March 20, 2015

Book Review | Atlantia

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Atlantia is a young adult fantasy stand-alone novel by Ally Condie (author of the Matched trilogy) set in an underwater utopia called (surprise) Atlantia.

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When you first look at the cover of this book and read the synopsis printed on the dust jacket, it sounds a lot like it’s about mermaids, or perhaps a retelling of the Little Mermaid. And in a way it is.

Hundreds of years before the events of the story the Earth (what the characters refer to as Above) became polluted and generated lots of illnesses. In order to save the human race, Atlantia was built. Those that live Below live healthier and thus this allows them to prolong their lives. Those that chose to remain Above have sacrificed themselves for their families. Each year on the anniversary of the Divide between Above and Below, new adults are given a chance to choose to go to the unknown world or remain in Atlantia. By law each family must always have one member down in the city to keep their bloodline in tack.

Our main character, Rio, has always dreamed of going Above. She had that “Ariel the Little Mermaid” mentality of wanting to explore the dangerous and wonderful world beyond the ocean. Rio’s dream is put to the side however when her mother suddenly dies, leaving Rio and her twin sister, Bay, on their own. Rio promises Bay she won’t go Above so they can stay together. To everyone’s surprise, Bay chooses to go Above, which means Rio can never go. Rio is in a constant daze, trying to figure out why her sister left without an explanation and searching for a way to escape to the world Above.

Now, I liked this story, don’t get me wrong. It was cute and interesting, but it seemed to drag on in certain parts. I was hooked from the first page and couldn’t put it down. But as Spring Break drew closer and closer, I had schoolwork I needed to focus on. Every night I would pick up this book, ready to be swept away from quizzes and assignments that had been puling up. Unfortunately that didn’t really happen except for maybe once or twice. I know it’s hard to get caught up in a book’s universe when you’re busy, but isn’t that kind of a necessary trait we as readers want?

I felt like Rio started to be very repetitive in what she was doing and thinking. She was very indecisive about who she could and could not trust with information of her sister’s departure and her mother’s death. Her determination to get to the Above consumed her so much that she ignored everyone telling her she would die trying to leave. She even made her friend make electric robots that would shock her underwater while she was trying to earn money as a swimmer/performer. Seriously, Rio, Tris Prior, and Bella Swan are the three literary characters I think I’ve read in the young adult genre who are so unbelievably reckless and stupid when confronting the possibility of death. (I know there are probably way more, but these three really take the cake.)

In terms of numbers, this was about a 2.5. I would like to read this again because there were a lot of things that I enjoyed, but it won’t automatically go in the automatic rereads pile.

March 14, 2015

Book Review | No Place Like Oz

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No Place Like Oz is the first novella in the Dorothy Must Die series and explores Dorothy’s life one year after she has returned to Kansas from Oz. She is having a hard time readjusting to the boring reality of Kansas and longs to return to the magic of Oz. On her birthday she discovers a pair of ruby slippers that transport her, Toto and her aunt and uncle back to Oz where she is received as a hero. But will this new fame and power go to Dorothy’s head?

This was the first story in this series that I read and I loved it. I thought the concept of Dorothy wanting to return to the adventurous world of Oz and wishing for more recognition from her Kansas friends after her miraculous return was extremely interesting. Danielle Paige did a great job making you agree with Dorothy on how she could make Oz better while also showing the flaws in her logic and the gradual turn to her becoming a dictator in the Emerald City. I’m looking forward to reading the next story that Danielle brings out, and I hope that she will write something else from Dorothy’s point of view further down the line.

I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in the series.

Review: 4 out of 5 Stars

February 28, 2015

Audrey Hepburn

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I, like most of the world, adore Audrey Hepburn. She is one of gorgeous and sophisticated icons that you can’t help, but admire. I recently watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix and thought it was really good. I don’t know why I had not seen it before, but it has definitely made a place on my list of favorite movies.

I’ve noticed that Audrey’s name has started popping up in the young adult section of my bookstore, so I picked up two books, and thought I would share my thoughts on them with you.

