Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Summary: 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.

Kim's Review: THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. I'm not even sure I'm capable of writing a coherent review of it right now, but here goes nothing.

Divergent is set in a dystopian Chicago. Everyone is separated into five factions, which they choose when they turn sixteen. It is told from the point of view of a girl named Beatrice, who, before the Choosing Ceremony, is Abnegation - a faction known for its people's selflessness. She takes an aptitude test to see which faction she would fit in best, and is surprised when she learns she is Divergent, sharing qualities of all five factions and therefore not quite fitting in anywhere. At the ceremony she has to choose a faction or live the rest of her life factionless. Along the way of trying to find out where she truly belongs, she meets Four and is intrigued by him.

I can't say much more without getting into spoiler territory, but I loved this book so much. Ther are a lot of resemblances to The Hunger Games, but there are certainly things that set them apart as well. The future universe and government Veronica Roth has set up is really interesting and I truly enjoyed reading about it. Divergent is action-packed and fast paced; there is hardly ever a dull moment. Some aspects of it is even a bit terrifying.

Also, Four and Tris are so damn cute! I could not get over them. They've got to be one of my favorite book couples, right next to Anna and St. Clair. :) Their scenes gave me butterflies in my stomach more than once. Seriously, where can I get my own Four?

Another reason I loved this book is because it is set in Chicago, where I live. Since I frequent downtown, I loved being able to have a clear vision of all the locations in my head and not having to depend on just the descriptions to set up the mental image. It is sort of strange to think of Chicago being like it is in Divergent in the future - Lake Michigan as more of a marsh, Navy Pier's ferris wheel rusting...this was also a good setting to incorporate the Dauntless's train-jumping, since you can basically always hear a train no matter the time or place. But I'm rambling, so all I'm going to say is that you definitely need to read this book and be sucked in with Tris's adventures!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The WINNER of an E-Book copy of The Sound and The Echoes by Dew Pellucid is....


Congratulations from all of us here at Chima Books! The author will email you shortly to send you your prize. :)

Again, a huge thank you to Dew Pellucid for allowing us to host this giveaway!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

GIVEAWAY! 2 E-Book Copies of The Sound and the Echoes by Dew Pellucid

Thanks to a kind offer from the author, we are giving away TWO e-book copies of The Sound and the Echoes by Dew Pellucid!

"Imagine that everyone around you has a mirror image living somewhere else. Your world is like a sound, which produced that other world of echoes. And in this land men are governed by a terrible law—no Echo is allowed to live after his Sound dies.

One Sound especially must die. The Prince’s Sound. The Fate Sealers and Fortune Tellers will make sure of that! Because after this Sound dies, the Echo Prince will have to die too.

Now, twelve-year-old Will Cleary is about to discover that he is the Sound the Echoes are hunting. And so begins his perilous adventure into a see-through, sparkling world, filled with spying crystal balls, an eerie fortress of castaway children, a hunt for clues in an ancient book of riddles, and a last-chance escape through a frozen gem-studded lake into a secret land that holds the key to placing the Prince on the throne and returning freedom to the Echoes."

This is a magical novel with an engaging plot and characters (you can read my review here), and now you have the chance to win a copy of it!

  • You must be following this blog via Linky/GFC
  • Earn entries by commenting and/or tweeting - look in the Rafflecopter widget below:
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: The Sound and the Echoes by Dew Pellucid

Summary: Imagine that everyone around you has a mirror image living somewhere else. Your world is like a sound, which produced that other world of echoes. And in this land men are governed by a terrible law—no Echo is allowed to live after his Sound dies.

One Sound especially must die. The Prince’s Sound. The Fate Sealers and Fortune Tellers will make sure of that! Because after this Sound dies, the Echo Prince will have to die too.
Now, twelve-year-old Will Cleary is about to discover that he is the Sound the Echoes are hunting. And so begins his perilous adventure into a see-through, sparkling world, filled with spying crystal balls, an eerie fortress of castaway children, a hunt for clues in an ancient book of riddles, and a last-chance escape through a frozen gem-studded lake into a secret land that holds the key to placing the Prince on the throne and returning freedom to the Echoes.

Kim's Review: I was given an ebook of The Sound and the Echoes to review, and I decided to give it a chance because the plot seemed interesting. Overall, I thought this book was okay. The plot was pretty good, although I wasn't really dying to know what happened next because you could sort of figure out how the book was going to end (although that is to be expected, considering the book is for middle school kids). I think this novel's strongest point was its characters; I loved all of them (except for the ones you were supposed to dislike). Each character seemed to have their own little quirk, which was fun to read. 

However, the one category I was a little disappointed in was the writing. There were a lot of typos, which were a bit distracting, and the descriptions of Echos and their universe seemed redundant. It seemed like the word "see-through" was used way too often, when the description would have sufficed without it.

All in all, Pellucid created a magical universe that is fun to read about through interesting characters. If you can look past some errors in the writing, this is a good book.

(Also: check in tomorrow for some exciting news regarding this book! ;) )

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Summary: Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

Kim's Review: Ahhhh! This book was so, so good. I had high expectations for it and they were definitely met, maybe even exceeded. Even though Unwholly was published five years after the first book, Unwind, Neal Shusterman did a fantastic job at picking up right where Unwind left off. The main characters had developed a bit since the last time we saw them, but in a good way. There were also a few new characters, most of whom I loved. I thought Cam, a human made entirely of unwinded body parts and organs, was the most interesting. I loved seeing his character progress over the course of the novel. I liked Miracolina, a tithe, as well, but nothing about her really...stuck out to me. She was just sort of there. And then there was Starkey, a stork who was sent to be unwound before escaping...sigh. I wanted to love this kid. I did. I was waiting for that redeeming moment where I was able to sympathize for him, like I did with Roland in the first book. But that moment never came. I hated him more and more as the book went on, and one of his actions towards the end of the book is just unforgivable. There were also some new minor characters and POVs who contributed to plot twists and overall made the book more interesting. In one of the last chapters there was a scene in one of the Graveyard's airplanes that legitimately made me tear up in the middle of algebra class. With the exception of Starkey, I really loved all of the new characters (well, except for Nelson, but we're not supposed to like him anyways).

While the plot was not as good as it was in the first book, it wasn't bad at all. There were still a lot of twists that kept me dying to find out what was going to happen. The only thing that's keeping me from giving this five stars is the fact that it's not quite as good as Unwind, but very close.

(4.5/5 Stars)

Kim's Top Ten Book Recommendations!

First off, did you notice our new blog title and theme? Thanks to Char for the new look! :)

Since my book reading has been going a little slow lately and I haven't posted a review in a while, I've decided to make a list of my favorite books to recommend to you all! I'm sure everyone and their mother have read a few of the books on this list, but I decided to include them anyways.

(These are not in any particular order.)

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a freshman, and while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

This is one of the most realistic and relatable books I have ever read. This book (and the movie) are really inspiring; whenever I'm feeling down, I just pop the movie into the DVD player and, two hours later, I usually feel much better. I'd recommend Perks to high school students, especially freshmen. The movie is home to one of my favorite quotes (which might be in the book as well, but I don't remember): “Even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there."

2. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

The world Shusterman created in Unwind is amazing. This book really made me think about society and where we are headed. Some of the events in this book don't seem too far-fetched. Of course, I don't think we'll be sending kids to get their bodies torn apart, but with constantly improving technology, who knows where we're headed?

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

At first glance, this book may seem like a light-hearted comedy, but don't let it fool you. There are some parts that are quite funny, but they are often also mixed with depressing and oddly philosophical moments. Part-Time Indian is unlike anything I have ever read.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

This book is extraordinary. It starts off a bit slow, but after a while I couldn't put it down!

5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance--until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you finish reading it. I first had to read a small portion of it for school, but I loved the story so much I bought the book and read the whole thing. Charlie is an interesting character and reading his journey through journal entries was intriguing.

6. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

This is a truly compelling and unpredictable book. I read it in a few hours. Everything about it is great, from the plot to the characters to the writing. I'd definitely recommend this book for a quick read if you have a few hours to spare.

7. Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

This book is creepy, yet amazing. It's an adult novel and there are some graphic/uncomfortable scenes, so proceed with caution, but you should definitely read it. The story is told from the point of view of a five year old, and his innocence and naiveity make it even sadder. Room left me with an eerie feeling long after I finished it, but it's written quite well and the plot is executed fantastically.

8. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I have no words for this one. Just read it.

9. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina -- she's fearless. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul -- her life.

Ellen Hopkins is one of my all-time favorite authors. The characters she creates continue to amaze me. Written in poetry, this book is a pretty fast read, and I can guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

10. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

God, I love this book so much. I love everything about it. (And I love psychology, so it was interesting to be able to read what Craig was thinking all the time as he contemplated suicide, was checked into the mental hospital, and went through treatment there. This is one of those books that I took out from the library and then, after I finished it, wished I had bought it instead.

Whew! There you have it! Sorry for the super-long post. I wish Blogspot had 'read more's.

Until next time! -Kim

Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Pages: 479 (Paperback)
Published: Oct 4th, 2011
PublisherMargaret K. McElderry Books

Reviewer: Charlotte

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Review:
I'm really surprised I didn't like this. Out of all my GoodReads friends, I have the lowest rating. I just couldn't get into it even though I really wanted to. I could not relate to Tessa at all, and I think that was partially due to the fact that the book started with so much action there was little down time to get to know her.

I think the only character I was actually amused by (and liked) was Henry. Henry is one of the heads of the London Institute. He also was barely mentioned, so you can see my issue. I did not like Tessa at all. There were moments when I would start liking her, but then all those feelings would go away a few pages later. I know it must be difficult to write a strong female in this time period, but I felt like it could have been done better. I do applaud Clare's dedication to making Tessa fit into the time period.

As for the love triangle, it was obviously hard to get into considering I didn't like the girl. Jem was nice in a boy-next-door type way, and Will had too many
"volatile moods" for me to enjoy reading about him.

The action scenes were the best parts of this book. I found every other part bland. The mythology of this book was intriguing, and that definitely encourages me to give the next two books a chance. I got more romance than I expected out of this book (I should have expected it, I mean the catch phrase is Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.) and I just wish there'd be more Shadowhunter stuff.

As I said before, I'm going to give the rest of the series a chance at some point. On the other hand, I've read City of Bones and City of Ashes within this week and I LOVE them. I'm on City of Glass right now, and I can't wait to read the rest and see the CoB movie this August!