Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)  It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

My Review:

This was an interesting sci-fi read with great characters.  After the crash, which takes place in the beginning portion of the book, there are really only two characters, since Lilac and Tarver are stranded alone on a planet together.  This leaves room for them to easily develop as characters.


Of the two main characters, I feel that Lilac changed the most over the course of the story.  I think one of the reasons for that is who she was at the beginning.  She started off as rich, spoiled, and naive.  When she landed on the planet, she assumed that she would be rescued quickly, since, after all, she was the daughter of the richest man in the universe.  It took her a while to accept the fact that, maybe nobody knew that she had survived the crash, so they had no idea that she needed rescuing.  Once she gets used to the fact that no one is coming for her, she copes pretty well with the whole crash thing.  She gets horrible blisters all over her feet from all the walking on the planet, and she doesn't even complain very much about them.  She is pretty tough.  Also, when the crash happened, she was the one who was able to do some electrical stuff to get the pod to detach from the ship.  That shows that there is more to her than meets the eye originally.

From the beginning of the book, I liked Tarver.  He was such a good and noble guy.  He didn't even like Lilac, because of the way she had rejected him, yet he still helped her when she was in trouble during the crash.  When they land on the planet together, it seems like Lilac is the last person he would want there with him.  He pushes her quite a bit when they have to walk from place to place, yet he is also there for her when she needs him.  He has a strong sense of duty from all his time in the army, so he would never consider abandoning.

The relationship between Lilac and Tarver is a slow burn that actually starts as dislike.  From there, it progresses to friendship, and eventually, love.  It all develops naturally, though, and I thought it was perfect.  When they are on the Icarus, Tarver doesn't know who Lilac is, and he asks her on a date, and she proceeds to reject him, making it clear that he is beneath her.  When they land on the planet together, they are forced to at least tolerate each other and work together.  They fight over things quite a bit at first.  She believes rescue will come, so they should stay where they landed; he believes no rescue is coming, so they should explore more of the planet.  As they get to know each other more, the nature of their relationship changes.  They no longer disagree so much, and I started rooting for them to become a couple.  It becomes clear how much they both care about each other.

The planet that Lilac and Tarver land on is fascinating, and something you find out more about throughout the book.  They expect that someone will be living on the planet, since they know of most planets being inhabited, yet they don't find signs of any life living there.  Partway through the book, some strange stuff starts happening with some voices.  It is interesting to read about.

The interrogation sections between chapters are interesting to read.  At first, you have no idea why he's getting interrogated, and you don't really figure it out until the end of the book.  Usually the snippet of the interrogation that you read relates to what you'll read about in the following chapter.  Tarver isn't necessarily the most cooperative in the interrogation, but the reason for that is shown in the story.

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


Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

My Review:

I thought this book was so amazing, and I flew through it quickly because I found it so difficult to put down.  From the beginning, I was invested in the characters and the story.  I love all the characters...well, aside from some of them that I didn't love, but I'll go more into that later in the review.


Alexi is dealing with so much at the beginning of, and throughout, this book.  She has her ways of coping, but these ways involve self-harm.  Her emotions are portrayed so well, and you can really feel how painful the entire situation is for her.  The book shows her mixed feelings of hurt and guilt.  Alexi thinks about how she never said no, and it's clear that she blames herself for that, and she hasn't really come to terms with the fact that, just because she never said no, that doesn't make what happened her fault.  She never said yes either, and she was crying while it happened.  Who the rapist actually is is left a mystery for most of the book.  I think this technique worked.  It made the reader wonder about who it could be when reading about the different male characters in the book.  

I love Bodee Lennox so much.  This boy is so amazingly sweet.  He's been dealt some rough things in life.  He lived with an abusive father for years, and his father murdered his mother.  He has his own ways of coping, but he is also so good to Alexi.  When he walks out of his mother's funeral, she follows him out and sits by him silently.  When Alexi's mother invites Bodee to live in their house, a friendship between these two starts to form.  I ship Bodee and Alexi as a couple, and as friends, so much.  I love all the little moments between them, when he makes a seemingly simple gesture that means so much to her, or he is there to help her when she needs help healing.  I rooted for them the whole time.  When Bodee said he liked someone, I hoped that it was Alexi, even though she was dating another guy that her friend set her up with.  

There is a family element in this book as well, showcased through both Alexi and Bodee.  Bodee has lived a pretty rotten life with his family, yet he's also always loved his mom.  She was there to protect him from his father.  She would rather let herself be hurt by him than let Bodee be hurt by him.  It's clear how tough it is for Bodee to move on to life without her.  Alexi's family also plays an important role in the story.  Her parents care about her, but it's clear that they don't know what is going on with Alexi.  They don't notice that anything is wrong with her at all.  Then there's Alexi's rocky relationship with her sister, Kayla.  This isn't something that can be healed automatically, but progress is made between them.

