Okay you guys, historical fiction is seriously not my thing; especially when the setting is in the 1700s. I’ve reviewed a few historical fictions here on the blog – Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, and The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell – only 3! That’s not very much considering how many books we review on the blog. And the reason for that is that I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction but oh my wow, Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution was amazing.
It does go back and forth between the two girls, and Andi, our main character, lives in present day (Brooklyn, but the book also takes place in Paris). Her younger brother has died and she’s kind of like a manic pixie girl (read: emo) but when she finds young Alexandrine’s diary, I feel like Andi is able to find an outlet for her grief – or at the very least, something that she’s interested in. Is Andi emo? Yeah, but she never crossed into the “annoying emo” girl for me. And then she’s transported into the time of the French Revolution while she is in the catacombs, which kind of ties in a supernatural element to this historical fiction.
Despite the fact that I don’t consider historical fiction a favorite sub-genre of mine, Revolution has been one of my favorite reads this year. It’s a great read and a good introduction to historical fiction if you’re looking to dabble in it.
For the most part, I tend to listen to the recommendations of my friends – even when the books don’t sound particularly interesting. I’m not a big fan of the “classics” (maybe because I haven’t read that many of them?), but decided to give this book a chance because I usually like historical fictions and science fiction as well. And while this book was definitely different and I liked the premise, I didn’t feel like the story was that compelling. I mean, NOTHING happened so I got kind of bored – maybe I needed more of a plot-driven book, but the book was painfully slow.
Even with its slowness and lack of action, there are tons of morsels to take with you after you’ve finished reading.
Scientific progressiveness – in that time period, yes – but also think about science today and how much “innovation” there is. One man’s innovation is another man’s idea of unethical. Just google “vivisection”.
Men, beasts, civility, and savageness – and how all of these can be interwoven and are not always as they seem. How community plays into all of this.
Tons of biblical references. Juliet’s father playing God with creating these “beasts”. Laws and divine law. The idea that humans are by nature corrupt.
Like I said, lots of goodies to think about – but I just didn’t think that this book had the oompf it needed to capture the young adult audience’s attention. With that said, I did read the second book in the series, Her Dark Curiosity, which I found much better than this one.
At first glance, I must admit that this book didn’t jump out at me. A pretty cover and a unique premise just weren’t enough. Add in the lengthy list of awards that were racked up – 2013 William C. Morris YA Debut Award, Cybil Award for Teen Fantasy and Science Fiction, Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year – just to name a few. You’d think I would be ready to tear into this one – but it still wasn’t enough to pique my interest.
Until I was in the mood for DRAGONS. I wanted a good dragon story and, boy, did I get what I wanted.
Seraphina starts out rather slow and I did feel a little like I’d been thrown into the deep-end without any proper explanation of what was what or who was who, but this is just one of those books that immerses you into its world within 50 pages and then you forget how or where it even began. The writing is absolutely stunning – rich descriptions of music and dragons – with politics, philosophy, and religion thrown into the mix to make the reader think.
Questions that I thought to myself while reading this book: What does it feel like to feel? What do I feel like when I’m sad? What about when I’m happy? Could I choose between my family and the one I love? How do people bring peace to times of war? Could (or rather, would) I be willing to put peace and my country in a place of higher priority than my own heart?
This series has the potential to be multiple books – and I would gladly read them all! And there is a sequel, Shadow Scale, but the release date is set for MARCH 2015 (insert sobbing here).
Overall, a magnificent debut that I can’t believe I didn’t read sooner. And the narrator - oh my goodness - she was absolutely wonderful with her accents and her pacing. Loved it.
First let’s talk about this “New Adult” thing – basically it’s marketed toward an in between Young Adult and Adult age group. College age and sometimes post-college age. So, the reader are suppose to get main characters that are a little bit more mature in their decisions and life choices. Except, from reading this book I didn’t get the impression that Bliss Edwards was anything other than a 16 year old encased in a 21 year old’s body. It’s not her naivety so much as her immaturity and total sheltered life that have me asking how anyone thought this was a realistic 21 year old? I mean, seriously.
I had a lot of issues with this book – mainly that the reader was suppose to be okay with this whole professor/student thing. If he were a grad student acting as a Teaching Assistant to her class, well that I can go with. In my mind Garrick was probably 27-28? Like, what a perv. Plus he’s her teacher – favoritism, anyone? Totally un-ethical.
I guess I picked up this book with something totally different in mind and that’s why I just wasn’t happy with it. That being said, I listened to this one rather quickly and only now looking back on it do I realize that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I though I was while I was listening to it. (Do you ever have books like that? – you think “Wow! I really like this!” while reading it and then you finish and think it over and it’s like BAM – I did *not* like this book as much as I thought I did.)
