Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: The Eleventh Plague

The Eleventh Plague

Author: Jeff Hirsch
Pages: 278
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Library
Synopsis: In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever.

Buy the book (Amazon/Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch was a good book but I wasn't really wowed by it.

I do think it's really me and my "go big or go home" mentality. When it comes to books, I like big, intricate stories about special people facing and conquering fear and danger. Stories about people dealing with hardship like everyone else interest me but I've never really loved them. And that's what The Eleventh Plague was about. A boy, Stephen trying to find his way in the world.

The story and world is similar to Ashes Ashes. The world is bleak and desolate. Hope can only be found when searched for. Humans are torn between survival and humanity. There's danger around every corner, conflict, and everything you'd expect from a world left in ruins. What I liked about The Eleventh Plague was that while it was grim, it was believable. That really upped its creep factor and I felt the book's mood clearly.

The characters didn't entice me too much. I liked Stephen, Jenny and them just fine but I never loved them. I did like how they fell in love. Though it was quick, one line Jenny said made me realize there was more to her and she's good for Stephen. Stephen himself has lost so much that I wish I could give him everything I have here, like my books. He's a genuinely good guy but for most of his life all he has focused on is surviving as he experiences loss after loss after loss.

The plot is pretty well summarized by the synopsis and I think it's pretty good. There were some very action filled scenes but I wasn't too excited about them. I think the reason why is that I expect death in post-apocalyptic reads so I desensitize my self subconsciously before reading. Whatever happened, it wasn't very enjoyable.

I know I've sounded pretty lukewarm in my review but that's how I feel. There are some definite good parts in the novel like how it ended or some of the morality crises (I love reading about those) and I do think there are parts to like overall. The Eleventh Plague just isn't my kind of read but I encourage you to try it if you're interested. 2 stars,


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not Feelin' the Love; Books That Made Me Bawl

I don't have anything against Valentine's Day. First of all, there's chocolate everywhere! And love! And hearts, and everyone is supposed to be happy, etc. 

But today has been a depressing, heartbreaking day for reasons completely outside of books and more in the lines of my favourite sports team and player as you could probably tell by my rant on Twitter. So, I'm not exactly feeling the love. I was going to do some type of romance book today, but I'm not in the mood. Seriously, I'm even wearing black. 

I know Valentine's Day isn't the best day for a lot of people, so here's a list of books that made me cry or generally feel very sad and awful. Sorry in advance. Oh, and if you can click on the book covers to get a link to the Goodreads page. 

The Fault in Our Stars
It begins with this book. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green made me bawl. I was sickened, I was disgusted, and I was so angry. You can see I haven't rated this book. I can't do that. This book disturbed me so badly. It's a book about a girl with cancer and it's written incredibly well so that every paragraph is entertaining in it's own right. It lures you in and breaks your heart. It's actually quite cruel so I will warn you about that. 

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
Next book I have to give a shout out to is Where She Went by Gayle Forman. It's the sequel to an already pretty heartbreaking book in If I Stay. I feel like Where She Went hits harder, is much more sad, and Adam is a better protagonist than Mia. He's so genuine, raw, and lost and the book reeks of nostalgia. Ever lost something or someone you loved? This book is all about that. What I did like is that while there is some type of bright side in the end, it's not cliched. It comes from lots of work and the promise of happiness is not a sure thing. It's a possibility, a tentative one at that. Definitely worth a read. 

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2)
Yeah, yeah, I have a thing for sequels. I liked The Summer I Turned Pretty, It was sad, and completely unexpected. I liked however, It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han even more. It's the story of what happens after your life has completely changed. It's about trying to hold things together, and at what point should you let everything go. It's also about growing up. This book is Belly's journey, and it's the second in the trilogy. I have yet to read the third, but I feel this book is good enough. 

Undoubtedly, I'm missing a good chunk of books. However, when I think of books that made me bawl, these three are the first that come to mind. I had a hard time reading every one of them and they made an impression in my mind. Did anyone read any of these? Which books have made you cry the most?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Eona

Eona (Eon, #2)

Author: Alison Goodman
Pages: 637
Publisher: VIKING
Sequel to: Eon
Source: Library
Synopsis: Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

Buy the Book (Amazon/Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

I finished Eona and it was magnificent and perfect and I don't want it to end but it was the perfect ending. I'm telling you right on this review will end up being very gushy on account of this being one of the best books I've ever read.

I was first enchanted with the dragons in Eon, the story of a girl masking herself as a boy so she can be a Dragoneye and link with a dragon to preserve prosperity and peace in the land. Dragoneyes were all men so Eona could never reveal her gender until the last moment. That left many hurt and questioning Eona.

