Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: We Were Liars

“We Were Liars,” by E. Lockhart. The Goodreads summary:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
True confession: I almost always read the end of books first, and I almost never regret it. But in this case, I really wish I hadn’t. Because so much of the book hinges on a secret that I wish I hadn’t ruined for myself. So word to the wise, don’t skim ahead in this book, if that’s your penchant. Just don’t.

I feel like I can’t talk too much about this book without risking giving everything away. But here are the two things I feel like I can say. First, that it was well written. I’ve read a few of E. Lockhart’s other books before, so I already knew she was a skilled writer, but I feel like “We Were Liars” is a cut above the rest in terms of writing. The other books I’ve read by this author tended to lean towards the witty (at least as far as I remember), but this book is more . . . artistic, I guess. Or stylized. Either way, the writing was a pleasure to read. And it was gripping. For real. Cady has amnesia at the beginning of the book, and you as the reader only get to discover the truth when she does . . . which subsequently resulted in my devouring this book pretty quickly.

Second, this book ended up being way more emotional than I was expecting. Even having ruined the ending for myself, this book ended up being about nothing that I thought it would be. Like, the story I came away with at the end wasn’t quite like anything I would’ve guessed when I started it. In a good way. Definitely in a good way. Despite the fact that it made me cry, which I hate.

Overall, a book that dealt with surprisingly heavy issues, but one that’s well written and well paced. Just remember: don’t skip to the end!

Rating: 4 / 5

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: The Fiery Heart

“The Fiery Heart” (Bloodlines #4), by Richelle Mead. The Goodreads summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives.

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.

Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.
This book has been sitting by my bed waiting for me to read it since January. And despite liking the previous books in this series, I was seriously struggling to work up the motivation to read it. I have no idea why it was so hard. But since “Silver Shadows” (book 5) just came out, I finally buckled down and read “The Fiery Heart.” And it was a bit disappointing, I have to admit.

It was just. So. Slow. I feel like absolutely nothing happens until the last third of the book. Well, I take that back. What happens is Sydney and Adrian moon over each other non-stop. And usually, I’m all for the romance, but since there was basically no other major plot to break up the lovey-dovey scenes, it all got a bit tedious. They do work on tattoo and Strigoi stuff a little, but that stuff was totally tangential to all the mushy I-love-you scenes.

Also, this book was from split Adrian and Sydney perspectives, which I have no problem with in theory. But I just didn’t think Adrian’s narrative voice sounded like a guy very much. I mean, he describes himself as “flouncing” to a chair. I mean, really? Flouncing?

The book does pick up in the last 50 pages or so, and the cliffhanger was enough to commit me to reading the next book. I just really, really hope Richelle Mead is back on her game in book 5, and that this one being a bit lame was just an aberration. Though honestly, even if the series doesn’t pick up from here, I’ll probably finish it anyway just because I’m this far in.

Overall, not the strongest book in the series. Fingers crossed for the next book being better.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Roomies

“Roomies,” by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando. The Goodreads summary:
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.
More than anything, I think this book made me realize how easy I had it when I went off to college. In “Roomies” it’s two girls stressing about everything to do with going to college, but I don’t remember it being that stressful for me. I mean, I was going out of state for college, but it was to a school that my older sister was already attending and my best friend from high school was going to be my roommate. Plus, I was the 5th kid my parents had sent off to college, so they knew the ropes pretty dang well by that point and I felt like I knew what to expect as well. But still, even though I didn’t necessarily relate to every fear and uncertainty that Lauren and Elizabeth had, I could definitely understand where they were coming from.

I think what stood out from the book the most for me was how adorable the two romances were. Both Mark and Keyon are way too good to be true, but I loved them anyway. I think I liked the romance between Lauren and Keyon the best, probably because out of Lauren and Elizabeth, I related to Lauren more, but also because I felt like Keyon came off as slightly less smooth than Mark. Neither of the two romances have all that much depth because they’re too busy being cute, but I guess when you’re trying to fit two romances into a book on top of all the other plot, there’s not a whole lot of page time to develop them.

Like I said, I related to Lauren more out of the two girls, but Elizabeth was plenty likeable as well, even if I felt she was a touch too dramatic about things sometimes. I liked seeing their relationship slowly develop from complete strangers into friends, and I especially liked how they both get to this point where they realize that their online friendship won’t necessarily translate into a real-life friendship unless they make the effort.

Overall, a cute and fluffy book that lives up to the tagline perfectly: “A novel about friendship, first loves, and random room assignments.”

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Wild Awake

Wild Awake, by Hilary T. Smith. The Goodreads summary:
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
I really, really wanted to like this book. I’d heard such good things about it. But I couldn’t connect to the main character at all. And it’s not only because Kiri’s having a mental breakdown. I really tried to understand where she was coming from and what she was going through. But the drug and alcohol abuse turned me off pretty quick, as did the fact that she made one dumb decision after another. Plus, there was about zero resolution with anything. Not that I expected everything to be all happily ever after, but some kind of resolution about her sister’s death or Kiri’s metal illness would’ve been much appreciated.

Overall, it was too frustrating for me to enjoy. Well written, though.

Rating: 2.5 / 5
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