Book Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia CoverBook: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Published October 2014 by Penguin|220 pages

Where I Got It: I checked out the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling, with subtle hints of dystopia

Check out Atlantia on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system constructed to govern the Divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

What I Thought:

I liked Atlantia!  I do have mixed feelings about it, but overall, I liked it.

I really liked the world of Atlantia.  To me, there were very strong feelings of a lost, ancient civilization driven underwater- to the point that it feels very much like an Atlantis re-telling.  Partly because of the world, but mostly because of the name.

Still, as much as I loved Atlantia, and the idea of it, I still couldn’t picture completely in my mind.  I mean, I used my imagination quite a bit, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I also felt like the descriptions in the book didn’t come to life.   There were also things that didn’t make a lot of sense.  Like how people had to go undersea because things on land were really bad…and yet they survival under water depends on those that they send above.

I’m also curious about the sirens.  They are there, and some people are just born that way, but no explanation is given.  Well, that I can recall, because if there is one, it clearly didn’t stick.  I did want more from this world, and since the book is a stand-alone, we don’t get to go into this world that much.  For a stand-alone, though, it’s okay.

I feel like this book was more about Rio finding her voice than anything else.  I feel like the relationship that Rio has with Bay is something a lot of people will focus on with this book, but I honestly didn’t care about their relationship.  Bay seemed like a horrible sister, in that she made Rio promise to stay, knowing she wanted to go above, only to do so herself.  While I get that things needed to go a certain way for Rio, and that I’m an only child so I have no clue what it’s like to have a sibling, I still felt like their relationship didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Really, I’m not sure how I feel about any of the characters.  It felt like like they were just…kind of…there.  I didn’t really care about what happened to any of them, and I felt like I didn’t really get to know them at all.

Let’s Rate It:

While I liked the idea of Atlantia, and how Atlantia felt, I didn’t really care about the characters.  And I really wish we knew more about this world, because I kind of felt like I supposed to know every single detail about this world despite the fact that we get the very basics on Atlantia and everything that happened.  Still, Atlantia gets 3 stars.

Book Review: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You The Sun CoverBook: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Published September 2014 by Dial|259 pages

Where I Got It: I checked out the e-book from the library!

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBT

Check out I’ll Give You The Sun on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

What I Thought:

After reading The Sky Is Everywhere ages ago and loving it and anxiously awaiting Jandy Nelson’s next book, I finally read I’ll Give You The Sun.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of torn between not really liking it and thinking it was okay.  I really wanted to like it more, because I did love The Sky Is Everywhere.

I did like that Noah and Jude narrated the book.  It’s different from a lot of other multiple narrators in that Noah and Jude are on a different timelines.  Because I don’t pay attention to summaries or anything, I thought it meant that Noah had died or something really bad happened to him because of that timeline, and it took a while for me to realize he was still alive.  But then I was more confused, because if he’s alive, why didn’t he really appear in Jude’s timeline?

It is an interesting way to tell a story, but it didn’t completely work for me.  On the one hand, I do kind of like that they have two different pieces of the story, but at the same time, I felt like the story wasn’t completely there for me because of it.

I just don’t know how I feel about I’ll Give You The Sun.  I was expecting something that more like The Sky Is Everywhere, which I connected so much with, and I really wanted that connection in this book.  That connection did happen, but not until the last 4 or 5 pages, and at that point, I wondered where that was for the rest of the novel.

I didn’t care for Noah or Jude, and I found that Noah randomly titling the scene as a painting to be really annoying, while Jude’s tendency to quote her grandmother’s book was quite.  I did feel for Noah, and I understand how and why he became the person he did.  He had a lot to deal with, especially since Noah is gay, and we see him struggle with how he presents himself to the world.  With Jude, I felt like she stayed relatively the same.  They didn’t feel genuine in the way the characters in her previous novel did.

Let’s Rate It:

Overall, I’ll Give You The Sun just isn’t my book.  I thought the way the story was told was interesting, and a big part of why I kept reading was because 1- I loved the author’s previous book to pieces and gave this one a chance that I probably would not have given it otherwise, and 2- I did want to know what happened and why things fell apart.  I think this book turned out okay for me.  I’ll Give You The Sun gets 2 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Love To Read If I Were In A Book Club

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books I’d Love To Read If I Were In A Book Club

I am not in a book club, and I’m actually quite surprised that I am not in one.  If I were in a book club, it would be one weird book club (in terms of good weird people and totally random books).  These are the books I’d want to read…because there are a lot of books I’ve been meaning to read and never do.

  1. The Pennyroyal Green series by Julie Ann Long.  I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, because I hear so many people say really good things about it!
  2. Skip Beat.  I don’t read a lot of manga (I’ve only read most of Fruits Basket and one called The Dreaming) but I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while.
  3. It’s Kind Of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.  This is another book I’ve been meaning to read for ages and never seem to get around to reading.  It really does seem like a book I’d like.
  4. Compromised by Kate Noble.  I read Revealed by her quite a while ago, and I definitely want to read more of her books. This one seems a good a choice as any.
  5. The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.  I’m intrigued by the idea of a girl who ends up in the hospital not knowing why she’s there.
  6. The Feud: The Hatfields And The McCoy’s by Dean King.  Really, I know the names, and that’s about it.  Besides, every book club needs something educational every once in a while, right?  (Okay, maybe not, but this is my fictional book club, so the answer is definitely yes).
  7. House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.  I’ve heard that this a really bizarre book, and since I like things that are really weird, I’d totally want to read this in a book club.
  8. Throne Of Glass by Sarah Maas.  So many people love it, and it would be nice to actually read it so I know what people are talking about.
  9. Talons by Julie Kagawa.  It’s a book about dragons!  And it’s by Julie Kagawa!  It sounds like it’s going to be awesome. You can’t go wrong with either.
  10. Among The Janeites by Deborah Yaffe.  It seems like a great book club book.  Plus, it’s about the Jane Austen fandom, and you can’t go wrong with that!

Book Review: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows The Stars CoverBook: For Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Published June 2012 by Balzer + Bray|293 pages

Where I Got It: checked out the e-book from the library!

Series: For Darkness Shows The Stars #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopic/Re-telling/Post-Apocalyptic

Check out For Darkness Shows The Stars on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

What I Thought:

I liked For Darkness Showed The Stars.  It was a little hard to get into at first, with the letters and then the story.

I really liked the letters, because it really showed how different Elliot and Kai were, and how much they didn’t know about each other’s worlds.  I like that you see them throughout the book and how things changed for them and between them over time.

It was a little weird at first, because you know something has happened between them, but you’re not quite sure what, until the end of the book.  It’s been several years since I’ve read Persuasion, so while I can’t tell you how good of a re-telling it is, I still think it’s something Jane Austen fans would really like!  From what I have re-read so far, and from what I vaguely remember, it is better than a lot of other re-tellings.  Even if you haven’t read Persuasion, it holds up well on its own.

For me, I really wish I had re-read Persuasion first, because I felt like I was missing something.  I think it’s because I have read it before, and for me, I think I would have liked it more if I had those details fresh in my mind.  That is weird for me, because generally I’m movie first/book second kind of person.  Since we’re talking about re-tellings, though, I guess you could say I’m a re-telling first, original second kind of person, but in this case, I finished the book feeling wishing I had read Persuasion first.

I did get the sense that Peterfreund is very, very familiar with Persuasion.  There is a Jane Austen feel to this book, and it’s a book that brings old-fashioned and modern together very well.  While I know the book is set sometime in the future, it’s unclear as to how far away this future is from us.  But things have regressed to the point that technology is seen as bad, and things like medicine and clothes go back to an older time. It’s understandable, given everything that has happened.

There was something very futuristic and dystopic about this book, and you’d think it wouldn’t go with some of the more old-fashioned aspects of the book, but they go so well together!

I loved that Elliot was so caring and compassionate and how much she wanted to protect all of the people working on her estate.  She wanted to do the right thing, and she had a lot of opposition from her father, who was just horrible.  I was very much reminded of plantations and slavery, and how everyone really was a product of their environment.

Overall, the descriptions of the estate and characters were pretty generic, and I wish things were described more.  But at the same time, it’s something I can see happening in so many different places if this were to happen.   Still, it very much felt like the U.S. South.  Which is fine, but I think I’m just curious about the general area where it takes place and how it relates to what is going on in the rest of the world.

I’m not sure how I feel about Kai and Elliot.  I get why Kai acts the way he does, but I couldn’t like him in this book.  I just couldn’t.  I just couldn’t believe in (or care about) the romance when there were so many other things going on.

And I thought the book ended randomly and kind of abruptly.  I really wanted more resolution, but as it’s the first in a series, the lack of resolution isn’t too surprising.  Still, I wish it had a little more resolution than it did.

Let’s Rate It:

I liked For Darkness Shows The Stars, but I did finish it wishing I had re-read Persuasion.  Still, it works really well on its own and as a Persuasion re-telling.  For Darkness Shows The Stars gets 3 stars. 

ARC Book Review: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

Cut Me Free CoverBook: Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson

Expected Publication is January 27, 2015 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux|Expected Number Of Pages: 219

Where I Got It: netgalley.com

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary/Thriller/Mystery

Check out Cut Me Free on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn’t as lucky. Now she’s trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she’d have to experience alone. She’s hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment–without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

What I Thought:

I’m not sure what to think about Cut Me Free.  Based on the summary, I was expecting something dark.  It is YA, so I figured something dark but not too dark.

And yet, the book was more about her romance with the guy helping her erase her old life than it was with Charlotte dealing with everything that happened.  It wasn’t explored as much as I thought or hoped.  And this is usually something I don’t notice.  Even when I do, I’m usually willing to overlook because it tends to not bug me.  But this time?  It didn’t sit right. What we did see of her old life…her new life didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I get why she wanted to forget, but I think I would have preferred for it to stay with her a little more.  I know it’s something people deal with in many different, and that Charlotte’s story may represent quite a few people.  But the summary made it seem like it was more important than it really was.  I felt like the story was going to be more about her past, and it wasn’t.  The lack of details about her past made it hard to care about her future.

I wish I didn’t need her backstory, but this was a case where I really needed it.  It just made me feel distanced and removed from what was going on in her life.  She also seemed to adapt very well for someone who was basically imprisoned in her own home as a child.  Honestly, for someone who was never properly socialized, she should have been a lot more naive and not as street smart as she was in the book.  All in all, she did not act how I thought someone who was been through what she has been through should act.

As a thriller, it’s your typical YA thriller.  Parts of it sort of surprised me, but if you want a decent YA thriller/mystery, you’d probably like this book.

As for the girl that Charlotte takes in, I get why she took her in, and that she recognized that herself in this girl, but it felt like such an afterthought.  Especially the part where you learn the girl was a victim of human trafficking.  It felt very glossed over and in there just to be in there.  Yes, that girl went through some horrible things and that Charlotte sees herself in that girl, wanting to protect her the way she couldn’t protect her brother.  But something about it didn’t sit right with me at all.

Let’s Rate It: 

Cut Me Free didn’t completely work for me.  I couldn’t relate or even sympathize with Charlotte and I felt like the book described in the summary was a very different book than the one I read.  It’s not for me, but something about this book was sort of compelling.  Cut Me Free gets 2 stars.

Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye CoverBook: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Published July 2007 by Vintage|143 pages

Where I Got It: checked out the e-book from the library!

Series: None

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction/African-American Literature

Check out The Bluest Eye on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

What I Thought:

I’ve been on a Toni Morrison kick lately, and so I picked up The Bluest Eye.  It is what I’m coming to expect from a Toni Morrison novel, well before we knew Toni Morrison.

I liked The Bluest Eye, and I felt like this one, more than any of the other books I’ve read (except for Home) was about…life.  The one thing that I keep noticing with Morrison is that I pay much more attention to the writing than the actual story.  It’s weird, because the actual writing is something I almost never pay attention to.

But with Morrison, it’s all I seem to pay attention to, and The Bluest Eye is no exception. There are several different narrators of The Bluest Eye, and they all come together to tell the story of Pecola.  Honestly, it took me a while to realize that there were several different stories of some of the people in Pecola’s life, and I found myself having to go back and re-read certain parts of the book, because it was starting to not make sense to me.  It’s definitely one of those books that you have to read carefully.

I did like reading The Bluest Eye after reading some of her other books, because her writing style- which has grown and changed- is still relatively the same.

Let’s Rate It: 

While I only liked the story (and found the narration to be a bit all over the place), it’s hard to not like The Bluest Eye. Morrison really does know how to tell a story.  The Bluest Eye gets 3 stars.

Audio Book Review: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits CoverBook: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins, Narrated by Cris Dukehart

Published August 2013 by Dreamscape Media|6 hours, 57 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: School Spirits #1 (or quite possibly a stand-alone, I can’t really tell)

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can find School Spirits on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

What I Thought:

After listening to Hawkins’ Hex Hall series, I knew I had to read School Spirits, the Hex Hall spin-off focusing on Sophie’s prodigium-hunting cousins.

I liked School Spirits and I liked seeing Izzy work on a case, but at the same time, there was part of me that wished I had listened to Hex Hall again, just to get back into this world.  Still, it’s not necessary to read that series in order to read this book (but I will say that it may help).

I did like that Izzy got to be a normal girl, who went to school and had friends and a crush on a boy.  I was amused that her mom got her some t.v. shows and movies set in schools so that Izzy could learn what school was like.  That really seem liked something Hawkins would do, because I felt like she writes some great paranormal books while also poking at them a bit.

There is the mystery of the ghost, and I was kind of kicking myself for not figuring it out before, but it is one of those things that wasn’t too surprising.

I’m not too sure about how I feel about Dex and Izzy.  I mean, I guess I get it, but I also don’t really have strong feelings either way, and it does seem like things for them are pretty resolved at the end of the book.

Speaking of the end of the book…I’m still trying to figure out if it’s a series or not.  If it is a series, it looks like there’s no 2nd book in sight (understandable, since Hawkins likely has other books she’s working on) but at the same time, it does stand on its own pretty well.  And the ending, while resolved, does leave things open for the possibility of a sequel.  I’m hoping it happens, because I want resolution with what happens to her sister.

I think my favorite moment of the entire book was when Maya insisted on helping Izzy because Izzy didn’t have to do things alone.  It reminded me of that moment in Spell Bound when Sophie had a moment of being just a 17-year-old girl, and wondering how she was going to save the world.  I can see how easy it is for Izzy to feel like she needs to do everything herself, and prove that she is worthy of being a Brannick, but I also like that she had help from people who insisted on helping her.

And Cris Dukehart, narrator of the Hex Hall series, is back narrating this book!  I really like her as a narrator, but I have mixed feelings about her as narrating this book.  Mostly because she’s ingrained as Sophie, and it was hard to get used to her as Izzy.  But…ot was nice having her narrate a world that she’s familiar with.

Let’s Rate It:

I liked School Spirits, but not as much as Hex Hall.  Still, it was fun to listen to, and I think Hex Hall fans would like School Spirits.  School Spirits gets 3 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie!

Top Ten Tuesday 2

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Favorite Cookbooks/Crochet Books

This week is a freebie, which means we get to pick our own topic for the week.  Cooking and crocheting are two of my favorite non-reading hobbies, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite cookbooks and crochet books!

  1. Crochet Boutique by Rachel Oglesby.  I love how simple and cute all of the patterns are!  There’s this one beret that I made, and I actually want to make a few more in all kinds of colors.  And everything is really simple and great for all crocheters, but especially beginners.
  2. 365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O’Dea.  I love my crockpot so much…to the point that I have two of them.  I really do use it that much, and I love a lot of the recipes in the book!  Plus, I love that there are so many things I’d never think of making in the crockpot (like fish!  and tofu!)
  3. The Joy The Baker Cookbook.  I love that all of the recipes are brand new, and not pulled from her blog. Most everything I’ve made has turned out amazing- I cannot get the bourbon banana bread cooked all the way through, no matter how hard I try, but it’s still good (well, the ends are good at any rate).  And the brown butter chocolate chip cookies are my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  At work, anytime we have a potluck, I am not allowed to bring anything else.
  4. The Family Cooks by Laurie David.  Everything I’ve made so far has been really simple and I feel like everything is healthy without feeling like it’s healthy.
  5. Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Hayden.  I totally admit that I actually haven’t made anything from this book, but I love that it’s amigurumi (a Japanese-style of crochet that usually involves making really cute animals and creatures) and an odd assortment of creatures like the Grim Reaper and a vampire.
  6. Around The Corner: Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman.  So, I don’t own this one, but I did borrow a copy from a friend recently for a crochet project, and it’s a cool book because of the sheer number of borders in it.
  7. The Pioneer Women Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond.  The couple of things I’ve made were good, but I love that it’s a step-by-step guide, complete with photos.  I can see that being slightly annoying after a while, but I actually really like it in book form.  Which is weird, because I’m not a fan of it on blogs.
  8. Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding.  It’s an entire book devoted to bar desserts.  I never would have guessed that there were so many ways to make bar desserts.
  9. Every single Rachael Ray cookbook I own.  She is definitely an auto-buy author for me, and I don’t even bother to flip through her cookbooks before buying them at this point.  I really like her Veggie Meals cookbook and her Big Orange Book.
  10. Crochet One Skein Wonders by Judith Durant.  I love that everything in this book is one skein- although there seems to be a vague definition of that sometimes, because one of the patterns calls for a one pound skein of yarn.  (Side Note: these do exist because I have a couple of them sitting in a storage basket at this very moment).  There’s a variety of patterns, and I like that it’s organized by yarn weight, which is great for when you’re trying to use some of your really large yarn stash.  (Which is basically so I can buy more yarn, but that’s another story).

 

Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds CoverBook: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Published September 2014 by Simon Pulse|413 pages

Where I Got It: checked out the e-book from the library!

Series: None

Genre: YA- Half Paranormal/Half Contemporary

You can find Afterworlds on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld comes a smart, thought-provoking novel-within-a-novel that you won’t be able to put down.

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved and terrifying stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love – until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

What I Thought:

Afterworlds really is a unique book!  It’s a novel-within-a-novel, and there is something very meta about this entire book.

I’m really not kidding.  I did get the sense that Westerfeld was poking a bit at YA tropes and just the YA community in general, but in a really good way.

I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book…but I guess I should start with Darcy’s story.  I really liked her story, and I liked seeing her navigate New York and the publishing world, especially with the help she finds in other awesome writers.  I don’t know what that world is like, but it is one that feels so real, like that’s what it is like for one person- and it really felt like bits and pieces of it may have come from Westerfeld’s own experience as a YA writer.

I also liked that we saw Darcy over the course of a year, and how much she went through with her book and her personal life. And I loved that in quite a few ways, her life intertwined with Lizzie’s story, and how much Darcy and Lizzie had in common. Which does make sense, since Lizzie is one of Darcy’s characters.  They both had these really big things happen that would change their lives, and I liked seeing both of their stories.

I really like that we not only see Darcy working on Afterworlds but that we get the actually Afterworlds story! And not just an excerpt or quotes but the full novel.  It was kind of disorienting at first, because you get thrown into both stories, and there’s nothing to indicate which story you’re reading.  But the two stories are so different that I knew which story was which in no time.

I also liked Lizzie’s story, especially at the beginning.  It’s so weird, because I really liked Darcy’s story as the book went on, and I liked Lizzie’s story less as the book went on.  Still, it’s an interesting way to tell a story, and I think there was a lot of potential for it to not work.  For me, it worked a lot better than I could have expected or imagined, but I think the way it’s told isn’t for everyone.  Given that Afterworlds is such a big part of Darcy’s life, and different aspects of it come up throughout the book, it makes sense that we would see Darcy’s story.  It would be a very different book if we didn’t have her fictional story, and Lizzie’s story helps Darcy’s story come to life.  Both stories need each other, and you see the effects that each story has on the other one.

I found the conversations about re-telling myths and stories that are part of a culture to be not your own to be really interesting, especially given all of the recent discussions about reading diversely.  Like, it’s okay that Darcy re-tells stories from Hinduism, because her family is from India (even though Darcy herself doesn’t seem particularly religious, and her family, from what we see of them, don’t seem to be particularly religious either).  I have no idea why I find it super-interesting, but I do.  Also, I love that her family is totally cool with Darcy having a girlfriend, and that it wasn’t a big deal when Darcy told them.

Let’s Rate It:

I really liked Afterworlds, and how you needed both stories in order to tell the other one.  I liked seeing how Darcy’s life and Lizzie’s life intertwine, and how both stories have an effect on the other one.  Darcy’s story is easily 5 stars, while I’d really have to give Lizzie’s story 3 stars, so overall, Afterworlds gets 4 stars.

Mini Book Review: The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

The Faerie Guardian CoverBook: The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

Published October 2012 by Smashwords|237 pages

Where I Got It: Nook store

Series: Creepy Hollow #1

Genre: YA Paranormal- Faeries

You can find The Faerie Guardian on goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 

Enter a hidden world of magic, mystery, danger and romance in this YA fantasy from bestselling author, Rachel Morgan.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out alive.

What I Thought:

I liked The Faerie Guardian!  If there’s something I know, it’s a book about fairies, and given how many I’ve read (and want to read), trust me when I say that this book is quite different than a lot of other fairie books.

I LOVE the idea of faeries protecting the human population from some really nasty creatures.  And naturally, things go wrong right from the start.  Things are also pretty predictable, but it was still a fun read.  Most of all, I loved how detailed and intricate this world was, and it really made me want to see more of it.

I didn’t particularly care about the romance.  It was pretty obvious, as far as romances go, but I also felt like there wasn’t anything special between Violet and Nate.  It very much felt like they were together for the sake of being together.  On the other hand, I did like the relationship between Ryn and Violet, and how their story was resolved.  I honestly think they have better chemistry, and I’m hoping that eventually, it’s Ryn and Violet, even though I’m positive that it’ll be Nate and Violet in the end.

Speaking of Violet, she is a pretty awesome fairie, and I really liked her!  I can’t wait to see what she has deal with in the books to come.

Let’s Rate It:

I don’t have much to say about The Faerie Guardian, but I really like the concept and the world that Morgan wrote.  I’m not thrilled with the romance, and I’m desperately hoping that it doesn’t go the way I think it will. I didn’t love it, but it’s still a fun read.  The Faerie Guardian gets 3 stars.