Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

YA Book Club: This is not a test by Courtney Summers

This month, the YA Book Club (brainchild of the wonderful Tracey) is discussing THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers.

Summary provided by Goodreads.com: It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is 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 wantto live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s 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?

First Disclaimer: I´ve read my first Courtney Summers´ book last month: CRACKED UP TO BE, and I was amazed by her way of writing, of showing pain and hope.

Second Disclaimer: I love zombies. I love zombie movies, zombie shows (“The Walking Dead” anyone?)…And I love them because they dig into the human emotions, they put them in perspective with the zombies who seem to have lost theirs and they usually show the interactions between a small group of people, their dynamics into dramatic moments.

The Walking Dead Gif – really you should watch it…

So, yep, you can imagine the expectations I had starting to read this novel. They were high! And I wasn´t disappointed. This book not only have an end-of-the-world type of setting, it also has characters with different pasts, different expectations, different desires, different ways of dealing with what hit them. And the zombies are scary. Plus they´re fast!

Sloane is such a tortured character and her pain rages through the pages, gripping and sad. All the characters are very well developed and I got to really know them. So well, I didn´t want their story to end. Even though, you know there are zombies out there.

In the darkness and horror that Courtney Summers shows us, Rhys stole my heart. I don’t want to reveal too much of the story but let me just say that Rhys makes this book, well,  steamy and sexy and he made my heart melt. The entire book is full of emotions, full of raw, hard-to-cope-with, tough emotions. It’s real and Rhys is real with his flaws, with his strength and with his weaknesses.

Both as a reader and a writer, one thing which amazed me is how Courtney Summers is able to inject a little dark humor and hope into the pages, moments which defuse the tension, just a little, but which are much needed.

Here are some quotes to give you a glimpse of what I´m talking about:

  • “Waiting around to be saved is like waiting to die and I have done more of both than anyone else in the room.” 
  • “This must be what Dorothy felt like, I think. Maybe. If Dorothy was six scared teenagers and Oz was hell.” 
  • “I’m aware of my hand sliding down his lap and then nothingness and then the gentle sensation of his index finger pressing into my open palm and then his hand is at my face, running his fingers across my skin and I’m so awake.”
  • “(…) and I haven’t once imagined a death that was out of my control since this started”

So, tell me, have you read this book? What did you think about it?

And if you didn´t, do you enjoy watching zombie movies?

Book Review, Books, Road Trip Wednesday

July Books – Spotlight on SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week´s topic: Best Book of July

I have read some wonderful books this July so I will not be choosing the best one, rather I´ll be telling you about one which really took me by surprise.

This month I read:

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I gushed about it here (and you could win a SIGNED book by just commenting on this post…)

PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry : This one was also very good, it had different types of characters. I explained why I enjoyed it here (hint: layered characters, siblings and hot romance)

CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers: Wow! This book is the first one I read from Courtney Summers and definitely not the last. It´s  very raw but also very true and I connected with the main character who wanted to be perfect. All the time. And then doesn´t know how to deal when it collapses. Really really good.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT´S NIGHTMARE by Kody Keplinger: Kody is a must-buy for me. I really enjoyed her two first books and this one didn’t disappoint!

THE ONE THAT I WANT by Jennifer Echols: I picked up this one based on Jessica’s Bookanista Review and I don’t regret it one bit! Really, to get the full picture, you should read Jessica’s review 😀 Like her, I agree that the book actually makes us understand the dysfunctional relationship which sometimes can happen between friends and thus, give a reasoning behind some of the main character’s actions. Plus the swoon-factor is major!

So as you can see, I was on a contemporary kick, probably since I was finishing up my novel, I was trying to immerse myself in the same genre.

The one that totally took me by surprise though was: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard! I loved it and I highly recommend it! I picked it up based on Katy´s recommendation and she does a fabulous job in explaining why this book is great (so go ahead, read her review and then come back to know why I loved it too :D)

Okay, thanks for coming back! So, why did I love it?

