Friday, April 29, 2011

Review #5: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Hello my literary comrades! It's time for another review. And it is another hype book, but this time it was mostly hyped up by Nerdfighters, of which I am one (DFTBA!). To digress a little, Nerdfighters are people in a community that sprang up from the youtube channel author John Green and his brother Hank Green started in 2007. John himself praised this book back in December, saying how wonderful it was and he highly recommended it. The a bunch of other Youtuber started praising this book. So I decided to purchase Anna and the French Kiss to see what all the hype is about, and man am I glad I got it. So get on your reading glasses, sit in your comfortable chair and lets get started!

Anna and the French Kiss is by Stephanie Perkins. It is about a girl named Anna Oliphant. She is about to be a senior in High School and aspires to be a film critic. She ends up being sent to an American boarding school in Paris to learn some culture and experience. What she gets is not only culture, but a great group of friends and a boy whom she falls in love with. The boy is Etienne St. Clair, normally called St. Clair. Over the course of the novel the two fall in love and comical mishaps occur, but there is also a well of emotion. 

I LOVED this book. And I mean LOVED it. It is on par with Wither, but they are two different types of genres, though both have romance. You know Anna and St. Clair are going to get together (which is why I am not saying "spoiler". Sorry) but it is how they end up a couple that makes the book so great. When the funny parts happen they are very funny, and the emotional moments truly hit you in the right spots. I cried in the right spots and laughed at the right spots, which is fantastic. As an avid reader, I need variety sometimes. And as you can tell by my 3 previous reviews, a break from the Dystopian genre. This was THE perfect book to get me out of that seemingly bleak atmosphere of Dystopia. The plot was great, I loved all the little twists that were thrown in. This book was reminiscent of the films Anna loved, and that made it even more fantastic.

Concerning the characters, I think I'm in love with St. Clair. I know I've said that about a few of the male leads or supporting leads, but St. Clair is very swoon inducing. If he truly existed in real life, I would fall in love instantly and try to become his girlfriend. He is also a very well written character (which makes me with even more that he really existed.), and has a lot of growth over the course of the novel. To see him grow up and become a better person is fascinating and simultaneously entertaining. Anna was also a fantastic character. I feel she could be my best friend in real life. The same goes for the rest of her friends, Meredith, Josh and Rashmi. I see why so many people love these characters. They are funny and great and have nice sized roles in the book. The antagonist Amanda was a real class a b*tch. Very reminiscent of Regina George from Mean Girls, but outright more mean. She wasn't as cunning, but she was just very mean. Amanda is an easy to hate character. That being said I loved it when she got her comeuppance. ;)

I literally have nothing bad to say about this novel. I loved Stephanie Perkins' writing style. She has a very movie-like way of writing that makes you feel at ease, and once again watching a great movie instead of reading a great book. That makes her style fresh and refreshing.

Again I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book, other than I wish Ms. Perkins wrote a sequel to it, so I can read more adventures about Anna and St. Clair. Maybe a short story perhaps. I eagerly await the companion book, Lola and the Boy Next Store to come out.

Until next time my comrades

Viva la literature!     

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review #4: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Hello my literary comrades! I didn't expect to talk to everyone so soon, but here we are. :) This is my review for Bumped by Megan McCafferty. Another hype book that does live up to it's hype once again. Get on your reading glasses, sit in your comfortable chairs and lets go!

(Side note: I have noticed that my last three books have been dystopian novels. A bit of an odd trend for me. Just mentioning that.)

Bumped is another Dystopian novel that takes place in the year 2036. A virus makes everyone infertile after they turn 18 years old. This makes teen pregnancy the only way humanity will survive. Teenagers sell their children to adults who can't conceive, in order to pay for college and other various things. The teen culture is completely and utterly sex and pregnancy centered. The protagonists are twin sisters Melody and Harmony. They were separated at birth, Melody taken to a normal family, while Harmony was taken to a family in Goodside, a compound for a religious fanatical group. The two finally meet, and a culture clash occurs. But the true story happens when Harmony gets mistaken for Melody.

I'm going to say this right out, there is A LOT of slang in this book. There is just no way of getting around it. Words like Terminate (which I feel was out of context in some parts of the novel, but I couldn't tell), fertilicous, erection perfection, etc. It gets hard to get through the novel at times because of all the slang. I wish Ms. McCafferty had a dictionary or something to explain most of it, though you can understand through looking at the context in which the slang is used. It brings down the novel down a rating notch, but not that it totally impaired my reading experience. There is also a lot of sex talk. I guess it's because of the nature of the dystopia and the world the novel takes place in. Teens talk about sex as if they're talking about going to a football game. Also there are very religious moments as well, and on occasion a mix of the two. Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The plot was very thought provoking. At one point the question is raised: How young is too young to get pregnant for profit? The morals and standards of this world have been completely shaped into two very extreme sides of a spectrum. 

Character wise, I liked the two protagonists Melody and Harmony. They start out as two very different people and develop into something more than they were. Melody and Harmony essentially start out as prime examples of both ends of the extremes. Melody is a Reproductive Professional who has gotten a very good contract with a wealthy couple, while Harmony is very Jesus and religion centered, wanting to try and convert Melody and bring her back to Goodside. But as I said, during the course of the novel, they start developing a different sense of self and start questioning everything they believe in. The sisters also realize that both of their worlds have put enormous pressure on them with extremely high expectations. I liked their journeys and their distinct voices, though I do not particularly favor one twin over the other. I do love the character of Zen. He was great, and I hope he has more of a role in the next book. The same goes for Jondoe. He is very mysterious and you never know his true intentions. 

This was a very thought provoking novel. It brings up the question of what would happen if this happened to us in real life? Is this what our world would be like? And would we really create teens who put no value in the sexual act? (I wouldn't know personally about sex but I do know I do not treat it lightly.) The teens in this book treat sex and pregnancy with such casualness that it's extremely frightening. And how no adult realizes how wrong it all is and does nothing to stop it, but in fact those not in Goodside perpetuate it! And I also admit that those in Goodside are quite rigid in their beliefs and do not like anyone questioning them. Both sides of the fence exorcise a form of control over the population, showing that while everyone (not in Goodside) have a choice not to have sex in order for teenage girls to get pregnant, it is implied that you actually have to or you will be outside of the community. While the opposite is true. In Goodside you get married at thirteen and start becoming a wife and mother.

All in all I quite enjoyed this book. Yes there were flaws but Bumped will make you question things like a good Dystopian novel should. It's different from most dystopia and that is a great thing. I suggest you read this if you can. But if you do not like and or do not feel comfortable with a lot of talk about sex, religion, or both, then possibly pick up Matched, or the Hunger Games for good dystopian novels. Wither is great too. 

Until next time my comrades

Viva la literature!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review #3: Wither by Lauren DeStephano

Good evening my literary comrades! It's time for another review. Tonight's book is Wither by Lauren DeStephano, book 1 in The Chemical Garden Trilogy. I can not wait to get started to get those reading glasses on, get in your comfortable chair and lets away!

The story of Wither is another Dystopian novel. It takes place in a future where all children born have essentially become genetic time bombs. All males now die at 25 and females at 20. Humanity is now dying out and the scientists left are struggling to find a cure. Meanwhile girls are kidnapped, and forced to marry into polygamous marriages in order to have numerous kids. These kids will potentially help save the human race. The novel is about a 16 year old girl named Rhine Ellery who is kidnapped and forced to marry Linden Ashby, a wealthy young man with a sinister father. She tries to escape and reunite with her twin brother, but finds the unexpected in her new home. 

I LOVED the story. It was a great page turner. It's a hype book (a book very hyped up before it's release) that is fantastic, that doesn't always happen. I found myself wanting to stay with the book and not return to real life. I was very attached to the characters and was pulled in. I love how they treated Polygamy. In real life, it is a frowned upon practice that most who do practice do so in secret. In Wither it is treated as a normal thing that is necessary in order to try and prolong the human race. There were moments when I said out loud "NO! What just happened??" I kept wanting to know what was happening. That is the best thing one could ask of a book. 

As for characters, I LOVED Rhine. She was a brilliant protagonist and I loved her determination to succeed at her goals, but also loved her slow dilemma. Her slowly being torn between what she wanted and what she didn't expect to want was very engrossing. I only wanted the best for her and kept rooting for her with every page I read. Gabriel was another great character I loved. I thought he was interesting. Jenna had a great arc, and the end of it, I will only say made me really sad. Cecily was interesting and her growth and development was interesting to watch. Vaughn was positively sinister. A perfect villain for this novel. 

With hype books, you never know if they will actually live up to the praise or if the book will be a spectacular failure, especially with a debut novel from a new author. I absolutely adored Lauren DeStephano's writing style and the way she set up the dystopia of her world. The banter between the characters was that perfect mix of funny, sweet, at times scary, etc.

I can say without a doubt that Wither is one of the best books I've read this year. I am beyond eagerly anticipating the next book in the trilogy. Until then I can re-read this electrifying first installment with vigor. I highly recommend this one to anyone who loves dystopia with added romance and a good scary villain.

Until next time my comrades.

Viva la literature!

Next review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Musing: Oh Where Oh Where have eBooks Come From?

Hello again my literary comrades! Felt like posting another musing. This time it's about eBooks and eReaders. Now I'll admit, I was originally very anti-eReader. I thought they were the death of the written word and that books as we know them would no longer exist, forever replaced by electronic words and pages. But then one day last May, I was in a Barnes and Noble with my parents and a good friend. As we entered, we saw their Nook booth. Intrigued, We went and looked at the booth. I fell in love instantaneously. It shocked me how much I wanted this device and yet I abhorred it simultaneously. I ended up getting it as a graduation gift a month later, and have been hooked ever since. I love having the portability of carrying more than 100 books with me but they are stored in a device. A literary iPod if you will. I used to be that person who carried multiple 300 page plus books with them, and they took up most of the space in my purses/bag. Now I can carry them in my Nook. The bonus of reading anything up to an hour for free in a physical Barnes and Noble store helps. :) Plus I get to find pictures of sexy celebrities as my Nook wallpapers. ;) 

Despite using my Nook as my main reading source, I still read DTB's (physical books). Just because I'm a hardcore "Nookster" doesn't mean I've totally abandoned reading a real book, such as The Spoon River Anthology. Plus I'm a hardcore Manga fan and love reading them. While eBooks and eReaders are not the death of the written word, they are taking a more prominent part of our society. It is definitely worth every penny to own an eReader. Especially in a generation that is increasingly disliking reading. I have a very close friend who's loves to write, and yet she hates to read. We joke around that whenever she's reading something that it's "the apocalypse." While it is a joke, it still saddens me that most kinds these days don't like reading of any kind. That's why I feel like eReaders help bolster a love of reading. Most kids today are hooked on technology, so things like the Nook, Kindle, etc help them want to read by showing them a cool device. 

Until next time my comrades

Viva la literature!

Review #2: Matched by Ally Condie

Hello my literary comrades! I'm excited to be reviewing my second book ever for my blog!It's Matched by Ally Condie. My god is this book amazing. I stayed up very late last night in order to finish it, it was that addictive and page turning. Quite the read. Anyway get on your glasses, sit in your comfortable chairs and away we go. :) Remember, this is spoiler free.

Matched takes place in a dystopian world where the government is called The Society. Everyone wears the same types of clothes, have a set job for life, a set mate, a set death, etc. Everything is rigidly controlled by The Society, and no one questions it. That is until the day of Cassia Reyes' Match Banquet. In this world, when people turn 17, they are matched with their prospective life mate. Cassia is surprised when she's matched with her best friend Xander. The next day when she is looking at the micro card to learn even more about him, the face changes and shifts to another boy she knows. That boy is Ky Markham. This sparks a chain of events in which Cassia begins to question everything about her life, and the government that controls it.

I thought the plot was fantastic. It really had me addicted. I hated leaving the book each time I had to leave my Nook. I love the pace of it. The way they played out Cassia's romance was lovely and full of danger at the same time. It feels at times Hunger Games-esque, but it's a more romance centered novel. And there's nothing wrong with that. The romance was very realistic. I also love how Ms. Condie played out the government and their role within the novel. At first everything seems fine, but you quickly find out that The Society's kindness and benevolence is just a thin veneer for something more sinister. You start peeling back the layers and see the world as it really is and it can anger you at times the lengths people will go to. 

In terms of character, I will fully admit that I am a Ky fan-girl. He is my favorite character in the entire book. He has that Fang-esque swoon about him, and his way with words is intoxicating. I love his character and how sweet he is. If he were a real life person I would try and snag him in a second ;). Not that Xander paled in comparison, he is a great character too, brave and smart, and very sweet. Cassia, the protagonist, has to be my second favorite character. She's that perfect heroine of a dystopian genre, starting out a blind sheep in the herd, and slowly becoming a confident rebel. I love her determination, and the love she has for those she, well, loves, fuels her actions. She is a strong character that the readers can root for. 

Condie's writing style worked in this book. I loved her way with words and the way she treated the poems. I loved the world she built up and became deeply invested in the world and it's inhabitants. 

I can see that all the hype is very well deserved. A quality novel that happens to be the first in a trilogy. I thoroughly can't wait for the sequel, Crossed, to come out near the end of the year. I highly recommend Matched for fans of Dystopia, romance, drama, anyone really. A 5 star book.

Until next time my comrades.

Viva la literature!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Random Musing: Oh Technology

Hello again my literary comrades! I'm going on quite a blogging spree tonight aren't I? Well I've had this on my mind for a little while and thought "why not put this as a post on my blog?" I literally just thought that. Anyway the point of this musing is to talk about technology.

It's quite a conundrum isn't it? I feel like technology makes it easier to hide from people and yet I'm hiding my true name and location. Eh some hypocrisies are well needed. But yes, that is how I feel. I feel like the internet and technology in general makes it easier to build up a facade. To hide our true identity and gives us a false confidence to say and do whatever we want. Take internet "trolls" for example. A good one would be the people commenting on Rebecca Black's song Friday on youtube. Now, don't misunderstand, I severely dislike that song. I do not think it is good and that it deserves all the views it has. That said, I do not like the "trolls" commenting on the video, spewing horrifying things like "kill yourself, you suck at life" or various other obscenities. Yes the song is horrible, yes she doesn't really deserve her fame/infamy (neither does Justin Bieber, but that is my opinion and can be totally debatable), but that does not give anyone the right to say those nasty things to and about her. It's a perfect example of the internet giving people a wall to hide behind and a false sense of cockiness and confidence. 

It also perpetuates cyber bullying. Look at those people who've committed suicide due to cyber bullying. The bullies had the wall of the internet to hide behind. It made it easier to torture and torment those innocent victims. It's beyond anger inducing for me. I don't comprehend why someone would belittle and well, bully someone like that. 

Another aspect is just plain old hiding. Texting, aim, all forms of messaging is a form of hiding if you think about it. Yes they're fast forms of communication. But they take away from a good old fashioned face to face "irl" conversation. But what about Skype and the various webcamming services you might ask? Ok fine, that is essentially like a real face to face conversation, but it's like Chuck and Ned from Pushing Daisies, they could only kiss if there was a plastic sheet between them. That's what skype and Oovoo and things like that are, a thin veneer. A curtain if you will. All of these things make it easier and easier to no longer communicate in a real life setting. And like the internet itself, all those forms of shorthand communication (how many times have I said that word now? XD) give people a confidence to say things they normally would not say in an actual conversation. Now people can break up with each other via texting, aim, etc, and the whole thing has a new coldness to it. It feels like nothing is truly personal anymore. 

Don't misunderstand me, this entire musing/rant does NOT mean I do not communicate this way. I mean lets be honest, I'm now a blogger. And I text, use aim and skype, have a Facebook, etc. I use all of those forms of communication and yet I'm ranting about the enormous downside to it all. But I do like the upside to it all. Technology, used the correct way, can be a wondrous thing. It can be used to yes, communicate with friends and family that are across the state, country, the world, etc. I just despise the horrifying aspect to it all. And it makes me wonder where we are going as a society. Movies like I, Robot and books of the Dystopian genre add to that wonder of where humanity as a whole are headed in the future. What if I, Robot wasn't so far off base? What if in the future we use robots to do everything for us? And what if they do somehow form an uprising? It is all just very scary.

Ok I'm done with my musing/rant now. I am sorry if I scared any of you. :)

Until next time my comrades

Viva la literature!

Review #1: Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Hello again my literary comrades! This is going to be my first ever review. I decided on it because this book and it's series are very near and dear to my heart. It changed my life. My literary Green Day so to speak. So strap on your glasses get in your comfortable reading chairs and lets go!

Warning: I will try to keep this as spoiler free as I can.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment is about this girl named Maximum Ride, aka Max (clever huh?). She's a fourteen year old girl who lives with her five best friends: Fang, Iggy, Nudge, The Gasman and Angel. These kids are special. I'm talking having wings and possessing special powers special. This "Flock" as they call themselves were made in a lab, called The School. During the book Angel gets kidnapped and the rest of the Flock go off to rescue her. 

There are various subplots throughout the novel that fill it out and give the book more character. There are so many moments when you laugh out loud that you feel like it is a totally light hearted novel. But there are also dramatic moments that make you swell with emotion. It's one of those books that pull you in and make you attach yourself to the characters and make you root for them, feel like you're there with them. The action scenes are so, well, kick ass that you feel like you're watching a movie reminiscent of The Bourne Identity or Die Hard.

The characters are fantastic. Max is hands down my favorite character of the series. She's so witty and sarcastic. I feel like she's my long lost sister. Her development throughout the novel is so much fun to watch. I also love her bad-ass attitude and take no prisoners way of going. She wants answers when she wants them and won't stop until she gets them. I also love the depth of her personality. The other characters are wonderful too. Fang is that boy you fall in love with instantaneously and want to be your tall, dark, and handsome boyfriend. He has that perfect mix of what I just described and enough emotion and heart to make you swoon. (I confess I've had many a dream about me and Fang. Shh)  Iggy is so funny and sarcastic. I love his little moments of comedy. He and The Gasman are that dynamic duo we've seen throughout the history of entertainment. Nudge is like your fashion conscious little sister that will talk her way into your heart. Angel. Oh Angel. How do I describe this little one? Frankly it's hard to. She feels quite enigmatic at times, yet also like the quintessential little girl. She uses her gifts for good and evil. There are many more characters I could talk about but this would become a VERY lengthy review.xD

The plot is wonderful. A dash of suspense, a dash of romance, action, etc. It's definitely a quality page turner. 

I have no gripes with this book. I will continue re-reading it until the end of time. While that's wholly implausible it's a good metaphor. :)

Until next time my fellow comrades.

Viva la literature!

Welcome Fellow Comrades

Welcome my dear literary comrades. This is my new blog where I shall post book reviews, recommendations, various musings, etc. I shall post my first review up in a little while. I just wanted to pop in and say hello. I hope you enjoy your venture into this blog. Enjoy! :)

Viva la literature!