Wednesday, April 17, 2013

September Girls by Bennett Madison

September Girls by Bennett Madison
Genre: YA Paranormal
Expected Publication: May 21st, 2013
Publisher: HaperTeen
Page Count: 256

When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.

 *A review copy was provided from the publisher*

I had to delay writing this review for a while because my thoughts were a little everywhere on this one, and I wasn't sure what to say about it.  There was something inexplicably magical about this book.  However, this also wasn't my typical read and I had this almost meh feeling towards it, so let me see if I can review it all in an intelligible manner.

At first, I didn't even realize that Sam had a name until probably around 100+ pages through.  I have no idea, but the name never really came up.  There were moments with Sam where I really connected with him, but for the most part, I didn't feel much towards him.  It wasn't until the very end that I finally had this moment of connecting with all of the characters and having FEELS.

The thing about this book, though, is that there was something so enchanting and magical and moving about it.  I may not have been connected with any of the characters, but there was this quality that made me fall in love with the story.  Things were slow in the beginning, but by the end, I was ready to cry or something.  That, I was not expecting, and for that, I appreciate and respect Madison's writing.  The fact that he took me wholly off guard and spit all these words in my eyes with all these beautiful morals and plot twists was something amazing.

It is hard for me to describe me feelings on September Girls.  It was not something I expected at all and resonated within me, but it was a bit slow going for me.  The characters lacked that spark, but yet, but the end, I was utterly surprised by how I enjoyed it.  If you're not a fan of excessive cursing, I don't recommend this book for you, but if you don't mind, then, by all means, give this book a chance.

3 Splashes

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Ward by Jordana Frankel

The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Expected Publication: April 30th
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 384

Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.

*An advance copy from the Publisher was provided for me to review*
I've had my eyes on this book for quite a while, people.  The cover is absolutely kick ass and the premise sounds promising.  I was so excited to read it!  So then when I got an advance copy of it, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible.  Which I did.

Ren is not the average bad ass female protagonist.  She was strong, loved wholly, and determined--more so than any other character I've encountered in my reading.  Ren had such a unique voice and--while I got  a bit confused every now and then--I enjoyed the narrative.  It didn't take long for me to fall in love with her character and her story.  Her character throughout the entire story stayed consistent, which can be a trouble for some debuts, but not this one.  And the best part is that she didn't need a man to go on in life, and she proved that to not only herself, but also to a certain *coughs* male figure.  I loved that about her.  The love for her sister--that bond--was much stronger than the need to find a guy.

Frankel's depiction of this waterlogged New York City was frighteningly surreal and original.  Surreal because: what if that happened?  And original because: when do you get a futuristic New York with these water-skipping, roof-jumping cars and a scant amount of fresh water?  Such a crazy-great idea for a book!  I loved the story and I wanted so much more.  It's just too unfortunate that I'll have to wait about a year to read the second and final book. *sighs*

The Ward was a gritty and epic read about how far a person would go in the name of love.  It was the fight for survival and the macabre dance with Death.  Ren played such a unique and relatable character and was a delight to be inside the head of.  Fans of dystopia, an evil government, and a strong, bad ass protagonist may possibly enjoy this book.

4.5 Splashes

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: March 1st, 2012
Page Count: 525

One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

"New York Times" bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian "Divergent" series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

I really, really enjoyed Divergent.  I was a little late coming to the series, but I ended up reading it under the pressure of everyone and ended up loving it.  I thought that the potential that the book had was unbelievable and I liked the world that Roth had painted for readers.  It's a scary and weird world to think of having, and it was all so amazingly interesting. 

It's just too bad that my expectations for Insurgent fell a little flat. 

First of all, this baby is quite the hefty one.  I'm not at all bothered by a book that happens to be 70980 pages.  I'm all 'Bring it on!'  But in Insurgent, those 525 pages stretched.  I feel as if those 525 pages could have been snipped a little.  There were events and paragraphs that, I felt, could have either been shortened or cut out completely.  The pacing was slow, considering that this is, in fact, a dystopian thriller-action-adventure.  I was trudging through the pages, waiting for things to move on, but things were slow going.