I have never read Steampunk before and it has some elements of it…Very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  1. The writing. Really, you can feel like you´re with Eleanor in the streets of Philly looking for her brother. You can feel the corset and you can laugh and open wide eyes when Eleanor discover more than what she bargained for.
  2. Eleanor. Talk about a girl with character! And she just appears very human, like you could hand her an umbrella through the pages of the book and tell her “aim for the knees”. Disclaimer: I usually do not talk to my books. Or only rarely
  3. Daniel. Oh Daniel. So annoying and so charming. Loved Daniel!
  4. The story. It has action, it has feelings, it has romance…it has friendships and it has that little something something which creates magic in a book!

I am SO looking forward to the sequel!!! (and it is going to be set in Paris….)

So, tell me, what book pleasantly surprised you recently?

Book Review, Books

I missed my bedtime for PUSHING THE LIMITS (Book review)

First, thanks to Netgalley and HarlequinTeen for enabling me to read PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry a tad earlier than its official publication date. I loved it so much that I pre-ordered a copy. Be warned, my emotions ran high throughout this entire book. My husband was not happy about the fact that I read it until late at night and could not put it down during the morning, thus making me a bit late.

“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

It’s like meeting two people for the first time and not expecting you would click but you do and you KNOW you were meant to run into each other.

Both Noah and Echo have a voice since it’s told in alternate POV. They both resonated and shone or cut through the pages (depending on the moment).

Let me tell you why I lost sleep because of this book:

1. Noah. Noah. Noah. Did I mention Noah? This guy reminded me of my own male character in my WiP so I may be a tad bias but Noah is – loss of words – well he is complicated. He has a golden heart, he has problems, he made me laugh and he made me cringe. Totally swoon-worthy even with his issues.

2. Echo. She broke my heart. And I wanted to reach out to her and tell her that I would be like her best friend Lila, I would sit with her at lunch and I wouldn’t ignore her or whisper or make fun of her.

3. Noah and Echo together. Hot, steamy hot. Real. Fun. They open up to one another in such a way that again I want to wrap them in a hug and tell them they’re much stronger than they give themselves credit for.

4. The rest of the cast. Noah’s little brothers. I think I went “awwwwwwwww” every single time there was a scene with them. Echo’s dad and stepmother, the difficulties, the pain, again all felt so real and so painful. Echo’s friends, Noah’s friends…

5. Because it felt like I knew them: this one is totally subjective (maybe some of the other ones too – hmmm pondering away about the meaning of subjectivity when it comes to my reviews – pondering done with no tangible results) but I almost could be sitting in the same classroom as them, I could laugh at their jokes and smell the burger at the mall. I connected with both characters. Maybe it’s the alternate POV but you really can get into both their heads and it’s honest. When Noah is feeling “hot and dirty” you know it, when he deals with his feelings you know it, when Echo freaks out, you freak out right along with her. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect but I let myself be carried by this story.

WikiCommons
I love how mythology plays a role in this book too 😀

Two of my favorite quotes (please keep in mind that this was an e-galley so maybe they have changed…). There are many more but I don’t want to say too too much…

“Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls.”

We’d read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.”

So, tell me which upcoming books are you most looking forward to?

Book Review, Top Ten Tuesday

Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they post the topics way in advance!

Before I get started, don´t forget you can enter my giveaway for a SIGNED copy of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick (see interview with Huntley and details here)

Today´s topic: Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books

So it would appear I am very much a character gal. I had a hard time remembering books where the settings really grabbed me so the ones below are very special because the world they created was so vivid, it stayed with me long long after. Also they all had wonderful characters 😀  To know more about each of those books, just click on the titles and pouf! you’ll be on the summary page from Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Feeling claustrophobic while reading a book probably means the author has done it right…

2. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: The writing is so poetic and I had the feeling to be transported in a fairytale land (the scary and eery kind from the Brothers Grimm).

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: I could feel the wind on my face and taste the salt on my lips while reading this book. So much magic in the words!

