Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in HeavenThe Five People You Meet in Heaven
Mitch Albom
Hard to Classify

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer. 

In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

Don't ask about the purple. I felt like it.

I'm having difficulty putting my thoughts into words on this one. It just IS. It defys opinions. It's pure storytelling, with no problems or special features. It's just a story, Eddie's story. And eventually all of ours.

The plotline is original and fascinating- an idea of heaven that's very different from the various religions' views of it. It kind of gives you hope - that one day, you'll understand. It shows you the difference you made on others' lives, and them on yours. 

I liked the writing more in this book than in Tuesdays with Morrie (link to my review). I think it has to do with the quotation things he did in the above. What can I say, it really bothered me. Or maybe it's the fact that this is a work of fiction, as opposed to the former which is a memoir. Either way, The Five People You Meet in Heaven reads quickly, and touched more heartstrings for me.  It really made for a beautiful read, good for all ages. 

Have a great back-to-school, everyone!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Laughing at My Nightmare

Laughing at My NightmareLaughing at My Nightmare
Shane Burcaw
Nonfiction Memoir

With acerbic wit and a hilarious voice, Shane Burcaw's Laughing at My Nightmare describes the challenges he faces as a twenty-one-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy. From awkward handshakes to having a girlfriend and everything in between, Shane handles his situation with humor and a "you-only-live-once" perspective on life. While he does talk about everyday issues that are relatable to teens, he also offers an eye-opening perspective on what it is like to have a life threatening disease.

I received this book for review on Netgalley, figuring I'd request something other than a release by a bestselling author for a change, and I'm so glad I did. 

I know some readers who refuse to read nonfiction. While I can understand where they're coming from, I feel we owe it to each other as human beings to be aware of as many things as we can. And besides, no fiction writer can match the unbelievability of real life (except, like, the likes of John Green and JK Rowling).

Shane's story could potentially be a downer, as he describes his life with the fatal disease of SMA. However, he stresses his belief that humor is the best way to deal with things and live life. His book is light-hearted and funny and relatable in so many ways. He proves with his story that he (and others living with disabilities) is a normal person who goes through the normal experiences of growing up, with just one more obstacle in the way. He reminds us that everyone has issues, his just being physical. 

Shane talks us through the terrible downs of his condition, but all along remembers how blessed he is and other areas. There are so many morals you can discuss in this book, that I kind of wish I could study it in school. 

And speaking of school, the book has a lot of profanity and and sexuality and I therefore recommend it for an older reader. While I know those things are sometimes deal-breakers for teachers and parents, I implore you to disregard that. No teenager will focus on either of those elements- to the contrary, actually. Shane is a real young adult and talks like one, making the reader pay attention to WHAT he's saying, and not HOW he's saying it. In this respect, it's similiar to John Green's male protagonists (not TFiOS). 

Loved it! Rating:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First TTT since... April

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Despite being extremely backed up on reviews  (I haven't yet reviewed like, 4 books I've finished) I haven't done a TTT since APRIL and this week there's a topic I can do easily, so, let's do this.

Top Ten Books I Want to Read But Don't Yet 

Rainbow Rowell- 
Eleanor and Park

Stephanie Perkins - 
Anna and the French Kiss                                              
Isla and The Happy Ever After
Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)Lola and The Boy Next Door

E. Lockhart-
We Were Liars

Sarah J. Maas- 
Throne of Glass

Veronica Roth-
Four Stories

The Selection (The Selection, #1)Pittacus Lore-
The Revenge of Seven

Kiera Cass-
The Selection                                    

Rachelle Mead-

Some of these I'm going to get soon, so don't get mad at me! Looking forward to reading them all eventually(:
What's on your TTT?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and The Sunday Post!

Stacking the Shelves and The Sunday Post are weekly memes hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

So I've just gotten back from vacation- that means tons of books to show you! And more to come when I get the rest of my stash in November.. long story(;

From the library:
My review of The Iron Queen
My review of Deep Blue



Netgalley and gifted:


Why the sudden interest in Sherlock Holmes, you ask? I have recently discovered BBC's TV show Sherlock, and have found true love. I watched all the episodes within a week and half, some twice. (Hey, I'm on summer vacation. I NEVER have time to watch during the school year- no TVs in my boarding school!) So I've decided to read the originals. So excited for all of this!! 

What have you received lately?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: The Casual Vacancy

The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling
Adult Contemporary

A big novel about a small town...
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

As usual, I find this description a bad one. I'll do it better.

The Casual Vacancy is the kind of book that will be liked by a certain type of people only. If you're looking for the awe-inspiring plot you found in Harry Potter, look somewhere else (I have a myriad of suggestions; you need only ask) . 

However, the novel depicts something far more rare in literature- a chapter of real life.

This means, there is a web of people and events that define it. Many sorrows do not have solutions. Families are dysfunctional. There are no happy endings. Not everything is tied up. People don't understand the effects their actions have and likewise what causes their own problems. 


If you are like me, and you find interesting personalities and relationships fascinating, this is your book. 

The Casual Vacancy delves into the lives of the people of Pagford, and comes out with revelations that are relevant to us all. It was extremely interesting to watch the developing characters, and the reasons why they did the things they did. It also served as a reminder of how much we don't know or understand of the lives of those around us. It even had some really funny moments. 

I'm sure you'll have noticed I've posted all reviews for the past month and a half. That's because I've been traveling a lot, which means lots of time to read but limited access to a computer. I just got back, so prepare for a massive STS this weekend(:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Fantastic Fantasy(:

Alina Starkov doesn't expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal--and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina's extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destory the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart--and her country--in two.