Secondly, Tris got on my nerves.  Major time.  I hated where she seemed to be playing this unintentional game where she would antagonize Tobias for not being honest, and then they would have a little screaming match or whatever, and then Tris would go behind his back and wonder why Tobias didn't trust her.  If she really wants this relationship to work, she shouldn't be acting immature and going behind his back.  I mean, I didn't understand her logic.  If she were going behind his back, but not complaining about how she wished Tobias would trust her, then I wouldn't be upset because then I wouldn't be thinking of Tris as a hypocrite.  And to top it off, she was acting like a baby!  I understand that she's scarred after murdering her friend and all, but GET OVER IT.  You are in a situation where weaknesses should be dealt with behind closed and locked doors.  Also, it just old after 525 pages.

But other than that, I did enjoy this book.  The writing was fantastic, if a little extensive.  The plot thickened and Things were revealed and new clues and such were introduced.  There was plenty of death and action and flying bullets and fists.  The reason why I hope to forgive Tris in Book 3 is because I know that she is strong and adaptable (Abnegation to Dauntless.  If that doesn't scream major life change, I don't know what does).  I like the relationship between Tobias and Tris because they know that either one of them could die at either moment and they're real, not all lovey-lovey (though they were for a little while and it scared me), and then there was when they were fighting constantly and I didn't like that either.  I only wish they hadn't just dropped the L word after weeks of being together.

Insurgent explores the crumbling of a too-perfect society and the rebels that rise from it.  It's bloody, daring, thrilling, and epic.  Things were rough here and there, but this book is overall pretty awesome, and I hope that everyone gets the chance to read it because I do believe that this series is almost a symbol to the YA community or something.

4 Splashes

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer

The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: HarperTeen
Expected Publication: April 9th, 2013
Page Count: 336

Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.

For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.

But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.

For some strange reason, I was kind of let down by this book. However, I didn't hear much about the book beforehand, so I don't know how my hopes were let down.  The cover--gorgeous.  The idea--awesome.  There were so many different ways that this book could have gone, and it was so cool just to think about them all.  While what I got from the book wasn't terrible or that disappointing, I was still hoping for more.

Lily wasn't that much of a stand-out to me.  She was determined, yes, and stubborn, but not in that kind of way that makes me fall in love with other heroines.  There was a generic feel to her character.  Been there, done that.  Nothing I haven't seen before.  I was missing that spark from here.  I felt that she was a bit of a drama queen, with the way she wasn't getting what she wanted in this book.  She was constantly crying--understandably so, because her father just died--but she just cried a looooottt over everything, and so did her mom--who was even worse than she was!  It was just a bit infuriating to read about such . . . dramatically written characters.

And, oi, the characters got worse from there.  But then they also formed the love triangle, so I was already wary of them.  There's Ty and Wyatt.  Ty was explained in this bad boy kind of manner, but I wasn't feeling it.  I thought him to be a decent enough guy with long hair.  He didn't break my heart.  Then there was Wyatt, who I thought to be the cuter one.  He was Lily's best friend since forever, and I was kind of rooting for them, but then Wyatt showed his true colors--which were ugly.  His over-protectiveness was waaayyy over the top for me.  It was just too annoying for me to handle.

The only thing that had me going was the idea.  I wanted to find out what was up with Lily and this Iris chick.  And lemme tell ya--it was worth reading this one all the way through.  The mystery was pretty awesome and creepy and the plot was never predictable--besides the characters, that is.  I enjoyed it!  It wasn't what I expected, but that was okay!

The Shadow Girl was an alright read.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that amazing, either.  I've been sitting on this review for a while because I didn't know what to write about it!  My feelings for the book were just meh.  Indifference.  I'm sure others will enjoy it and others will hate, but I'm sure people who enjoy a good mystery will like this one.

3 Splashes

Friday, April 5, 2013

Splintered by A.G Howard

Splintered by A.G Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication: January 1st, 2013
Page Count: 371

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Ever since I first laid eyes on that beauteous cover, I knew I had to read it. (forget what it's actually about!  Look at that pretty cover!)  I mean, it's absolutely gorgeous, and to discover that it was a spinoff of everyone's favorite story of madness and insanity and magic put the need for this book very high.

Alyssa was a character I instantly clicked with.  I don't know why, since I don't have a mother in an asylum or anything, but she was just very likable.  I loved her stubborn determination and bravery she never knew she had.  She was unique and quirky with her clothing style and thoughts on Wonderland, which for the most part were curiosity and fascination.  She grew gradually as the story progressed, strengthened and wizened, and I enjoyed reading her progression.

But who cares about main characters when you've got Morpheus!  Mother of all that is good and holy, I knew I was in deep the first sentence he came onto the page!  Longer, blue hair, hypnotizing black eyes with pretty eye bling, WINGS, form fitting pants, and a terribly seductive attitude.  He was too perfect in so many ways.  I know that most people will be rooting for Jeb for various reason, but I don't care!  Take the human!  I'll take the sexy moth man.  Morpheus was just amazing, with his dark and suspicious ways, great looks, and bad attitude.  Never a dull moment with him, I tell you.

Speaking of Jeb, I kinda thought he was a bit of a tool.  He dates this Bitch Chick Taelor for some wimpy ass reason while being all protective over Alyssa.  I don't know about you, but that was a no-go for me.  If he wanted to be with Alyssa all secretly on the inside, he should have grown a pair and did something about the situation he was in, like break up with Taelor yesterday.  On top of that, his protective streak would get a little overbearing frequently.  Dude, give the girl some space!  She's got it covered!

Continuing with the review, I'll talk about the writing.  Never have I enjoyed reading a book where the imagery was so descriptive and enchanting, yet still left room to the imagination.  The balance was perfect.  I just loved all the world building and the beautiful--or raunchy!--descriptions of Wonderland creatures were mesmerizing.

Splintered was the perfect and dark twist on the Alice in Wonderland story we all know.  Dangerous, twisted, sexy, and enchanting, it had all the elements to keep me hooked until the very end.  The story was like a spider web with drops of water on it.  Hypnotic and complex in design, and harbinger of danger and darkness.  Fans of spinoffs, mystical, magical stuff, and gorgeous writing will possibly enjoy this book.

5 Splashes

Splintered Read-A-Thon Wrap-Up

Whew!  What an amazing and heart-pounding ending to this book!  I hoped that Splintered would be good, but it surpassed my expectations.  I am so glad that Monica and I hosted this read-a-thon, because Splintered is one book you don't want to miss out on reading.

So here's what all happened.

Jeb and Alyssa attempt to ride their makeshift skateboards across this fissure in the ground, but fail.  Turns out Alyssa's got wings, but has to abandon Jeb and gets kidnapped by these ugly creature things.  Alyssa meets Twid Sisters One and Two, gets Red's soul trapped in hers, and receives Chessie's smile.

Alyssa travels through a mirror portal to the castle and discovers some ugly truths about Morpheus, like the fact that Alyssa is only in Wonderland to perform these tests to become queen so that he can be free of a curse that was invoked on him through Deathspeak when Queen Red was dying.  So in all, the whole Liddell curse was sham. BOOSH.

Alyssa braves herself for the final test which is to distract the jabberwock long enough to put Chessie back into one piece and retrieve the vorpal sword.  Things happen where we all discover that Jeb sacrificed himself for Alyssa to escape out of Wonderland and that Morpheus never planned on letting Alyssa go.  But Alyssa has that tear wish thing that the ferret had gifted her with and she wishes that she had never opened the door for Jeb before she ventured to Wonderland.

However, she's still in the same situation she was in, only Jeb isn't with her and Morpheus knows what she did.  Now, the Red King has his head bobbing like an apple in water in that box because he saved Grenadine.  They all leave and--WHAM--Queen Red's soul comes to life--vines and all--and tries to take over Alyssa's body.  Obviously, Alyssa aint' having any of this, and fights off Red until all those vines and stuff are out of her body. (Which was extremely gross!)

But things aren't over yet, because Red decides to take over the jabberwock's body instead and gobbles up Morpheus.  Alyssa ties a few loose ends in Wonderland, and returns to the real world.  She decides to keep her netherling wings and wicked awesome eye bling, but they fade when in the human world, so the idea that she'll have to return to Wonderland is always with her.  Alyssa goes straight to her mother at the asylum and tells her that the entire Liddell curse was fake and that she can stop pretending that she's all crazy.

She goes home and awakes to the news that Jeb and Tailor broke up--on prom night no less!  Jeb doesn't remember anything that went on in Wonderland at all, which was a bit saddening, but whatcha gonna do?  He invites Alyssa to go to London with him, and while I don't ship them, I may have gotten all warm inside because JEB COULD FINALLY SEE WHAT WAS IN FRONT OF HIM HIS ENTIRE LIFE.  It was a nice ending to a fantastic story!  I loved it so much!

Thanks to everyone that participated in this!  The Twitter chat was so much fun, and I hope that the winners will enjoy their new goodies!  I hope everyone else enjoyed the book as much as I did!

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