Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Pages: 496
Published: October 12th, 2012
Publisher: Ember

My Review:

I've never read a book about the French Revolution before, so I had no idea to expect. I'm glad this was the first one I read, because it had a beautiful story and message. I've read A Northern Light by the same author, so I already loved her writing and had some high expectations. Those expectations were matched.

It took me a while to actually relate to Andi. Sure, I could empathize with her, but it was hard to really get to know her. That changed by the time she was in Paris, and her stubbornness got more endearing than annoying. Something I especially liked was the lack of romance. That sounds weird, but I'm sure you've heard Paris called something along the lines of 'the city of love' before. This book showed the total opposite of that and I love it for that reason. Sometimes you need a book that shows you the bloody truth, and Revolution is that.

My favorite part of the whole book was Alex's diary and Louis-Charles. By having access to this, I saw a completely different side of the whole Marie-Antoinette situation. I never sympathized with her before, I knew only snippets of facts and quotes like 'let them eat cake'. But through Alex's/Jennifer's words, I grew to realize that you can not judge a situation you are not in. There's a quote somewhere in the book that says something along the lines of - you wouldn't beat a dog for being a dog, and you wouldn't beat a king for being a king. (That's not exactly it but I'm too lazy to look it up.) I just wish that there would have been more about Louis-Charles in the second half of the book. He was my favorite part.

Unlike A Northern Light, I am not 100% satisfied with this book. I still have a lot of questions about the ending. I can't go into it for fear of spoiling people who haven't read it yet, so I'll just say that it was too quick an ending for such a long book. It could have taken extra time to explain the questions I still have. About the length, I also thought the book took too long to get where it was going plot-wise.

Besides the ending, I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of history fiction. Even if you haven't read much, or anything, about the French Revolution--I urge you to try this book. I want to go watch Les Mis now! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Pages: 304
Published: September 4th 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Source: ARC

My Review:

Fathomless is a dark retelling of The Little Mermaid (not the Disney version.) It's filled with monsters, love, and many complex ideas. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading about darker sides of fairy tales.

This story was definitely different than an average YA novel. Most of everything/everyone in the book could be taken as a metaphor or symbol. One of the main themes was Good versus Evil, and I had a hard time telling who represented what. Part of the fun was trying to figure it out.

My main annoyance was how dramatized the 'love triangle' was. It's in quotes, because I don't even think of it was a love triangle. Two parts of the 'triangle' barely even had any scenes together. If this book was meant to be about romance, then I don't think it did so well. The book didn't need to be about romance, its darkness and writing were already working perfectly. It was just annoying when one character freaks out because the other two are spending time together.

Ah, the characters. I really liked Naida/Lo, although it was tough telling which was which because they had very similar writing-voices. She was my favorite character, because of how different she was from everyone else. She kept a common goal, and that was admirable. Whereas I didn't like reading Celia's POV. I felt like her introverted to extroverted personality changed too quickly before I even got a chance to know her. Also, I did like the additions of her sisters but they could have gotten a better back story. Jude was not a swoon-worthy love interest at all. I don't know how to explain it, but he was just too average for me to root for any romance.

Like the plot twists, the ending came out of nowhere! It was definitely a safe ending, but at the same time it wasn't expected. I wasn't totally satisfied with it, because I still have some questions about the characters, and what will happen, etc. With the dark theme in this book, it was a bit out of character to have such a safe ending. But it didn't ruin my opinion overall.

I recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for a dark fairytale!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Summary: Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.
Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.
Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.
And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.
In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.
My Review: I loved this book for a lot of reasons. First, Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite authors; I've always admired her way of dealing with sensitive topics in her writing. Second, I thought the characters were extremely interesting and well-developed. Each of the three main characters had a heartbreaking backstory as well as a dark secret that made me want to keep reading to discover what it was.
This isn't a very long review, because I honestly don't have a lot to say about this book. The only complaint I have about it is that a lot of the time, when the characters spoke, they sounded very poetic. I thought it was a bit unrealistic, especially in the situations that the characters were in.
Overall, I really liked this book, and am going to read the sequel. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone -- as I said before and as you can probably tell from the summary, this is a very dark book and may be uncomfortable for some people to read. However, if you are interested in it, you should definitely read it as well as Hopkins' other books. I've read almost all of them, and I've never been disappointed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Without You by Anthony Rapp

About a year ago, I watched the musical RENT. I'd heard good things about it, and it seemed intriguing from the pictures and gifs I'd seen on Tumblr. I instantly fell in love with it and the message that it shared, and, as I usually do when I find a new obsession, I spent many nights reading up on the Broadway musical and the cast members. 

RENT is an amazing musical about living life to the fullest and without regret. Unfortunately, the musical's writer, Jonathan Larson, unexpectedly died the night before the show premiered off-Broadway.

Without You is the memoir of one of the show's original members, Anthony Rapp. In this book, he tells about his childhood, how he landed his role in RENT, the death of his mother and Jonathan Larson, and more. His writing is fantastic, and you can really tell he put his heart and soul into writing this memoir.

This book taught me a lot about life. It also has some really great and memorable lessons and quotes. One of my favorite quotes from this book, one that definitely stuck with me after I finished reading, is "the only way out is through." The leader of a support group, Friends In Deed, says this to Anthony one day when he is upset about his mother's impending death. For some reason, this quote kept running through my head as I read the rest of the book.

All in all, I loved this book for a lot of reasons. However, if you haven't seen RENT, you should probably do that first before reading this - it's an amazing movie/play, and I promise you will not regret it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Tour: Pledged by Gwynneth White (Excerpt Time!)

Pledged (Soul Wars Saga, #1)
Pledged by Gwynneth White
Pages: 503
Published: June 13, 2012
Publisher: Swallow Press

Read the summary on GoodReads!

This blog tour has been going on for almost a month now, and this is my first time doing a post for it. I'm going to share with you an excerpt from this novel, and I hope this makes you want to you pick it up ASAP!

Meet Seth and Erin . . . 

Despite the heat, Seth felt icy. Dread could do that to him. Or so he had recently discovered. Deep breathing usually calmed him, so he sucked in a lungful of desert air and told himself to relax. It didn’t help. By the time he’d walked from the aircraft to the immigration hall he’d ripped off a jagged piece of thumbnail, already bitten raw. He handed his US passport to the Botswanan border official, and, after a frown, and a stamp, he joined the crowd at the baggage carousel. Botswana in southern Africa was the last place on earth he’d ever have picked for a holiday destination. But he wasn’t here on holiday. Not even close.
His backpack was slow in coming. Tired from his long-haul flight from New York, he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. Almost as if to mock him, the hated vision that had brought him to Botswana burst into his mind. In an instant he was back in ancient times, watching a man he knew only as Gideon. As usual, Gideon was huddled on a windswept hill with his band of hopeless soldiers, waiting to be slaughtered by a huge army gathered in the valley below.
Seth snapped his eyes open to stop the battle from waging in his mind. It wasn’t that he was particularly squeamish; he’d watched enough movies to iron clad his stomach against gory visuals. But no movie had ever left him icy with dread the way Gideon’s battle did. And the reason for that was simple. The moment the visions had started, he had known that the war, fought so long ago in a place he’d never heard of, was far from over. And, as reluctant as he was, he too was being enlisted to fight in a cause he didn’t understand or want.
He forced himself to focus on the present: Erin, who waited for him in the arrivals hall; his brother Kyle, whom he’d come to Botswana to visit; Kyle’s expedition to find the Lost City of the Kalahari . . .
He ripped off another piece of fingernail. Thinking about the search for the Lost City was almost as bad as the war-vision. I hope Kyle never finds the damned place. He slapped his hand on his thigh. Enough! Grabbing his backpack off the carousel, he set his face into a smile and strode into the arrivals hall.
The first hurdle was finding Erin. She was due to arrive an hour earlier on a flight from Cape Town in South Africa, one of Botswana’s neighbours. He’d never met her, although they had spoken over the phone once. Then she’d described herself as “a short, seventeen-year-old (a year younger than him) with a mass of ginger hair.” She’d sounded nice. Meeting her was the one ray of brightness in this otherwise dark picture.
He stopped to scan the crowd. A petite girl with shoulder length, reddish-blonde curls, dressed in skinny jeans and a purple blouse, immediately caught his eye. It had to be Erin. Nice legs. What’s it with girls that they always under-sell themselves? He studied her face with his artist’s eye. Vermeer would’ve killed to paint her. Suddenly wishing he didn’t look so grimy after his three plane-changes, he walked over to join her. “Hi, I’m Seth. You’ve got to be Erin. My brother’s just married your sister Izzy.”
“And after only knowing each other for about a week.”
Her dimpled grin was infectious, making him crack his trademark crooked smile. “Madness.”
“Mysterious.” Erin cocked her head to one side, seemingly appraising him. He knew he had been accurate when he’d told her he was tall and dark-haired. But what he had failed to mention was what girls had often said they liked about him: his strong, angular face, softened by expressive brown eyes. He watched her eyes rove over his grey Muse: Resistance t-shirt, taking in his broad shoulders and chest. From there they darted down his black camo-pants to his boots. Amused by her blatant assessment, he cocked his head to one side, watching her. Suddenly Erin giggled – was she embarrassed? – and picked up her bag.
“We’ve yet another plane to catch. My fourth in the last twenty-four hours,” Seth said, hoping to explain away his rumpled appearance. “To a place called Maun.”
“So we do. Let the adventure begin.”