Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Tilt by Ellen Hopkins

Summary: Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

Review: Kim here! Today I'm reviewing Tilt by Ellen Hopkins. I really liked this book. The plots were compelling with a few shocking twists, and at times it was hard for me to put this book down. Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite authors, and while this book is great, I don't think it's her best. Maybe it's just because I haven't read one of her books in a while (it's written in poetry, switching characters every few pages), but I found it hard to keep track of all the characters and their parents and who's friends or cousins with whom. 

One thing I loved about this book (and all of Hopkins' YA novels) is the author's voice. It's poetic but realistic. A lot of the time, with YA books, the teenagers are your stereotypical "OMGZ, we should TOTES go shopping today lol!!!!11" characters. I found these characters believable and relatable because, as she has shown in her other books, Hopkins really seems to understand young adults for what they really are and not what much of the media depicts them as.

This is a very good book, and other than having to keep flipping back to remember the characters, I enjoyed it. I snuck it in my lap under my desk at school. I read it in the food line in the cafeteria. I really felt for these characters, and I needed to know what happened to them in the end. And overall, I was more than satisfied. Tilt has earned a place on my bookshelf, and I hope you feel the same way after reading it.

If you want to read this book, I suggest starting out with Hopkins' first novel, Crank (one of my favorite books--seriously, Ellen Hopkins is amazing), and working your way to the newer ones. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Unwind by Neal Shuesterman

Summary: Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

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.

Hey guys, Marissa here with another review. This is the first contemporary book I've read in an english class in school so we basically studied the whole novel. I have a lot to say about this one, so lets get started!

Review: If you listen closely, you could probably hear my screams as I finished the last part of this book. I can't even put it to words yet. Just saying this book was good is an understatement. It was nothing like I expected it to be and that made me love it even more. Since I'm so overwhelmed with how much I liked this book, I'm setting up this review in to different aspects of the book.

Plot/Setting: Like most dystopian books, the world is pretty much modeled like ours. (Which actually makes it ten times creepier, but only in a way a really good dystopian book can make you feel). That being said, we do bear many similarities with this world, with the exception of unwinding, of course. I found the whole setting to be great and the way it was built was perfect. Although I find the whole concept of unwinding extremely creepy and scary, I still think it made a great plot. It takes a controversial topic of our world today and takes it in a completely different direction. Its very eye-opening and I commend Neal Shuesterman on coming up with the idea. 

Characters: This is one of those books where I pretty much loved all the characters at one point or another. Once again, a dystopian book makes me feel anxiety for the characters. I got chills towards the end. I could go on all day about all the characters, but now I'm just gonna focus on our three main ones. 

Connor: I loved how much his character developed. I knew he would be a great character to follow throughout the whole novel because you can tell that he is going to be very dynamic and three-dimensional. And those are the kind of characters I tend to love the most.

Risa: Also, loved her. She actually became a lot more complex as the story progressed. I admire her because of her strength through everything and after everything she has been through in her past and the obvious situation she is running from now. 

Lev: Oh, Lev. That lousy tithe. At first, I didn't really like Lev because he seemed superficial and he was like an annoying little brother. But as the story progressed, I found myself most interested in him. He is probably the most dynamic character in this book. Theres also symbolism used with him, which also added to me liking him even more. Lev is definitely the character you really want to pay attention to. 

There were also many secondary characters that I liked. 

Writing Style: The writing style in this book is set up in to seven sections but within those, it is broken up again to the perspective of each of our three main characters, Connor, Risa, and Lev. I thought it really made the story better because you were able to focus on one person's perspective for a certain part and get a chance to read from all three main characters views, which is something that rarely happens in dystopian books. Also, the book flowed very nicely. There was never really a dull moment, even if it was an action-less scene. You just always wanted to know anything that you could possibly figure out in the section.
It might also be good to point out how much I loved the fact that Neal Shuesterman put little captions before each main section starts. High five goes to you Neal Shuesterman. I mean, how great of an idea is that? It was just one of those little things that made me love this book more. 

All in all, this is a great read and anyone who loves dystopian books should definitely check this one out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review: Lucy In The Sky by Anonymous

Summary: The author of this diary began journaling on her sixteenth birthday. She lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Santa Monica with her mom, dad, and Berkeley-bound older brother. She was a good girl, living a good life...but one party changed everything. One party, where she took one taste—and liked it. Really liked it.

Social drinking and drugging lead to more, faster, harder... She convinced herself that she was no different from anyone else who liked to party. But the evidence indicates otherwise: Soon she was she hanging out with an edgy crowd, blowing off school and everything she used to care about, all to find her next high.

But what goes up must come down, and everything—from her first swig, to her last breath—is chronicled in the diary she left behind.

(By Kim)

Review: Although this book was interesting, it was pretty much the same thing as Go Ask Alice (another book in this "series," and probably the most popular one). There were a few differences, of course, but to be honest it was nothing special, and the text speak in the writing annoyed me a bit. I liked the story and the characters, but if you've read Go Ask Alice, you don't really need to read this one unless it really appeals to you. This was my least favorite book of the three (Jay's Journal is the other one, and is very different from the other two) because it was predictable, and while it written/published to show readers why they shouldn't do drugs, it seemed to glorify them. The narrator and main character (whose name we never find out) gets a DUI, is raped, and gets into other kinds of drugs while she's drunk/high, yet learns nothing from it and still enjoys doing it. Not once does she look back on the consequences of her actions. There were multiple times where I just wanted to leap into the story and shake her and be like "what are you doing?!?!"

I don't have a lot to say about this book, other than that you can get the same story in Go Ask Alice but with a better reading experience.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Kim's First Book Haul of 2013!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your 2013 has been fantastic so far! I went to Half Price Books yesterday and got a couple of books, so I thought I'd share them with you!

Exit Here by Jason Myers and I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

Sing You Home and Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors!

And here are the books I got the day after Christmas (shoutout to my family for knowing me well and getting me more bookstore gift cards than anything)!

Char got me Numbers by Rachel Ward--thanks!

I also bought Life of Pi by Yann Martel and I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb.

Finally, I got Tilt by Ellen Hopkins and The Brick (also known as Les Miserables) by Victor Hugo. ;)

That's all of them! What did you guys get for Christmas?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Recommendations for YOU! Happy 2013!

First off, Happy New Year everyone! I decided to do something a little different and out of the ordinary today. Since its a new year and everyone is starting their reading challenges for 2013, I decided to give out some recommendations to start some people off. I picked my top five books that I would recommend and gave a short summary to get you started. Now, most of these books are fairly popular but I did throw some others in as well. Enjoy and I hope you find something great to read to start off the new year!

~ Marissa

1.  The Book Thief  By Markus Zusak 
This is one of my all time favorites. Set during the time period of World War II, a young girl named Liesel is living in a small town in Germany. During these dark times, Liesel finds comfort in not only reading books, but stealing them too. Whether its from Nazi book burnings, or the mayor's library, Liesel goes wherever there are books. As her foster father shows her how to read, Liesel begins to show everyone in her neighborhood the comfort of reading. This is a truly unforgettable story and I highly recommend it.

Click here for my full review.

2.  Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury 
I think this book is very appropriate to start off the new year. This book is arguably one of the most realistic dystopian novels ever written. It is set up in a future world which bears many alarming resemblances to our world we live in today. The scary part about this book is that it was written in 1953 and now thats its 2013, we can see how we are moving in the direction that Bradbury was trying to warn us about. We follow the story of Guy Montag, a fireman whose occupation is to burn books. Montag does not question it as he "thinks little at all about nothing in particular". Suddenly, he meets a girl named Clarisse who tells him about times when things were different. He starts to think about things he has never thought about before. When Clarisse disappears, he now knows what he has to do. I definitely recommend picking this book up!
Click here for my full review.

3.  I Am The Messenger By Markus Zusak
Another Markus Zusak book, because he is just that amazing. This book is completely different from The Book Thief but just as good. Enter Ed Kennedy. He is an underage cab driver, in love with his best friend, and lives with his dog. Ed thinks of his life as pretty ordinary and routine, until he goes to the bank. While it was never his intention, he surprisingly stops the robbery. Now he is labeled as a hero, but he still feels like just an ordinary person. Suddenly, he receives his first ace in the mail. And thats when the adventure really begins, as he becomes the messenger. Once you start this book, you will not put it down!

4.  Paper Towns By John Green
If you have yet to read one of the legendary John Green books, then this a great book to start with. Quentin, but everyone calls him Q, has been in love with Margo his entire life. Its no surprise though, since she is his next door neighbor and they used to play together when they were little. As they grew apart as they got older, Q's love for her never subsided. One night, she comes back to his life as she knocks on his window in the middle of the night, inviting him on a night full of adventure and revenge on people. When the night ends, Q is happy to be reunited with Margo and looks forward to seeing her at school the next day. One problem: she disappeared. Known to leave clues when she disappears, Q and his friends must figure them out and find Margo. This book is full of humor, romance, and adventure. Click here for Kim's full review.

5.  Divergent By Veronica Roth 
I recently just finished this book and I have to say, its amazing! The world in dystopian Chicago is divided in to five factions where people reside. Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice has lived in Abnegation her entire life until it is time the choosing day, where every sixteen year old chooses where they will live for their entire life. Their options are given to them through a test which gives them their faction result. During Beatrice's test, there is a problem and she is faced with a tough decision of staying with her family or becoming who she really is. She makes a surprising decision and braces herself for what is about to become of her. I definitely recommend this book if you love dystopian novels. It even has some romance in there! I am currently reading the sequel now.