Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Review: Passenger

Passenger (Passenger, #1)Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Passenger #1

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

“It's our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.” 

“In the whole course of history, war had always fallen on the shoulders of the young.” 

“The only way out is through.”

“A snake could shed its skin, but never change its color.” 

“You are my passenger, and I will be damned before I let any harm come to you.” 

I really wanted to love this book. I loved some parts of it, but most of it I found myself flipped through the pages, counting how many pages I had left until the finish. Needless to say, I don’t think I will be reading “Wayfarer”, which is really a tragedy in itself because it looks so good. I loved Etta and I loved Nicholas, but I felt like the story was lacking a lot. There was very weak characterization and a lot of fluffy writing that I felt was totally unnecessary. This book took me forever to finish and I think a lot of that was due to the “fluff”, for lack of a better word. I greatly enjoyed any and all dialogue shared between characters, but anything other than that was painful to get through.

I think what I really wanted from this book was more action. I loved when Etta and Nicholas were travelling and I loved finding out where they were headed next and seeing their reactions when they got there. I would actually say that I wanted more of that. I wanted to know more about their pasts, their secrets, their personalities, etc. The story could have been really innovative but there was nothing there to keep me intrigued. I have chalked this book up to the pure conclusion that Alex’s writing style is just not for me. I would love to hear from others about “Wayfarer”. I still feel like I want to give it a try, but I am a little gun shy after finishing this one.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: Something In Between

Something in BetweenAuthor: Melissa De La Cruz
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

“I like how he looks into my eyes like he’s seeing past the image everyone else sees – into who I really am.”

“There’s never a moment you can’t choose who you want to be.”

“It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?”

I usually find myself reading a lot of YA Contemporary in the Spring, but I found myself really in the mood for some with all the winter weather we have been getting. This book is unlike anything I have ever read, being an immigration story, and by the end of the book I found out the author’s story is not too different from our main character’s story. I was intrigued from the first chapter, and even though there were a few slow spots, I was very entertained and invested in finding out what happened to Jasmine and her family. I really appreciated being able to read this book from Jasmine’s perspective. She is an “undocumented”teenage girl with the hopes of living a version of her “American dream” and being able to attend Stanford and change the world for the better. I felt like her character really grew by the time we reached the end of the story, and I must say that I always ecstatic when authors are able to do that in such a short amount of time.

There is a romance in this book, but I will say that it does not take away from Jasmine’s story in the least. She does not use Royce to “get over” her problems or to help define her in anyway. He is a great character and really adds to Jasmine’s complexity. Some parts are “mushy gushy”, as my ten-year-old self would say, but overall the love story is done very well and you will find yourself rooting for a happy ending for the two of them. What I must say that I loved even more than these two characters was Jasmine’s honesty and realness. She took into consideration how others viewed her and she tried to look at her status in America from other people’s perspectives. She was not angry at people against immigration, but instead tried to see things the way they would see it and only wanted to change things for the better. I loved the ending and “everything in between” – see what I did there?!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark CrownsAuthor: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Three Dark Crowns # 1

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen” 

“I want revenge." She whispers, and her fingers trail bloody streaks down Natalia's arms.
"And then I want my crown.” 

“Only a king-consort is fool enough to love a queen, he says quietly.” 

“No one really wishes to be a queen.” 

I have read, watched, and listened to so many reviews where readers say they did not enjoy this book. However, I am so glad that I went ahead with my gut feeling and read this book because I absolutely loved it. I have not had much experience with high/dark fantasy, but I am thinking that 2017 might just be the year for it. I had read over and over that the book starts slow and doesn’t get better throughout, but I, on the other hand, felt that the “slowness” was necessary in order to build the world and lay the foundation for this series. This world is so intricate and complicated and completely mystical that in order to full appreciate this series, you really have to understand all the tiny details. There are also a ton of characters that are introduced in this first book, but I was not confused or put off by that in the least.

You go into this book knowing that the underlying fact is that not all three of these sisters will be queens. Two must die. I have so many mixed emotions about where I think this series is going to go from here. I have read several reviews where people say they could not connect or disliked all three of the sister queens. I am right the opposite. I think they all were extremely developed and they all have attributes and/or things in their lives that made me empathize with them and root for them. I have a prediction of what I think will happen based on the ending, but I have no way of knowing if that will even play out how I think it will. I am so excited for more to come from this world. My 2017 reading year has started off with a bang!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: The Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)Author: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books
Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard # 1

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

“My name is Magnus Chase. I’m sixteen years old. This is the story of how my life went downhill after I got myself killed.”

“The thing about fate, Magnus: even if we can't change the big picture, our choices can alter the details. That's how we rebel against destiny, how we make our mark. What will you choose to do?”

“Somebody once told me that a hero's bravery has to be unplanned - a genuine response to a crisis. It has to come from the heart, without any thought of reward.” 

“Blades before babes, you know what I’m saying?”   

Might I say that I can see myself potentially liking this series more than the Percy Jackson series? Would you be upset with me? Well, at any rate, it’s true. I was so involved in Magnus’s story and even at 499 pages, I flew the book and can’t wait to start book two. If you know anything at all about Rick Riordan, then you know how fascinated he is with Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. Going into this book, I knew absolutely nothing about Norse mythology, and I pleased to say that after reading this book I have really learned a lot. While I read, I had Google sitting ready to go on my laptop and every time a new character was introduced, I started researching. It really made for a unique and enjoyable reading experience.

Magnus Chase is such a well-written character. He learns early on that he is the son of a Norse God, and just like with Percy Jackson, the adventure ensues from there. His voice had so much spunk and spark. I am not one that usually laughs out loud when reading a book, but with his voice I just could not help it. Plus his interactions and dialogue with other characters makes him seem all the more witty and charming. The book is filled with an array of lively characters, both large and small. And yes, we do get spotlights from Loki, Thor, and the All-Father himself, Odin. One of my favorite characters was Blitzen, who serves as Magnus’s sidekick and is there to offer guidance and help him figure out his role in this new world. I loved the way the book ended and I can’t wait to read more about Magnus Chase and all that he gets himself into.