Monday, February 29, 2016

Glass Sword

Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA Distopian Fantasy
Pages: 440
Rating: 2 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & Noble • Book Depository

To end the reign of Silver, Mare Barrow must find the only Reds who have a shot at defeating them. Unfortunately, she is not the only person who knows where those few Reds are. Newly appointed king, Maven, is racing neck and neck to find these Newbloods and end them- or is he?

This book took me so long to get into. I'm pretty sure it took me two weeks. Two weeks. I don't think it's ever taken me that long to read a book, and quite frankly, I don't think it's all my fault. This book was very, very slow. Sure it sped up in the end, but it wasn't until page 200 that I even remotely had an interest in this book. 

The fact is, the characters aren't unique or developed. They all have the same personality, and I can't tell one apart from another. And Mare? The main character? I wasn't emotionally attached to her in any way, shape, or form. Plus there's practically no character development on her part between book one and two. It's literally like Aveyard flicked a switch, and suddenly Mare was some new person who'd been traumatized and put through so much. It was annoying, to be honest. 

This all being said, Victoria Aveyard is a very talented writer. From her word choice, to her imagery, to even her sentence structure, she obviously is skilled. I just wish that transferred to character development and plot structure, because you'd be kidding yourself if you thought that the plot wasn't somewhat cliché and featuring at least one overused trope. But hey! With these dystopian trilogies, the second book tends to be the worst, full of filler, and I have hopes for the third novel. 

So yes, I have to give Glass Sword two stars just because of how difficult I found it too care about anything happening in the story. I won't be recommending you read this until we find out if the third book is worth it, but if you liked Red Queen, maybe give this book a shot. I wish you the best of luck with it. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bookstagramming- A Discussion

As some of you may or may not be aware, I decided to start a Bookstagram account a little while ago.  If you don't know, bookstagram is essentially Instagram's bookish community.  Bookstagrammers take pictures of... wait for it... books!  So, after a month or so of posting to this community, I thought I'd discuss my overall impression of Bookstagram.  Stick around and tell me what you think at the end!

 I'm primarily a book blogger.  The whole reason I started a Bookstagram account was to gain another branch of social media associated with my blog.  But, that aside,  anyone who follows my personal Instagram knows I love photography.  Photography and books seemed like the perfect pair, right? Well, it's a little more complicated than that.

Being a book blogger, I like to put time and effort into all my posts.  I try to alternate between reviews and other posts, and I'm always thinking up new ideas.  Blogging takes up a lot of time.  With Bookstagram, each picture usually took me an hour.  First you have to figure out what you're going to photograph, then you have to position it, set the lighting, and take pictures from a billion different angles.  After that, the picture must be edited, and a caption must be written.  So, in the end, I can spend up to an hour completing the entire process.  That's a whole hour I could've spent reading or blogging.  Or maybe an hour I could've spent studying for a test or doing some homework. I quickly realized that it would be difficult to be both a serious blogger and a serious Bookstagrammer.

But the time commitment isn't the only thing I dislike about curating a Bookstagram.  Instagram is an app for pictures, so of course the whole purpose of Bookstagram would be to post pictures of books.  It's not a community you go on to read something. So, on Bookstagram, you go on to look at the physical books.  This makes the Bookstagram community very materialistic.  With a Bookstagram, you become concerned with the actual, physical book, where as on a book blog, all that matters is what the book was about and what you thought of it.  I think I prefer to read and write about the inside of a book, not its exterior.  I'm definitely not saying that Bookstagrammers only care about the cover of books.  I love looking at the pictures people come up with, and I think what they're doing is great!  What I'm saying is that I personally prefer to put my time into blogging about the book rather than photographing the physical book.

The last thing I dislike about Bookstagramming was how many people were practically begging for followers.  It's a very competitive community, because everyone can see the exact amount of followers each person has, and people tend to judge each other based on how high their follower count is.  I've already gotten so many "f4f?"s on my pictures, and it's driving me crazy!  If you post quality pictures, you'll eventually be rewarded with more followers.  Begging for one extra follower is not the way to gain a good reputation.  I guess I just wish that people weren't so obsessed with how many followers they have.

This all being said, I do love Bookstagram.  I love looking at other people's pictures and accounts, and I enjoy seeing what people come up with.  My overall impression of the community and my experience contributing to it is simply that I would need to chose between primarily book blogging and primarily Bookstagramming.  I prefer to book blog.  It's a simple as that.  If you're a Bookstagrammer, I'm certainly not saying that what you do is below blogging.  Keep doing what you do!  I know first hand it's hard and time consuming to come up with quality content.  If you're a book blogger who also Bookstagrams, I wish I had whatever super power it is you have that allows you to juggle the two so effectively.

In the end, I'll certainly keep my Bookstagram, and I'll continue to post on it.  However, I won't be posting nearly as frequently as I have been. Every one-two days is just too much of my life put towards something I'm not truly passionate about!

So if you're a Bookstagrammer, what's your opinion on the community?  And if you blog and Bookstagram, how do you balance the two, and which do you consider your primary?

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 317
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

Mike is not the chosen one. Neither is his sister Mel, or his friends Jared or Henna. Not his mom, not his dad, not his cat, nor his other sister. They all just live and exist in the shadows of the real chosen ones. This time, like all other times, it's the Indie kids. The ones set apart from everyone else. They're the real chosen ones.

This book is okay. It has an interesting concept and all, but I didn't find the actual story to be all that captivating. Plus, I didn't really like the way Patrick Ness blends fantasy and realism together. This was the first Patrick Ness book for me, and I wasn't expecting the line between fantasy and realism to be so definite. I feel like fantasy has a sort of ambiance to it, and it shouldn't be able to be turned off and on so easily.

So perhaps my problem with this book is merely Patrick Ness' writing style. Maybe you like it, maybe you don't, however, I feel this was not the only fault in this novel.

The plot wasn't all that interesting. I mean, I guess it was a unique idea and all, but I just wasn't all that overwhelmed with the story. It was a rather boring plot line filled with rather boring characters. However, while we're on the topic of the characters, I did find the representation of mental illness to be very nice. I don't come across many YA books that feature a main character with a mental illness, and this story has two. You see a truthful, accurate representation of anorexia and OCD in this book, and I think it's something you don't come across that often in YA.  That being said, the actual personalities of the characters were bland, and the story was predictable and dull at many points.

So would I actually recommend this? If you're a fan of Ness, then chances are you'll like this. If you haven't read any of his books, I suppose you should give it a try. It's has a very unique style, and despite not liking, I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stars Above

Title: Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Pages: 369
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

The Lunar Chronicles may be over, but Stars Above completes the last novel with its epilogue and other short stories, including The Keeper, Glitches, The Queen's Army, Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky, After Sunshine Passes, The Princess and the Guard, The Little Android, The Mechanic, and Something Old, Something New. 

I thought this collection was okay. There were nine short stories, and I only really only enjoyed three of them.

The first four stories, The Keeper, Glitches, The Queen's Army, Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky, and After Sunshine Passes were somewhat entertaining. I mean, you learned a bit of background about some of the characters, but it doesn't add anything to the story. I could've gone without reading them. 

I did enjoy The Princess and the Guard, as it was all about Winter and Jacin's relationship as they grew up. Winter is my favorite character, and I loved getting to read a story showing us all the trauma she went through as a child. It really helped me understand and respect her as a character. 

The Little Android was sort of cool, as it was a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but the story itself was very boring, and was about all new characters we were meeting for the first time. I did enjoy The Mechanic, though. It was Cinder and Kai's first meeting from Kai's point of view, and I liked reading about what was going on through his mind. 

And finally, the epilogue, Something Old, Something New. I'm definitely glad I got to read this epilogue. We find out all about the relationships we'd grown to love, and how they played out. No, it wasn't so amazing that it made this book a four star, but I'm still happy we got this nice, cute, fairytale ending. 

So if you're contemplating reading this, I'd say give it a shot. It's not very long, and for the most part, it goes fast. You'll get to learn the background of the main characters, and find out how the series concludes. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ugly Book Covers

You didn't say it, but we're all thinking it. Some books just really need a cover change.

1. The Death Cure by James Dashner
Okay, this book doesn't even look good when it's with it's family, let alone when it's isolated. The ice-like text on the spine is just so unbearably ugly. 

2. The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armetrout 
Oh gosh. I'm sorry you have to look at this. 

3. Maximum Ride by James Patterson
Not only is this book series painfully bad, but the covers are just awful! I would also like to point out that the model on the cover of Angel (bottom row, third from the left) is supposed to be the character Angel, a seven year old girl. 

4. The Cay by Theodore Taylor
What even is this? 

5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Well... they tried to make this series look better, but it really didn't work. 

6. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling 
Before you start yelling, here me out. These covers are actually kind of ugly. They get progressively better, but if I didn't know anything about Harry Potter, I probably wouldn't consider picking these up. 

Honorable Mentions
For books that started out ugly, but got a a cover change


1. Gone series by Michael Grant (featuring Hunger) 
These original covers of these books are just hideous. What is Caine even doing in Hunger? 


2. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Does anything even need to be said about this? 

3. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
A moment of silence, please, for this monstrosity. 


4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Je détese cette couveture de livre. 

Thanks for reading about my personal cover nightmares, and let me know what your least favorite book cover is!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Pages: 372
Rating: 4 Stars
Purchase this book:

Anna does not want to leave her home in Atlanta, but her rich and famous author-father believes that attending a boarding school in Paris will be "beneficial". So, Anna packs her bags and sets off for the City of Light. However, when she gets there, she discovers that maybe Paris won't be as bad as she thinks- especially once she's set her eyes on the charismatic Étienne St. Clair. 

This book was so cute! I don't read that much contemporary, and even less romance, but I was pleasantly surprised here. The Parisian setting along with the adorable characters create a lovable, fun novel.

My favorite aspect of Anna and the French Kiss is definitely the setting. Reading a book that takes place in Paris is just flat out fun. A lot of contemporary books are set in the states, a setting I'm familiar with, so it doesn't have the new and exciting feel to it. Paris is a place so different and distant from what I'm used to, and it made the book all that more enjoyable. I also take French, so I do know about the culture, geography, and language.  I think my background knowledge on the location allowed me to appreciate things in the story even more. 

The characters are fun, too. Sure, "charismatic, confident boy meets shy, new girl" is a little cliché, but it doesn't matter because their relationship is so unique. They're strong friends throughout the book, rather than instantly a couple. Plus, they aren't the only characters in the novel. Their other friends have unique personalities that make the book special and different. 

I will have to say that the writing in the book wasn't always the best. Sometimes I felt like the sentence structure was too choppy and disruptive. Too flat. And there were a few points in the plot that were way too convenient/predictable.  But, the story was super addictive, and I just really enjoyed getting to sit down and read this book. 

I read in the acknowledgements that this novel started out as a National Novel Writing Month book- how cool is that? So, I'm giving Anna and the French Kiss four stars for it's lovely characters, adorable romance, and fresh plot line. If you're reluctant about contemporary and/or romance, give this book a try! I think you'll like it. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Carry On

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 517
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

Baz and Simon have been living in the same dorm room since the two first came to Watford at the small age of 11.  Now, the two 18 year old enemies are living out their last year as the brewing war against the evil insidious humdrum begins. However, as the two are forced to place their trust in each other, they realize that maybe the tension growing between them both has less to do with hate than they thought.

Let me just say, I had no idea how much I'd enjoy this book. It was absolutely captivating and addictive. I read Fangirl and really didn't like the excerpts from Cath's fanfiction.  If you felt the same way, do not be afraid to start this book. It's absolutely amazing. 

This book is written as the 8th book in a series, so you don't go into it entirely understanding the background of the book. However, Carry On is loosely based on the relationship between Baz and Simon, and getting inside the heads of the characters allows you to invest yourself in the relationship easily. 

Carry On is definitely one of the books you read for the characters- at least in my opinion. The plot isn't something I cared all that much about, and I think that has something to do with the fact that the reader doesn't see Simon Snow grow up. But, I definitely cared about the characters, and their relationships.  It was just such a fun book to read, and I really, really enjoyed watching the relationship between Simon and Baz develop. 

That's where I took off half a star, though.  It took practically half of the book before I actually found myself glued to it's pages.  It felt like a slow start, just because you're picking up in a world that's already been "established".  You aren't invested in the plot. Once the relationship involving our main character picks up, the story gets more interesting.  

I'm not making much sense here, but I truly enjoyed this book. It's rather difficult to cohesively express what it is about this book that I liked, but I think, if I had to sum it up, it'd have to be the refreshing romance. Everything about it is developed so perfectly; I had to set the book down and just breathe every so often because of how overwhelmingly perfect things were. 

So, whether or not you liked the fanfiction bits in Fangirl, and whether or not you've read Fangirl, I think you'll find yourself surprised by how much you like this book.