Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Haul!

All for less than $35!

Long time no posts! Today, I bring you a book haul. I really need to lay off buying books because I already have so many, but in this case I had a giftcard to spend on Amazon. So that's excusable, right?

If you've never utilized Amazon's Bargain Book section, it's GREAT! You can organize the books into sections of less than $5, $10, $20, and there are lots of YA and other sections. The books are basically brand new, although all of them have an Amazon code/sticker.

Not all of these books are from the Bargain section though. I also went to a local used book store, and got one (Friday Society, which is an arc) at my library's for-sale table.

Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (which is upside-down in the picture, oops)
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Die For Me by Amy Plum
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
A T.A. Barron Collection by T.A. Barron
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

Summary: Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

Kim's Review: “...because a life without meaning, without drive or focus, without dreams or goals, isn't a life worth living.” 
“You don’t get to pick where you’re from, but you always have control of where you’re going.” 

I tried my best to be unbiased while reading this book, because I love Chris Colfer. However, I'm definitely not as "obsessed" with him as I was a year ago, so I did realize that his writing could certainly be better. There were some great quotes from this book (see above), but it seemed unnatural sometimes, like he was trying too hard to be poetic.

I watched the movie a few months ago and cried like a baby when it was over. The book was a fast read; I finished it in a few hours, but I liked the movie better. You can sort of tell that it was a movie first. It was scary how much I could relate to Carson though. We both want to go to Northwestern and be journalists, and also hate the majority of people in our high schools. His family situation and what his mother did towards the end (I won't spoil it) hit pretty close to home.

For those who know a lot about Colfer, it may seem obvious that the book is semi-autobiographical; there are quite a few "Easter eggs," if you will. It did seem a little redundant after a while, but didn't affect the overall quality of the book, and if you don't know much about the author you won't notice them at all.

Overall, I liked this book. The story and characters were great, but the writing did sort of fall flat. No harm in giving it a chance, though, because it's a really quick read.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary: Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate?

Kim's Review: Finally! It took me nearly a month to finish this book. Don't get me wrong - I love Sherlock; I've seen the BBC series and one of the newer movies, I just started watching Elementary, and now this is the second story I've read. I just found it hard to read the older language (which isn't Arthur Conan Doyle's fault, of course). It was interesting to get to see Sherlock and John Watson as their original characters, instead of different producers/actors' interpretations of them. I already somewhat knew how the story was going to end from the BBC series, but I there were still a lot of things that surprised me. It was also neat to see John "fending" for himself and investigating without the help of Sherlock. All in all, I liked this book a lot, but I probably won't read another Sherlock Holmes story just because there are so many other books I need to get to! It gets 3.5/5 stars from me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

VIDEO: Book Haul!

I went to Half Price Books today and got a great deal on four books! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: June 19, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Showcase books you can't wait to read!

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

I've heard so much about this book, and it seems like it's been promoted really well, so I have high expectations for this! I bought it at Half Price Books a few weeks ago and I'll probably start it once I finish the books I'm currently reading.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him -- the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat's now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he's being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he's being hunted by Kenny G!

I thought the movie was fantastic, so surely the book is even better!

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

Tina Fey may be one of my favorite people on this planet. I'm a huge 30 Rock fan, so I'm excited to get to learn more about her through her autobiography!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
One choice will define you.What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

Unlike the others, this is a book that hasn't been released yet. It's the third and final book of the Divergent series, and I'm super-excited to read it, although it is bittersweet because I don't want it to end! If you haven't read Divergent and its sequel, Insurgent, I strongly recommend that you do before the third book comes out on October 22nd!

And finally, Marissa, Char, and I have noticed something on Goodreads...

Whaaat?! While I strongly doubt that release date is accurate, and we may not even be sure if it's true - we know John is working on another book, but can't anyone add a book on Goodreads? - just seeing it become more and more real is so exciting. John Green is one of my favorite authors but I'm sort of a newer fan, so this will be the first time I'll be really involved in one of his new releases, so I'm definitely pumped!

Kim's Summer Recommendations!

Sorry for the huge lack of reviews lately - it's taking me a while to get through the books I'm currently reading! Most of us are on summer break by now, which means more time for reading! Here are a few (semi) light-hearted, summer-y books I would recommend you read over vacation (in no order):

Click on the book titles for Goodreads pages/summaries!

1. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
I'll admit, these books aren't fantastic, but they're still fun to read if you're looking for something to read quickly over a weekend. There's also a sequel if you want to continue reading teenage Carrie's story!

2. The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts
This one isn't released until July 6th, but I've read an ARC and it might be one of my top ten books of the year! The writing and storytelling is amazing - I really can't recommend it enough. I'll be posting a full review and an author interview in a few weeks!

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I usually don't like romance novels, but god, I love this book! Anna and St. Clair are one of my favorite book couples I've ever read about. There's a spin-off book, Lola and the Boy Next Door, to read when you're finished!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first book of this series, Unwind. Proceed with caution if you haven't read it yet. :)

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: 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.