Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time Between Us {by Tamara Ireland Stone}

Title: Time Between Us
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: Time Between Us, #1
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.
As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

I wanted to flail about this series like everyone else. I really did. But for whatever reason, I just could not get into it. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't my type of book. It took me a long time to get into it, and even then I was just reading to finish it. Maybe because I had read so much hype about it, my expectations were so high, and when it didn't meet those expectations, I was more disappointed than I would have been.

Anna is going on with life, aching for adventure and excitement. She longs to travel the world, but for right now, she is stuck in Chicago. Then, she meets Bennett. A boy who denies seeing her at the track--when she knows it was him--but then reacts so strangely to hearing her name. And eventually, Anna begins to learn his secrets. Bennett isn't from Chicago. He isn't even from 1995. He is from 2012 San Francisco, and he has come back to find his sister, who he lost when he brought her back in time to go to a concert. Except, meeting and falling in love with Anna wasn't part of his plan.

Both of these characters seemed to fall flat for me. Anna seemed whiny and annoying, and Bennett wasn't swoony. I know he was for some (read: every other girl except me) but for some reason, I just wasn't feeling it. First off, I didn't quite understand the whole time travel thing. I understood most of it, such as he couldn't go past his lifetime, and he couldn't (or wouldn't) go into the future. But there were some parts that he talked about, such as when he and Anna did try to do-over the day of the accident, that were so complex, and left me confused. Maybe I was just tired, maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, maybe it wasn't actually as complex as I thought it was. I don't know.

Also, rules. Bennett has a lot of rules about his time travel, and that's understandable. With something so crazy, there has to be limits. And though Anna called Bennett the hypocrite, I felt that she was the hypocrite. She didn't have respect for his rules. When her friend got into the car accident, she wanted Bennett to go against everything he believed in to do it over. When Bennett did over the robbery at the store so she would be safe, she was okay with it because it was for her benefit. But when Bennett did over their kiss because he didn't want to hurt her with the fact that he had to leave, she was outraged. When Bennett went back in time and gave his father stock tips so they could be rich, she was adamant that it was wrong. And yes, I do agree that maybe that part was wrong, But that was why Bennett had rules. And she completely didn't care.

Also, I was unsure as to what was going on, or what the plot was pretty much the whole time. Is he trying to find his sister, or is he trying to find a way to be with Anna? Was there something wrong with his time travel powers or not? (I mean, I know there definitely was at the end, but before that.) I really just didn't know what was going on, except that Anna and Bennett spent pretty much all their time together and blew everyone else off because they loved each other sooo much. 

Strangely enough, I think I would recommend this book to others. It wasn't my type of book, but if you're the kind of person who likes this type of story, I really think you would love this story. And you could be one of the flailers ;)

Tamara Ireland Stone:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Legend {by Marie Lu}

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did. But I fell in love, and I can't believe it took me as long as it did to read it.

Day: I really enjoyed Day's character. He was sarcastic, compassionate, caring, and fun. He's been labeled as the Republic's Most Wanted criminal, but that only fuels him. Except, Day never does anything for himself. He is not selfish or greedy, and he never, ever kills. Whatever he does, it is to help his family, help others in the slums, or rebel against the Republic. He cares for Tess like a little sister, and would sacrifice himself to save his family. 
June: I liked June. Yes, she is naive. She is arrogant. She's a pawn of the Republic. But she was also young, insecure, and just wanted to please her dead parents and brother. And when she finds out the truth about Day, about the Republic, she doesn't do anything rash. She thinks it through, and very nearly gets away with it perfectly. 
Metias: Man, I always wanted a big brother. Yes, I realize that he was only in the story for a short while before he dies, but he was still awesome. It's obvious he loves his little sister and would do anything for her.
Thomas: Okay, he just creeped me out from the beginning. I don't know why or what it was about him, but I just didn't like him. (But, obviously, my instinct about him was right.)

The Republic. What we get when America goes to war with itself and splits into two. Every child is tested when they are 10 years old. That one person, June, who got a perfect score, is labeled as a prodigy and watched by all. Those who pass the test with high scores go into the military or work for the government. Those who are adequate live in the poor neighborhoods, doing hard labor jobs for minimal pay. And those who fail, like Day, are told that they are being sent to labor camps...except not really. Lu envisioned a futuristic society, and was actually able to pull it off. It was believable, and didn't contradict itself. Lu also didn't make it so complex that the reader had to remember so many things about the government in order for the story to make sense, and that worked in it's favor.