 

 

 

 

4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I loved everything about this book but I also totally had the feeling I was with them on that road. Everything seemed so real and was depicted so vivibly that I have images in my head of places I’ve only read about.

5. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbart: If you cannot travel to South America this summer, just read this book and you’ll have the impression you also dipped your toes in the water!

Tell me, which is the last book you read where you thought the setting was essential to the story?

Book Review, Books, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Three Favorite Secondary Characters In YA Books…

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they  post the topics way in advance! This week’s topic looks at the Top Ten Favorite Characters of all times…and I am twisting it a little:

Top Three Favorite Secondary Characters In YA Books…

….from the books I read so far in 2012…

1. Raffy from JELLICOE ROAD: Honestly, all secondary characters from that book felt so primary to me. They were fully fledged and my heart beats for every single one of them. Raffy is the girlfriend who is there for you, who may call you on your bullshit but who knows you and loves you for who you are. Like Taylor, I think that those people are the kind you want around you for life.

“Why do you always have to be so pessimistic?” she asks. “We can double up in our rooms and have a barbecue every night like the Cadets.” Silently I vow to keep Raffy around for the rest of my life.”

2.  Harley from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE: He is sweet and he took me by the heart with his fish. (I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll leave it at that). Beth Revis said about Harley: But the little details sometimes have the best stories. For example: Harley. Harley was supposed to be a minor character who was only in one scene that I was writing on that took place in the Hospital. One of my students had painted a koi fish, and so I made the extra character an artist. My student’s name is Charly, so I named the character Harley. From that one scene came Harley, Elder’s best friend, complete with a backstory, a dead girlfriend, and a tragic twist. And I am certainly glad that he became more than just very minor.

3. Haymitch from THE HUNGER GAMES: For me Haymitch is such a wonderfully layered character. He lowers the creeping tension when needed, he has MANY issues and he develops so well throughout the books that I have a soft spot for him. (and I think Woody Harrelson did a WONDERFUL job in portraying the Haymitch I had in my mind :D)

Here’s some advice. Stay Alive.

So at least half the victors have instructed their mentors to request you as an ally. I know it can’t be your sunny personality.

I’m with the Mockingjay

Do you have any favorite secondary characters?

Book Review, Books, Happy Friday, revising, writing

Happy Friday #13 – Jellicoe steals my heart and other stories

Yay! It´s time again for Happy Friday!

I would love to know what made YOU smile this week 😀

Friday the thirteeners rock my world: Another of my question has been answered on their website and again, I got to listen to a wonderful reply by Sara Walsh. You should totally check it out here…And I received my copy of COLD KISS which I ordered thanks to the generosity of Erin Bowman (and due to her recommendation). Yep, they rock! and if you haven´t already, you should really add to their truth or dare…

JELLICOE ROAD: I am not done with that book but..I…am…in….love….with…it already. While many warned me that the first 100 pages could be slow, I thoroughly enjoyed them. Maybe cos´ I was prepared for super-slow-what-the-heck-is-going-on? x 100 but nope I got in the story within the first chapter…The plot is layered, the characters are layered. It´s like you read one page and you discover a new string, a new element which you didn´t see coming or which makes you understand the full meaning of what you have read a few pages earlier.

The writing is…beautiful. And Jonah is living up to the high expectations set by the lovely Katy Upperman in this post 😀

Already before reaching page 100, those sentences got me:

“We were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors,” she told him once. “I was paper and she was rock so I lived and she died.” (page 30)

“Not just a name but a state of mind I never want to revisit, although I do keep him at the back of my mind for those times I get my hopes raised about something.” (page 54)

“I´m standing between these two intellectuals while the local photographer snaps away, asking us to say words like holidays and pornography” (page 91)

So yep, I´m about half way through and I missed my bedtime yesterday because I couldn´t put it down.  I suspect the same will happen tonight.