Anyway, another audiobook, another good voice actor, but unfortunately this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. The most likable character gets a book of their own in the next installment of the series but I just don’t like the world enough to pick it up.
There are people in the world who have so much potential but just let everything go right down the drain. People who can’t help but make bad choices. And though they’re witty, kind, and charming – they have issues – they have problems. But they just can’t seem to help themselves. Have you ever known anyone like this? I haven’t and I think that may be why I felt both disconnected and connected with this book and with Sutter Keely. Disconnected in that I genuinely did not understand why he was doing what he was doing. And connected in that my heart ached for him – I wanted him to make the right choices for himself. I can’t recall how many times I wanted to jump into this book and scream at Sutter – tell him how he was going down the wrong path, suggest to him how to get help – that he needed help.
Addiction and substance abuse are scary – but these things real – and there are people out there battling them every day. To watch someone self-destruct is a painful and sad thing I think mostly because there is nothing you can do about it – the person is doing it to themselves. Even when loved ones and friends try to intervene, it doesn’t always work – the person doesn’t always listen. I enjoyed this book because it shows the pain and that sadness that accompany these types of situation. The Spectacular Now reminded me that these people are real and these things are happening to them. I think the saddest thing in the book is that Sutter doesn’t even realize what he’s doing to himself.
Though this book isn’t one I’d recommend to everyone, if you like books with a more serious tone to them, pick this one up.
PS – The movie trailer looks so good!
Updated 9/1/2012: 2nd reading of this novel and it filled me with more happiness than the first time. I was able to get a better feel for the minor characters (Rash, Josh, and Mer) and loved them - I would read about their own adventures as well. Of course, I fell in love with St. Clair and I can't believe I forgot how much I adore Anna. Still love this book as much (if not more) than I did the first time I read it.
My first "Chick-Lit" book. If you're wary, DON'T BE! It doesn't matter if you don't think Chick-Lit will be for you or not - you will adore this book. I have been on a YA Contemp binge lately and this has been my favorite so far.
A short list (from a long list) of things that I loved:
Perkins' writing style is free-flowing, nice, and true to the heart of a teenage girl.
Anna is likable. Is she perfect? No, but she is imperfectly perfect. I want Anna as my best friend.
The idea that home can be a PERSON, and not a place.
This book made me feel warm and fuzzy and just plain HAPPY. I smiled while I was reading this book - not (always) a giddy "hehehe - he's so cute" smile - but a genuine smile. That, above all, is what made me fall in love with Anna and the French Kiss.
Tatiana from GoodReads recommends this book for fans of Meg Cabot and I couldn't agree more.
This book is flippin fantastic. I read it in about a day and was pretty much caught up in "Elsewhere". And that is just one of the many, many things that makes Daughter of Smoke and Bone so darn good. Here are some reasons why you should read this book:
The world building is stunning.
I mean, really. Some of the best world building I've seen this year between the demons, the angels, and the war. The descriptions of the places that Karou sees while she is in "Elsewhere" and also just the whole notion of this other world where demons are reincarnated during battle. There are such intricate details of this world that it feels real. If you like fantasy, you're going to love this book. So epic.
The writing in this book is incredible, bar none. Great descriptions, whisking you away in this fantasy tale of star-crossed lovers and a battle as old as time. I could literally see everything playing out right in front of me. I haven't read Ms. Taylor's other work but I've heard great things about Lips Touch: Three Times and if it's anything like Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I'll be raving over it as well.
Simply amazing. I was on the edge of my seat and now I'm waiting for more.
Side note: I do not like Prague. This is a personal bias against the city because of a bad experience there while I was studying abroad. Going into this book, I was extremely skeptical because it's set in Prague. I have been to the Charles Bridge and some of the other destinations mentioned and you know what? I actually liked this Prague. Seeing the city through Karou's eyes made me actually like Prague. Kudos, Laini Taylor!
After seeing Allen Zadoff at the Teen Author Carnival earlier this year, I decided I'd like to read something that Mr. Zadoff wrote. When I found our My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies was available in audiobook format, 5.5 hours long, and narrated by one of my favorite voice actors Macleod Andrews - paired with the fact that I had a 5.5 hour drive - I knew this was the one to read. Did I like it? Yes, I did.
It's a bit different from what I normally read - don't get me wrong, I definitely read my fair share of contemporary but this one is set in a place that I'm not familiar with - the theater world. I *did* take Theater Arts I in 9th grade but I absolutely hated it, mainly because I don't like to be on stage - that's probably what made me like Adam and the other techies so much. Adam was a likable guy, though a little socially awkward. And I loved seeing him take the reigns and shine when it was his time. He was humble and willing to do what it took to make the high school production a success, and I admired him for that.
I also love seeing Young Adult books with boys as the main characters, especially coming from a male author. It's interesting to see what teenage boys are thinking about and getting in their brains, if only for 300 or so pages.
