Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

YA Book Club: taken by TAKEN…

This month, the YA Book Club (brainchild of the wonderful Tracey) is discussing TAKEN by the lovely and talented Erin Bowman. TAKEN is a book full of mystery, action and heart. (and it so works that I can also use this for my Debut Author Challenge :P)

TAKEN

Summary from Goodreads.com: There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

TAKEN´s a page turner, it´s the kind of book that makes you wait for sequels impatiently. No kiddin´ when is it coming out?

I pre-ordered TAKEN and when it arrived, I thought “hmm let´s wait.” I was a bit nervous. Reading a book by someone you interact with even if it’s not on a regular basis is somehow scary and exciting at the same time. And then I hit a reading slump. Work was taking its toll on me and I was just simply stressed.

But then a business trip came up. I had a few hours of flying ahead of me so I took out the pretty cover of TAKEN (didn´t want to damage it) and packed it up for the trip.

You. Guys.

I couldn´t stop reading.

I was sucked in the story from page one.

It reminded me of THE VILLAGE by — the twists are different, the story isn´t the same but there was some sort of similar vibe.

And I really connected with the main character, Gray. He wasn´t perfect, he had his flaws but I wanted to know what happened to him, what happened to those boys and what was going to happen with his possible love interest.

I don´t want to spoil anything but basically, Erin, thank you! Thank you for writing a book that distracted me from my stress and helped me get over my slump and helped me escape for a few hours.

l´ll take a trip with your books anytime!

Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

IF YOU FIND ME – All. The. Feels.

First thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-galley of this book…I already bought the paper version of it as this book is so far one of my favorites of 2013. And it´s my first Debut Author Challenge Review!

Debut Author Challenge

There are books that make you smile, or cry, or feel so full of emotions you´re not quite sure how the writer managed to instill those into the novel.

And then you have the books that do all those things not and stay with you for long after you turn the last page (or click the last “next” on your Kindle). IF YOU FIND ME is one of them.

IF YOU FIND ME

Summary by Goodreads: A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

If I close my eyes and think about Emily´s story, I see people. Not characters but people and then I simply feel. Emily managed that elusive magic of making me fall in love with her characters, even though the situation they find themselves in is so difficult. Carey and Jenessa found a place in my heart. They made me think, made me tear up but there´s also hope in those pages. Yes, their situation is tough. Yes, they suffered and there were moments where I cringed, where I clutched my sides and where I closed my eyes. But they are both so full of life still, so full of love. Their love for each other. Their love for others. Despite everything.

I will pick up everything Emily Murdoch writes after this heart-wrenching, beautiful and powerful debut!

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, 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?

Happy Friday, writing, YA Book Club

A late happy Friday :D because well it´s really Saturday…

It´s actually Saturday so technically I am a tad late but really, if you come to think of it, yesterday´s post was also a happy one 😀 (review of The Fault in Our Stars for the YA Book Club).

I would love to know what made YOU smile last week…

Writing: My flash fiction “Look, don´t touch” made it to the second round of the Campaign Challenge..Thanks again Gina for letting me know! I am so excited and I did a little *happy dance*, especially as I am thinking about expanding it to a full draft at some point. Colin kindly pointed out to the writing contest of Janet Reid to win a copy of Insurgent. I wrote a little something something, now let´s wait and see 😀 There´s still some time and I have read some amazing entries!

Blogging: The YA Book Club is a lot of fun and I´m very happy I have joined. And…did you notice the new layout of my blog? I have tabs now! And I even have a real picture of me (actually two! because the one in my About Me is different)…

SCBWI: I took another big step and joined SCBWI! I am trying to organize a monthly lunch in my area to meet with writers and discuss our craft 😀

So, tell me what made YOU smile this past week?

Book Review, reading, YA Book Club

YA Book Club: The Fault in Our Stars

So…uh…yeah…about that book…*sniffles*…it’s…*breaks down*.

That was me when I closed The Fault in Our Stars. Not eloquent and definitely in no stage to give a proper review.

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

When Tracey announced that The Fault in Our Stars would be the book for this month YA Book Club (by the way: if you want to join or just check out Tracey’s amazing blog, you can click here), I did this:

And then, I thanked her.  This was the comment I left on her blog:  “Thank you for picking it, because honestly I was not quite sure I would pick it up. Why? Because I am afraid to know from the get-go that I will cry. Plenty of books make me tear up. Crying while reading happened (cough *more than once* cough) but it came usually as somewhat of a surprise. I have never read books about cancer; I probably stayed away from them unconsciously. I need to warn the hubby that he might find me crying on the couch soon. Since I also become emotive while I watch TV, he might turn to me while I’m reading and say “So not crying yet?” 😀

I read that book at my Mother-In-Law’s while my husband was trying to jump the battery of the car which had died because I had left a light on. I cuddled on the bed and read until tears fell freely on my face. My dear Mother-In-Law wondered a bit when I suddenly came out of the bedroom, with red eyes, the sniffles and asking her for tissues. She smiled at me but she glanced quickly at her son, dear hubby, who had just gotten back, with a question mark on her face.  My husband who is fully aware of my possible emotional state when I 1) read, 2) watch a movie, 3) watch a TV show, 4) read old letters…just shrugged it off. “She was reading a sad book”.

But the thing is, as I explained to him while driving around to make sure the battery got charged up, 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. Hazel and Augustus are afraid of course but their feelings are not tamed. They jump out of the pages directly into the heart of the reader.

I laughed while reading. I smiled. I nodded (like my own characters, I seem to do a lot of nodding). I yelled (in my head) at the unfairness of it all. Yes, I also cried. A lot.

It is a book full of emotions. It´s a roller coaster. It´s life and it´s beautiful.

I cannot wait to join the discussion  😀 What did YOU think about this book?