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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Review: Amulet of Elusion by Katie Lynn Johnson

Title: Amulet of Elusion

Author: Katie Lynn Johnson

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: July, 2012

Softcover: 378 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first installment in a series.

How I got this book: Copy provided by the author.


Why I chose this book: What really got my attention with this book was the synopsis.  It sounded original and intriguing, so I wanted to give it a try.

Synopsis:

Alexa Costa has a life-altering secret…only she doesn’t know it yet. 

Confined by law to the kingdom of Alvair until the age of eighteen, Alexa has lived a sheltered existence under the watchful eye of her sword-wielding guardian, Ivy. Her love interest, Caleb Whitman, is exactly the opposite. A merchant sailor and seeker of rare artifacts, Caleb has lived a life of adventure in nearby San Lucero, the long-time rival of Alvair. 

After her eighteenth birthday, Alexa’s quiet existence becomes tumultuous, and she realizes she does not need to seek to find adventure. Myths become real, legend becomes fact, and Alexa discovers that she possesses rare abilities which make her a target for both sides in a centuries-old struggle for power. She must use every resource available to her—including her talents with the supernatural Amulets— to help her friends, rekindle her romance with Caleb, and save her island home from destruction.


Review:

I went into this book with a lot of expectations of what was to come.  The synopsis led me to be hopeful for a really original, unique story.  I wasn’t disappointed, either.  This was such a great read in that respect.  I always have a lot of respect for authors who can create a whole new world, especially one than can immerse me like this one did.

However, there were some issues I had with this story.  When I first started the book, it began slowly, and I wanted the plot to pick up the pace, to find out what was going to happen.  I trudged on, half because I thought the book might pick up, and half because I still wanted to know what was at least going to happen to the characters.  At around the halfway point is when things started picking up and the plot got thicker and thicker.  If the first half of the book mirrored the second half as far as pacing, it would have been almost perfect.

Overall, I liked this story, though I’m not sure if I will continue on with the rest of the series.  Out of five stars I would give it three and a half.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication date: September, 2013

Hardcover: 448 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone

How I got this book: Bought



Why I chose this book: I really liked the synopsis of this book, that’s what ultimately drew me in.  And I’m not going to lie, I was excited to find out more about the boy who “loved words”.

Synopsis:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?


Review:

After I bought this book, and right before I started reading, I realized that this book was by the same author as that of Eleanor and Park.  Even though it’s an unpopular opinion in the YA world, I wasn’t that impressed with the E&P.  Because of that, I was a little hesitant to start reading this book.  I was worried it would be very similar.

I’m happy to say that I was presently surprised.  This book really had everything.  This was one of those books that made you feel all warm and fuzzy, but also isn’t a flippant book about love and friendship.  It’s about a girl, struggling to make her way without her best friend and sister by her side.  Her mom is gone.  She worries about her dad.  And then she moves three hours away to start school in a new place with completely new people.  It’s completely understandable how these things can cause some major stress.  Very relatable.

Besides the story itself, I just thought the characters were so well done.  They all had these great personalities, and the farther you read, the deeper they became. You started realizing that things may not always be what they seem.

I think this novel would be a great read for just about anyone.  Want a little romance?  This book has it.  Want some great humor?  This book has it.  Want some deep emotional issues? This book has it.  I really loved this book.  Out of five stars, I would probably have to give this book 4.5.  It just seemed flawless–except for one thing: between each chapter is a “fictional” chapter from the Simon Snow series.  At first I was okay with reading this, but after a while I just found them boring and wanted to get them out of the way.  I think the story about Cath herself was more important than the Simon Snow action going on.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars

Author(s): Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Publication date: December, 2013

Hardcover: 384 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first installment in a series.

How I got this book: Bought


Why I chose this book: I really love a good book about intergalactic space travel, so when this book came out on the market I definitely wanted to give it a try.

Synopsis:

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Review:

I was really excited going into this book.  I love books about space, intergalactic travel, new planets, all the works!  Of course, that meant this book had a lot of expectations to live up to.  And in the super-natural sci-fi aspects of the book, it completely blew my mind.  The way everything in this future-world was described was just so seamless, it made it hard to believe that it wasn’t real.

Now on to the rest of the book…  I felt like some parts of the book moved very slowly.  Mostly the first half of the book.  One interesting thing happens, and then the plot slows to a crawl, leaving me wondering when something was actually going to happen.  Fortunately, this doesn’t continue throughout the entire book.  Once I hit around the halfway point, everything started picking up, and I just couldn’t put the book down.

I really liked the type of relationship I got to see between Tarver and Lilac.  However, I would have liked to see them talking more to each other out loud, instead of just in their heads.  The way the plot is set up, their love affair just seems too…sudden.  As they get to know each other more I start to feel more comfortable with them as a couple, but in the beginning I found it too unbelievable.

Before I leave off, I just want to say that I would definitely recommend this book for others to read.  While it may have its flaws, which I mentioned above, it has one of the most original story lines I’ve seen in a while. And they’res a plot-twist that’ll blow your mind near the end.  So take a gander, and tell me what you think.

EDIT: I just realized I’ve already written a review for this same book.  In the interest of keeping all opinions known, I’ve gone ahead and kept this review posted.