Review: Vanishing Girls – Lauren Oliver

Review: Vanishing Girls – Lauren OliverVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins
Published: March 10th 2015
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five-stars

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I first fell in love with Lauren Oliver’s writing when I read Delirium years back. There was something special about the way she wrote the world and the characters. She pulled me right in and I have never looked back. So when I went to one of her signings in early 2014 and she told us about Vanishing Girls it was a no brainer. I mean as soon as it was available I pre-ordered it. One of the best decisions I have ever made. Vanishing Girls was absolutely fantastic. And right up there with my Delirium love if not a tiny bit above it. Oliver outdid herself with this one.

Vanishing Girls is about sisters Nicole and Dara. Although nothing alike, Dara is super popular with a ton of friends while Nick likes to keep to herself with her best friend Parker, the two girls have always been pretty much joined at the hip. Then there is an accident and their relationship is shattered. Nick wants things to go back to the way they were before but she can’t get Dara to talk to her. And when Dara goes missing along with a 9 year old little girl Nick is determined to figure out what happened and get her sister back no matter the cost.

It’s hard to say what I loved about Vanishing Girls so much. I honestly found the book to be pure genius. It took me by surprise but at the same time it was filled with everything I expect from a Lauren Oliver book. It was fantastic. Oliver 100% nailed it. The plot was there, the characters were there, and the writing was there. Everything just worked for me and gave me a story that stuck and hit me in just the right places. My heart ached for these sisters, this family, all of the people involved. Everything just hurt for them and much like Nick I wasn’t sure how to fix the hurt.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the way the story was told. Chapters were told from either Nick or Dara’s POV from the past or from the now. Some were told in diary format from Dara’s point of view and I think that really added to the story. It gave us some light into Dara’s head space before the accident and what kind of things she was keeping from people and what she was feeling. I think that added a lot to the story in the end. It gave an excellent point of reference for when everything is said and done and adds a small mystery to the story which I love in a good book.

I can’t say enough how much I loved Vanishing Girls and think everyone should read it. It kept me interested from the beginning to the end and I loved how everything unfolded and connected. Oliver outdid herself with this one. The plot was pretty epic and the whole story just worked for me. Pick this one up. I’m so happy I have.

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Review: Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

 

Review: Red Queen – Victoria AveyardThe Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Teen
Published: February 12th 2015
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three-half-stars

This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’ve been informed that I am now a fantasy reader. Honestly, I’m not sure how it happened, but it did, so now I have a whole bunch more books to potential love. What does that have to do with Red Queen? Well, I wasn’t originally planning to read it. I had seen the gorgeous cover, I mean look at that thing!, and kind of passed it by. But then I became a fantasy reader and changed my mind. I picked it up and became intrigued, but not hooked. Then at about 50%, I become hooked and by 70% I needed to see how it would all end. And end it did.

Red Queen is the story of Mare, a girl living in a world separated by blood color. Reds are the lower class disposable class that is sent to fight the war on the front lines while Silvers are the noble blood with powers and money. Mare has only known Red her whole life. That is her life and she knows this. That is until something that happens that brings Mare into the world of Silvers. That makes Mare and anomaly amongst all the people. Mare has powers too. Powers that a Red shouldn’t have. Now hiding in plain sight of the royal family Mare has one thing to protect, and that is herself. One wrong move and everything can come tumbling down. Too bad her heart might say something else.

There were parts of Red Queen that I didn’t like so much. I found some of the story to be a little rushed at places. There just wasn’t enough background at times as the plot moved on. I also was slightly confused by Mare. She has these powers that are new and she doesn’t even have trouble controlling them or be afraid to use them. It just didn’t seem likely to me that she would just take to it and not be a fish out of water. Sure she was standoffish at times, but still, something felt off. I also wasn’t 100% sold on the Hunger Games/Divergent vibe at the end. It didn’t seem to naturally fit the rest of the story.

But there were parts of Red Queen that I really liked. First was that it didn’t go 100% as I expected in the beginning. Based off of the description I pictured a different book with a super clichéd plot. But I was surprised when it took a different kind of twist. It made it seem a little fresher and new which I appreciated. I also liked the distinct division between the classes. I always find that to be such a fascinating point in society and books. And I also liked the boys in the story. Good or evil, I was entertained by them and curious which way they were going to go and who they really were to the plot.

Even with the stuff, I didn’t like, I still found a pretty addictive story. There were parts, like the last half of the book, that the action was raised to the nth level and I loved that. And that end was definitely a doozy. I’m definitely curious where the author will go with this in the next book and how the rest of this story of class lines and deceit will play out in the end. Definitely, one to give a chance to at some point in time.

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Review: Love and Other Theories – Alexis Bass

Review: Love and Other Theories – Alexis BassLove and Other Theories by Alexis Bass
Published by Harper Collins
Published: December 30th 2014
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two-stars

Love and Other Theories is a fast-paced twist on the coming-of-age novel . . . and the romantic comedy.

Aubrey and her best friends made a pact to play by the guys' rules when it comes to dating. They're hoping the rules will keep them from experiencing high school heartbreak—they don't realize that these rules could just as easily keep them from opening their hearts and minds. And when new boy Nathan Diggs moves to town, Aubrey starts to think that some rules are meant to be broken.

With equal parts bite and romance, topped off with an irresistibly engaging voice, Alexis Bass's debut novel is one you won't want to miss.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I’m don’t know what to say about Love and Other Theories. I know that at 82% I almost didn’t finish it. I know that things happened that didn’t need to happen. I know that I was frustrated with a lot of it. I know that I wasn’t happy with the end. And I know that this could have been a different book if it went in a different direction. It could have been a fantastic book. Instead I was left feeling annoyed, let down, irrationally ragey (especially for a fictional character), and all around sad for what could have been.

Love and Other Theories is the story of Aubrey and her 3 best friends Shelby, Danica and Melissa. Seniors in high school and they all have one thing in common, they have never had their heart broken. After watching scores of girls seem needy and get tossed aside, they come up with theories that help them seem available and easily unattached. The theories work like a charm until the new guy, Nathan, shows up. Soon what seemed simple is anything but. Aubrey finds herself brushing the theories aside but is a broken heart worth it?

This definitely wasn’t a me book even though it seems like it from the description. There wasn’t much that I found myself hoping for or rooting for. I think a lot of that was how the book started. When we meet Aubrey, we are told she is the Joey Potter of the group (be prepared for me to make all the Dawson’s Creek references!). She was the smart one, the one going to college, the one that studied and didn’t party. But we don’t get to see that part of her. Instead we are introduced to Jen Lindley, the party girl that is boy crazy and has messed up ideas about love and the world. It just didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to see the Aubrey that we were told she was. I didn’t want to see only the girl that goes out on weekends and drinks until she throws up.

I also had trouble with Nathan. At the beginning of the book he was this sweet new guy that was taken by Aubrey. Did he do things that a good guy might not have done? Sure. But he is a teenage boy so it is almost to be expected. What bugged me was that he seemed to completely change from one chapter to the next with no rhyme or reason. He was almost a jerk by the end and it didn’t fit with what we was supposed to be.

But really even after all of that, there was one thing that really bugged me. These people never talked to each other. I mean there was literally no conversation that had any meaning that was longer than like 2 pages. It was so frustrating. I wanted to jump through the pages and tell them they needed to start getting all Dawson’s Creek and talk about things, even use a big word or two that we would have to look up. Everything was just told on such a superficial level that it grated on my nerves. These kids were playing games and acting like these ‘evolved’ individuals and all they were were scared kids that didn’t want to face heartache and rejection.

I know it looks like there was nothing redeeming about this book for me. But there are people that loved it and you could too. I just had too many issues to get over when all is said and done. I felt like the book was written to be more like a typical teenage movie that didn’t translate into a book. There was just too much that bugged me when I read this one (and that is me not even touching on one part that made me CAP LOCK text a friend to complain) and the end that disappointed me. Sadly not every book is for everyone, and this is one of those books for me.

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Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless – Liz Czukas

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless – Liz CzukasTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by Harper Collins
Published: December 9th 2014
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four-stars

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

thoughtsAfter reading Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless I know one thing about Liz Czukas, she writes a cute story. Simply put this book was adorable. It was fun with some seriousness. It had a interesting plot with a small mystery. And it made me miss working retail and want to watch The Breakfast Club.

