Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent, #2) One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

"New York Times" bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian "Divergent" series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

My Review:

After reading Divergent, I picked up this book almost immediately, reading only one book in between the two.  This story continues where the first book left off, and its plot is equally as amazing as the first one.  The characters and relationships continue to be developed, and readers find out more about their world. 


Tris continues to be an amazing protagonist in this book.  At the beginning of the book, she feels really guilty about killing Will, and this guilt weighs on her.  She isn't completely fearless, but she still is Dauntless.  She also has quite a bit of Abnegation left in her, which causes her to do some things she wouldn't have done if she were more selfish.  Her Abnegation ways cause her to be more self-sacrificing.  She doesn't want others to die if turning herself in could stop their deaths.  She continues to grow as a character as she faces horrible experiences. 

The relationship between Tris and Tobias becomes strained in this book, but this is mainly because Tobias really cares about Tris.  He doesn't like the way she is willing to be self-sacrificing.  He doesn't want to be left behind with her dead.  Because of this, he doesn't agree with all of her decisions, but he isn't able to stop her either.  Despite their problems, they still make a good couple, and neither of them want the other to get hurt.

Several characters do die in this book, and many of them are likeable characters who readers will care about.  One character dies close to the end, and the scene where she dies is very sad.  It is one of my favorite scenes in the whole book because it was written so well.  She says something as her last words that made something else from earlier in the book really make sense.  I don't want to spoil it, though.

If you like YA dystopian, read this book.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: If He Had Been With Me

If He Had Been With Me If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

My Review:

If He Had Been With Me is an excellent story of friendship, love, and family.  From the beginning of the book, the reader knows how the story will end.  But they don't know what Finny and Sylvie were fighting about when the car crashed.  They also don't know exactly how he died.  The assumption I made about how he died turned out to be wrong.


Autumn is a great main character to be the narrator.  In elementary school, she often got picked on for being different, but Finny was always her friend and there to defend her.  In middle school, her group of friends is called The Clique.  They decide to try out for high school cheerleading, but when Autumn and Sasha decide not to try out, the rest of the group stops being friends with them.  She stays friends with Sasha and they make friends with a new group of people at the beginning of high school.

Autumn's group of friends are good characters.   They all care about each other and they are a good group.  Most of them are dating someone else within the group, though Autumn's friend Angie dates guys from other schools.  Autumn dates a guy from the group named Jamie.  Jamie is a sweet guy for most of the book.  They seem to fall in love very quickly.  They are only freshmen when they first say they're in love.  By the end, I didn't like him very much because of something he does around graduation.

Finny and Autumn's relationship is explored well in this book.  In elementary school, they were best friends, but in middle school, shortly after he kissed her, they stopped being friends.  She had thought him kissing her was just an experiment, and she had no idea he could like her as more than a friend.  In high school, she dates Jamie, and he dates Sylvie.  When Jamie breaks up with Autumn, she begins to grow closer to Finny again, and their relationship continues to develop.  It becomes clear that they are falling in love with each other.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #56: Not a Drop to Drink


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Not a Drop to Drink

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
This sounds like an interesting post-apocalyptic read.  I really love the cover for this one too.  I like the color scheme and how it shows the lake that is sure to play an important role in the story.  This will release on September 24th.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday?


Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan

Crash and Burn On April 21, 2008, Steven "Crash" Crashinsky saved more than a thousand people when he stopped his classmate David Burnett from taking their high school hostage armed with assault weapons and high-powered explosives. You likely already know what came after for Crash: the nationwide notoriety, the college recruitment, and, of course, the book deal. What you might not know is what came before: a story of two teens whose lives have been inextricably linked since grade school, who were destined, some say, to meet that day in the teachers' lounge of Meadows High. And what you definitely don't know are the words that Burn whispered to Crash right as the siege was ending, a secret that Crash has never revealed.

Until now.

Michael Hassan's shattering novel is a tale of first love and first hate, the story of two high school seniors and the morning that changed their lives forever. It's a portrait of the modern American teenage male, in all his brash, disillusioned, oversexed, schizophrenic, drunk, nihilistic, hopeful, ADHD-diagnosed glory. And it's a powerful meditation on how normal it is to be screwed up, and how screwed up it is to be normal.

My Review:

Crash and Burn is a fascinating and dark story.  The book is long, but it keeps the reader engaged in the story.  From the beginning, you know what will happen at the end, but you don't know the journey it will take to get to that point.  The characters are well-developed and the way the book is written is interesting.