Oh Yeah Audrey –Tucker Shaw

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At five a.m., a cab pulls up to Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue dropping off sixteen-year-old Gemma Beasley in full Holly Golightly attire. No one would expect less from the co-founder of popular Tumblr blog, Oh Yeah Audrey. Gemma plans on meeting the other bloggers who share her love of the lovely Audrey. But her plans are suddenly changed when a handsome boy steps in and offers to play tour guide. Gemma is whisked away in a New York adventure.

What grabbed me right off the bat was this cover. I absolutely love it for a couple of different reasons. The first is the color. I absolutely love the Tiffany Blue shade of the dust jacket. (Got to stick with the theme.) The second thing I like is the fact that it is a pop-art-style cover. I don’t see a lot of those kinds of covers, and it’s very eye grabbing.

The set-up of the book was also really cool. The chapters were set up differently, where it told how much time had passed between each event of the day (like Gemma waiting outside Tiffany’s at 5:30 and thinking about her life, then fast-forwarding to her meeting her friends at 6:10 in the morning for breakfast).

The overall story was pretty interesting, There were a LOT of Breakfast at Tiffany’s quotes. At the beginning Gemma says you have to go and watch it to understand everything, but you don’t have to worry about that while reading this. Anytime one of the characters made a comment about the classic movie, there would a little afterthought from Gemma saying “That’s a quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” or an explanation as to what scene it was from. It was nice, but it got a little tedious after the tenth time Gemma had to point this out. I wish the author had been able to mark a quote from the movie without having to constantly repeat these lines over and over again.

The two characters I liked the most were Gemma and Bryan. They had a solid friendship, you could tell. Trina came across to me as the stereotypical kind of mean girl who toes the line between sassiness and rudeness.

Apart from those things, I greatly enjoyed this. The chapters were quick, and Gemma’s strong voice had me captivated with the first sentence. This was a one-sit read (or it would have been if I had not had to go to classes), and I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a new kind young adult contemporary book.

 

Being Audrey Hepburn – Mitchell Kriegman
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When Jersey-girl Lisbeth is seen wearing the black Givenchy ball gown famously worn by Audrey Hepburn at a gala event, she is mistaken as someone of wealth and sophositication. Lisbeth is suddenly whisked away into the world of the Manhattan elite, hanging out with blue bloods, pop stars, and trust funders. While it’s all fun living it up with the young and privileged, Lisbeth wonders if this is the life she truly wants, and if it’s worth giving up her old life.

I initially liked the story. I thought Lisbeth’s story was interesting enough. It kind of came across like the beginning of a Sarah Dessen novel (minus the Southern beach town). The glamorous events that Lisbeth was attending were nice to read about as well. However, I wasn’t as impress with this novel as I thought I would be.

Unlike Oh Yeah Audrey, where I was flying through the pages and felt a little disappointed when I had to set it down to go to classes, this book didn’t hold my attention. I mean, sure it had its positives, and the first thirty or so pages set up who the main character was and what her life was like, I found myself slowly losing interesting, and was okay with reading a few paragraphs before setting it aside to pick up something else.

It seemed as if the author was trying a little too hard to portray what he thought the average high school/early college-aged girl would act like. This was really made clear to me through all the little winky faces he added to the texts Lisabeth and her friends would send to one another. It made her seem more juvenile than someone who was said to have graduated from high school.

I would have to give this a 2.5 on GoodReads. It really wasn’t the worst novel I have ever read, and it was quite entertaining at some points, but, like I said, it didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would.

 

Have you read either of these books? If so, what were your thoughts on the story and the characters? Let me know in the comments!

 

Love always,

Lauren

February 23, 2015

Book Review| Landline

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Hey y’all! Today I am doing a review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell.

I have had this on my shelf since it came out and I thought it was about time to pick it up. It seemed like a good book for the month of February.

I absolutely love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I read Eleanor and Park and Fangirl around this time last year, and couldn’t get over how amazing those stories. Her characters have such strong voices, and are so engaging you never want to stop reading, but you eventually have to because the book ends and then you’re left feeling sad.

I swear, she must have like a magic pen or something that magically makes her books phenomenal.

But enough raving about Rainbow, let’s get on with the review!

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Landline follows a woman named Georgie McCool who is going through a bit of a rough patch in her marriage because she is always so busy working as a TV writer and never has time to see her family. She and her coworker/best friend Seth have been given the opportunity to create their own show, something they have been wanting to do since they met in college, but they have to work over the Christmas holiday to get it done, which annoys Georgie’s husband Neal. Neal tells Georgie that he is going to take their daughters to see his mother in Omaha which they had already planned on doing, but Georgie stays behind to work on the show and she watches them leave for the airport. She ends up crashing at her mom’s house that night after a busy day of writing with Seth. When she goes to call her family to see if they got in okay, her cell phone battery begins acting up so she ends up using an old yellow rotary phone she had when she was younger. Somehow the rotary phone allows her to communicate with Neal back in 1998 right before he proposed to her. Georgie realizes that this is an opportunity to fix her marriage, and finds herself falling in love with Neal all over again. However, she knows Neal isn’t happy and she has to decide whether she should convince past Neal to break up with her so he can live a better life without her.

I got this when it first came out since it was around my birthday, and I have no clue why I kept pushing it back on my TBR because it was great. It was a bit harder to relate to the characters in this story since they were in their thirties, but I didn’t mind too much because the actual plot was interesting.

I really enjoyed the conversations between Georgie and past Neal. It was cute seeing her fall head over heels again. I knew she loved him in the present, but it was adorable watching Georgia finding that spark with Neal. Got me all in the feels.

Also, the flashbacks to them when they were in college were really sweet. It was easy to see that, even if they didn’t always communicate that well about their feelings, they were they worked really well as a couple.

And that little Easter Egg with Cath and Levi from Fangirl in there giving Georgie a ride in the red pickup truck! Oh my gosh! I loved it! I was so excited when I read that part and realized that was them. You honestly don’t understand how excited I get when that kind of stuff pops up in books and movies.

Now let’s talk about the characters: I loved Georgie and Neal and Alice and Noomi. They were the cutest little family. I could tell that Georgie really loved her kids and her husband even if she didn’t get to see them all the time because of her job.

I also really liked Heather. I thought she was funny, and it was nice that Georgie and Heather had a good friendship despite there being such a wide age gap between them.

Seth was…okay. I didn’t hate him, but I didn’t love him either. He was one of those people that I wouldn’t mind being friends with, but I would have to take small doses of him. I couldn’t be best friends with him like Georgie.

This was an overall fantastic read, not that I expected anything less from Rainbow Rowell. I gave this a 4.5 on Goodreads, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes John Green.

January 22, 2015

Book Review | Guitar Notes

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In a school practice room, Tripp breaks out a borrowed guitar and the music carries him away to another world. On the days Tripp isn’t in the room, Lyla is busily working on becoming the next award-winning cellist. However, Lyla is curious in other things outside of the cello and finds herself reaching for Tripp’s guitar on occasion. She begins tucking notes to Tripp in the strings of his instrument. The guitar notes quickly change from snippy comments to a close friendship neither was planning on. Though they come from different backgrounds and groups, two loners will form a relationship

Okay, so the synopsis I typed up might sound a bit cheesy, but trust me, this story is anything but. Lyla and Tripp’s relationship is so interesting. You can tell that these characters have a good bond and it wasn’t this rushed friendship/romantic relationship, which happens quite a lot in the young adult genre. Love at first sight is always cute, but it’s more fun to see the buildup of the relationship.

Thinking about it now, the relationship between Lyla and Tripp reminds me a lot of If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Both the main characters in that story and this one were brought them together by the music and I feel like it’s that bond over something so wonderful and powerful that ultimately makes their relationships so great.

My favorite things in this book were the songs by Lyla and Tripp at the end of the book. It’s very rare for an author to incorporate songs written by musically gifted characters, and it’s even more rare for the whole song to be included instead of a chorus. And the fact that the guitar chords were actually listed was just so unique.

Honestly, the writing in this was fantastic. I didn’t even know that this was by a debut author while I was reading. Hats off to you, Mary Amato! Keep up the good work :)

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves music, and particularly if you liked the musical elements in If I Stay.