When Day is accused of murdering June's brother, June is placed in charge of the investigation. But between spending time with Day in the slums, and decoding a message her brother left her, June finds that all is not what is seems with the Republic, or with the people she trusted most, like Thomas and Commander Jamison. Day isn't the criminal the government makes him out to be either. The story is fun, fast-paced, and full of adventure. I didn't really feel any lulls or parts that bored me, which is a problem I have had with a lot of books recently, it seems.

This book was full of adventure, fast-paced, and enjoyable. I loved it from the start. I would definitely recommend it to fans of dystopian, adventure, or the like. I loved it (did I say that enough?).

Marie Lu:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Shatter Me {by Tahereh Mafi}

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me, #1
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

So I was in a reading slump for awhile, and this book was just what I needed to come out of it. I nearly devoured it in one sitting. Truthfully, I don't even think it's drastically different than most other YA dystopians. But something about this was refreshingly different. It's one of those books that readers love love love, or hate. (Hm, I wonder which side of the spectrum I'm on.) 

One of the best parts about this book was Mafi's writing style. It was so unique, and really drew you in to the story. The cross-outs were definitely an interesting technique, adding depth to story. She really got into the mind of Juliette, sounding exactly like a teenager would, but also like how an insane (or not-so-insane) person would sound like. The writing really was just beautiful.

On a related note, the characters were very well written. At least, Juliette was. She developed throughout the book, and that showed through in how she was written. I didn't feel Adam was as swoon-worthy as everyone said, but I still liked him, for the most part. Warner was, in my opinion, the most interesting character. I felt that Mafi wrote his psychopathic personality very well (and I was happy that the novella 1.5, Destroy Me, was written from his perspective so we could see more inside his brain). I found myself harboring a little affection for Kenji, and James was just so cute.

The world that this takes place in is not so drastically different from other dystopia novels. Nor was it very well explained. But I was okay with that, as some times I feel novels like this can take up too much time trying to explain the world, and not enough time on what's important. Enough about the Reestablishment was mentioned for the context to make sense, and the rest is promised in book 2. Some don't like that, but for me, it was enough.

All around, this was a spectacular book. It was moving, emotional, fast-moving (mostly). It draws the reader into the story from the get-go. It delves into deeper issues without being over-the-top. While this book wasn't perfect, it was close enough.

Tahereh Mafi:

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Son of Sobek {by Rick Riordan}

Title: The Son of Sobek [novella]
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles crossover #1
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In this e-book short story by Rick Riordan, Carter Kane is investigating rumored sightings of a monster on Long Island when he runs into something else: a mysterious boy named Percy Jackson. And their meeting isn't exactly friendly. . . .

As if Carter or Percy by themselves wasn't enough sarcastic humor and witty banter, put them together and you get...even more sarcastic humor and witty banter. I loved the crossover of both of these characters. They live almost in two separate worlds, but it was only a matter of time before they somehow met. Both Carter and Percy are used to being the one in charge, and now, suddenly their turf is being invaded. They have to put aside their distrust of each other to fight next to each other.

Like all three series, (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and The Heroes of Olympus) this short story was filled with the humorous though processes and easy banter that make up who Percy and Carter are. It was a fun, easy read. Although it was (too) short, it still held true to who Percy and Carter are. It was filled the kind of sayings that Carter and Percy are known for:

"Getting eaten twice in one day would be very embarrassing." -Carter

"Not exactly my finest tactical move; but having a hippo shoved up your nose must have been sufficiently distracting." -Carter

"If nothing else, we would die knowing we had confused this monster many, many times." -Carter

okay I realize those were all Carter but you get the point

And boy, did it leave a lot of questions! The only thing I didn't like was the fact that we didn't get any of the story from Percy's point of view, only Carter's. (Well, that and all the unanswered question!) This is definitely a must-read for any fans of either series. 

Rick Riordan:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Centuries {by Rachel Harris}

Title: A Tale of Two Centuries
Author: Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, #2
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.
One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.
With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

So I have not read the first book in this series, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century. I have wanted to for a while now, but just haven't ever gotten around to it. But when I got this eARC and looked for MSSSC and the library, they didn't have it. Now the author said that this was technically a companion, not a sequel, and could be read without reading the first one, so that's what I did. Therefore, without that first perspective, my review may be slightly different than others'.

First off, let it be said that I usually do not like time travel books. I don't know what it is. They just never work out. However, I don't know what it is with this book, but it worked. Not only did it work, but I enjoyed it. A lot. 

