Sunday, May 25, 2014

We Were Liars (review)

4.5/5 stars

How do you review a book like We Were Liars (Goodreads Amazon)?  This is the question I've been asking myself for a couple of weeks.  How do I review this book?  Of course it's good. It's REALLY good.  You've seen other people's reviews and you know how I feel about E. Lockhart.

But this book is something else entirely.  It's not light and fluffy with hidden depths like the Ruby Oliver series.  This books depths are obvious from the start, deep, mysterious, aching with secrets that need to be told.

The main character is painfully fragile, her memories missing and mind broken from experiences she can't remember.  And since this book is told through Cady's eyes, we know nothing more than she does.  As readers, we vividly experience the confusion and longing to discover what she can't remember.

I'm amazed at the way E. Lockhart turned a bunch of spoiled rich kids, the Sinclairs who vacation yearly on a private island, into sympathetic, complex characters.  The prestige of their family name defines, gives them opportunity yet limits them all at the same time.  The characters Cady, Mirren, Johnny and Gat (who is the outlier, as a  non-Sinclair quasi-step cousin Indian boy), become real throughout the book.  E. Lockhart shows you who they are through Cady's eyes.

The writing is elegant and haunting. It reads like the interior of Cady's fractured mind, with broken up sentences and thoughts that repeat numerous times throughout the novel. While it may look imperfect, it's not. It's a reflection of the character and the story, beautifully and tellingly written.
"Be normal, now. Right now.
Because you are. Because you can be." 
That's about all I can tell you about this book.  It was hard to say even that much.  Just read it.  Trust me.

I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Wizard's Promise (review)

4/5 stars

Have you ever read a few books from an author and you thought "They just get what I need" each time you read one?  That's how I've felt with three Cassandra Rose Clarke books I've read and The Wizard's Promise (Goodreads | Amazon) once again was just right for me.  The world she first build with The Assassin's Curse (review here) is the type of place I just want to keep visiting again and again.

As expected, The Wizard's Promise gives us the adventures of a strong and stubborn girl, this time Hanna who goes off on her own adventure.  A fisherman's apprentice, Hannah worries that she'll never get to go on adventures like her namesake Ananna of the Tanarau and that she'll never get a chance to learn enough to be a proper village.

But like all the best adventure books, that changes quickly when Hannah is swept up in an adventure on the high seas. She learns that the fisherman she's apprenticing isn't exactly what he seems and ends up far away from home where she begins to discover more about her own magic, the world and faces the threatening otherworldly creatures from the Mists.

Hanna is not just Ananna remade, but her own character.  She's not quite as wild as her namesake but she's independent and strong in a quieter way.  This is a fun, rollicking adventure on the high sea with magic and mystery.  Sometimes that's exactly what I want, and Cassandra Rose Clarke continues to deliver.

I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Absentee Blogger

So you've probably noticed lately I've been a bit of an absentee blogger. No worries, I am not quitting!  I've just been distracted.  When I first started this blog I wanted it to be a mix of books and adventures because I'm a mix of a bookworm, geek and adventurer.  But then I didn't have that many adventures so it became slowly just a book blog.

Lately I've been adventuring more.  In the past year I've taken up climbing in earnest (I learned how to at Girl Scout camp, loved it but never had much opportunity to improve or learn anything aside from top rope belaying).  But about 5 months after I moved to Louisville I joined a climbing meet-up.  At first I was pretty terrible.  Seriously if you're wanting to try this sport DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED.  Very few people are instantly good at it.

But since I haven't been around the blog-o-sphere much I thought I'd share some pictures of my adventures.

My first lead climb (super easy).

My second lead climb (also super easy).

Having fun on top-rope. 

Another top rope picture (different day, same outfit lol).
Photo by Matt Ragan if you ever need climbing photos check him out: 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Far From You (review)

4/5 stars

Far From You (Goodreads | Amazon) had a lot that could go wrong. The writer made a bold choice by choosing to have a drug addicted heroine, which could veer into Lifetime Original movie territory very quickly but doesn't.  It also tackled the "teen solving a crime" genre in a way that ACTUALLY WORKED.  I often complain that the main characters crime-solving novels put themselves into harms way and avoid the police for completely stupid convoluted reasons.  That's not the case with Far From You.  Sophie actually tried going to the police, trying trusting the system but because she's an addict nobody believes her.

The story follows Sophie, a teenager who became addicted to painkillers after she was in crippling car accident.  Even though she's been clean for over nine months, she's just been released from rehab following her best friend's murder.  Everyone thinks that Sophie relapsed and that the murder was a drug deal that went sour.  Nobody will believe Sophie she says she's clean and the police quickly stop looking for Mina's killer.

That's when Sophie takes the case.  For her, it's a coping mechanism.  She needs the goal, something to help keep her sober and to give her life purpose.  The story shows her guilt about Mina's death, the blame the community forces onto her and her struggles to breakout of the role of "addict" everyone's put her in.  It's about more than solving Mina's murder, it's about Sophie proving herself to those around and proving she's not an untrustworthy addict.

This book is very original - a combination of romance, mystery and overcoming addiction.  The story is told in a split timeline, alternating between the present day and the days leading up to Mina's death.  I appreciated it's gritty honesty and the story it chose to tell.  Sometimes the best stories aren't the easiest ones to tell.  Sophie's story is hard, full of mistakes, distrust, ups and downs, but it's authentic and in the end a worthwhile read.

I received an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Seriously Saturday Series Catch-up Update 2


Guys I've been avoiding putting this post up here.  Why? I've been absolutely terrible at this challenge.  I have read zero of the series books I've committed to in the past couple of months (and got overwhelmed with galleys and behind on blogging).  But it's May, the no-galley month for me so I'm planning to get back on track on my series challenge.  This month I plan to read the latest installment of the Bloody Jack series and catch-up on the Cinder series.  That's my commitment to myself and to the books that I want to read, not just the books that I'm given.

So I'll see you next month with an actual update!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Follow Friday - Dinner with an author

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Question: What living author or authors would you like to have dinner with? (Try to think beyond JK Rowling)
That's actually kinda easy.  Rachel Hawkins because she seems like the type of person who would be fun to get drunk with (which I've never been BUT maybe for this occasion I would) and tell silly stories and completely make a fool of ourselves.  Wait, was I supposed to be deep with this question? Because I'd rather drink and laugh about "Reader I married him" than have a deep conversation.  I don't know what that says with me.

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (review)

3.5/5 stars

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (Goodreads | Amazon) was much more lighthearted and fun that I expected.  From the time I obtained this book to the time I read it, obviously I'd forgotten the blurb (Disclosure: That is somewhat intentional. I like having a blank slate when I read a book).  I'm not sure if it was the words "Vigilante Poets" or the name of the school "Selwyn Academy" that made me expect something more pretentious, but this book wasn't at all despite being about high school artists (who let's be honest are prone to being pretentious).

What I got instead was a fun, snarky book that I tore through quickly.  Ethan reads a little younger than he is, but it feels intentional like he's immature and uses that as a coping mechanism.  He's not a stereotypical arts school kid, he considers himself medicore, thinks about girls and just isn't the artsy-fartsy type.  You get a good mix of characters in this book, from ones who seem like arts school stereotypes (even if they're more complex than that) to ones who you wouldn't think are artists at first glance.

The book follows an arts school reality show "For Arts Sake" and the students who try to subvert it, both for selfish purposes (crushes) and because of more artistic intentions.  It's a romping story with a bit of a mystery, a bit of romances and just a lot of silly fun.  It talks about art in a way that doesn't make you roll your eyes. This is a book that pokes fun at itself and doesn't mind being the butt of it's own jokes, which makes it a nice fun read.

I received an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.