voice.

One of my favourite parts was definitely the sisterhood between Lara Jean, Margot and Kitty. It’s sweet and real and though I’ve never once wanted a sister, this one made me a little sad I hadn’t experienced what they have. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother. But he’s no sister.) I loved all their fights and teasing, and it was just the perfect portrayal of siblings.

The plot of this book was also so, so wonderful. Surprising and unique and lovable all rolled into one, I never really knew what to expect next. I love that while the cause of most of this are the mysteriously mailed out love letters, they’re not really the main focus. They’re there, you even get to read a few, but it’s so much more than that. It’s not like a checklist, going through the letters and what happened to each boy and how they affect her now—it’s about her life and what happened and what ensues. There’s some heartbreaking moments, there are definitely hilariously funny blunders, and a whole bunch of love throughout.

I can’t not talk about the boys, because uh…I kind of love them. All of them, no matter what. All of her friends and almost-loves and past-loves and maybe-future-somethings are so personable and funny, with such distinct characteristics to all of them. I loved the portrayal of both Josh and Peter—they’re so different, but with some similarities, and it was enough to really make it interesting. The entire concept of…well, I can’t quite say, but there’s some hijinks that ensue, and I love it all.

Also, while writing this review, I found out this is actually a duology – and I am SOSOSO happy about that! Not that I didn’t like the ending. It was actually pretty perfect for how the entire book goes, and it leaves just enough or us to create something wonderful in our heads. But I just love these characters together so much, I’m so excited to find out more. And the title suggests it may come back around to Josh and Margot, and I adore that. Even if it doesn’t, I’m happy with it—as long as I get more time with this bunch, I am all good.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is seriously one of the best contemporaries I have ever read. It is sweet and cute and thoughtful and everything I could ever really want in one. The only disappointment is having to wait until next year for Book 2!
5+ stars
and many, many love letters worth more

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd (ARC)

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd
Balzar + Bray (an imprint of Harper Teen), 420 Pages
US Release Date: January 28, 2014
Format/Source: Print ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of 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.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.
-----------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"No serum can change who you are. Nor should you change. Genius or madness--it all depends on who's telling the story."
To quickly get this out of the way: I LOVE YOU MONTGOMERY. I FORGIVE YOU.

Moving along.

I love this series so much, you guys. The Madman’s Daughter was a surprise favourite for me last year, and it’s looking like Her Dark Curiosity will be the same. There seemed to be a bit of Book Two Syndrome in that it’s a means to get to the end, a bit of filler to get to the real conclusion, but it’s so, SO good that I don’t even care. I loved that it took from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—one of my favourite creepy classics.  I kind of wished there were more from that, but still…it’s good.
In general, I’m still not into Horror…except for when it comes to this series. Megan Shepherd does this so well, so gritty and gruesome and riveting, I can’t look away. I mean, she talks about carnage and actually means it! Blood literally pools and spills and spreads—and it means something. It’s a function in the novel, it adds to the story and doesn’t just make it blood for the shock factor. 

Some reviews talk about gagging regarding the love triange, and ok-I get that. I wasn’t too fond of it either…but it makes sense. It shouldn’t be a surprise, and it makes total sense, especially carrying over from Book 1. I think my main annoyance was driven by how much I love and adore Montgomery; how could anyone even think about going for anyone other than him?! Impossible.

The family/father figures in this novel were fantastic. I love that even though Juliet’s father…well, we know what happened to him at the end of Book 1, but I love that he’s still quite an influence on her life. Every decision, every thought, everything about her and the others tied to his work are irrevocably twined together, and I love that. I quite liked the Professer and his sister as well; they were great additions, adding a lot of heart and love amongst a dark, dreary story.

Lucy, Juliet’s best friend, was my dark horse of this novel. I didn’t expect to love her so much. She’s such a great character, as a writer and a reader. She’s full of life and personality, and she pops off the page; and her interaction with every other character is so amazing and awesome. She is herself to a fault, and she’s great with Juliet. And I like that she’s turned into more than just the friend. I can’t give away what happens, but her role has increased, and I heavily support it and love it.

I want to talk so much about the last half of the book, but obviously can’t—just trust me that Book Three sounds like it will be even more amazing and mind-blowing than the first two. And considering how much I love them, that’s saying quite a lot. I so look forward to more of this world, to more of this story, to more of everyone and everything. Megan Shepherd really created a world filled with horrors and tender moments that I can’t look away from it. Even when it’s murders and attacks and more murders.

Her Dark Curiosity is a fantastic addition to the The Madman's Daughter series; it just keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t started this yet, you’re definitely missing out.
5 stars
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