Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Goodreads Description: "I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite."

My Review: (*Spoiler alert*) Pandemonium is a great sequel! It was much more fast-paced than Delirium and had a good mix of action and adventure tossed in. It felt realistic---Lena didn't suddenly turn into some sort of warrior, but you could see how she was GETTING there. I loved hearing about how the world was progressing and all the new info on the Invalids and their world was great. Simply plot-wise, the book was great. I finished it in a day because it was that good. I also thought that the relationship developed between her and Julian was great and I was pretty amazed---and excited---at the plot twist thrown in right at the end of the book, leaving me desperate to know what is going to happen in the third book, and who she's going to pick: Alex or Julian? Usually, with love triangles, it's pretty obvious who the girl is going to pick, but in this case, I'm seriously NOT sure...which is what makes it so much fun! Lena also developed a lot as a character. In the first book, she was very timid and shy and romantic, very Cassia-like. In this book, she had much more of a spine and got a lot tougher and braver, and more independent. It was cool. Her emotions were also portrayed really well---you could really FEEL what she was feeling. I also enjoyed the two different tenses the book was written in; it gave more meaning to the book and made reading it all the more fun. All in all, it was a GREAT book and I can't wait for the third book!

Cover: Eh. It's...just meh. I'm not a fan. It doesn't seem to fit the story well, in my opinion. It looks like a tacky effort to make the cover pretty and tempt all the paranormal romance fans to read it...

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Description: "Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

My Review: This is a great companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss! It was charming, funny, and an all-around great romance novel. I didn't like it AS much as Anna's story---probably because I like the setting of Paris better than San Francisco---but the book itself was still pretty great. Perkins has a gift, a certain way with words where she describes them and you can picture them perfectly in your head. Lola was a great heroine---spunky and fresh and energetic, and also very funny. I loved that she loved fashion and I loved reading the descriptions of her crazy outfits. Cricket was also great! I laughed every time Perkins described his height. Lola's family dynamic was amazing; I love that Perkins actually created a unique family, different from the typical mom-dad-kid-and-dog type of family. I also thought it was great that you got to still see Anna and St. Clair a bit! (I will always call him St. Clair. Etienne just sounds weird to me.) I liked seeing that their story got a happy ending. In a way, these books remind me of the Perfect Chemistry novels by Simone Elkeles---great romances with characters from previous books popping up in the new ones. It's nice! Who doesn't like to see old characters they liked show up again? I do like to see secondary characters more well-rounded---Perkins fell a little short in doing that in this novel, because she didn't really flesh out Lola's best friend or Cricket's sister or even Lola's mom that much, and I wanted to see more of that. However, this WAS a fun and sassy book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can't wait to see what Perkins writes next!

Cover: I think this cover is way cuter than Anna and the French Kiss to be honest; I love the pastel-colored typical San Francisco houses in the background, and I love the girl supposed to be Lola! Her outfit is adorable, as is her wig, and for some reason, she reminds me of Katy Perry, who I like. So I just think this cover is really cute. 

Overall Grade: A-

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Amazon Description: "Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?"

My Review: Anna and the French Kiss is one of the best romances I've read in a long time, and here's why. Most romance books, they don't really show the chemistry between the girl and guy. It's like, they meet and insta-attraction! Which is so fake and cheesy and clearly aimed at Edward Cullen fangirl types. However, this was not the case for this book! Anna and Etienne had great chemistry. The book was fairly long for a fluffy chick-lit book and it really went into depth about their relationship: how they met, how they slowly became friends and then best friends. It showed all the highs and lows of their friendship and relationship, and it basically just felt like their relationship was very realistic! It had its highs and lows, its ups and downs, its amazing moments and its complications. Aside from their relationship, I like how there were several other plot lines in the book: the problems with St. Clair's mother and father, the relationship struggles between her friends, the issues Anna had with dealing with her family and friends back in America, the struggles and joys Anna found in dealing with living in another country. It all was very well-developed, realistic, honest---and funny! It never became too brooding. I loved how all the characters were very well-developed and well-rounded; they really added to the story and made it more enjoyable. And I loved the descriptions of Paris, and how they totally added to the fun atmosphere of the book. Lastly, I just loved Anna in general. She was smart yet silly at times, nice yet she could get unkind, shy yet she had her hobbies and passions, funny yet she could be lame and awkward---in short, she seemed like a REAL girl. That's what truly made this book a keeper.

Cover: This cover is cute. The font is sweet and I like the Eiffel Tower in the background, and the pink and green colors. Pink and green always seem so fresh and preppy, don't they? However, while browsing, I found this alternate cover, and I liked it a lot better; it seemed to capture the romantic Parisian mood a lot better. To see it, click here!

