3.5 Stars

[Review] Blood of My Blood – Barry Lyga

Blood Of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3)

Author: Barry Lyga

Series: Jasper Dent #3

Publication Date: September 9th, 2014

Publisher: Little Brown

Number of Pages: 464

Genre: Thriller, YA, Mystery, Action

Source: Public library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?
The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.


Review

Well that was an anticlimatic ending to the series.

This is kind of disappointing to be honest. After two fantastic books, the series flatlines into a slow, somewhat dull finale. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not as great as the last book should be.

I’m underwhelmed and a little ashamed to say that I was actually happy that the book ended. I was just a little disappointed with where the novel went. I wanted more blood.

In the beginning, I was very happy with the book. There’s a badass escape and you figure out some important information. It’s just when it starts to repeat over and over that it gets kind of boring.

Obviously there’s less action in this novel. It’s not like it’s gone, but there is a lot less suspense. The ending was pretty good but it didn’t pack a punch at all. Lots of jaw-dropping information is revealed. It just doesn’t have the effect that it should have had.

I was annoyed with Jazz in this book. He was the charming, tortured soul in the first two novels but I found him downright annoying in this novel. He has really great character development. He has become fixated on the safety of his mother and it is the only thing that keeps him sane. He is this close to becoming a sociopath and much of the book is spent on the “is it gonna happen or not” aspect. I gets a little redundant.

Connie on the other hand, felt absolutely useless in this book. After a fourth of the novel, she’s been pushed to the background of the book due to an injury. This has both good and bad repercussions. In a bad way, I felt like she was weak and useless. But at least it allows for Lyga to focus on the conflict with Jazz. And wow it was complicated.

Lyga skillfully uses red herring and small clues to help propel the story along. Which was desperately needed. As good as the book was, it still wasn’t the best out of all of the books.

I don’t know if it’s my sadistic side, but I enjoyed reading about the violent killings and investigations more than I did about Jazz’s fucked up family. The Crow King is revealed and more importantly, Billy Dent’s childhood is revealed. As a fan of the series, I liked learning about it, but I much preferred the crime aspect.

Well at least I know I like crime novels now.

3.5/5 Stars

[Review] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Series: None

Publication Date: February 21st, 2012

Publisher: Simon and Schuester Books for Young Readers

Number of Pages: 359

Genre: Contemporary, Historical, LGBTQ, Romance, YA

Source: Public library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

(more…)

[Review] Doomboy – Tony Sandoval

12724844

Author: Tony Sandoval

Publication Date: September 21st, 2011

Publisher: Paquet

Number of Pages: 144

Genre: Graphic Novels

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

There was no summary on Goodreads so this has been taken from ComicVine.

A lonely, metal-obsessed teen sends a heartfelt song to his missing beloved, only to find out that his music has traveled to the beyond, and re-broadcast to the entire city. Only his best friend knows that he is really the mysterious rock god and anonymous legend known as “Doomboy.” An evocative, melancholy coming-of-age story.

(more…)

[Review] The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

Author: Rick Yancey

Series: The 5th Wave #1

Publication Date: May 7th, 2013

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Number of Pages: 480

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure, Dystopian, Romance, YA

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Summary

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

(more…)

[Review] Across the Universe – Beth Revis

Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

  Author: Beth Revis

  Publish Date: January 11th, 2011

Series: Across the Universe #1

Number of Pages: 398

  Genre: Sci-fi, Romance

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


Review

This book is all over booktube, which is the reason that I picked it up.

Across the Universe is a sci-fi romance novel and I enjoyed reading it. It details the journey of a ship, the Godspeed and the development of the people living on it. It was a relatively enjoyable read and it’s errors, while present, were not so bad that they majorly influenced the likableness of the story.

Plus it’s a nice change of pace from the usual post-apocalyptic dystopians.

Sci-fi is not usually my choice of genre. I hate the subject of astronomy. In sixth grade, we did moon journals and I hated it with a fiery passion.

Even so, I wish that Across the Universe had had more information about the science behind the Godspeed. We’re treated to loads of information about the citizens and history behind the ship, but what I want to know is the technology. How does the ship run? How do they manipulate and reuse resources? The book skimmed over a lot of the science behind the methods used on board. Revis does a fantastic job building up the setting details and while she did have some of this information, I still want more.

(But not as an info-dump, which thankfully, wasn’t a problem in this book)

The characters were alright. Amy can be unbearable at times, but some of it can be attributed to her high amount of panic when she realizes, “Oh shoot I’ve been woken up early”. I do think that she was too inconsiderate. She doesn’t understand that the Godspeed IS NOT LIKE Earth and that the ship has essentially been reduced to a homogeneous society. She doesn’t realize that her different appearance might cause the people on board the ship to rebel. She’s selfish and doesn’t know what she’s doing half the time.

On the other hand, I’m not really sure if I like Elder that much. :/ He’s naive and kind of dull. Half the time he was talking about how beautiful Amy was and it’s really obvious that he wants to get in her pants. I also felt like he was a doormat. Too meek. However, his creative friend, Harley, was really great.

The plot was pretty predictable what with the reader knowing who the enemy is within the first fourth of the book. There were a few plot twists that I didn’t expect, but looking back, I honestly probably could have predicted them had I been focusing more.

There were both good and bad things about the romance. Very insta-love-y on Elder’s part. Kind of annoying reading all about his obsession with Amy 24/7. But hey, at least there wasn’t any love triangle and the love isn’t forced on Amy.

 I liked this one a lot.

3.5/5 Stars

[Review] Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca

Author: Melina Marchetta

Publish Date: May 9th, 2006

Number of Pages: 243

Genre: YA, Contemporary

A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.


Review

I think I’m in the minority of this book. Lots and lots of people loved it, but I on the other hand, didn’t like nearly as much as I had been expecting it. I definitely enjoyed it but it in no way, measured up to Marchetta’s later book, Jellicoe Road. Friends, if you have been following me for a while, you’ll probably notice that I loved Jellicoe Road. It’s painfully obvious if you read my Top-Ten Tuesday posts. Saving Francesca, while fantastic, was slightly disappointing, to me. I feel like a better decision would have been to read this one before I read Jellicoe Road.

Nevertheless, Saving Francesca had some fantastic qualities.

Characters. I adored the characters in Saving Francesca. They were all just amazing. Francesca was great. She was kind of sarcastic but also confused and very contemplative. I loved Will Tromble, her love interest. Francesca’s crew was beautiful. The way that the girls banded together and how they befriended the few boys that weren’t as sexist was just amazing. I loved the way that Francesca learned what it meant to truly live as yourself, not as what others expect you to be. I loved how she learned to deal with problems, to take control and tell people what was the right way to do things. She learned how to take initiative and do what she believed was right. She grows a lot as a character.

In short, the relationships, development, everything related to the characters, was amazing.

The plot of the book was…. not what I was expecting at all.

A summary in two sentences……

Francesca is starting at a new school and is one of the first thirty girls to attend St. Sebastian’s. She’s lost and trying to find her place while also facing the effects of her mother’s depression.

It was a lot more simple and the plot itself focused more on learning how to find yourself than the other mentioned topics (depression and sexism). Sometimes it came off as mundane. I felt like the concept of depression was kind of skimmed over in order to better describe the other important ideas within the book, although honestly, it might just be me and how I’ve read a lot of books where the limelight is on the mental illness. In this case, while depression is a prominent subject of the book, Marchetta doesn’t really spend more time than necessary talking about Mia’s (her mother) depression.

I liked the portrayal of sexism. It’s a really realistic comparison of how oftentimes traditions can end up becoming the reason that girls are discriminated against. If thirty girls infiltrate a previously all-boys school, somehow, I doubt that they will be so easily accepted. While, female empowerment isn’t really mentioned, I feel that the book did realistically mention the repercussions of the attendance of the girls.

 The romance was both good and bad. The two characters had a lot of chemistry but I can’t help but feel like it didn’t have a lot of buildup. I can definitely understand why Marchetta chose to do this (I mean, they’re in a sexist private school where dating the girls in the school is a really bold move.) but I wish there had been some more non-awkward interaction y’know? It’s not exactly insta-love but it could have been really close. I do really like that Will Tromble was the class president though.

3.5/5 Stars

Reality Boy – A.S. King

Reality Boy

Reality Boy

Author: A.S. King

Publish Date: October 22nd, 2013

Number of Pages: 353

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.


Review

Reality Boy had almost everything I was hoping for. Almost.

I knew it was going to be about a messed up teenager who’s life had been ripped apart by his family and Network Nanny. I wasn’t expecting anything about crap to show in the novel. I feel so bad for Gerald because “The Crapper” has to be one of the most humiliating nicknames ever. Gerald’s story was so unhappy. His growth and realization as he goes through school and learns to open up to other people is something that was rewarding to read about. He’s a misunderstood soul that’s been labelled as a criminal simply because of the fact that he was never taught how to portray his emotions. His character was raw and realistic, someone that was characterized very very well. I couldn’t help but sympathize with him. There were multiple scenes in this book that just made me want to give Gerald a hug. By the end of the book, I wanted to applaud him for finally stepping up and becoming a stronger character. He’s a really nice person but the outsiders have been deluded by the superficial image they have of his childhood persona.

I didn’t really like the love interest, Hannah. I found her kind of annoying at times but I can understand how Gerald would have liked her. The build-up for them was really cute. They are a good couple but I couldn’t feel the chemistry. Part of the reason I didn’t really like it was because of the fact that I didn’t like Hannah as a character.

I loved the setting of this story. The hockey arena, school, house, every crucial setting was described very well. I could imagine the format of the hockey arena and his house. I could vividly picture nearly every setting in the book.

Plot-wise, I felt like the book was lacking. It’s entirely about Gerald’s road to recovery and realization and it’s a heart-breaking one at that. It’s told in a combination of scenes from the show that Gerald’s family was on, Network Nanny, and the present. It’s a very effective form of storytelling. By doing this, King slowly reveals more and more snippets of Gerald’s past and links it to how it affected the future. While her storytelling skills were great, the plot was not good enough. The important moments were distinct (moments when he reflects on his family, key events in the book, etc.), but the connections between them sometimes dragged.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books where the main characters seem to suffer from some type of mental disorder. In this case, Gerald has anger-management issues and King handles the subject matter extremely well. She shows that there are multiple layers to a victim’s anger and that even if the victim says that he or she isn’t trying, some of them genuinely want to recover. She brings up the idea that family issues can be the reason that a someone is the way that they are. And most importantly, she addresses the amount of truth that lies in reality television. We all know that reality tv is completely fake through and through but in the process of creating these shows, the children and actors are negatively impacted.

I didn’t like the writing in Reality Boy. I thought that it matched Gerald’s tone and personality but personally, I didn’t enjoy reading it. It felt scattered and choppy, which I suppose, is what King might have been trying to accomplish in this novel (that is, the disorganized, highly-unstable mind of an angry teenager).

There were some plot aspects that I loved about the book. Gerald and Hannah’s list of demands (basically a list of stuff they wanted from their dysfunctional families/parents). The story about Gerald and his sister Lisi (Lisis worked her butt off to escape their house). The circus. Gerald’s class (He was placed in the special-needs class by his mother.). Although it was awful for Gerald, I really liked the parts of the story with Tasha (sex-fiend who does it loudly in the basement with no remorse). The boxing. The hockey fan that recognized Gerald.

All in all, a pretty good book that occasionally dragged.

3.5/5 Stars

Rumble – Ellen Hopkins

Rumble

Rumble

Author: Ellen Hopkins

Number of Pages: 546

Publish Date: August 26th, 2014

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Poetry

Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was…my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.


Review

This book made me tear up in the middle and to be honest, I’m not even sure why. Maybe it was the feelings I had coming off of Torn Away. Maybe it was the fact that I was tired. I’m not sure guys. It wasn’t even all that sad.

Rumble was the first Ellen Hopkins book I can say that I read and understood. I read Crank at one point, but I was kind of naive and didn’t really understand that it was about crystal meth. (Let’s be honest. I didn’t even understand the verse poetry.) I now know that Hopkins writes about serious issues and in this particular novel, suicides and the repercussions it has on the people that are left to mourn.

I have a thing with liking books where the characters are questioning religion. I always find it kind of refreshing to read about for some reason. I really liked the essay bits that represented Matt’s writing although I don’t think a teacher would give him a good grade for what he wrote. The characters were mildly characterized. Hayden and Alexa were kind of flat but I thought that I could understand Matt’s personality pretty well.

I did have a few problems with this one though.

I could not, for the life of me, ever connect with Hayden or Matt. I sympathized, but I never could really say that I connected with him. I though Hayden was sleazy throughout the whole novel. I’m not really sure if I like Matt or not. Sometimes I thought he was a new level of overly obsessive and at other times I just wanted to resurrect his dead brother for him. The love triangle was kind of annoying seeing as the development wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. Hayden is kind of a terrible girlfriend and Matt is kind of a terrible boyfriend. At first, I didn’t even understand why they were together because their relationship was all types of unhealthy. And Alexa is just a mess. I shipped Alexa and Matt but reading about the jealousy and drama between all of them wasn’t that great. On top of it, I didn’t like the development of the romance whatsoever. It felt kind of insta-love-y and I felt like it detracted from the bulk of the plot.

It also bugged me that Matt always said he loved Hayden but at the same time, kept thinking about Alexa. If that isn’t a sign that something is wrong, I don’t know what is.

The entire book I was waiting for what was referred to as “the rumble” (Which, for the record, doesn’t show up until like page 350-60ish. Takes forever to build up to it and all the rising action is kind of boring). It wasn’t really surprising and I was disappointed when I realized that that scene was the “big moment” that was supposed to be the turning point. It might have been an emotionally charged scene where Matt realizes that everything he’s believed was wrong but I was expecting it to happen at some point. I just didn’t expect it to be the climax of the novel. I know I probably sound a bit cray right now because you probably don’t know what I’m talking about but I can’t spoil. Sorry!

I enjoyed the writing. It was poetic but at the same time it also was pretty in a simple way.

I did like the ending, right before Matt gets into the hospital. I liked the shooting he did and I liked the way he grew from the experience. But I wish Hopkins had covered less in the novel. She tried to cover suicide, homosexuality, family problems, bad romantic relationships, etc, all in the same novel, and at times, I found it cumbersome. I think I would have enjoyed the novel more if it had focused on one specific topic.

3.5 Stars