Book Review: In the End & In the After

In the After & In the End
Demitria Lunetta
YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Published: June 25th 2013 & June 24th 2014
4/5

                                              They hear the most silent of footsteps.
                                              They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.
                                               And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.
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9780062105455_p0_v2_s260x420 I really enjoyed this duo! It wasn’t what I expected at all and I’m really happy that I tried something out that I hadn’t heard much hype about. The first half of the first book was fantastic and then I took a turn that I hadn’t quite expected in the end and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first but have decided I really liked the plot twist. It sets up the next book pretty well and overall it was a face paced and enjoyable read with a fairly complex story plot for a YA novel.
Baby was a great character, I found her interesting and at times really frustrating because even after finishing the series I feel like I didn’t get to learn enough about her, or at least learn everything I wanted to about her backstory and why things turned out the way they did for her a little more. She was very strong willed and seemed very adaptable, and again there were aspects of her character that I really wish had been delved into a little bit deeper.
Amy was a strong female character, independent from other people; which was refreshing. I really liked that she could hold her own, and that she fought every step of the way for what she believed in and for those who she cared about. She was 100% focused on her mission and despite distractions she kept on a one way track to get to her end game.
It was fantastic that not everything was what it seemed and that we got to travel so much in this new world with Amy as she set about getting things done. Demitria did a fantastic job creating a world that was vivid and easy to imagine. Those creatures were terrifying and I’m very thankful I’m not having to deal with them on a regular basis.18140842
There were some aspects to this duo that I wasn’t a huge fan of, like all the unanswered questions and plot holes. There were a lot of things that were mentioned and never really explained or touched on again. The side characters sometimes really blended into each other and I lost track of who was who a couple of times, though that may have been my fault as I was reading so fast because I was so excited to find everything out. The science was a little weird but realistically it also made a little sense so perhaps most of my issues with that was the fact that it was done so poorly but they did/do have limited resources.
The ending of this duo was really open, and I feel like if the author wanted to write another book or write another story that took place in the same universe she certainly could just because there were so many unanswered questions and blank spots in the plot line. It could be really interesting having a story revolving around baby when she was older perhaps.
Over all a very fantastic, quick paced and action packed read. Really easy to follow plot line and development. I highly recommend binge reading this two books!

Book Review: The Fault in our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
John GreenImage
Contemporary YA
Published: January 10th, 2012
4/5

                Diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumour 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. 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 Agustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly, to her interested in Hazel. Being with Agustus is both an unexpected destination and a long needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and healthy, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

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                The Fault in our Stars by John Green has been raved about for what seems like eons now. As I’ve grown a bit older from when looking for Alaska was originally released (and that’s the year I first read it) I’ve found some of his other work has left me wanting. I find his characters have been replayed over again. The soft spoken geeky boy just trying to fall in love with the girl of his dreams. What I enjoyed in terms of fiction then and what I enjoy now has greatly changed, HOWEVER, the fault in our stars re-sparked my joy in reading John Green’s work.
                The Fault in our Stars is funny, honest, brutally harsh, and brilliantly heartbreaking. It wasn’t a cliché love story, it wasn’t a cliché anything really. It just was. I could spend time telling you what I’ve liked about the book, however if you’re reading this and you’ve already read it, stop here this review isn’t for you.
                This book review is for all the people who too scared to take the leap, this review is for the people who scoff at the very idea of reading something so trendy and so young. The Fault in our stars is a great work because it can be read by everyone and most everyone will be touched. It’s not a happy story, it will rip out your heartstrings and then stomp on them. This is a story about second chances, appreciating the time you do have and the people that are around you.
               I am a strong believer that people are put into our lives to shape and mold it, to change who we are and to help us grow and see our own potential by pushing us through all the battles of heartbreak, love, sorrow and joy.
                The Fault in our stars isn’t just a story about cancer, or just a story about a boy and a girl. The Fault in our Stars is about accepting what we cannot change, and how we move on from tragedy and grow.Image

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & ParkImage
Rainbow Rowell
Young adult Contemporary
Published: 2013
5/5

                Two Misfits.
                One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.

Park… He know she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs as her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-old – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

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                It’s not often that a book touches me in the way that Eleanor & Park has. The simplest and realistic nature of their relationship was both heartwarming and beautiful. Rainbow Rowell has managed to deliver a love story that is timeless in its content and in its tenderness. Despite not having been born when this book took place, it easily reminded me of my first love, and all the heartbreak and confusion that came with it when I was sixteen.
                Rowell has delivered realistic characters with realistic obstacles. The beginning middle and end made perfect sense and I personally wouldn’t have wanted to see it written any differently. I liked the open ending, because life is open ended. Just because something happens or someone leaves or comes back doesn’t mean that’s how it’s always going to be. Even if someone has hurt you in the past that doesn’t mean that person won’t be your best friend someday or maybe even the person you marry of course the story won’t always end perfectly either. I’ve seen this story happen so many times in my life with my friends and of course, with my own life. This story is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking.
                Worth all the hype, completely and with honesty.    

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Book Review: The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds (Darkest Minds #1)Image
Alexandra Bracken
Paranormal YA (Dystopian)
Published: 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
4/5

                When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp”. She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
                Now Sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
                When the truth comes out Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her – East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby but no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
                When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
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                Going into the ‘Darkest Minds’ I was not really sure what I was going to be getting myself into. When most movies, books, etc., are over hyped I usually find it hard to really give myself fully to the experience. However, I was easily immersed in the effortless writing and progressive plot.
                Many of the things that Ruby experiences generally hurt my heart, I couldn’t imagine being a child and having been rejected by everyone and everything I had ever known and loved.  Knowing nothing about your situation or why you’re in that particular situation would be terrifying and I found that part of Ruby relatable in the sense that her reactions seemed genuine, they seemed similar to how I would have expected myself to react.
                One thing I really loved about the ‘Darkest Minds’ was all the unanswered questions, which may seem a little strange to you but to me it was refreshing. There is nothing I find more annoying than having all the answers before the story even really begins or has started to settle in.  Despite the story having been told by Ruby`s point of view, any information relating to her past is very secretive to the point where you wonder if she`s hiding it from herself. She seems to be just as much of a mystery to herself as she does to me.
                All of the characters really are shrouded in mystery and again that’s what makes this book so fascinating and why you find yourself without the ability to put the book down.
                Mind reading, mind control, telekinesis, etc., has always been fascinating to me. I couldn`t imagine a world where these things exist and if they do exist I hope it`s not such a brutal awakening as it were in this book. I thought that Alexandra Bracken did a marvelous and engaging job portraying these abilities and explaining them in how they pertain to the book.
                If you’re looking for earth shattering romance however, you’re not going to find it here. Obviously there is a little bit of lovey dovey stuff going between Liam and Ruby but it’s extremely mild, and yet very tender and realistic. Perhaps the other novels will have more of a thrilling romance but I don’t have high hopes for that as it seems to be that this book is definitely not a romance dystopian in the way that Delirium was.
                At any rate The “Darkest Minds” was a great success for me, I quite enjoyed myself and am looking forward to eventually diving into the next book in the series that’ll probably end on a terrible gut wrenching cliff hanger, because it seems to me that’s the way trilogies work these days.

Book Review: This is Not a Test

This is not a TestImage
Courtney Summers
Young Adult
Published: 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
4/5

 

                It’s the end of the world…
                Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is of little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.
                To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
                As the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in a startling way and soon the groups fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more, and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life – and death – inside.
                When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

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               This is not a test reads more like a contemporary novel than zombie fiction. You never really find yourself too worried about the threat of the zombie hordes outside of the school, your concern really lies within the confines of the school. You learn really quickly how fast what you believed in can fall when your life is at risk and your survival is at stake. What you’re capable of, is truly unknown until you’re faced with the unknown.
                Sloane Price is a deeply wounded character. She is probably one of the most damaged and broken characters I’ve ever read in a young adult novel. She’s just so sad and you feel her despair pouring out of the pages, bleeding form chapter to chapter and even when she’s happy or seems better you can’t actually be sure.
                This is not a Test calls this into question, “What do you do when you survive something when you never wanted to exist at all?” This is an extremely fascinating character study. Who could imagine surviving the zombie apocalypse and not because you’ve been trying to but because fate seems to want to keep you around for a little bit longer.  Sloane actually went out of her way many times throughout the novel to succumb to the zombie plague and each time she is saved or it plain does not work out.      
                All of the characters are great, they all have unique voices and each give something valuable to the plot. None of them are who they seem to be, and I’m sure none of them are who they thought they were either.
                For such a small novel it is action packed, it’s not dull and everything rushes by quickly. It isn’t in a bad way, but in a good way because you get down to the nitty gritty and you don’t have to wade through useless fluff/filler.  
                This is Not a Test also has one of the most intense endings that I’ve ever read in a young adult stand-alone novel! It almost felt incomplete because the ending was rather left up to interpretation. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who ‘writes off’ young adult fiction and to those who enjoy it. I guarantee you’d be happily surprised by the quality and depth of this story.