Overall, I really enjoyed this quick read and will definitely be reading Allen's latest book, Boy Nobody.
PS - note to the publishers out there, seriously, if Macleod Andrews is the voice actor I will 100% listen to the audiobook. This is the 4th audiobook I've listened to with him as the voice actor. He's amazing.
Kids who have superpowers isn’t exactly a new concept in Young Adult (or in books in general for that matter) – but wow – was I pretty impressed with the execution of this book. I feel as thought Alexandra Bracken took the whole “superpowers are bad and the government is locking us away” and worked it into something that felt fresh. I was completely consumed in almost every single moment of this book – and that my friends, is a great thing – to be able to lose yourself in a book. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was about The Darkest Minds that made me love it so much but I think that the snarky dialogue had something to do with it. I love me some electric dialouge.
One thing that irked me though was the way that Ruby would describe some things. I can’t remember exact examples but sometimes when she would describe something, she would liken it to something that had me thinking “Hey wait a minute, if she’s been locked up since she was 10 years old with no interaction in the outside world plus she’s not really allowed to talk to anyone, how would she know about that?” Those kinds of thoughts pulled me out of the book and reminded me that I was actually reading a book – but thankfully it only happened 2-3 times.
For me, the most interesting thing about this book is how it shows both good and bad sides of human nature. We see people who are so selfless even in such a dire situation and we see people who are willing to sellout others in a heartbeat if it means surviving another day. It makes you think – what would you do? How far would you be willing to go to survive? And even, would you lead a revolution if it meant being killed? Thought provoking questions that make you take a look at yourself and wonder if your mind would be one of the darkest.
Overall, I really enjoyed this thrilling book and can’t wait to read its sequel, Never Fade.
I should have read this one sooner because oh my gosh, it is so good. I really enjoy fantasy and haven’t had a chance to read any Young Adult fantasy in a while so when I kept hearing great things about Shadow and Bone, I had high hopes. And thankfully they were met, albeit some issues.
So, we’ve got Alina, just your regular orphan girl who is secretly in love with her best friend who doesn’t seem to be interested and is off running around with other girls. But then, she’s got a secret power! The thing about Alina is that I do like her but she doesn’t seem overly special or unique to me in any way other than her power. I wanted more personality from her – more spark. But I’m willing to wait for character development to occur in the next two books.
Then there’s the Darkling – alluring, provocative, sexy, tempting. He’s creepy, but I like it. He’s powerful and dark and I can’t help but kind of sucked in by his magnetic pull.
And while this story is about Alina finding her power, it’s definitely a plot-driven book. Though I won’t go into what that specific plot is, since I don’t want to ruin anything for those who haven’t read the book. But it’s fast paced and I could not put it down – I would say I was flipping through the pages but I listened to the audiobook so there weren’t actually pages. And by the way, the voice actor was great. Her voice for the Darkling was sultry and I loved it!
Fans of Graceling by Kristin Cashore should pick this one up – it’s got good, evil, romance, love, and action.
Oh, TOM RAINES – what have you done to me? You make me crazy – between acting like the immature 15 that you are and coming to realizations that I wish you had come to way earlier – I still find myself absolutely loving you.
I loved Vortex just as much as I loved Insignia. All of the things that I enjoyed in Insignia were in Vortex – moments of hilarity (I lost count of how many times I laughed out loud), action action action! (the Simulations!), and cut-throat politicking (BUT FOR REAL). Each of the characters grow in their own way and some of them will surprise you with what they do – my jaw dropped a few times from the “WHAT?!”.
There came a point in the book, about half way, when I could definitely see a place where it would have been an okay place to stop but I’m so glad that there was more! I love that these books are 400+ pages – it really gives me a chance to dig in and spend time with the characters.
My favorite thing about this serious is how it explores friendships – all kinds of friendships. The friendship between Wyatt and Tom (girl and boy), Vik and Tom (boy and boy), Yuri and the group (an “outsider”), Medusa and Tom (opposing sides of the war and opposite sides of the world, AND they’ve never met in real life). How do “prioritize your friends, which ones would you try to save, and how far would you be willing to go? Would you commit treason? Would you betray them to make life better for yourself? And if you were the one betrayed, would you ever forgive them?
It has been a little over a year since I read Insignia and I couldn’t remember everything that happened in the first book but Vortex does a good job of hitting key points from Insignia in a way that doesn’t feel awkward. I wish I had re-read Insignia before starting Vortex but it didn’t spoil anything for me. If you’re looking for a series for a boy to get in to, this is the one. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!
Ps – I listened to this one on audiobook – and let me tell you – the voice actor was fantastic. I could distinguish characters’ voices (not just Vik and Yuri) but Wyatt, and Tom, and Blackburn – everyone had a distinct sound. He really brought the book to life for me and it was wonderful to listen to.
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