Friday, August 28, 2015

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Title: All The Bright Places

 Author: Jennifer Niven

 Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

 Date Published: January 6th, 2015

 Genre: Contemporary,

 Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

 Age Range: 15+


     Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
     Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
     When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


     This book has been incredibly hyped since its release around half a year ago. Honestly, the hype hasn't really died down ever since- which is a little terrifying. I always read hyped books with a grain of salt, ready to be disappointed or caught up in the hype. Usually, I am pleasantly surprised; this book, though, blows everything that I have ever read out of the water. Per the usual, I will try to be very non-spoilery, however, there will be spoilers later on in this review.
     The cover of this book is sickeningly adorable, and I will admit to some cover lust. Just look at its cuteness!! Cover aside, this book was very raw, and unrelenting. The way it dealt with problems like depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders was amazing. Jennifer Niven did such a great job with these heavy subjects because she didn't shy away from the harsh realities, and she certainly didn't make this a mindless read. The heavier topics were met head on, they weren't romanticized in any way, they weren't glossed over, and the true consequences of these problems being ignored was prominent.
     Violet and Finch were both great characters, and polar opposites. While Violet was the example of defeating her depression, and rising above it, Finch is the example of becoming his disorder at times. Both characters could seem very superficial at times, but teenagers are superficial sometimes- all of us are. All of the minor characters in this book were just that- minor to a fault. I can remember names of certain characters, but none of them really stuck out as important, or as individuals, except for Amanda. Finch's mom was your typical, absent YA parent trope, while Violet's parents were the opposite. I actually really liked Violet's parents. Finch's father's new family was so absent that I couldn't really bring myself to form an opinion about them. Decca and Kate, while pretty minor, really got on my good side. One of my favorite parts of the book was where Finch was crafting with Decca and he was trying to teach her that there is beauty in nasty words.
     And now, things are going to get very spoilery. Trust me when I say that this is a book that you do not want spoiled for you.
     So, first, I actually never saw Finch having bipolar disorder. Looking back, it makes perfect sense, but I actually thought that he had some kind of brain trauma from being abused by his father that was making him spaz out. I thought that his brain trauma was pairing with some major depression to make him flip out. Of course, it turns out that he has bipolar disorder instead. And I knew that Violet was majorly depressed because it is stated pretty early on.
     The book was so mean in the way that things that really hopeful and happy around the middle, around the peak. I truly believed that we were gonna have a happy, hopeful ending. Then Finch disappeared, and I freaked out. As much as I hate to say this, I'm glad Finch died. Yes, I loved him, but untreated mental issues are not a joking matter, and there are repercussions from that decision. Out of all the messages that Finch sent to his friends and family, Decca's was my favorite, and that is when I started to cry. After that, I cried pretty steadily until the book ended.
     I hate to be that person, but the book got a little too drawn out near the end. I got a little bored with the ending a few pages before it ended, and that is the testament of a good writer. The fact that I was about to be lost, right as it was ended.
     A little, tiny part of me wants an epilogue so that we can check in on Violet a few years down the road. But mostly, I am pretty happy.
     If you, or someone you know struggles with depression, please visit: or call 800-273-TALK.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Uninvited and Unleashed by Sophie Jordan

 Title: Uninvited

 Author: Sophie Jordan

 Series: Uninvited Series #1

 Publisher: HarperTeen

 Date Published: January 28, 2014

 Genre: Dystopian, Romance

 Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

 Age Range: 14+


     Davy had everything—a terrific boyfriend, the homecoming crown, a bright future at Julliard—but when her genetic tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, she loses it all. Uninvited from her prestigious school, avoided by her friends and family, she is placed in a special class with other "carriers" who are treated like the murderers they someday might become.
     Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life and tells her that she alone controls her actions—not the code embedded into her DNA. But even if she can learn to trust him, can Davy trust herself?


     Sophie Jordan is coming to my town, so I just had to read a book by her before I get a book signed. I had some pretty average expectations for this book. I was expecting a pretty interesting plot, some meh characters, and a killer cliffhanger that would make me want to kill someone to have the next book. I waltzed into this story only having read the flap, and that is the best way to go into this book- knowing nothing. Now is where I say that this book went beyond what I had imagined. It was surprisingly good, and it left me thinking. That being said, the book fell flat at the same time.
     One way that the book fell short in my opinion was that things moved very erratically. At first things start chugging along, and then things slow down drastically before they pick up again. Besides the erratic pace, I didn't like some of the characters. Tori felt like a completely random, unnecessary character just used as a plot device. Zac, I just despised- I never really liked him; his affection always seemed stilted. I disliked the ending of this book too. This book did NOT need to be a duology! This book could have easily been a slightly longer standalone. In fact, I would've liked the book better if everything had been resolved in this installment.
     Besides those rather small issues, I really did like this book. I LOVED Sean. Oh my, goodness gracious. Yes, he was cliche, and yes, there was instalove. HOWEVER, he was so sweet, and a bad-boy which I love. I also really liked Davy herself. She wasn't anything super special, but she fit perfectly into the story. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to read more about Mitchell. He was so funny, sarcastic, and I really wanted to wanted to see some more depth on his part. Honestly, I just wanted a lot more of Mitchell. I enjoyed meeting Sabine and Gil, but I hoped that they would get together.
     The near-ending was... interesting. For awhile, it looked like we would have a promising, open-ended ending. Instead, we had... the ending that we did. I really was praying that this book would end in one book, but of course it couldn't! Goodness gracious.

Title: Unleashed

Author: Sophie Jordan

Series: Uninvited Series #2

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Published: February 24, 2015

Genre: Dystopian

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Age Range: 14+


     Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man.
     Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she'll be ruled by the kill gene, or if she'll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence laying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn't even know if she can trust herself.


     Honestly, this book was not necessary. At all. Now that I have read it, I can definitely say that this book adds very little to the story. I am very upset that this book is so bad, especially since I loved the first one so much.
     This book totally ruined what we built in the first one. Whatever we built with Sean became a problem after it wasn't a problem in the first book. And then, Sophie Jordan cruelly throws this new guy in here.. that I also love. WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?! This book is both more boring, and more action-y than the first one. At times, I wanted to blow something up to make something- anything- happen. And other times, I was panting.
     Davy didn't change very much in this installment. She became a bit tougher, and she became more brutal, but- if anything- she made some steps backwards. We meet some new characters, and not a whole lot of them stick out to me. I did love Junie, even what ended up happening to her. Besides her, the only other character that I can really remember is Tabatha. And I felt very... meh towards her. Then, my favorite character is Caden. He was wonderful, and I was severely torn about this whole Sean vs. Caden thing.
     The plot thing with Sabine and Sean was... wow. Just wow. I was really angry because we never got to see what ended up playing out with Sean and Sabine and Gil while Davy was gone. The letter that Gil sent Davy at the end had me tearing up a little because, letters man. They always kill me.
     Overall, I would give this series four stars. The first book was so much better than the second, but they were both pretty decent.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

 Title: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

 Author: Brian Katcher

 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

 Date Published: May 19, 2015

 Genre: Contemporary

 Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

 Age Range: 14+


     When Ana Watson's brother ditches a high school trip to run wild at Washingcon, type-A Ana knows that she must find him or risk her last shot at freedom from her extra-controlling parents.
In her desperation, she's forced to enlist the last person she'd ever want to spend time with—slacker Zak Duquette—to help find her brother before morning comes.
     But over the course of the night, while being chased by hordes of costumed Vikings and zombies, Ana and Zak begin to open up to each other. Soon, what starts as the most insane nerdfighter manhunt transforms into so much more. . . .


     First off, I really love the cover. It's super cute, and I love the pixelated characters. That being said, this book doesn't have much of anything to do with math, so the equations all over the cover are a little random and unnecessary. Much like I thought it would be after reading the flap, this book was a cute, mindless read- some fluff to read between heavier books.
     Ana and Zak are our two protagonists, and the story is told through dual POVs- something that really helped this book along. Ana is your average geeky, shy girl with wacko parents, and Zak, well I guess he's an average video game nerd. I've only read one other contemporary with a nerdy video game player (Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff) and those two male leads were very similar. I wish that these characters had been a little more unique, but I understand why they were so generic... Relatability. Ana's younger brother was such an un-fleshed out character that he simply felt like a plot device. The other characters that we meet at ComiCon are hilarious. I don't know if people are normally like that at those kinds of places, but I was in stitches!
     Some aspects of the book didn't feel realistic. Honestly, how much trouble can you get into at places like that? However, Ana and Zak's shenanigans had me shaking my head and chuckling. I was totally able to suspend my disbelief, and enjoy the story. Besides those wild encounters, the secrets that Ana and Zak also have some secrets that they are keeping from each other. Predictable secrets, and very average ones at that, but secrets nonetheless.
     I was pleasantly surprised by this book and its depths. Overall, the book is pretty average, but it's a good kind of average. It's more of a 3 1/2 star rating for me.


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

 Title: The Assassin's Blade

 Author: Sarah J. Maas

 Series: Throne of Glass (#0.1- #0.5)

 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children

 Date Published: March 4th, 2014

 Genre: Fantasy

 Pages: 464 (Hardcover)

 Age Range: 14+


      Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom's most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin's Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.
     When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes--and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn's orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn's clutches--and if they fail, they'll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .

     So, Sarah J. Maas strikes again. She writes yet another stellar book about Celaena Sardothien and her constant troubles. This "book" is actually a bind- up, a compilation of five short stories- each of them following Celaena as she attempts to repent for a crime that she committed against Arobynn, King of the Assassins. In the first story, she commits her crime, and later she repents. These stories were very intense, and I can't believe some of the things that happened.
      First, we get to see a lot more of Celaena's true self. We truly get to see some new things that we have never learned about her before, and a lot more of her personality. Celaena's personality in the original series makes a lot more sense, and I really do like her. In these stories, we get to meet A LOT more new characters. Most of these characters are only in this story- at  least that I've seen so far- but they are really nice and involved. Honestly though, I cannot say how much I hate Arobynn. There is not a painful enough way for him to die.
     I totally loved what happened in every single story. The only story that I didn't love was the last one because it was so intense, and because my baby... well, bad things happened to him. There wasn't a story that didn't have me on the edge of my seat, dying.
     Of course, after I read the last story, I texted Ashley in a pool of tears. She was really confused, but after I filled her in, she was still confused. But! She did give me half-hearted pats on the back from two hundred miles away, and she did let me whine.
      I cannot wait to read Queen of Shadows, and I am dying to have it in my hands.