Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Summary: Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.
Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions.
White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.
This is Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone--from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud--threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

Kim's Review: I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. Honestly, I would not have bought it if not for Charlotte's continuous nagging and insistence that I read it. (Thanks for that, by the way!) However, I was pleasantly surprised. The writing is not very complex, but I liked that because I was able to skim through some paragraphs and not lose track of what was happening. The notes and articles at the beginning of each chapter offered interesting insight into the characters' situations and saved the reader from what could have been paragraphs full of useless descriptions of notes.

The short chapters also made it easier to read, and because the point of view changed with each chapter, I felt like I knew the characters better and was able to understand their intentions. The plot is pretty crazy and definitely different than what you probably think of when you hear about the nineteenth century, but the time period made it seem so much more intense and scandalous.

Finally, THAT ENDING. I was so confused (in a good way) until the last couple of pages. It's a huge, shocking cliffhanger. What the hell?!?! Now I am dying to read the sequel!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

REVIEW: United We Spy by Ally Carter

United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Gallagher Girls #6
Published September 17th, 2013
304 Pages, Hardcover Edition
Reviewed by Charlotte

United We Spy was an amazing finale to one of my favorite series. While it starts out slow, the end beat out any bad feelings I had and it ended strong.

Ally Carter is one of my all time favorite authors. She has a perfect way of writing action that doesn't leave the reader wondering which character just got shot, or shot someone. While I didn't think the action was as fast and unexpected as the other books, United We Spy's climax was something I was never expecting. 

I enjoyed all the relationship dynamics in this book. There wasn't much angst, which was a nice break from every other book I read. Carter knew that the time for tension was over, and thank god for that. All the characters had developed a lot from the beginning of the series, no one more than Cammie. This series is one that I've grown up with, so it's sad to see it go. 

United We Spy ended with me in tears. I can't wait to read Carter's new series: Embassy Row.

(Plus, both Gallagher Girls and Heist Society have been optioned for film so cross your fingers that they're made!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Summary: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.
Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

Kim's Review: This book surprised me. I was expecting a sad book in which a girl spends the entire time coping with her death and trying to move on. Don't get me wrong - there is some of that, and it's certainly not a bad thing, but I didn't expect the plot to be so...normal.

Instead of Liz spending the whole 277 pages wallowing and wondering about what her life could have been, this novel was about her adjusting to Elsewhere (a strange sort of heaven) and pretty much leading an average life there. She gets a job, adopts a dog, has problems with friends, and falls in love, just like you would expect in a novel taking place on Earth. While I was surprised, it was a welcome change.

There were a lot of other things about Elsewhere that made it stand out as well. It's written in third person omniscient POV, where the reader gets to hear what all the characters are thinking pretty much at all times. I don't think I've ever read a book in this point of view (the only time I remember is when we were learning about it in English class!), but it was really interesting and different, and I liked it.

With the uncommon point of view came segments of the story being told by dogs. That's right, in Elsewhere, humans can learn to understand canine and productively communicate with them. The prologue is actually told from the POV of Liz's dog. The best part is that it's actually done well! It doesn't sound corny or campy, which is what I was half-expecting. Kudos to Gabrielle Zevin for being able to tell a story through a whole 'nother species' point of view!

This book does offer a lot to think about when it comes to life after death and what goes on, but it's also a relatively light-hearted and enjoyable read. Give it a chance, and I'm confident you won't be disappointed. :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Summary: 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.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Kim's Review: Pretty much everyone and their mothers have read a dystopian novel by now, be it The Hunger Games or Divergent or one of the hundreds of other novels out there. The 5th Wave, however, is unlike any other book I've read. In most dystopian books, the world's decline is due to a failed government. In The Fifth Wave, the world is taken over by aliens, who seem to be doing everything they can to eradicate the human race. Over seven billion people were killed in the four waves before, and only the strongest remain.

The first character the reader is introduced to is Cassie, an smart, strong girl determined to find her brother. I love how, even when she strikes up a relationship with a boy, she still keeps a clear head and reminds herself of "the first rule in the last war": Trust no one. She doesn't let herself get blinded by love like so many characters we read about in YA today, and I absolutely loved that.