January 18, 2015

Book Review | We Were Liars

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I have to say that this is one of those books you have to go into not really knowing anything about the book. However, I know some people don’t like that so I will include a brief premise of the story below so you can get a good idea of what to expect.

We Were Liars is a contemporary young adult novel by E. Lockhart that follows Cadence, the eldest granddaughter of the highly distinguished Sinclair family. Every summer Cadence and her cousins, who refer to themselves as “Liars,” spend vacation on their family’s private island, swimming and goofing around. But this summer is different. The aunts are crying, and the Liars seem to be avoiding Cady since her accident two summers before. Cadence knows that everyone is keeping a secret from her, and she is determined to find out what happened the night of her accident.

The premise of this book sounded pretty interesting and it was getting a lot of hype prior to its release so I was eager to pick this one up. Sadly, I was a little disappointed with the actual book. I found myself getting easily distracted while reading this, and that’s never a good sign with any story. I’ve read the Ruby Oliver quartet by E. Lockhart as well, and while wasn’t my absolute favorite series, I still enjoyed it and found myself interested in the plot. We Were Liars didn’t hold that same interest. The characters felt underdeveloped, and the story sometimes felt a little repetitive, though it did begin to pick up towards the middle.

Really, the biggest problem for me was the title. It’s catchy when you first glance at it, but I never understood why the older Sinclair grandchildren referred to themselves as Liars in the first place. I didn’t feel like that was explained very clearly.

I do want to give this story another shot so I plan on picking it up in the future, but it’s not one that I would immediately reach towards on a rainy day. I think that this is a book that other people might enjoy, especially if you like mysterious accidents and secrets and stuff like that.

January 11, 2015

Book Review | Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

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Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality follows Lexi, a high school girl crushing on a popular guy who only sees her as a friend. Lexi is often labeled as a girl with a great personality, or, as she describes it, undateable. Dared by her best friend, Lexi gives herself a makeover, thought she doubts that makeup will change how people see her. That is until she is suddenly noticed by the popular guys. Lexi is suddenly approached by cute guys and invited to parties, but after getting a taste of the popular life, she begins to wonder if this is the life she really wants.

Lexi is also a buddy fashion designer with her sights set on moving to New York City, but at the moment her fashionable talents are only put to use by making little kid pageant outfits for her younger and snobbier sister, Mackenzie. Mackenzie’s pageants have put a financial strain on the household, which puts a strain on Lexi’s relationship with her mother since their mother feels Lexi should be contributing to Mackenzie’s pageant funds and Lexi feels that pageants are stupid and a waste of money.

This story definitely shone more light on the beauty pageants for little kids and the extremes some parents will take to live vicariously through their children. The mother very much reminded me of some of the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras (I will admit I’ve watched a few episodes). They don’t care how much money they spend or how ridiculous it is to dress up their children like they are forty-years older than their actual age, not as long as they get to parade their child around and show how much better their kid is to someone else’s.

My least favorite character in this book was the mother, which was obviously the goal. She made me so unbelievably angry. She had no regards for her children, especially not Lexi. She was always putting so much emphasis on appearances. Her refusal to acknowledge their financial problems was insane, and I don’t know what mother would ever feel it was okay to steal money from their child who earned it, even if you claim you are going to pay them back.

Now let’s talk about Lexi’s transformation in the book. Almost every girl goes through this phase either in middle school or high school where they feel like they aren’t good enough to get guys to notice them if they act like themselves. They feel like they have to have the clothes and the makeup and look as adorable as possible in order to catch the attention of the cute boy. Lexi came across to me as a girl who had pretty high self-esteem when it came to who she was and what she wanted out of life, but she was beaten down by her mother constantly saying Mackenzie was the prettier sister. It also didn’t help that Lexi’s crush was dating a beauty queen with the perfect hair, makeup, and clothes. I think this comparison to the pageant world and Lexi’s real life put a strain on how she viewed herself and that’s why she felt like not making any effort. As the book progressed, though, Lexi seemed to become more confident when it came to her appearance, especially when she stopped trying to be one of the popular kids and accept who she was with or without makeup . Makeup is a great way to enhance your features and give you confidence, but it shouldn’t be a mask to hide behind. It should just make your true colors come through even brighter.