               

               

Top 10: TBR

Today I am going to share with you the top 10 books that I’ve had on my TBR for the longest amount of time. I am really hoping that I’m going to get around to finishing my amazingly massive amount of TBR books this year! Wish me luck!! I’m definitely going to need it!

1. The Luxe – Anna Godbersen Image
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 backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud threatens Elizabeth’s and Diana’s golden futures.
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 break 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.

 

2. The Last Romanov – Dora Levy MossanenImage
She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majesty. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?
If only she could find the heir, maybe than she could put back together the broken pieces of her own past – and maybe she could hold on to the love that she has found.
Bursting into life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood.


 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Extras – Scott Westerfield Image
It’s a few years after Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specails regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-Heads” Flaunt their latest gadgets, “Kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge Monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery.
It’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras, the world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes, Popularity rules…
As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra… but Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle and make kick a good story for herself.
Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull completely crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are but doing so would proper her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity… and extreme danger… a world that she isn’t prepared for.

 

 

 


4. The Book Thief – Markus ZusakImage
It is 1939 Nazi Germany, the country is still holding it’s breath. Death has never been buisier and it will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


5. The Farm – Emily McKayImage
Life was different in the before; before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are – holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farm by turning on each other…
And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.
Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices – like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears of nowhere, offering to help…
Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world but like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race.

6. Pure – Julianna BaggottImage
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost – how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers… to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. Now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
There were those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Patridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss – maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotional distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely ridged order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Patridge risks his life to leave the Dome and find her.
When Pressia meets Patridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

7. Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret StohlImage
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten south, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


8.  The Secret Keeper – Kate MortonImage
During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.
Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From Pre-world WW2 England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy – who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.
The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told – in Mortons signature style – against a backdrop of events that changed the world.


9. Eona – Alison GoodmanImage
Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black golio, stone by the drug-riddled Dillion; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his trone from the selfstyled “emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power – and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans…


10. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie war – Max brooksImage

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.
Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Afria, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies dedoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightImage
Sarah J. Maas
Young Adult Fantasy
Published: August 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
4/5

            After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

               Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon — forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

              Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?
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            Crown of Midnight was a prime example of how fantastic a sequel can be. Where other sequels fall flat, Crown of Midnight takes this complex story to new heights.  It is possible that perhaps Crown of Midnight is even greater than Throne of Glass.
            Celaena develops and becomes considerably darker than she appeared in Throne of Glass and I was eternally thankful for that. With the life that she had lead up until this point it seemed strange to me that in the first book that she was so footloose and fancy free. She starts to develop and question things that she had already known, and we find out a whole lot of things regarding her past that I actually hadn’t seen coming. She falls in love, she is betrayed, she is lost at times and finds strength to continue on even when everything becomes bleak. She amazes me with her ability to forgive but not forget, to let go but to still hold others accountable to their actions.
           The romantic encounters are more realistic, and at times made my heart swell up with intense happiness and other times deflate with sadness, it’s clear to me whom I want Celaena to end up with if she does indeed choose either Dorian or Choal. She’s a complicated character and so are both of these men, and no matter who she chooses in the end, I’d be happy just knowing that she’s found love, peace, and acceptance with someone.
            Crown of Midnight switches point of view within the chapters and normally I don’t enjoy that very much but I felt it was important and needed and kept me captivated despite by previous grievances with novels that do this. Sarah J. Maas did an absolutely fantastic job integrating characters and giving everyone their own personalities and voices, no one person sounded too much like the other.
             The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger as Celaena embarks on a completely new quest and her story continues to grow. I’m eagerly anticipating the third book in this installment and this is definitely turning into a series I wish was already completed and published because I’m biting my nails with need and want for the next part of the story.
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