This book also shows the friendship between Alexi, Heather, and Liz.  I have mixed feelings about Heather, because, while she was trying to be a good friend, she spent too much time setting dates up for Alexi when she had no interest in the guys that Heather was trying to set her up with.  She first set her up with a guy named Dane Winters, who we don't learn very much about, and then with Hayden Harper.  I never really liked Hayden's character.  First of all, I was already shipping Alexi and Bodee when Hayden came into the picture, so I couldn't ship her with someone else.  But what really made me dislike him is that he said some pretty insensitive things about rape to Alexi.  He didn't know that she had been raped, but a guy should still never say things like what he said to a girl.  And then, something happened that involved Hayden and Bodee, and he basically threatened Bodee if Alexi wouldn't go out with him again.  So yeah, that wasn't cool at all.  Basically, I didn't like Hayden.

If you like emotional YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection, #1) For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
My Review:

This book is an interesting story about a dystopian society.  Much of the story was pretty light, with some moments thrown in there that were a bit darker.  I have seen many comparisons of this book to The Bachelor, and while I haven't seen very much of The Bachelor, I agree with this.  If you put The Bachelor in a dystopian world and made the guy who has to pick a girl the prince, The Selection would be the result.


One thing that is showcased in this book is the nature of the relationships between the Selected girls.  In a way, it seems like they might be friends since they're all in the same situation.  They're all strangers to the palace, and this experience is new to them.  Yet, at the same time, they are competitors.  One girl doesn't want to necessarily become friends with another girl who Prince Maxon might like better, because that could cause all kinds of jealousy problems.  Marlee is an example of a girl who doesn't just think of all the others as competitors.  She connects with America near the beginning, and they remain friends throughout the book, no matter what happens between Maxon and them.  I hope to find out more about Marlee in the next book, since it seems like she's hiding something from America.  Celeste is one of the girls who is super-competitive.  She does some rather mean stuff to America, since America gets some attention from Maxon.

Maxon's character is well-developed, and there is so much more to him than meets the eye.  At first, America thinks he will be some snobby prince, but, though he is a prince, he isn't snobby.  He looks to the Selection as his only way of finding a bride because he doesn't get the chance to meet girls in his everyday life in the palace.  The first meeting between Maxon and America was...interesting.  If he had been a different type of guy, he probably would've sent her away then, because she kind of insulted him.  But instead, the two of them actually became friends.  America was upfront with him about the fact that she didn't really want to try to win his affections.  She told him she needed to stay so her family could get money, so they struck up a deal.  I feel like America really helped to open Maxon's eyes to many of the problems within Illea.  He was rather unaware that things were so bad, especially food-wise.

America's family plays a role in the story, though they aren't with her for the majority of the book, since she is in the palace and they are back at home.  America's mom puts a lot of pressure on her to join the Selection.  America doesn't really want to, and I feel like her mom pressured her too much.  She seemed too focused on the castes.  She seems to really want America to marry Prince Maxon, and she would never want her daughter to marry down a caste.  America's younger sister, May, also really wants America to win the Selection.  I find her focus on it more excusable than her mother's, since May is young and is just fascinated by the idea of America being a princess, and then later a queen.

At the beginning of the book, America is in a relationship, though the relationship is a secret.  The relationship is with Aspen, a boy who is one caste below America.  I didn't like him for most of the book.  At first, I liked him okay, but then he overreacted to some things that America did that weren't meant to hurt him at all.  For example, she made food for him, and he was mad because it made him think about how he wasn't able to provide for her.  Then some things happened later in the book that made me dislike Aspen even more.  I am not rooting for a relationship between America and Aspen at all.

If you like YA dystopian or The Bachelor, read this book.


Monday, March 3, 2014

February Wrap-Up

This month I completed 6 books.  They are:
Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
The Selection by Kiera Cass
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Split Second by Kasie West
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Of these books, all of them were told in 1st person female POV, expect for These Broken Stars, which was male and female dual POV.

Books I Plan on Reading in March (subject to change):
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone by JK Rowling (I've started rereading, but I haven't finished)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (like Harry Potter, I've started rereading this, but haven't finished it yet)
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Alienated by Melissa Landers
Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Panic by Lauren Oliver


Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Releases I'm Most Excited For

March 4th:
Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor - I enjoyed Prep School Confidential, so I look forward to reading another mystery with Anne as the detective.  I have found that I have really been liking the mysteries that I have been reading lately, and the first book in this series was one of the mysteries that I enjoyed.
16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler - I have read and enjoyed Janet Gurtler's first three books, so I think I will like this one as well.  It sounds like a good story.  The cover is different than the ones on all her other books, but I still like it.

Wicked Little Secrets (Prep School Confidential, #2)16 Things I Thought Were True

March 8th:
The Sowing by Steven dos Santos - I really liked The Culling when I read it last year, so I look forward to seeing what happens next in the series.  I will miss reading about the characters from The Culling who died in the Trials, since I liked those characters.

The Sowing (The Torch Keeper, #2)

March 11th:
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas - This sounds like a cute and fun read.  It should be interesting to see the two different prom nights.

Ask Again Later

March 18th:
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy - This sounds like an emotional contemporary read.  Also, I enjoy books that are in dual POV, and this is in dual POV between a male and a female.

Side Effects May Vary

March 25th:
Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano - This sounds like a good YA murder mystery, a genre that I have been enjoying lately.  It should be a good read.

Nearly Gone