Eona starts with action, brings more action and when you cannot tear yourself away from the pages it ends. The plot was really well woven. I was always interested and I'm sitting here writing this review at home when I should be at the library studying for my test or finishing a big project for school. Eona makes me forget all that; it absorbs me completely. Irresistible.

The story is filled with death, moral dilemmas, war, love, healing, redemption, political maneuvering, betrayal, magic with the cultural aspects of old Japan and China. I wouldn't have thought all that would fit into one novel too, but it does. And it doesn't feel like a mess! The book is really long (and as I said before, it's really hard to put down) so I suggest reading it when you have a lot of time.

The things I love most about Eona are the characters. I love these characters. Eona now ranks as one of my favourite characters ever. She's strong, has values, and realizes sacrifice. At the same time Eona wants power and to be special. She's so relatable and I could understand everything she did. Every character had missteps and had to make hard choices. That was part of their charm and I appreciated them all. Even the the most vile of characters I thought was well done.

So I've probably failed to be coherent and logical. That's okay, the point of this review is to tell you to READ EON AND EONA. I loved them and I recommend them based on fabulous world building, intricate plots and some pretty amazing characters.

Now that I'm done the series I want to cry, and laugh, and jump up and down with joy. I also want to reread it and I will. At some point I will.

5 stars,


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Age of Reading; Forever YA?

Ever since I was a kid, I've read books for an older age group than mine. I actually didn't like picture books very much as a kid. I found them to be boring and I wasn't interested in books at all until I was old enough to read chapter books. Junie B. Jones was one of the first "chapter" books I read. It was about a kid younger than me, in kindergarten, which didn't bother me much but the next chapter books I got into were about twelve year-olds when I was seven so about a five year gap.

Ever since then, I've consistently read about people older than me. I started to move away from MG in grades 4/5 and by grade 6 I was reading entirely YA. Now, I stick to YA but occasionally will read a MG book (especially if it's by this guy).

Now, I've been reading teen for about five years and again, I can see myself shifting in age. I'm 16 and most YA books are either about characters or aimed towards people a little older, a little younger, or just around this age. When I was younger, I remember loving to read about the first years of high school. I used to always wonder what it was like and the only way I could imagine it even semi-accurately (beyond watchin those shows my mom called "garbage") was to read about it. Now, I've been in high school for three years. I haven't been accepted into Hogwarts (*sobs*) and I don't read those types of books anymore. Once again, my interests or reading levels has shifted upwards.

These days I don't want to read young YA. I've been through that stage, I kind of hate that age, and now I'm wandering more towards books about growing up. If I'm reading a contemporary, it's not about fitting in any more but how to stand out. I read more about becoming an adult, saying goodbye to high school and opening up to university. It's awkward for me sometimes to read about characters noticeably younger. I can't read about 11 year olds as a 16 year old. I find it odd, and also really sad because I remember being 11 and thinking that 12 was this magical age where everything awesome would happen to you. It's not an unpleasant reading experience, but it is a little strange to have a literary crush on a guy even two years younger, which is why I don't connect as well to those books.

Books have always been a source of comfort to me. I've always reminded myself that no matter how sucky anything in my life is, at least it's not as bad as ________'s life when they had to _________ and ended up losing _________.  YA books in particular have done a lot. I owe a lot of my personality and maturity to the YA genre and everything it has taught me.That's why I wonder sometimes if I'll still read YA in the future.

I know a lot of people do. And a lot of you guys make some pretty spectacular blogs with wonderful reviews and features. As much as YA is supposed to be for teens, the YA blogosphere would not be where it is today if it weren't for the "adults" that keep reading YA. You know, the +20 up are a huge demographic blogging-wise and probably when it comes to book sales too. Since y'all actually have some sort of income.

So naturally, being the annoyingly over analytic person that I am, I wonder if I'll stick with YA for life. If when I'm 30 (I don't want to imagine this) I'll still care about the books that made me who I was as a teen in what I'm told are some of the most formative years of life.

As of this moment, I have nothing to worry about. There's plenty in YA that interests me and I don't see that changing for a while. If it ever does change, I don't think it'll be sudden. It'll be more of a progression towards more mature books and I'm not there yet. Nonetheless, I still do wonder.

I know it's not one or the other; teen or adult; but even now I find it hard to figure out what I'd like in the MG world, so I end up not reading any of it.