Revising: So I´m still working on the revisions for PLAYING WITH FIRE and it´s really getting somewhere which is super duper cool 😀 It´s definitely not in the final stages yet since I know certain areas still need work but it´s moving forward! My goal is to be done with it before going on honeymoon so that I can send it off to my beta readers before we leave. You know so that I can try not to obsess over their opinions or fight the urge to tweet them constantly 😀 What better way to resist than when you´re on holidays outside of the country?

Writing: I need to organize my schedule to continue working on my new WiP on top of revising. UNTITLED (do you like that title? :D) scares me. It really does. It must be what skydiving is like, jumping in the unknown but I am also very excited about it (so excited I already shared an excerpt here and re-read the comments several times while pinching myself, thank YOU!)

Tell me, what made YOU smile this week? 

Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

YA Book Club: Loving WANDERLOVE…

This month, the YA Book Club (brainchild of the wonderful Tracey) is discussing WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard. I´ll try not be too spoilery (yes, I´m making up words – I´m all for creativity!)  for those of you who may not have read it.

WANDERLOVE: It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? 
No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

I immersed myself in the story quite fast, after a few pages I was already “in” and I really enjoyed reading Bria´s adventure. The swoony elements were…well…SWOONY 😀 and I could feel her emotions. Always a wonderful plus in my book!

I re-read the ending several times and there are certain passages which made me react this way:

Mean Girls nodI did try to look a tad more inspired when I nodded though (promise), especially at this excerpt (and what better way to have the author actually read it for us – thanks for the magic of the internet and youtube):

This excerpt resonated in me. I left France when I just turned 19. Left my country, my family for an entire year to live with an American family and to take care of children. I thought I could maybe “reinvent” myself.  Nobody knew me there, I could be whoever I wanted to be. I ended up pretty much staying who I already was but I did grow up a lot during that year…

The main reason why I truly enjoyed this story (apart from the swoony bits) is the self-discovery part and for me it could have happened anywhere in the world. She could have been in a resort instead of backpacking and still go through the same emotions.

Having said that, I did really like how Kirsten enabled us to “see” the places Bria went to…I could visualize them and “feel” the water. I virtually traveled with all of them and for that I´m very grateful!

So tell me: what did you think of WANDERLOVE?

 How important is the setting of a story for you in general?

Book Review, young adult

Goddess Interrupted – A review and my take on mythology….

I´ve mentioned this before: I love mythology. I focused part of my Master´s thesis on the re-telling of MEDEA by Christa Wolf using feminism and new historicism theories. I immersed myself in the evolution of women´s image through the different adaptations of the myth. I also looked at MEDEA through Christa Wolf´s lens in regards to the divided Germany and her own personal history.

I breathed MEDEA for months. Christa Wolf did a big u-turn: in her story, Medea is not a child-murderer. I could spend hours discussing her version but this post is about GODDESS INTERRUPTED (sequel of The Goddess Test). Thanks to Netgalley, I read an ARC of this book on my kindle 🙂

Summary from GoodreadsKate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she’ll have to fight for it.Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

Some reviews focus on how Aimee Carter changed the myth or how this book doesn´t live up to the expectations one has from Greek mythology or the story of Persephone in general…For me, it did not matter. I wanted a story to entertain me and it did. I wanted a story which takes a new take on a myth and it did. I wanted a story in which I can feel for the characters and it somewhat did. There are certain part of the stories during which I wished I could speak to Kate to get some sense into her but in a way, I enjoyed this because this meant I let myself dive into the story enough to have an opinion on the actions of the main characters. I´ll pick up the last installment of the trilogy when it comes out 😀

Tell me, are there any adaptation of famous stories that you really enjoyed reading?

Book Review

When Mean Girls meet Robin Hood: Pretty Crooked…

Before I get started on my review, here is the link for my I love reading giveaway 🙂

Disclaimer: This review is based on the version of the book Pretty Crooked which I received as ARC through NetGalley. I am happy I discovered this website and I have decided to review the books I have the chance to read when I give them at least 3 stars on Goodreads. I gave Pretty Crooked 3 stars so here we go 🙂

After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I needed something which would not make me cry. Thanks to NetGalley, Pretty Crooked was waiting on my Kindle. I love Robin Hood stories so I thought this could be a match…

Summary from Goodreads: High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.

I really enjoyed Willa´s voice. She was funny, witty and yes, she does steal but she does have the best intentions at heart. Honestly, I didn´t spend too much time thinking about the possible moral implications because, well, if you´ve got a story of Robin Hood, you have somebody who steals. That´s how it works.

It would be like changing the ending of a fairy tale…It reminds me of a Desperate Housewives episode when Lynette argues with another mom on Little Red Riding Hood who wanted to change the ending because the wolf is too scary.

Anyways,,,:-)

Willa is not on a big quest, she definitely has flaws and some of her actions may be questionable.

It reminded me of Mean Girls. Cady not able to stand up to their little group because she liked being in the middle of attention. Well, Willa is a little bit like her and when she wants to make it right, while still not losing her status, she turns into “Robin Hood”. Of course, there´s more to the story than Willa trying to get back at the mean rich kids, she also meets a guy at school who makes her heart beat faster. It´s a cute romance, even though he does not end up on my list of book crushes (but I have high expectations on this, I mean Etienne St-Clair from Anna and The French Kiss is hard to compete with). The issues with her mother, with whom she got along just fine before, grow stronger throughout the book and I wonder what the sequel will entail on this front.

Pretty crooked is a fun and light read.

Sometimes fun and light is exactly what I need 🙂 

How about you?

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Book Review, Road Trip Wednesday

The one with my favorite books (read in February)

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic

What was the best book you read in February?

I am going to cheat a little on this month’s Road Trip Wednesday. I read a lot of books in February (a grand total of 11 novels) and I cannot only pick one. While I am choosing more than 1, I am still narrowing it down and it’s a tough exercise 🙂

The one where we believe in hope as magic

 The Daughter Of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: “Laini Taylor has a way with words, she makes magic with them and spreads hope while touching your heart (…) The story of Karou and Akiva is not just another star-crossed love story. It takes your heart, breaks it and tries to mend it as it goes. ” (for my full review, you can click here)

 The one with the roller coaster of emotions

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene  which I read for Tracey’s wonderful YA Book Club: “this book is not a “sad book”. John Green did not show us mopey, he introduced us to fun, loving, funny, quirky, witty, strong, weak, flawed, lovable, smart characters. He introduced us to “people”. And that is where the magic of this book is. (…) It is a book full of emotions. It´s a roller coaster. It´s life and it´s beautiful.” (for my full review, you can click here)

The one where we realize growing up is hard to do but worth it

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour which I picked up thanks to Katy’s recommendation. It´s the type of book which is at times hard to read because it pinpoints so well that difficult/exciting/scary part between staying and leaving, how to move on without losing oneself and the ones we love. I found myself really falling into the book at times while trying to pull myself away from it because it was so powerful. Hmm not sure if I make sense 🙂

The one which gave me butterflies

Forget you by Jennifer Echols which I picked up thanks to Jessica : Hot, hot and can I say: hot?  This book definitely holds steamy scenes, the kind that makes you read them again because Jennifer does not write them in an obviously graphic manner but in a suggestive tone. She does that very very well! 😀  Ok now that the gushing of those scenes is out of the way, I need to tell you about how I enjoyed the characters.  They´re not perfect. None of them are. Zoey does what many girls do when they want to keep control of something (I´ve done it as well) or at least give themselves the illusion of controlling: they pretend. They pretend they´re happy, they pretend they´re in love and loved in return…because sometimes it appears easier that way.  Zoey does not necessarily realizes that she´s doing this even though she can be manipulative on other fronts. She grows throughout the novel and that´s what made me root for her. Plus, there is Doug and he´s quite the guy 😀

So, tell me which book was your favorite “February read”?