About a hundred pages in, the point of view shifts to Ben Parish, a boy who is in training to be a soldier in the war against the Others (what the characters call aliens). I liked Ben as well; in fact, all of the characters were pretty likable. The only thing I didn't like is how there is no way of knowing that the point of view changes. A new section of the book starts, but there's no title or anything to tell you that there's a different POV. I was so confused - for quite a while I thought I'd missed something and Cassie was actually a boy. It wasn't until I took a peek at some reviews that I realized the POV had changed.

It took me a while to get through this book; nothing too interesting seemed to happen until about halfway through. The first 200 pages took me a week to read; the last 200 took me a day. Once the story picks up, it's very compelling, but it just takes a while to get there.

All in all, I'll give this 4 out of 5 stars, maybe 4.5. I wish more things were explained - the aliens' reason for invading Earth, what happened to the government, etc. Leaving these things out, especially the latter, seemed more like a lazy mistake than an intentional question to be answered in future books. I do look forward to reading the sequel, though, and I'm excited to hear that it's already been optioned for a film! While I'm not entirely convinced this could be the next Hunger Games, I think it is an interesting take on the current dystopian craze in today's YA books, and definitely worth reading.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Journey Through The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout With Marissa!

(Hello guys! I recently finished reading all the books that are released so far in the Lux series so I decided to just put all my reactions in to one post. These reviews are completely spoiler free even if you haven't read any of the books in the series or just the first.)

Summary: Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don't kill him first, that is.

Marissa's Review: I really enjoyed Obsidian! It was a very different read for me. I have never read anything that had to do with the topic of aliens before, so i found the story very original. I absolutely loved the writing style in this book. It has a perfect mix of things. This book has drama, humor, action, and even some romance. I also loved the characters. Katy was a strong protagonist and really knows how to stand up for herself when she has to but she is also relatable. I loved that she was a book blogger, I mean that alone is just awesome. Daemon was such a lovable ass. I loved his little witty retorts with Katy. They were so entertaining to read! All that aside, Daemon is also a complex character. As you read on, you get to see a whole other side to him. The action scenes in this book are great. Especially that last scene!

Review: This one is probably my favorite out of all of them so far. OH MY. I can't even formulate in to words my feelings towards this book. I felt all the emotions throughout this book, especially towards the end. I am so obsessed with this series! This one definitely had me more on my toes than the first one! I always felt so scared to turn the page because I thought I knew what was gonna happen (which didn't really work out most the time because this book is full of plot twists! ) but at the same time excited because the action, drama and romance in this book is amazing! I absolutely love Katy and Daemon. I pretty much love all the characters in this series (for the most part, but you'll find that out for yourself when you read it). I loved the humor in this book. Especially when Daemon kept calling Blake the wrong name. I could not stop laughing! This one definitely has A LOT more drama than the first and I loved it. I can't wait to continue with this series!

ReviewI.... uh.... don't know what to do right now. That ending! I could barely breathe! AH.

ReviewOh man that ending, I swear! I found the pace in this one to be a bit different from the others. I can't really explain it. Sometimes I felt like things were rushed and sometimes I felt the opposite. Regardless, I still enjoyed this one a lot! I did like the fact that there were alternating POV chapters in this book. It was nice getting a different insight from Daemon, especially in the beginning. Sometimes I would get a little confused because I was so used to Katy narrating but I got used to it! That ending was insane though. I'm still too overwhelmed by it to form coherent sentences to form a typed out reaction. GAH this series drives me mad! It makes me feel almost every possible emotion from joyous happiness to profound sadness but I LOVE it! I can't wait for the last book!

I really love this series a lot. Its just so suspenseful and has everything you really could possibly want in a book. I think if you're in to science fiction and fantasy you should definitely check this series out. Definitely prepare yourself for cliffhangers, staying up to late hours of the night reading, and a little loss of sleep. :)