So I have some question for teens reading YA; do you think you'll continue to do so when you're not in the YA age group anymore? And for you older YA fans, what makes you stick around? Is it a conscious decision? Do you primarily read YA or do you read a mix?

I know people often do posts about this subject so if you already have written a post about why you read YA feel free to link it in the comments.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review: Prodigy

Prodigy (Legend, #2)

Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 384
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: ARC
Synopsis: June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

Buy the Book (Amazon/Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

In case you were wondering, yes, Marie Lu's dystopia series is the real deal. It's such an exhilarating read and this series has already become one of my favourites. There's so much to love.

First, I love the plot pace. Strangely enough, I felt like the plot was paced very quickly although in reality not as much as I thought would happen actually happens. That just goes to show how it feels to read Prodigy -it's a blur with some incredible action scenes, crazy twists, and at some point near the end I almost exploded. Well, not really, but wow. I'm a little bit scared of Marie Lu right now.

The weird thing is that I didn't enter this book with any expectations. I'm fortunate enough to have an ARC and beyond what my friend told me after she read it (which wasn't much) I decided not to read the synopsis so everything would take me by surprise. A lot of it did, although some stuff was a little too easy to figure out. I didn't really care about that because I was entertained. This book had action, explosions, possible revolutions, and romance. This is so my type of book.

Before I even realized it, I loved the characters. June's way of describing and observing everything and the way she can be so cold compared to Day's more emotional perspective was a great contrast proving they belong together. What's even better is June and Day together. They're an unstoppable duo as they build trust for one another. They compliment each other so well and I love that while they're a couple, they're also independent and resourceful on their own. Simply, together they're better and there's really nothing I can imagine them incapable of. There were some new characters introduced and some old characters, or at least seldom seen ones, appeared here and there but in general June and Day totally stole the show.

Prodigy digs a little deeper into the ethics of the Republic as June and Day encounter the Patriots and one of the most fascinating scenes was when more information about the rest of the world was revealed. Part of the Legend series' allure is the setting that seems to be so realistically different and it was cool to see how the rest of the world was like. It's so diverse in many ways.

I feel like I've done an awful job conveying my thoughts, except that this is a great sequel to Legend. It has a lot of the same stuff that made you like Legend in the first place and in addition, you learn some more about the characters. This is a thrilling book with a killer ending that'll leave you desperate for more. 4 stars,


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: Legend

Legend (Legend, #1)

Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 305
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Source: Library
Synopsis: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Buy the Book (Amazon/Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide)

I really liked Legend! It was totally my kind of read and I couldn't help but find myself enchanted by the characters, thrilled by the plot, and addicted to the story. It's just that kind of read, the high action type similar to Divergent which I adore.

Warning: Kickass characters lie ahead. If you're tired of that you may not like June or Day. If you do like them like me, you'll love them. June herself is a prodigy. There's these things called Trials that every kid goes through in Legend and June scores a 1500 out of 1500. She's the only kid who has ever done that and her high school guarantees her a life of success. She's brought into the military from a young age and she's a bit arrogant. Some of the tricks she could do were so cool and I'm in total awe of her. She's still a real person though. June lost her parents when she was young and her brother Metias was the one to really raise her until he was killed too. That's where Day comes into the picture.

Day is like June but he failed his Trials and is a criminal. The most wanted boy in the Republic, in fact. I like Day a lot. He's a rebel with a cause. He cares about his family deeply and has this confidence that you can't help but admire. I was rooting for him completely and I think he and June are great together.

These two characters tell the story. They have similar voices but you can mostly tell them apart by the fact that in my copy, Day's part was in gold font while June's was in black. Can I say how much I adore colored font? It's a little touch that I appreciate. Anyways, these characters aren't really normal or ordinary. They are special people and yes, it's a bit amazing what they can do but if you just go with it you'll enjoy the story like I did.

World wise, I liked Legend. It's nothing that is completely new but it works with what it has very well. The Republic is creepy and needs to be stopped. I can't wait to learn more of it's secrets. I also like that there is evidence of a rebellion. People still care which is so refreshing when I think of other books where it seems like everyone just lets the government do anything they want.

I said before that I love this type of story. The kind with action and fighting. The kind where lives are on stake and it's up to our heroes to save the day. I like when characters have almost no chance of succeeding but they do. I like the adrenaline rush you get, the thrill of the fights. I especially love that I couldn't put Legend down at times. I had to force myself to slow down. That is the read I'm looking for.

All in all, Legend is perfect for me. I love the characters, the world is exciting, and the plot is filled with action. I really liked it! 4 stars,

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