It's been two years, and still Alessandra is trying to get over Cat leaving to go back to her world. When the man she has been seeing in secret and hoped to marry, Matteo, ends up marrying someone else, Less is left shattered. This provides the last straw for Less. Then Reyna, the gypsy girl who was responsible for Cat's journey, sends her to the 21st century for Less's own adventure.

Less is not as outspoken as Cat. She is quite, reserved, more concerned with pleasing others. This is not surprising considering the time period she lives in. I enjoyed her transformation from this shy, perfect girl into the courageous and outspoken girl she becomes in the end. The transformation was believable. Less is at that age where she is finding and coming into herself, no matter which century she happens to do that in. 

I also liked how the author kept Cat as one of the main characters. I don't know her complete story, obviously, but I learned enough to keep my in the loop. The author continues her love story, with Lucas. Cat is still guarded, not wanting to give herself over to the feelings she has for Lucas. But she learns to open herself up, and ends up with her own happy ending.

And okay, let's talk about Austin. Totally swoon-worthy. Hidden behind his tough guy exterior, Alessandra and he do not get off to a great start. In fact, Less thinks she can't stand him. But as they both open themselves up to each other, they both begin to find themselves. Less becomes more daring and adventurous, and Austin thaws out. Now, I'm not one for much romance, but I loved Alessandra and Austin.

I loved the whole dynamic of this book. A Tale of Two Centuries is such a cute, fun read. Although it does probe into deeper issues, it is still light. I've found that a lot of YA books can be superficial, but this one isn't. Although at first it didn't seem like my kind of book, I loved it. I will definitely be trying to get my hands on My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century. I would definitely recommend this book. And guess what? It comes out today. So go get it ;)

I was provided an eARC by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Rachel Harris:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

UnStrung {by Neal Shusterman}

Title: UnStrung [novella]
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind Dystology, 1.5
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

How did Lev Calder move from an unwillingly escaped Tithe to a clapper?
In this new ebook original short story, author Neal Shusterman opens a window on Lev's adventures between the time he left CyFi and when he showed up at the Graveyard.
Lev's experiences on a Hi-Rez, an extraordinarily wealthy Native American Reservation introduce him to a teen with remarkable musical talent... and whose gifts are destined to end up in the hands of another. And it is this teen's heart-breaking story that inspired Lev to choose the clapper's path.
Pulling elements from Neal Shusterman's critically acclaimed Unwind and giving hints about what is to come in the long-awaited sequel, UnWholly, this short story is a must for fans of the series.

For something so small, this sure packed a lot into it. This story takes place after Lev leaves Cyrus, before he makes it to the Graveyard. Lev runs while everyone is still distracted by CyFi, and makes it over the wall of a "Rez". Fortunately for him, he makes it to a "Hi-Rez" instead of a "Low-Rez". But Lev is no longer the naive, happy kid he was. He is angry and bitter at the whole world. Here, he meets Wil, whose talent for music can literally heal.

Shusterman has made a very thorough dystopian world in this series. Here, we also get to see what happened to Native Americans. They live on reservations ("rez"), although some are poor and some are rich (hence, "hi-rez" and "low-rez"). The American Indians, now called ChanceFolk, refused to sign the Unwind Accord, and so do not take place in unwinding or receiving parts. Instead, they have perfected the transfer of animal parts to humans. They take in AWOL Unwinds, like Lev, if their petition to join the tribe is approved.

I also enjoyed the new characters. Wil takes Lev under his wing as he shows him around. Wil has a gift for music, one that can affect emotions, or bring emotional healing. He is used all over the rez for his gift, the latest one being his grandfather who wants him to play over his passing. But Wil is tired of this. He wants to go out into the world, to be appreciated for his music, to play in front of crowds and hear applause. (The rez does not believe in applause because of pride and such.)

Here, Lev makes the first steps into what could have been a change. But when something happens to Wil--something that also gets Lev's petition to be adopted by the rez denied--Lev not only becomes angry and bitter again, he becomes even more so. This part, and what happens to Wil, will definitely play with your emotions. For a short story, this was actually pretty thorough and moving, something usually lacking in novellas because they are so short. So it was a pleasant surprise that Shusterman actually was able to make this almost as good as a full-length book. This will definitely have you wanting more in the series, if you haven't read UnWholly yet. And if you have, well, you'll still be wanting more.

Lev is determined to bring the world down, using his hands. The hands that could not applaud for Wil. And that is the story of how Lev became a clapper.

Check out my review of Unwind

Neal Shusterman:

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