Monday, September 22, 2014

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Source: ALA Annual
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: Septemeber 23rd 2014

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

This was my number one top pick at ALA annual this year, and I was very fortunate to be given a copy. The very premise of this book made it automatically a must read from the moment I read the synopsis. This is a book about an 18 year old girl named Darcy who has written a novel, and is in the process of getting it published. This story is told in alternating chapters, showing Darcy as she is publishing it, and then the story she had written. This book is very close to my heart, and always will be.

I'll start by reviewing this book in two sections, starting with the story Darcy has written and is in the works of publishing: Afterworlds. Darcy's novel, the book within a book, is a paranormal story about the after world and ghosts, and other such things. When I began to read this section of the book I started out very interested in the story and plot. This story within the story had a very strong start, but very quickly I realized that it just wasn't my kind of story. Honestly, Darcy's novel is something that I would have expected to read years and years ago, when paranormal romance and the Twilight faze was still going strong. I may have enjoyed it long ago, but now it's something I'm tired of reading about. In the end, when I approached chapters that followed this story, I ended up skimming the text, or just jumping to dialogue because it didn't interest me. It felt like there were large sections of this story missing, like the characters had had time to develop between chapters, and there was some insta-love that I just wasn't all that into. In the end this part of the book just wasn't for me, but I don't really dislike the overall book for the Afterworlds sections of it. It's like I think of the Afterworlds chapters and Darcy's work, not Scott Westerfeld's, so I don't feel like it's something I can criticize the overall book or Westerfeld for, which just adds another, amazing, difficult layer to the story overall.

Now, onto the chapters about Darcy as she publishes the book. This story line was the whole reason why I loved this story. Darcy Patel is living a life I hope to live myself one day (give or take a few details) and it was like Scott Westerfeld had dug around in my hopes and dreams and picked out everything to make the perfect book for me. I am a writer and an aspiring author, and this book was just YA heaven (if you've read the book you'll notice there's a joke there). This is a book that is perfect for people like myself, and many other people who immerse themselves in book blogging, booktubing, and other online book communities where we know lots about the book and publishing industry, so we know a little bit of everything that she's going through, and what all the terminology is and things like that. That beings said, I do think that this is a kind of book that is aimed for people who know how everything works, so it might be a bit harder for some people who are just roaming around a bookstore to understand everything. I really just wish I could have more of this part of the book, because honestly, this book was everything I've ever wanted in a book.

This book is hard to rate, but if I were to rate the sections individually I'd defiantly give the story that Darcy has written, Afterworlds 2/5 stars, and her own story 5/5 stars.  Overall though, I'm giving this book 4/5, just because I loved the modern day parts so much.

The story Darcy Writes: 2/5 stars
The story of Darcy's Life: 5/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars

Sunday, July 13, 2014

(Extremely Late) ALA Haul

A few weeks ago I went to ALA Annual, and here's the haul I posted on my youtube channel, enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Museum Of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

The Museum of Intangible ThingsThe Museum Of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Library

 Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

When I picked this up I thought I was going to be getting a fun, cute, summary contemporary read because I knew it involved a road trip in two best friends. I love the author's first book, so I was expecting that I would love this one too, especially with its subject matter, unfortunately I found myself disappointed with this book.

 The writing was definitely the high point of this book. Just like in her last book the author uses a beautiful, rich writing style that kept me reading, despite my lack of interesting that the other aspects of the story. The writing style allowed me to overlook some of the quirks of the story, and at first I felt like the quirks were validated with the writing style, unfortunately as the book went on I no longer felt that.

I really didn't like the characters in the story that much, I felt some things in common with the main character, such as her school situation, but otherwise I felt like there was very little to feel connected to an the story. The main character's best friend has bipolar disorder, which is something that I knew very little about before this book. I'm not sure how accurately the illness was portrayed in this book, so I can't speak to that, but it felt like the best friend one to do nothing more than crazy stunts that were illegal, unsafe, and just plain crazy.

 The story went by really fast. In most road trip books I feel like despite their change of scenery they always spend a little bit of time in each location, giving us a chance to feel as if we too are there. In this story felt like they were leaking from place to place from one paragraph to another, and I never really got a feel for where they actually were. I wish that the book had taken some time to let the characters taking their surroundings and breathe, and I know that the speed of the story was supposed to be directed by the main character's best friends bipolar disorder, since she wanted to do all these crazy things, but I felt like in the story as a book it was much too complicated and crazy.

 Finally, I really did not like how this book ended. Obviously I can't tell you too much before giving some spoilers, but I felt like it was very convenient and too unrealistic.

2/5 Stars

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Learning Not To Drown by Anna Shinoda

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Copy was borrowed from library

Family secrets cut to the bone in this mesmerizing debut novel about a teen whose drug-addicted brother is the prodigal son one time too many.

There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.

To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.

Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again.

Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.

Debut novelist Anna Shinoda's raw, gritty, powerful novel cuts right to the bone and brings to life the skeletons the lurk in the closet.

I really didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up. I heard about it on someone's video on booktube and I immediately requested for my library. After reading it now I don't remember what I was expecting at all. I knew it was a contemporary but I didn't realize that it was about a girl whose brother was in prison. This book took me by surprise because usually contemporaries are about romance and such, but this one was more about family and hard topics such as family members being in prison. I really love this book because I had never read a book about such a topic before. Usually hard topic contemporaries are about things like drugs or depression and things.

I think this book has a lot of things that people can recognize and people that they know, not necessarily in the brother or the main character but in the other characters like her parents and how they reacted to the situation.

This book took me longer to read than most books to you but it had nothing to do with the story itself it was just not something that I was willing to read quickly because it was very heavy and not necessarily the easiest thing to read quickly. This book was quite frustrating that is probably the best way to describe the book overall was very frustrating.

If you're looking for a contemporary that covers some tough topics that are not what are usually covered in YA books I definitely suggest that you try this one. The reason I'm giving this book four stars instead of five is because it didn't completely capture my interest the entire time and the ending was skipping around a little bit because it was becoming a little bit boring. I definitely recommend this book for nearly anyone especially people will like to have topic contemporaries and are looking for something new.