 

– SPOILER BELOW –

The ending was a nice refreshing change. I’m a sucker for happily ever after and often don’t like it when the girl doesn’t get the guy, but the way Elizabeth Eulberg made this story play out, it made sense for Lexi to be on her own. In fact, I was hoping for her to be on her own and move to her dad’s or somewhere that wasn’t home with the mother.

– END OF SPOILER –

 

I love Elizabeth Eulberg’s books. Her characters are always so interesting and it is easy to get caught up in their world. I would probably give this about a 4 out 5. It was a fun read that I would definitely pick up again. If you are looking for something a bit different in the contemporary YA genre, I recommend that you give this a try.

January 9, 2015

Series Review | The Lying Game

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the lying game

The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard stars identical twins Sutton and Emma who were separated at birth and do not know of the other’s existence. A nice, rich family adopted Sutton while Emma was off living with their maternal mother for the first five years of her life. After her mother abandoned her, Emma was placed in the foster program and lived in multiple homes that she would run away from.

The story starts with Emma’s skivvy foster brother finding a video online of a girl who looks identical to Emma. After doing a bit of digging, Emma gets in contact with Sutton agree to meet up, but Sutton never shows at their meeting spot. Sutton’s friends find her and she pretends to be Sutton, hoping it’s a joke. The next morning Emma learns that Sutton is dead, and that she needs to keep pretending to be Sutton or else she will meet the same fate. Emma goes to report Sutton’s disappearance to the police, but they dismiss her, thinking it is another Lying Game, Sutton’s game of over-the-top pranks. Emma is forced to go through the charade of being Sutton. None of Sutton’s friends or family notice that “Sutton” is acting differently, but a classmate, Ethan Landry, does. Emma enlists Ethan’s help as she searches for Sutton’s murderer amongst the close family and friends.

There are six books in the series all told from what appears to be the POV of the deceased Sutton is narrating the story while following her lost twin sister, Emma. However, we also can see how Emma is thinking. The narration confused me at first -and truthfully it still does- but once you start getting into the plot, you forget about it.

The ghost of Sutton who narrates does not remember the events on the night of her murder, but as the series progresses and Emma finds more clues, Sutton begins having small flashbacks.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this series, as well as the adaption ABC did of the show, though the plot lines are very different between the books and the show (as there always is) with Sutton still being alive and constant side dramas sprouting up.

Pick up the first book and/or watch the series on Netflix. You wont regret it :)

January 6, 2015

Book Review | Better Off Friends

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Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg stars Levi and Macallan, longtime best friends who secretly begin to develop feeling for each other, but hide it from the other in order to preserve their friendship. Told from a dual perspective, the story follows Levi and Macallan from their meeting on the first day of seventh grade until their junior year of high school, along the way experiencing heartbreak and tests of their friendship, and learning that home isn’t always a place: it’s a person.

I kept hearing this described as the YA equivalent to ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and I was not disappointed. This was one of those books that had you hooked from the beginning, and made you wish you had a Levi in your life.

I thought that Better Off Friends was one of those stories where it’s obvious to everyone that these characters were going to end up together eventually, but the bigger focus of the story was on their friendship. We were given a view into how tightly knit their friendship was from the beginning and how much they helped each other grow as people, with Macallan opening up about the loss of her mother and Levi’s struggles fitting in at school.

The thing I personally loved the most was how passionate Macallan was when it can to her family, especially her uncle who had a slight disability. I could totally relate to Macallan in how she stood up for the people she cared about. Having a few family members with mental disabilities, I hated when people picked on others who needed a little more assistance than we did. I applaud Elizabeth Eulberg for incorporating this into her story.

My only problem was how invested I got in the characters and it was so disappointing the closer I got to the finish. I tried to prolong it as long as I could because I wasn’t ready to let go, but like all good things it has to come to an end.

Better Off Friends deserves 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a light, cute book.