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is about Chloe, a teenaged employee at the local supermarket that is stuck working on Christmas Eve. Having moved not long ago Chloe has had trouble making friends and relies on lists to help her get through lonely days. Heading into work Chloe decides she is going to get to know her other co-workers and maybe flirt a little with her crush Tyson. But when money is missing and the 6 teenagers are blamed, they get to all know each other in a way they never expected. The only question, did one of them steal it?

I really liked Chloe and her story a lot. She was one of those characters that is so easy to relate to. She’s insecure in new situations like we all are/can be and that’s why she is so easy to connect with. She so badly wants to make friends but is so scared to take the step to know people and step out if her safe, comfort zone. I also really liked the rest of the cast of characters. They were a very diverse, eclectic group which made them fascinating and The Breakfast Club like. And the romance, although a small part, was just adorable.

I must admit though, what I really enjoyed most was the setting. In high school I worked at a clothing store for my senior year. It was one of the most fun things I have ever done. I remember being stuck in the store after there was a key situation, doing inventory when the electricity was down because of an April snow storm, and general silliness we had on your average night. Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless really brought me back to those days. It made me nostalgic for that year and just made me smile.

All in all a great book that is a quick read. There are many characters to connect with and a fun story to follow along with. The mystery is a small added bonus. If you haven’t read a Liz Czukas book before, I definitely recommend you do.

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Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published: September 30th 2014
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three-half-stars

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal." Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another. Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review

This book has been on my radar since sometime in May. I was fascinated by the idea behind it as I haven’t read many like it in YA. It was a book that was taking a chance in my opinion and that excited me. And now after finally reading it I can say that although I wasn’t blown away, it was a hard book to read and I imagine to write. It was a slap in the face with culture shock at the way things were in the US what wasn’t that long ago and how easy fear and hatred can turn ugly. But even with something slightly off for me in the story, more on that in a bit, I really thought it was a strong emotional read.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a harsh look at integration in the south in the late 1950s. It’s the story of Sarah, one of the 9 black students enrolled in an all-white school, and Linda, the popular white girl with a father that is for segregation. Sarah and Linda are from two different worlds and know nothing about each other. They have different views on everything and have very different school experiences. Sarah is constantly abused and picked on at school while Linda is snobby and uppity. And then one day the two of them are paired on a project together. What starts out as the two of them debating on the right and wrong of integration turns into something they never saw coming and can change everything they know.

I’m not gonna lie, reading parts of this book was hard and shameful. A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to Memphis and The Civil Rights Museum. Seeing how people were treated because they were perceived as different was hard. And knowing it didn’t happen all that long ago was even harder. So reading Lies was tough. The name calling, the torment, the blatant disrespect of a human, felt like a punch in the gut. I was actually embarrassed that people thought this was okay behavior, that you could treat human beings like they were nothing. It bothered because I know it was truthful. What Sarah and the other characters went through was difficult to read because it was so unfair. And that their parents had them do this just killed me, but I understood.

What I really liked in the book was Linda and Sarah’s relationship. From the get go it was strained. They didn’t see eye to eye on anything. They were stubborn and pigheaded and fought one another on principle. But there was a respect that was there hidden under the surface. Linda had yet to make-up her own mind on anything and Sarah was getting her to do that. Add on top of all of that their attraction and their relationship was brought to another level. They had so much going against them yet they couldn’t fight what they felt for one another. It really was a beautiful part of a rough story.

I guess my problem was that between the segregation/integration part of the story and the ‘taboo’ love story I felt like there was just a tad too much. Neither of these important parts were focused on fully and the book suffered some in my opinion. I almost wish the focus had been on one or the other instead of both. I 100% get what the author was trying to do. I just wish it was done somewhat differently. It’s really hard for me to put this into words. Basically something felt off.

But all in all I enjoyed Lie We Tell Ourselves. It was a hard look at our history and what fear of different can do. It showed the struggles of two teenage girls living in that time and what they were both up against. Definitely one you should pick up.

 

 

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