Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Panic by Sharon M. Draper

Anthenium Books
March 12, 2013


Diamond knows not to get into the car with a stranger. 
But what if the stranger is well-dressed and handsome? On his way to meet his wife and daughter? And casting a movie that very night--a movie in need of a star dancer? What then?
Then Diamond might make the wrong decision.
It's a nightmare come true: Diamond Landers has been kidnapped. She was at the mall with a friend, alone for only a few brief minutes--and now she's being held captive, forced to endure horrors beyond what she never could have dreamed, while her family and friends experience their own torments and wait desperately for any bit of news.
From New York Times bestselling author Sharon Draper, this is a riveting exploration of power: how quickly we can lose it--and how we can take it back.


Overall, I give Panic a solid 3 out of 5 stars. The middle of the range rating is mostly because of three things, but I really want to talk about all the VERY positive things about the book first. The good far outweighs the not so good (because I don't want to say bad since it was just... bothersome) in this book.
The premise of the novel is interesting and very timely. The novel explores a lot of realistic issues teens face in our society. I won't go into details, but the relationships and situations in this story are highly realistic and relate-able. The characters are three-dimensional and could be the kid next door or your best friend from high school. For the most part, the characters are very physically and racially neutral (although the dialogue does give some of this away), so it's easy for the reader to see that these situations apply to anyone. While the themes and events in the story are serious, they aren't described in graphic detail, which is good for individuals who are sensitive to issues such as abuse. I also loved that the story was told from multiple perspectives, showing how the victim and the people left behind are affected by these kinds of events.
As for the not so good, I found the dialogue kind of cheesy. This was actually my second attempt at reading the novel as the first time I just couldn't get past how cheesy it was. It kind of felt like an adult trying to be hip. The plot and the emotion more than makes up for this, and this feeling goes away after the first three or four chapters. Speaking of, it also took me about five chapters (which are really short by the way) to get really invested in it. But when I did, I finished it in a day. The last thing was that a small part of it was slightly unbelievable. I suppose that's why it took me so long to get really invested in the story.
Overall, Panic is brutally honest, heart-breakingly realistic and amazingly raw. 


DISCLAIMER: Please be wary of this book because it is highly triggering for individuals who have suffered from physical abuse and sexual assault.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns #1
Greenwillow Books
September 20th, 2011


Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness...
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king--a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary things she could be his people's savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn't die young.
Most of the chosen do. 

Without reservation, I give The Girl of Fire and Thorns 5 out of 5 stars. Rae Carson doesn't just pull you into the story, she literally drags you into it with a compelling plot line and a remarkably sympathetic protagonist. I absolutely loved that Elisa wasn't your traditional "beautiful in a non-traditional way" young adult heroine. Elisa is awkward and overweight, she eats her feelings, and has low self-esteem. From the moment you meet her, Elisa is relate-able.
The characters are well rounded, and the relationships are wonderfully well developed and believable. The world described is brilliantly realized once you get your bearings. It's grounded in reality in the fact that the languages in the book bear a striking resemblance to Spanish and Latin. My favorite thing about the book is the fact that Elisa is at once a very strong and a very weak character. She has doubts about who she is and what her destiny is, and yet she works to find her own strength and her own courage. She is one of the rare young adult heroines who has agency. Who figures things out on her own, rather than has a male side kick do it for her. And I loved that!
There were very few things about this book that I didn't like. It did have a rather slow start, and it was slightly confusing to get my bearings. A prologue or at least a map of the world in question would have been nice to introduce the reader to Elisa's world. 
Overall, The Girl of Fire and Thorns is an amazing read. It's a story about having the courage to find your faith in yourself. It's a must have book! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lost in Babylon by Peter Lerangis

Seven Wonders #2
October 29, 2013

ONE STEP FORWARD. A week ago, thirteen-year-old Jak McKinley was a normal kid leading a normal life--totally unaware that he was about to die. He's cursed with a genetic abnormality that's giving him amazing powers too quickly for his body to handle. Jack's only hope: Find the seven lost Loculi that were hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by the last prince of Atlantis. Only they contain the magic to save him--and the world.
TWO STEPS BACK. After unearthing the first Loculus and defeating the Colossus of Rhodes, Jack and his friends are in worse shape than when they first set out. Marco had disappeared without a trace, along with the first Loculus. With no time to spare and no one to turn to, Jack and the gang have no choice but to follow the only clues they have and to head off on the next leg of their epic quest--to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
SEVEN WONDERS. Join the adventure now. Lost in Babylon is the second book in the swashbuckling Seven Wonders series from master storyteller Peter Lerangis.

Overall, I give Lost in Babylon 3 out of 5. It's a good book if you're looking for a quick read, but it's kind of disappointing if you've read the Percy Jackson books first. Honestly, I find the Seven Wonders Series to be a bit of a poor man's Percy Jackson. Even though it has an endorsement from Rick Riordan, I feel like it's a bit of a rip off. But that's just me. 
Still, the story is interesting and fast paced. I read it pretty quickly (two days once I picked it up and actually started reading), and got interested in it. There were a few things that were a little annoying and seemed to be solved a bit too easily, but some of the plot twists were fun and interesting. I especially loved the puzzles and Cass. He's quickly becoming my favorite character. The twist at the end, though... I didn't see that one coming. This one is geared toward younger, more Middle Grade readers, but it's still a relatively good read.

The Fiery Heart By Richelle Mead

Bloodlines Series #4
November 19, 2013

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets--and human lives.
In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her...
But the struggle isn't over for Sygney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure--and re-education--looms larger than ever.
Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment of the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

Overall, I give The Fiery Heart an 5 out of 5. It's hard for me to find a Richelle Mead novel that I don't like. But this one was one that I honestly couldn't have lived without. This one was absolutely brilliant. Richelle Mead took my breath away and had me on my edge of my seat when it came to how Sydney got around the problems with her sister and her relationship with Adrian. It was so beautifully written and it completely made me fall in love with the series all over again!
The only thing I didn't like about this novel was how easily Adrian slipped back into his old habits after all the hard work he did throughout the book. However, his character growth throughout this book alone was wonderful. In comparison to how it was when he was introduced in Shadow Kissed--he's a completely different character in the very best way. Bravo!

Champion by Marie Lu

Legend Series #3
Putnam Juvenile
November 5, 2013

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic--and each other--and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government's elite circles as the Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high level military position. 
But neither could have predicted the circumstances that would reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic's border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country's defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.
With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu's bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.


Overall, I give Champion 4 out of 5. The novel is interesting and fast paced. It picks up nearly 8 months from the end of Prodigy with very little description of what happened in the intervening time, which kind of bugged me a little, but it must not have been that important to the story overall. BEWARE OF SPOILERS! There's a lot of talk about Day's condition and the fact that he's dying, which pushes the timeline of the story into a pretty compressed space, but it makes for a bit more excitement. However it does make some things a little less believable. 
The one thing about this novel that I didn't like was the ending. The loose ends were tied up much too neatly for my taste. The real problem in Day and June's relationship is the fact that June is pretty much responsible for the fact that Day's mother was shot and Eden was taken captive by the Republic and experimented on. While Lu made that a real dramatic point throughout Champion, in the end it seemed she glossed over it and tied that point up much too easily. You'll have to read for yourself to see exactly how it happened, but I thought it was a bit of a cop out myself.