Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Brad About Books: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Read from June 30 to July 1, 2013
Expected Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 560 pages
Source: ALA
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #3

This review is entirely spoiler free, even if you haven't started this series (which, if you haven't, what are you doing? GET ON THAT.)

Read my reviews for previous novels in this series:

First off, let me say that the Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series ever. Guys, I'm talking near the top of the list. It's insanely fantastic. And Cress? It did not disappoint by any means. Everything I could have wanted from Cress was delivered on a shining platter - I can't rave about this book enough. Cress not only proves that Meyer's is a marvelous storyteller, it also shows how daring and far she took this story to make it her own. Cress is phenomenal in every sense of the word.

I have loved this series since day one, and I was so excited to dive into Cress. Cinder and Scarlet and the rest of the gang are back in this third installment, but of course, we are introduced to our new heroine, Cress. Cress is unlike any kind of protagonist I've ever read about. She's smart, clever, and cunning, yet she is hollow inside. It was so awesome to see the compare and contrast of those elements within Cress, and I absolutely adored her character. In fact, I think she's my favorite out of the three (soon to be four) thus far. I also loved how characters who were somewhat important in Cinder and Scarlet became VERY important in Cress. Each character has a vital role in the series, and Meyer definitely uses all of her characters and puts them to the test. All the characters evolve in one way or another in Cress, and I absolutely fell in love with this book. This is easily one of my favorite books ever

Speaking of putting characters to the test, wow. Marissa Meyer definitely wasn't afraid to have a little fun with her characters! The stakes are raised so high in Cress, and the characters are pushed past their limits - to see some characters either make it or break it was thrilling, and I couldn't put this beast of a book down. The Lunar Chronicles contains my favorite villain ever: Queen Levana. You don't even understand how much I love Queen Levana. She's so wickedly cruel, and Cress shined new light on her... I hate to love her, but I love to hate her! And thank goodness Cress wasn't a damsel in distress like how, in my opinion, the original Rapunzel is. She could do things for herself and speak her mind, and I loved that she wasn't your typical heroine. In fact, she's anything but typical. These characters are truly stunning. Honestly, I just loved everything about this third book. This series keeps getting better and better!

It is completely impossible to put this novel down. Though it looks like a monster, Meyer sweeps the reader up and entangles them in the world of Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and to see the three heroines all join forces was exceptional. Right from page one, I was sucked into the book, and I couldn't put it down. From its fast-paced climatic moments to its revealing-secrets-cliffhangers that kill me inside, Cress has it all. Absorbing and enthralling, Cress is sure to knock you off your feet. One word: amazing. Another word: phenomenal.

Overall, Cress has still left its mark on me. A one of a kind gem full of action, mystery, and the perfect amount of romance and sci-fi mixed in with it. That ending killed me. I can't wait to see how it all concludes!

M Y    R A T I N G

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Brad About Books: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Read from October 19 to 21, 2013
Expected Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 388 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin's hormones are totally oblivious; they don't care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He's stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it's up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival and the complex realities of the human condition.

Grasshopper Jungle is truly a one of a kind gem that shouldn't be missed. With marvelous characters and superb, masterful writing, Grasshopper Jungle is easily one of the most thought-provoking and incredible novels I have ever read. 

You will never find a book like Grasshopper Jungle, in both the sense of the plot and of the brilliant way it was crafted together by Smith. As Austin and Robby unleash the end of the world in their small Iowa town, they both discover themselves along the way while trying to save humanity. What I really loved about Grasshopper Jungle was how it never always focused on the danger at hand - there are many scenes where the characters are just sitting around, discussing life and the things pertaining to them at the time, and it fit the characters perfectly. They're misfits and they don't always have the right answers. How Smith weaved together Austin, Shann, and Robby's character and developed them even further blew me away. Grasshopper Jungle is an absolute must-read!

Andrew Smith has a fantastic writing style. He was able to manage to weave two stories - the story of the end of the world and the story of Austin's family legacy - and intertwine them together to make them one bigger, epic story, without shadowing or taking away from one or the other. Grasshopper Jungle will forever change the way you view the misfits that surround you; whether it's for the better or for the worse, they're always changing in ways never noticeable unless you become entwined with their world. Smith has created a genius, mind-bending story that packs an epic punch and leaves its mark. 

From Austin trying to discover his place in the world to the best friend relationship the characters share, Grasshopper Jungle shares a true perspective of what it means to be lost in a world full of possibilities. It's smart, it's dynamic, it's enthralling, it's phenomenal. Grasshopper Jungle will not only consume your mind - it will be the only thing you think about, long after the final page has been turned. Grasshopper Jungle is truly remarkable.

Overall, Grasshopper Jungle is a dazzling, heart-pounding read that has left a mark on me and captivated me from start to finish. Spectacular!

M Y    R A T I N G

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brad About Books: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Read from October 27 to 29, 2013
Expected Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 374 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Series: Landry Park, #1

Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal.

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

Landry Park is a beautiful, enchanting read that drew me in right from the beginning, and with the way that Hagen crafted the world of Landry Park of stunning characters and exceptional writing, it was impossible to put it down. Landry Park is truly one of a kind.

Are you getting sick and tired of the dystopian genre? Landry Park is sure to change your mind about that. Instead of building a future that's unlike anything in our present day world, Hagen draws from the past and how a torn United States quickly becomes like that in the old age. It was so unique to see this play on dystopian, and it's one of the many reasons why Landry Park stands out to me. From the elegance of the land and the proper manners to the scandal and betrayal happening behind the scenes, Landry Park makes its mark ever so gracefully and standout-worthy. Even though I read this book months ago, it's still on my mind. Landry Park is wickedly marvelous!

Madeline is such a strong, fantastic protagonist. She doesn't want to follow the rules set by her land, and she won't let her freedom be taken from her. With war brewing in the land, Madeline has a whirlwind of adventure on her hands, and the way that Hagen executes this adventure was incredible. There is never a dull moment in Landry Park. It's so vivacious, dark, and contagious - it's truly impossible to stop reading Landry Park. The world-building will have you caught up in Madeline and Landry Park, the writing will carry you away with the love and war stirring in the land, and the characters will make you head over heels fall in love with everything about this gem. I cannot stress enough how much I adored this book. I need the sequel so bad!

Can we just talk about the fact that Bethany Hagen is a master of suspense? Honestly, I had no idea what to expect while reading Landry Park. There are so many masterful and unique elements thrown into the novel that I totally didn't see coming, and they weren't the kind of plot twists thrown in for the sake of shocking the reader - they moved the story along and benefited it greatly. Landry Park will shake you, captivate you, and leave you wanting more long after the final page has been turned.

Overall, I loved Landry Park so much. With phenomenal world-building and one of a kind characters (plus an ending I never saw coming, and once I read it, my jaw literally fell open), Landry Park will blow you away.

M Y   R A T I N G

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Brad About Books: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Read on January 24, 2014
Expected Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 403 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Winner of the 2012 PEN New England Discovery Award!

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Something Real is a captivating, tantalizing read that had me hooked from the beginning and never let me go. Everything about this book is raw, unique, and real.

I'm going to start off this review with a bang with what I loved most: the brother-sister relationship between Bonnie and Benny. They fight and argue, but they also get along and complement each other so well. Bonnie and Benny are definitely some of my favorite siblings I've ever read about. Actually, all of the characters in Something Real are incredible! There's so many brothers and sisters to keep track of, but Demetrios does an exceptional job at making their character relevant to the family and Bonnie. Characters are a very important part of a book for me, and the characters in Something Real are stunning. 

Something Real provides such a fresh, interesting story - it was so hard to put down! Reality shows are somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me, but reading it through the eyes of someone who doesn't want to be apart of exposing their life for the world to see was marvelous. How the story was set up - exposing Bonnie's secret public identity to filming the show - was truly one of a kind, and Something Real is really something special. I think that Something Real is perfect for fans who don't usually read contemporaries. Something Real has it all: wonderful characters, phenomenal writing, and a story that will enthrall you and engross you. 

Something Real will definitely pull at your heartstrings. The emotions and the struggles that Bonnie faces (both in the eye of the public and her inner self) make you root for her and cheer her one, but it connects you to her in a way that I've never seen done before. I connected to Bonnie instantly, and she has remained to be a favorite heroine of mine. Something Real is truly a must-read!

Overall, Something Real is a beautiful, radiant read that is equally both wonderful and pulsing with great characters. Loved it!

M Y    R A T I N G

Friday, January 3, 2014

Brad About Books: The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

Read from November 24 to 26, 2013
Expected Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: FSG (Macmillan)
Format: ARC
Page Count: 405 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review

One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.

The Rule of Three is unlike any other disaster story you will ever read! Unlike many in its genre, The Rule of Three bends the circumstances and focuses more on the regrowth of the world (with the rebels and trouble here and there) than putting its point of view more on the downfall of the world. I loved how unique this book was.

I've read many disaster stories but none quite like this one. The Rule of Three starts off casually, but Eric Walters doesn't leave the reader in the slow build up for long. Within at least fifteen pages of The Rule of Three, action is flying off the page, and it's impossible not to be absorbed into this world. Darkness is ruling over everything, and Adam is having to fight and struggle to live in this world. Our world is now entirely built on technology (and I admit that I am very addicted and hooked on technology), but it was such a cool spin to see the downfall of technology and how our generation has to rebuild the world by using methods that our generation doesn't practice that much anymore (planting crops, creating a fort for survival, etc.), and it really makes for a great, engaging story. The Rule of Three is unlike anything you will ever read!

Catastrophe lurks everywhere in The Rule of Three, and Walters did a stunning job with it. Most disaster stories have a climatic, foreshadowing feeling to them, but I have to say, I didn't feel that with the writing of The Rule of Three - and I really appreciated that it was different! I couldn't ever predict what was going to happen next, because if I would predict, Walters would throw something huge and unexpected into the story. Traveling with Adam and his mom through this perilous strike was so interesting and enthralling, and I loved how The Rule of Three was able to create a story that is both equally epic and dark. 

Adam is such a cool protagonist. What I liked most about his character was how he didn't always have the answers. He had to rely on others to manage during this shutdown, and to rebuild something, I believe that's what you to do. The relationship between all the characters felt authentic, and they proved to be a strong team together. If I had only one complaint about The Rule of Three, it would have to be the somewhat lacking middle. I felt that not a lot pushed the story along in the middle except for the characters, but by the end, the action was intense.

Overall, The Rule of Three is a marvelous, original story that will shock you, stun you, and hold you in its clutches until the awesome, mind-blowing finale. Irresistible!

M Y    R A T I N G