Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vampire Academy Trailer

I don't think it's any secret that I LOVE the Vampire Academy series. So you can guess that I'm more than a little excited for this:

My only question is, why are there no close ups of Dimitri?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Dark Water

Dark Water, by Laura McNeal. The GoodReads summary:
Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California, where it’s sunny 340 days of the year, and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn’t pay much attention to them . . . until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. And after coming across Amiel’s makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek, Pearl falls into a precarious friendship—and a forbidden romance.

Then the wildfires strike. Fallbrook—the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes—is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.
Well, this book irritated me more than any in recent memory. Before I get going on my rant, in the interest of being fair, I’ll start off by mentioning two things the book did well. First, the writing itself was well done. Second, the banter between Pearl and her cousin was pretty amusing.

But now I’m done being fair. Pearl was just totally and completely an unsympathetic character. She started off fine—not particularly charismatic, but not especially annoying either. But then, when her obsessive crush on Amiel starts, man did she drive me crazy. I mean first of all, she knows nothing about him and they don’t have any complete conversations in the entire book. They don’t even speak the same language. Second, Amiel doesn’t actually seem that into her—she’s the one who’s always tracking him down. Not to mention the fact that he’s an illegal immigrant, so her always trying to get involved with him probably puts him in increased danger. But does Pearl care about any of this? Nope. She’s off in her na├»ve fantasy land where everything revolves around her.

And don’t even get me started on all the bad decisions Pearl makes once the fire starts. If there was ever a character I wish I could shake some sense into, it would be Pearl. Every single choice she makes about the fire is the wrong one, and the things she does in those last chapters are what finally irrevocably clinched my frustration with the book, because her selfishness hurts others, and that’s much harder for me to forgive than her simply being a starry-eyed 15-year-old.

And to top it all off, the final chapter is the worst of them all because (Spoilers) Pearl makes plans to go to Mexico to find Amiel. I mean, come on! Besides the fact that their relationship existed mostly in her head to start with, what does she think she’s going to do once she finds him? Live happily ever after in poverty in Mexico? Her big plan is for him to become a famous mime, for pete’s sake. A MIME! I don’t really trust her judgement. (End spoilers) (And end rant).

Overall, not the book for me. I’ll reiterate that the writing was nicely done, but man oh man did Pearl seriously make me mad.

Rating: 2 / 5

Thursday, August 22, 2013

ARC Review: The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), by Maggie Stiefvater. The GoodReads summary:
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
I was pretty dang happy when the truly awesome Kathy loaned me her ARC of “The Dream Thieves.” But then life happened in the form of my sister’s wedding, so here I am a month later finally finishing the book. But I must say, it was worth the wait.

I’ll admit I was a little nervous going into this book. I’m not always the biggest fan of series, especially YA series, and I enjoyed “The Raven Boys” enough that I was worried the second book would end up being a big fat disappointment. But hallelujah, I was wrong. “The Dream Thieves” was a rock solid second book. And since this series is a quartet and not a trilogy, "Dream Thieves"—though dark—didn’t fall into the rut of endless angsty-ness that so many second books do. Another bonus to this being a quartet rather than a trilogy is that the overall arc of the series isn’t predictable. Even after finishing this second book, I still have no idea where the series is going next or what’s ultimately going to happen, and I love it.

I adored the raven boys—Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah—in the first book, and they grew on me even more in this one as I spent more time with them. I’ve shamelessly loved Gansey and Ronan from the start, and in this book they remained firmly entrenched in my heart, with my crush on Ronan growing even more towards the end. Noah seemed to be more of a background character in this book, but that scene between him and Blue on Gansey's bed . . . hands down my favorite part of the book. Adam has always been the boy I’ve struggled with the most—the chip on his shoulder always seemed a little too self-pitying and bitter to me. But by the end of this book, he won me the rest of the way over, and I’m excited to see what he’s like in the third book. In fact, the thing I'm probably looking forward to the most in the third book is seeing how Adam and Ronan have changed. Because I feel like both of them hit major turning points in this book, and I'm dying to know how it'll affect them and the dynamics within the group.

As for the other characters, Blue was awesome as always, though I wish she was in the book a little more than she was. The women at 300 Fox Way remained thoroughly entertaining and helpful. Mr. Gray was a work of swoony genius from the second of his introduction. I won’t say anything else about him so I don’t ruin anything, but I kinda love him a lot.

Plot-wise, I think this book felt slightly less goal-oriented than the first book. Adam, Gansey, Ronan, and the Gray Man each had their own separate storylines, which sometimes felt more parallel than interwoven. But I didn’t really mind, because the individual storylines were all gripping, and Stiefvater’s solid writing style and humor always managed to make things feel cohesive.

Overall, a solid second book that had me even more in love with the raven boys than before. I did think I’d get out of the book without a cliffhanger, but nope—Stiefvater throws one at you when you least expect it. So now I have to wait impatiently for who knows how long for the third book.

Rating: 4 / 5

“The Dream Thieves” comes out September 17th.

Monday, August 19, 2013

17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand

I've been busy the last little while with the craziness that was sister's wedding, but now that that's over, I have time to read again! If I had a happy dance, I would be doing it right now. Hopefully, I'll get a review up this week, but in the meantime, here's a little bit of truth for you called "17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand." Basically . . . #4 and #15.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: The Moon and More

The Moon and More, by Sarah Dessen. The GoodReads summary:
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?
Due to the fairly disappointed reviews I’ve been seeing for this book, I went in with pretty low expectations. Which probably made me like it better than I would’ve otherwise, because by the end I was thinking that it was actually decent. I mean, it’s not my favorite Sarah Dessen book or anything, but neither is it my least favorite. I think if this book were by some author I wasn't familiar with, I would have been fairly impressed, but since I've seen Dessen do better, I wasn't as wowed as I might have been otherwise.

Basically from the moment I started reading this book, I fell right back in with Dessen’s writing style. That aspect of her books always just does it for me, you know? No matter what I think of the story, her writing always makes me feel at home.

Character-wise, this book was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Emaline, the main character, didn’t especially stand out, but it’s not like she annoyed me either. Theo, I didn’t like all that much, but since I don’t think you’re supposed to like him, I was fine with my dislike. Luke, I did like. Obviously, what he does to Emaline towards the beginning is totally jerky and wrong, but that aside, he seemed to be a good guy generally. I also really liked Emaline’s family. Dessen always shines in her portrayal of family relationships, and this book was no exception—from her mom to her stepdad to her sisters and half-brother, I was pretty happy whenever any of them were in a scene.

I think what made this book not stand out as much for me as most of Dessen’s other books—aside from the lack of a happy fall-in-love storyline—was that it didn’t feel as focused. I feel like in Dessen’s other books, by the end, the main character has learned or overcome something specific. But that wasn’t really the case here—yes, a lot of things happen in Emaline’s life over the course of the summer, but I don’t feel like she herself really changed at all. There wasn’t really a clear, driving issue to keep the plot centered.

Overall, if you haven’t read any Sarah Dessen books yet, I wouldn’t recommend making this your first. And if you are already a Dessen fan, expect a decent book but not one of Dessen’s best.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Friday, August 2, 2013

10 Outfits From YA Fiction You Wish You Owned

This post about the 10 Outfits From YA Fiction You Wish You Owned was worth it for me just for the Baby-Sitters Club outfits. I thought those girls were the essence of coolness when I was growing up. Especially Claudia--she was the real deal. You all know I'm right.
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