I love the way that this story is told.  I found it to be a unique plot device.  This book is supposed to be the book that the protagonist, Crash, wrote.  The story alternates between parts where Crash talks about his past, and parts where Crash mentions things going on in the present time frame, as he's writing the novel.  This setup allows the reader to see how parts of Crash's story from the past and present intertwine.  You can see his current interactions with a person, and the ways he interacted with that same person in the past.

Crash is not always a very nice guy, and, though he did save the school, he doesn't usually act heroic.  He doesn't really treat girls very well.  For example, in the present storyline, he was kind of dating Christina, and at the same time, he slept with Claudia.  He didn't think either of them would find out or really care.  He also likes to drink and smoke marijuana.  The marijuana smoking eventually leads to a little bit of trouble with the press.  Crash's story is very well conveyed.  It shows his family problems, especially with his dad.  Crash's male POV is well written, and it shows what it is like to be in the mind of someone with ADHD.

The other main character, Burn, is clearly messed up and has a lot of problems.  The book shows his journey from elementary school up through the day he takes the school hostage.  As a kid, he seems slightly unstable, but he is also a genius and can sometimes be a good guy.  As he reaches high school, things start to really go wrong for him.  He loses his parents, and, eventually, someone else close to him.  Once he loses these people, he starts to really go crazy, and he takes the school hostage.  Luckily, Crash stops the siege before anyone can get hurt, but clearly Burn needs a lot of help.

If you like YA contemporary with a male POV, read this book. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #55: Five Summers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Five Summers

Four best friends, five summers of camp memories

The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring . . .
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth . . .
The summer we were eleven : Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle . . .
The summer we were twelve : Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar . . .
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable . . . and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart.

Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance. Bittersweet, funny, and achingly honest, Five Summers is a story of friendship, love, and growing up that is perfect for fans of Anne Brashares and Judy Blume's Summer Sisters.
This sounds like a sweet summer read.  I look forward to reading it during the summer.  It releases on May 16th.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday?


Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1) In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Review:

Divergent is the type of book that is fast-paced and exciting, making it easy to fly through.  It is a good dystopian story, but it stands out as an original work within that genre.  The characters are developed ones that you care about, and the plot is awesome and moves at a good pace.


Tris is a strong protagonist.  In fact, she is brave and rather dauntless.  This makes sense since it is the faction that she chose.  She has been raised in Abnegation for her entire life, but she never feels like she is selfless enough.  On Testing Day, she finds that she could choose from three different factions, since she is Divergent.  She ends up choosing Dauntless.  Her choice of Dauntless adds excitement to the story, since Dauntless has a very competitive initiation.  Initiation really changes Tris and makes her into a stronger person.  Before initiation, she would have never been able to fight, or use a gun, or zipline off a building.  

Four is a fabulous character.  At the beginning of the story, when we are first introduced to him, I didn't think I was going to like him.  Well, I was wrong.  The Four we meet at the beginning of the book is putting on a facade by acting super-tough.  As the story progresses, Tris finds out more about Four, his past, and where he came from.  The romance between Four and Tris is awesome.  They know that they can't be open about their romance since other Dauntless initiates could accuse Four of favoritism when Tris does well.  

The world building in this book is well woven into the story.  It shows the five factions, especially Dauntless, throughout the story.  The ideas of how the kids choose their factions works well.  There is one thing about this world that I'm curious about.  I wonder if the five factions exist outside of Chicago.  This book takes place entirely in Chicago, so I'm not sure what's happening in the rest of the country.

If you like YA dystopian, read this book.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #54: Insomnia

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Insomnia (The Night Walkers, #1)

It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?
This has an interesting premise.  I'm excited to meet these characters, and to find out whether or not Parker is stalking Mia.  This will release on June 8th.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday?


Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Impostor by Jill Hathaway

Impostor (Slide #2) What if a killer took control of you?

Vee Bell’s gift (or curse) of “sliding”—slipping into the mind of another person and experiencing life, briefly, through his or her eyes—has been somewhat under control since she unwillingly witnessed the horrific deaths of her classmates six months ago.

But just as things are getting back to normal, Vee has a very bizarre experience: she loses consciousness and finds herself in a deserted area, at the edge of a cliff, with the broken body of the boy who took advantage of her on the rocks below.

As Vee finds herself in stranger and stranger situations with no memory of getting there, she begins to suspect that someone she knows has the ability to slide—and that this “slider” is using Vee to exact revenge on his or her enemies.

My Review:

Impostor is a fabulous follow-up to Slide.  It continues to develop some of the characters that you already know and love, while also adding some new characters to the story.  The plot included a murder mystery that had many twists.  I was unable to guess who the killer was until it was revealed.  The story is engaging, with good writing.


Vee continues to be a fascinating main character.  Her sliding makes it really interesting to be in her head.  She is a good person, even though she's the one who comes up with the prank on Scotch that leads to disastrous consequences.  She, in some ways, feels guilty about what happens to him, yet part of her also feels he deserved it for what he's done to her and to other girls.  This book also shows another side of her that is revealed through her relationship with Rollins.  

The relationship between Vee and Rollins is handled well in this novel.  They are straddling the line between friends and boyfriend/girlfriend at the beginning of the book.  They clearly both like each other, yet there are moments when they aren't really sure where their relationship is showed.  There are a few awkward moment scenes with these two.  It doesn't help their relationship when Rollins becomes friends with a girl named Anna.  Vee feels insecure and thinks that Anna is better than her.  She doesn't realize that Rollins doesn't like Anna like that; he only likes Vee that way.

This story has some secondary characters from the first book, along with some new ones.  Samantha, Vee's ex-best friend, plays a large role in this story.  She and Vee begin to become friends again after Scotch does something bad to Sam.  Mattie, Vee's sister, also plays a part in this novel.  I love the sibling relationship portrayed in the Slide series.  Vee and Mattie are one of my favorite sets of "book sisters."  They both care about each other, and they can rely on each other when they need somebody.

If you like YA paranormal that has a contemporary feel, read this book.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1) Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

My Review:

Mila 2.0 was a fascinating and engaging story.  I haven't read very much science fiction, but, since I loved this, I'll be sure to try to read some more books in that genre.  I loved the characters in this book, and the plot as well.


Mila is a great main character.  The book was narrated through her 1st person perspective, so we got to hear her thoughts and feelings on everything that was happening to her.  Though she wasn't really human, she always seemed human.  She felt things that humans feel, and she thought she was a human for the beginning portion of the book.  Something that this book really shows through Mila's thoughts is how much she really doesn't want to be an android.  She is not comfortable with her android aspects, and she wants to be a normal human.  As the book progresses, she learns to use some of her android abilities to her advantage, instead of avoiding all of them.

The relationship between Mila and her mom is done very well.  Early in the book, Mila learns that she is an android, and her mom isn't really her mom.  She is a scientist who helped create Mila.  When Mila finds this out, she is mad at her mom at first, but she forgives her as the story progresses.  By the middle of the story, it is clear how much Mila cares about her mom.  There is a great scene with the two near the end, but I won't say what happens because it would be a big spoiler.

Romance isn't really an important part of this book, but there are a couple guys in it.  Hunter is the guy who went to school with Mila.  They only knew each other for a few days, but there seemed to be a connection between them.  Unfortunately, Mila's best friend liked him too, and she got mad when she saw Mila talking to him.  I look forward to seeing what role he plays in the next book.  Then there's Lucas, a guy who is working for the military on the MILA project.  Sometimes he seems to only think of Mila as a machine, but by the end, he seems to think of her as a real human.  He was a sweet guy, but there wasn't actually a romance between him and Mila.

If you like YA sci-fi, read this book.


Monday, April 1, 2013

April Releases I'm Most Excited For

April 1st:
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi - This one is a contemporary YA book, and that is my favorite genre.  Plus, it sounds like it will be an emotional read that realistically deals with issues.  Also, I like the color scheme and the lighting on the cover.
If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin - This sounds like a really emotional contemporary story.  It sounds like there will be some sad parts to the story, with maybe a little romance too.

 My Life After NowIf He Had Been With Me

April 2nd:
The Collector by Victoria Scott - This sounds like a good male POV book.  It will be interesting to read from the perspective of a guy who is basically a villain.  I also look forward to reading about the romance in this book.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith  - This sounds like a sweet romance story.  It sounds like the story is similar to the story from a couple movies that I have seen and enjoyed.  I look forward to seeing if Graham and Ellie's relationship works when they actually meet.

The Collector (Dante Walker, #1)This Is What Happy Looks Like

April 16th:
Taken by Erin Bowman - This sounds like a really interesting premise for a dystopian.  I look forward to meeting Gray, and finding out the secret behind the Heists.  I want to see how this world works out.

Taken (Taken, #1)

April 18th:
The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf - This sounds like a good story.  I'm curious to see what the worst case scenario really is, and how Izzy deals with it.

The Symptoms of My Insanity