Overall Grade: A+

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Amazon Description: "The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart."

My Review: The Night Circus is, without a doubt, the most beautiful book I have ever read in my life. The writing is unbelievably amazing. It rivals the cadence of old-fashioned classics from the past, in a way. The writing is polished and poised, and it describes everything in a beautiful way, refined and elegant---and so detailed that you feel like you're really AT the circus. And speaking of the circus...the way it was described was my favorite part. The plot was amazing and the characters were highly interesting---but it was actually the circus, Le Cirque de Reves, itself that intrigued me the most. I have a strange obsession with circuses---the more beautiful and strange, the better. And this is exactly the kind of circus that was in the book. Not a traditional carnival-like circus, but a strange, ethereal, haunting one. The way it was described was so amazing that I wanted to jump into the book and walk around the circus myself. In the book, fans of the circus are called reveurs and as I read the book, I found myself becoming a reveur as well. The circus was enchanting and strange and displays, acts, and tents it described seemed so magical that it almost made me want to cry---THAT'S how much I wished the circus was real. (See? Told you. I have a thing about circuses!) The plot itself was intricate and sometimes confusing and twisted, like a long-winding yarn, but it was very interesting in the end. The characters themselves were very refined and closed-off---not characters you could see through easily, but characters you slowly found out more about, bit by bit, as the book trailed on. I loved how there were several different views of narration going on through the book---it put a fresh spin on the book---and I loved the different and elemental way Morgenstern took magic to be. Not the usual wand-waving and spell-casting, but deeper and less logical and neat and clean. Overall, this was one amazing, beautiful, and brilliant book that I plan to buy right away and re-read over and over again. 

Cover: This cover is very enchanting and pretty, but there is an alternate, sweeter cover that I like a lot more (and I'm going to try and buy it with that cover instead). It describes the mood of the circus perfectly. Here is the link to it.

Overall Grade: A+

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Amazon Description: "Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship."

My Review: A great sequel! I really liked the first book, and while I didn't think this book was better, I did think it was a great companion. It lacked some of the emotional depth of the first book, and there was less of an urgency to the mystery---but it all led to a WAY more explosive ending than the first book. After I read Across The Universe, I was highly interested in reading the sequel. Now, after reading A Million Suns, I'm DYING to read the last book. The ending was amazing and ended on a major cliffhanger. Like I said, the book lacked the emotional depth the first book had, but there were some things I liked more about it. Elder was an altogether more likable character, as was Amy, because she wasn't as whiny this time. (Come on---she was kind of a brat in the first book. We all have to admit it.) She matured a lot. The mystery Elder and Amy were trying to solve was pretty interesting and I liked how Orion had connections in it, even after being...disposed of. Orion is a character I'm still very interested in him, and I hope he plays a big part in the last book, Shades of Earth, instead of just being cyrogenically frozen the whole time. I also enjoyed seeing the effects of no more Phydus on the Godspeed. It kind of made you wonder: Is the freedom to choose always a good thing? Because, as you can see while reading it, being able to choose your own path led to a lot of chaos for the people of the Godspeed. Anyway, plot lines aside...A Million Suns was an enjoyable sequel to Across The Universe and it made me really excited for the third, and last, book. 

Cover: The cover is really nice! I like how they show a prettier side of the universe on these book covers, versus the cliche black-sky-and-white-stars image most of us. The colors chosen for the universe are what really make the cover beautiful. 

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, March 2, 2012

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Amazon Description: "New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.
Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.
That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved."

My Review: Article 5 is the most realistic dystopian book I have ever read, and I loved that about it. The society is only about maybe five, ten, fifteen years ahead of our own society and that makes it all the more disturbing---because this is a society I could easily see happening to us, sometime in the future. Because the dystopian society in the book is eerily similar to what Hitler created during World War II, and the world is so close to ours---so it stands to reason that something like this COULD happen. Which is very creepy, but also really cool to think about. The plot was really good. The first half of the book was kind of slow and seemed more like one of those books about corrupt boot camps, because we didn't get to see much of the dystopian world. However, the second half of the book was pretty amazing. Ember became pretty tough and kick-ass and I loved how she still retained her emotions and humanity throughout, and didn't just become a cold fighting machine (*ahem* KATNISS *ahem*). The story became really exciting and fast-paced the second half of the book, and that's what made me love the book. A very good dystopian! 

Cover: To be honest, I think they could have done better with the cover. It seems just like a distorted copy of the cover of Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, and it didn't seem to make sense with the book, considering they weren't really close to any major cities for about 95% of the book. Ah, well. 

Overall Grade: A+