To quote a book reviewer I admire very much (link to her review)- "Have you ever read a book that starts out on a familiar path and then veers off it so completely that you're left slack-jawed in the dust? That's Shadow and Bone in a nutshell." 

There is soooo much I want to exclaim about but I can't spoil you- of course, you've probably read it already. I'm fully aware that I'm the last on this bandwagon. Not to worry, I've already ordered the rest of the series(:

Wow. Shadow and Bone is comprised of all the familiar elements an experienced fantasy reader has known and loved since forever. So naturally, I automatically enjoyed the beginning of this novel. But then never did I DREAM that it would take me where it took me.

Love triangle- not in any conventional way. And that's all I can say. You'll see.

Characters- Alina was more real than most heroes I usually read about. She had her tough and her weak moments, but ultimately was brave and true and smart. More importantly, she was complex, which will forever be the most prized trait for me in literature. Mal- I judged him in the beginning, but in the end loved him. He too was another example of a realistic character. A typical guy, one like many of your real guy friends, but incredibly lovable all the same. The Darkling- I just. Woah. 

Plot- Leigh Bardugo, congratulations. You are the first author in many years to utterly fool me. I don't mean throw in a surprise betrayal. I mean, seriously mislead me in regards of where the plot was heading. Absolutely superb!

Setting- In stark contrast to the last book I completed, Deep Blue, where the names and terminology seemed silly and completely made up, Shadow and Bone's system is based on Middle Ages Russia. It made for an amazing set up.

Writing and Pacing- L-o-v-e-l-y. All in all? I HEART THIS BOOK. READ IT NOW. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Deep Blue

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)
Jennifer Donnelly

The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

About three years ago, I had read Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light, a historical fiction novel based on a real story. I had hopes for Deep Blue because I had seen it featured in magazines and at the library, and it is the first YA novel about mermaids I've read (excluding books where the existence of mermaids is mentioned but none of the main characters are one). However, this book wasn't my cup of tea and would recommend it to a younger audience. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE middle grade. I mean, hello, Rick Riordan books, Shannon Hale's books, Harry Potter, CHERUB, The Sisters Grimm, Artemis Fowl, I could go on and on. But there's difference between geared-to-12-year-olds and plain childish. 

The story and characters had so much potential - Sera's relationship with her mother, the restrictions and responsibilities of royalty, the balance between modernity and archaic customs like arranged marriages, the history of Atlantis and how it became the kingdoms, the myths as opposed to their reality (like the belief that the witches didn't exist), prophecies as opposed to making your own future- there's really no end to the themes I thought we'd explore in Deep Blue. 

The book fell short of all of that. The girls weren't stupid, but acted surprisingly immaturely for 16 year olds who should have been used to responsibility and political mayhem. They were also able to focus on girly little details at inappropriate times. In addition to all that, I felt the book skipped over what should have been a complicated process of mourning for all that was lost, including people close to them. I've had this complaint before (City of Heavenly Fire) - I understand that authors need to move their plot along, but I feel this isn't some detail that can be omitted. I do not speak from experience (I count my blessings) but I think grieving exposes a lot of who we are, besides of course being an unavoidable part of being human (or possessing a human-like consciousness in this case). It's also plain unrealistic that these girls lose their families and continue to talk about candy and dress up (I don't mean all throughout the book, and I know that people deal with things differently, but I just didn't buy this. 

Also, Neela and Sera were very spoiled as princesses, yet had no problem living off nothing very suddenly, and were genuinely EXTREMELY NICE AND SWEET with not an ounce of snobbery or bitterness or even discomfort. Mmmmm. I think the best demonstration of what real royalty to rags would be like is Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl. 

The plot was very simplistic, as were the characters. Lacking all of the above, I guess I just found Deep Blue somewhat... lacking in depth(;

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Mortal Danger

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1)
Ann Aguirre
YA Paranormal

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

If you could hear me right now, I'd be making a long whiny sound.

Pretty sure many of you saw this on Netgalley and picked it up. Hey, it's Ann Aguirre, right? Enclave was pretty good. Pretty cover, typical YA paranormal set up that usually promises fun. AND YET. I was thoroughly disappointed with Mortal Danger.

World building- SUCKED. I had NO IDEA how this all worked, who the heck these people are, what the stakes are, and why I should care. Neither did Edie, it seemed. But she went along with everything compliantly.

Insta love- of the worst kind. He's gorgeous. How can I live without him? This happened within hours of their first meeting. UGHHHH. On his part, he had been watching her for a while beforehand, but it beats me how the things he saw would make her desirable in his eyes.

Characters- Edie was not annoying, exactly, but she made no sense at all. She made total turnarounds within seconds. She also believed herself better than others who asked for beauty because she needed it for a purpose- to get revenge on her tormentors. Gee, how noble of you.

On the flip side, she was able to pity the bullies she came to enact her revenge on, and even sort of become friends with them. While that might sound like a good thing, when I read what they did to her I was sickened. It was so horrible that I have no words. I don't find it realistic that anyone who lived through what she did could stomach the presence of the perpetrators for even a moment, let alone feel sorry for them.

The rest of the characters were likable, but annoyingly one-dimensional. And Kian lacked any sort of unique personality.

Writing and pacing- nothing to remark on. So, not good.

Will I read book #2? Heck no. Recommended? Nope. Rating: