Monday, February 26, 2018

Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis Review

Title: Everything Must Go
Author: Jenny Fran Davis
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Everything Must Go was the February pick for one of the book clubs I go to, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, at first. I was slightly confused by the description, and even more so after I began reading the book; the format was just so unusual. But I decided that despite my doubts, I would just jump in with both feet and let the book lead me where it would. And honestly, I was very pleasantly surprised. I was laughing, crying, screaming, cheering—this feminist, hilarious debut is one of my favorite books of 2017, maybe ever! It took a little bit for me to get into, and to get used to the format, but once I did, I was absolutely hooked. Flora’s journey through young adulthood, navigating romance, friendship, family, self-discovery, and autonomy is hilarious, timely, realistic, and achingly tender, and I loved every crazy, honest moment of it. I’ll never forget Flora Goldwasser, or her coming into her own! One of the best coming of age stories I’ve ever read!

Flora Goldwasser has made the decision to upend her life totally in pursuit of a hip, gorgeous photographer—so much so, in fact, that she even changes schools to get closer to him. But she realizes that upstate, bucolic New York is totally different from her posh, comfortable school in Manhattan, Flora goes to backpedal, only to find that it’s much too late. Surrounded by Quaker kids who value things like the outdoors, their inner qualities instead of what’s on the outside, and personal freedom (even if it means going to the bathroom out of doors), Flora finds that her new school is a whole world away from her beloved Manhattan, she’s certain that she won’t make it out intact. But along the way, she discovers her own autonomy, what it means to be herself, and the real value of friendship, family, and change. This book is one of the best of the last year, and I will never forget it!

I was a little iffy about this book at first; I wasn’t sure of the plot and the format threw me at first. Told through journal entries, emails, bits of screenplays and letters; it kind of reminded me of Feeling Sorry for Celia. But once it got going, I was absolutely transfixed; I was laughing, crying, cheering, groaning, and screaming with fury. I loved Flora and her distinct, wry voice; I loved her character development and watching her grow. She went from a na├»ve, confused girl to a strong, capable young woman, full of power and self-control and completely comfortable with herself. I loved it. The pacing was breakneck, and I couldn’t break away; even when I wasn’t reading it, it was continually on my mind. I also loved the other characters; Flora’s friends from her old and new school, as well as her family; they were a great foil to her funny, wry personality. The only person that I didn’t really like in the book was Elijah; he seemed just like the typical, run-of-the-mill hipster artiste poseur, and he really rubbed me the wrong way, even before the big thing happened that I refuse to mention in this review. The ending was wonderful; I laughed, I cried, I cheered. This book was like finding a new friend; I really loved it. One of the best books of 2017! The bottom line: An unapologetically funny and feminist debut that had me feeling literally everything, Everything Must Go was absolutely wonderful, and I will never forget it! Next on deck: Renegades by Marissa Meyer!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu Review

Title: Batman: Nightwalker
Author: Marie Lu
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: DC Icons, book two
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

‘The darkness was his ally. Not his enemy.

The DC Icons series is one that I’ve been looking forward to since its conception; I loved Leigh Bardugo’s take on a young Diana Prince, and since I was eagerly looking forward to the next book—about a baby Bruce Wayne—I put it on hold at my library as soon as I had an opening. Plus, one of my favorite authors penned it—I love almost every bit of Marie Lu’s work! It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, beckoning me with its gorgeous, mysterious cover. As soon as I was finished with Thunderhead, I realized that I couldn’t renew it any more, and that clinched it. I snapped it up and read it in two and a half days; I’m so excited for the next two books in the series!

Young Bruce Wayne has just turned eighteen and is on the cusp of graduating high school; he is also very close to taking the helm of his late parents’ company, WayneTech. Haunted by his parents’ deaths even after all of these years, the boy wants to use his considerable fortune and even greater number of smarts to change the world. When he discovers that a mysterious crime organization called the Nightwalkers is slaughtering Gotham City’s rich and famous, he finds that at the middle of it all is a young woman named Madeleine. Locked up in Arkham Asylum for her crimes, Bruce cannot help but be drawn to the mysterious girl, even as the odds stack up against them both. When he realizes that he’s next on the assassins’ hitlist, he decides to take matters in his own hands, even if it means dancing closer to the razor’s edge of danger…

This book—it was amazing. I love superheroes, especially classic ones, and Batman is hands down my favorite, as far as the DC camp goes. So when I heard that Marie Lu was writing a novel about a teenage Bruce Wayne before he becomes the Batman, I was so excited and stoked. Admittedly, this book wasn’t perfect, but nonetheless, it was very enjoyable. It was fun to imagine one of the world’s greatest heroes as a young man; I won’t lie, I was fangirling a lot. And the romantic parts; I couldn’t stop fanning myself!

The pacing was breakneck; I was immediately entranced by the Gotham City that Lu created, shiny and pure but with a dark, forbidding underbelly, a lot like the original. I also really loved the way that Lu dropped several DC Easter eggs—I won’t reveal them for those who haven’t read the book yet! Even more than these things, I loved the characterization of Bruce Wayne: highly honorable, strongly moral, and ultimately, empathetic; Lu really humanized the boy who will become The Dark Knight. It really sold the book for me. I was deeply intrigued about The Nightwalkers and their organization; I liked the way that Lu made them try to look for the gray in the midst of the black and white Gotham they lived in. Madeleine, too, was a fascinating character in and of herself; I was as drawn to her as Bruce was, curious about her past and her current motivations. And the chemistry between the two of them! Ugh, I was dying! And the ending—oh my gosh, I was straight up ugly crying and it was not at all pretty. The only thing is, I was really confused at times over Bruce’s reasoning, and Madeleine’s logic didn’t make any sense to me; it made the whole relationship confusing. Nonetheless, this book was a strong entry in the DC Icons series, and I can’t wait for Catwoman and Superman’s turn in the spotlight! A near knockout from one of my favorite authors! The bottom line: A fantastic new take on a young Dark Knight, I loved Nightwalker, despite some flaws; I can’t wait for the next two books in the DC Icons series! Next on deck: Everything Must Go by Jenny Fran Davis!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman Review

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Arc of a Scythe, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Scythe was one of my favorite books of 2017; it was thought-provoking, fast-paced, and original, a whole new take on the futuristic science fiction genre. I was so excited when the sequel was finally announced, and I put it on hold at my library as soon as I had an opening in my number. (One of my primary goals for the year was to stop trying to bring the entire library home with me, lol.)

Thunderhead sat in my library stack for a while, and I couldn’t renew it, as there were holds on it. As soon as I finished Given to the Earth, I began it, and was immediately drawn into Shusterman’s dangerous, deceptively perfect world, where death and disease have been all but eradicated. As it was a sequel, it took me a bit to remember what was going on, but the book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go until the last pages; I was breathless throughout the book, but the ending was a total killer—I’m absolutely dying for the next book, and I only finished it yesterday! This series is one of my favorites from Shusterman, and I can’t wait to see what comes next! Because this is a sequel, I don’t want to say much about the plot; I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet.

Thunderhead picks up where Scythe left off, continuing the events from the previous book and going at high speed. Even though it took me a while for my memory of the last book to come back, the pace was so breakneck that I was immediately sucked in, following both Rowan and Citra on their journeys until the fateful moment when their paths diverge. The writing was gorgeous, captivating, even in its brutality. This being a sequel, I was really hoping that my anxiety would be relieved, and my questions answered, and they were—but I have so many more, especially after the killer ending! Characters from the last book return and are introduced, and new characters are brought in. I especially liked the way the worldbuilding was elaborated on, especially the people that don’t fit into the social norms of this beatific, mostly peaceful society; well, as peaceful a society can be where death is sanctioned by its people and government. The Thunderhead, too, was one of the reasons I loved this book; I loved the way Shusterman gave us a glimpse into the mind of the powerful technology that cares for the human race in this future. And that ending—I’m still reeling from the gravity of it, a day later. I’m in complete shock, and all I can say is that I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy! Absolutely amazing! The bottom line: A satisfying, thought-provoking sequel that moves at light speed, I loved Thunderhead, and I can’t wait for what comes next—one of the best books of 2018 for me, hands down! Next on deck: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Given to the Earth by Mindy McGinnis Review

Title: Given to the Earth
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Given to the Sea, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The author gave me an advance reader copy of this book at a library visit in August—she even signed it for me—thank you so much, Mindy, it means so much to me!

When I heard that Mindy McGinnis, one of my favorite Ohio-based authors, was coming to my local library to discuss the book club book, Not a Drop to Drink, I was so excited. I’d never been to an author meeting before, much less a local one! Plus, she was an author, just like me, and I was looking forward to picking her brain about our shared profession. I’d just finished her new book, Given to the Sea, right before she came to the library and I was excited to discuss it with her. As soon as she came into the room, I spoke to her about Given to the Sea, and how sad I was that I couldn’t afford to buy a book for her to sign for me. She thanked me and told me that since I was the first person to ask about her brand new book, she’d give me the sequel and sign it for me! It’s been sitting on my shelf since the summer, and since it was almost time for the advance reviews to come out, I figured I’d push it to the top of my stack and read it! Given to the Earth was a meaty, exciting sequel, full of political intrigue, secret, shifting alliances, heart-melting romance, and twists and turns that had me gasping, cheering, and screaming! I feel so very lucky to have had the chance to read it early, and I can’t wait until the rest of the world gets their hands on it!

Given to the Earth picks up where Given to the Sea left off, a few months after the first book ended. I don’t want to give any spoilers, as the book comes out in April, so I’m going to say as little about the plot and its happenings as possible. I can’t give away all the crazy surprises that Mindy put in here! But I will say that as far as sequels go, this one was incredibly satisfying. All the loose ends were tied up neatly, and the book had me endlessly turning pages, desperate to know what was going to happen. The pacing was breakneck, though it took me a little bit to remember everything that had happened in the first book. I was immediately drawn into Mindy’s beautifully wrought, dangerous world, rife with political intrigue, betrayal, secrets and lies, heart-pounding action, and bittersweet romance. I adored every painful moment of it, even though there were several times that I had to walk away to spare my feelings and recuperate. All I can say is that this sequel satisfied me totally, and I loved it; I simply can’t wait to hear what others think about Given to the Earth! The bottom line: A treasured gift from one of my favorite Ohio authors, I loved Given to the Earth, and it’s left an indelible tattoo upon my heart that will never go away! Next on deck: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman!