Monday, April 30, 2012

Surprise! Review #168: Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Hello everyone! Another Surprise! review for y'all, enjoy!

Thumped is the highly anticipated sequel to the book Bumped, both by Megan McCafferty. 

For my review of Bumped, click here.

Goodreads says:

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous:

Tell the truth.

I started this book last Tuesday, while I was frequenting my local Barnes and Noble. I decided to pick the book up because I was excited it was released. So I started reading, and I couldn't stop. Over the course of the week, my mother and I usually go to Barnes and Noble at least twice, occasionally three times. Last week was a three time week, and I finished Thumped in this time. Now onto the review!

Thumped was an excellent follow up to Bumped! I actually love Thumped more! It was just pure excellence story-wise. It, like Bumped, takes place in a short amount of time, but the story didn't feel rushed. I loved how the characters developed, how the story developed, etc. The pacing was excellent, as I said. And the twists. Oh. My. God. The twists were AMAZING! I NEVER saw any of them coming, and I mean holy shit, they were doozies. I mean I literally gasped, out loud, in the middle of Barnes and Noble, in full view of everyone in the cafe. That is how good and shocking those twists were. They were so fantastic, they made me love the book even more. I do have a major issue with this book though, which I'll address at the end when I speak about the author. Other than that, I adore this book, and am sad to see the world of Bumped come to a conclusion.

The twins, Harmony and Melody, are still excellent characters! First to Harmony. I feel like Ms. McCafferty focused more on her story than Melody's, but it did not bother me all too much, because I honestly thought it was more interesting. You can really see her struggle with her crises of faith, how she feels about her past, her pregnancy, everything. I just wanted her to be happy, to make the choices she wanted to make, and I was outraged at the people of Goodside. She had excellent development, and I think I came to love her more than her twin Melody. Speaking of Melody, she also had great development. You could also see her struggles, although they were quite different from Harmony's. I rooted for her and Zen, because they are awesome as a couple. I wanted her to succeed and I wanted her to be free as well. Have I mentioned how much I love her and Zen together? Speaking of Zen, holy hell. He is even more sexy now, I don't know why, but he is. Probably because he has more time in this novel than he did in Bumped. I loved how his character matured and developed, became more of a person. Plus he's always good for some great comic relief :) Now onto Jondoe. Like Zen, Jondoe's role was expanded, even though he had more time in Bumped. I liked seeing him try and become a better person in order to win back Harmony. I still feel like he was phony at some points, but I do love that he was trying. Also Ram, Ram is freaking fantastic. He is just so selfless, and so kind, oh god he's probably one of my favorite characters. The colorful collection of side characters were fun to read, and I loved to hate Lib. Oh Lib.

Great job, Ms. McCafferty! I love how she expanded on her world, adding new while still having those elements that made me love Bumped. She really put her characters through a lot, and I loved that. Now to address the major issue I have with this book, and by extension, Ms. McCafferty. I feel that near the end of the novel, it became quite preachy. I feel that Ms. McCafferty started preaching near the end using one her characters, and it made me uncomfortable. I mean I agree with her overall, but I don't think you should use your characters as a mouthpiece like that. Other than that, kudos!

Until next time, viva la literature!

Surprise! Review #167: Grave Mercy by Robin/R.L. LaFevers

Greetings everyone! Surprise! review today. 

Surprise! Reviews are reviews for books I pick up and read on the fly, such as ARCs, new releases I couldn't resist getting (XD), etc. 

Grave Mercy is the first in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin, aka R.L. LaFevers. Goodreads says:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

So this review is a long time coming. See, my Nook friend David graciously decided to send me an ARC of this book out of nowhere back in March (PS Thank you so much David! I am completely honored and grateful you thought of me. Thank you so much for the ARC. I salute you sir ^^). I started reading it voraciously. Sadly as time has gone on, other books took precedence over this one, and my reading of Grave Mercy slowed. I finally finished it on Friday, so lets get on with the review!

I'm happy to report that this book is fabulous! Save for steampunk, I'm normally not one for historical fiction. But this book really grabbed my attention, and held it as I went on the ride. I loved the idea of assassin nuns, a concept that is just so brilliant, I could not resist it. Although there is much more time spent on political intrigue and romance, I still loved the entire story, every last nook and cranny of it. I loved reading Ismae's story, and the stories happening around her. The political intrigue played more like a mystery, one which I was scrambling along with Ismae to solve. The twists shocked the hell out of me, and I loved every single one of them. I love a good twist that's hard to predict, and this book has them :) 

Ismae is a kick-ass character, as well as a great protagonist. She is a badass assassin nun, sired from Death himself, and I loved her. She was fascinating, struggling to reconcile her past, her feelings for Duval, what to do with her convent, she handled everything so well. Ok, so I wish she had more action scenes, but I still loved reading her journey. I know I wouldn't want to mess with Ismae, knowing her skills. I especially loved her relationships with Beast, Anne, and Duval. Speaking of Duval, he was a great love interest. Sexy and sweet, honorable and just all around awesome. I loved how he was willing to do anything for the Duchess. At the same time, it was so much fun seeing him fall in love with Ismae, and watching the arc of their relationship play out. I can just picture him in my head, and oh boy he is sexy! I also loved Anne, the Duchess of Brittany. At first, I did not know how young she was. When I did find out, I was shocked! She was so mature, so, well, adult. I feel a tinge of sadness when I think of Anne, because she was forced to grow up at a young age, and had to deal with a boatload of shit. I give kudos to Anne as a character, because her strength was amazing, and I admire her so much. Like I said, I loved her relationship with Ismae. It started to turn into a sisterly bond, it was so sweet. I loved having to guess the villain, and was shocked at the end at who it was. I loved the backround characters, like Beast (Go Beast !! Rock on my friend), DeLornay, Annith, Sybella, and the whole slew of others who were fully developed and three dimentional.

Damn Ms. LaFevers, you are a great author! I loved Ms. LaFevers' writing style, it was perfect for this book. She made me truly engrossed in Ismae's world, developing it well, staying true to historical fact while adding her wonderful elements in it. She created such vivid characters, who have engrained themselves in my brain, I commend her on this book! I wish you much success :)

Until next time, viva la literature!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Surprise! Review #166: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Greetings everyone! I've missed you all so much <3 How are you guys? Well I hope :) Have this surprise review for y'all this fine evening/day, hope ya enjoy it :)

Masque of the Red Death is the first in a series by Bethany Griffin. Goodreads says:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

STORY TIME: Before this book came out, it was one of my most highly anticipated books in a long time. It was love at first sight, from the cover to the blurb. I mean come on, don't tell me that premise doesn't sound absolutely fantastic! So I was at Barnes and Noble last Friday, looking around in the YA section like I normally do. I saw that one of the booksellers was putting out some new books, and that MotRD was one of them, having its own stack. No joke, I literally squealed in excitement, and asked the bookseller if I could take a copy. He said yes, and I fully admit to snatching one up and holding it to my chest in happiness. I bought it that day, and instantly started reading. 

Now the review ladies and gents!:

This book is FANTASTIC!!! To be completely honest, I do have words I can describe my feelings with, but all I really want to say is "THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD THIS BOOK IS SOOOOO FUUUUCKING GOOOOOOOOODDDD!!!!!" Now that would not make for a good review, so I'll use more words than that :) But yes this book is utterly amazing. I mean it when I say that Masque of the Red Death is a freaking masterpiece of YA literature. This book is just so good, so full of gorgeous brilliance, I'd recommend it to anyone. 

The story is beautiful. I adored going on the journey with Araby, and oh boy did it keep me on my toes. I can honestly say that this is the first book in a while where I was truly shocked at the twists that occurred. I'm talking full on gasps and all sorts of "NO! IT CAN'T BE!" going on. Like I said, I love the story. It pulled me from page one, refusing to let me go. It's like author Lauren DeStephano said "This book has the knife factor. It’s one of the books that held a blade to my throat and said, 'Tell the world about me.'" Perfect wording to be frank. The story just oozes that classic Gothic style, enticing you with lush description and wonderful dialogue. The political intrigue, the emotional issues, it all flowed like a beautiful waterfall into one another. I mean it when I say this story is lush, in its descriptions, in everything.

Araby was such a fascinating character. She was so broken, all I wanted to do was reassure her everything would be alright, despite the fact that her world was going to hell. I loved how she started the book as one person, while ending the book in an evolved form, while still retaining who she truly was. I loved how she realizing everything along with her, although I was more shocked than she was at times. Now onto her two love interests, Elliott and Will. Both guys are wonderful characters. Elliott was the most fascinating, since you never truly knew what he was really thinking or feeling most of the time. Those rare moments of real emotion made me really like Elliott. I felt for him, I wanted him to succeed. Even though I like Elliott, I also disliked his behavior most of the time. I wanted to scream at him. Despite my liking him, I loved Will even more. Despite certain things Will did, I loved how sweet, smart and protective he was. Safe to say I am completely Team Will. He is just so sweet. I loved it when he was with Araby, his brother and sister. Those moments just made me well up with emotion. I also liked April's arc. She was probably one of the most interesting characters I've read. She wasn't around for a good chunk of the novel, but I loved seeing whose allegiance she held. I did not give her too much credit in the beginning - I underestimated her. I also loved Araby's parents, who even had their own little arcs to go through. Every character oozed interesting, and always got an emotion out of me. And the prince just made me shiver. Oh god he is scaaary, among other characters.

Ms. Griffin, you are a flipping genius! Can I please read the word document for book two? I mean holy shiiiit, you created such a brilliant novel. She built such a gorgeously broken world, and made me not care what the time and place were. Griffin knows her way around the written word, and her style is wonderful. Honestly, I'd read anything she's written now. 

I do think a warning is in order: If you are uncomfortable with drug use and some alluded sexual activity, you might not like this book. 

This is an AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING book, and I am jonesing for book two. 

I will hopefully finish Guts soon, and have the review for y'all to enjoy :)

Until next time, viva la literature! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review #165: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Greetings everyone! It's been weeks since the last post, and I've missed you all so much :) <3 Back with a new review for y'all, and I hope you enjoy it :)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is by actress/writer Mindy Kaling. Goodreads says:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

This book was utterly fantastic! Just brilliant and so so so freaking good. I devoured this book like candy (well, candy that took two weeks due to life getting in the way X_X). Mindy's voice is so funny, so refreshingly honest and purely fantastic, I never wanted the book to end. I loved reading about her life, her struggles, her feelings and observations. Like I said, her voice is funny, honest and real. I related to so much of what she was talking about. There were times when I laughed so loud from something Mindy said, everyone in the room turned to stare at me. Yes, the book was that funny to me. I just, this book cast a spell on me man. It's one of those instances where all I really want to do is type "this book is so good this book is so good this book is so good this book is soooooooo gooooooood." and that would be the entire post XD. Honestly, it's hard to describe how much I love this book. I liked it when Mindy was describing her friends, it felt like I was truly getting to know them and their personalities. Her life observations were probably my favorite parts of the book. Mindy is a brilliant observer. 

I can't wait to see Ms. Kaling's star continue to rise, and I hope she writes another book, because I will read the living daylights out of it. 

I'll next be reviewing Guts by Kristen Johnston.

Until next time, viva la literature!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review #164: Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

Nerd Do Well is Simon Pegg's autobiography. 

 The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Star Trek. Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having landed on the U.S. movie scene in the surprise cult hit Shaun of the Dead, his enduring appeal and rise to movie star with a dedicated following has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronic, but mostly just plain great. From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with science fiction, his enduring friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up comedy which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his twelve-year- old classmates, Simon has always had a severe and dangerous case of the funnies. Whether recounting his experience working as a lifeguard at the city pool, going to Comic-Con for the first time and confessing to Carrie Fisher that he used to kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep, or meeting and working with heroes that include Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino, Pegg offers a hilarious look at the journey to becoming an international superstar, dotted with a cast of memorable characters, and you're rooting for him all the way.

I tried to get through this, but I just couldn't. I love Simon Pegg, and his movies are amazing and full of fabulous. I thought his autobiography would be just as amazing. Sadly it was not. I didn't like his writing voice, I couldn't get into it at all. I felt like Pegg was being too cheeky and sarcastic, as well as kind of lofty and disconnected with the reader. Shame really, this seemed like it would have been a fantastic read.

I'll next be reviewing Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.

Until next time, viva la literature!