Sunday, November 6, 2016

THE FORGETTING by Sharon Cameron

Rating: A-
What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

My thoughts on the book
In some ways, I felt this novel was misleading. It's kind of billed as a fantasy book, and it isn't. Also, a lot of the big reveals seemed to come out of nowhere to me. Sure, thinking back, there were tiny hints, but not enough to put stuff together. That being said, the writing itself was phenomenal. The world-building was spot-on. The characters were intriguing, and the plot kept me completely engaged until the very last page. Sharon Cameron is quickly becoming one of the stars of YA literature. 

Nadia was a great leading character. She's damaged and has experienced trauma, and unlike the rest of the village, she remembered it. She's still strong, though, and she used her pain to do something about terrible situations. That's not her intent at first, I don't think, but she grew throughout the novel, and by the end, she was definitely one of the strongest heroines in YA lit. Gray was also a fantastic leading man. He was just good-hearted. He treated Nadia, and everyone else with respect. He wasn't a jerk, and he cared about people's well-being. He's what leading males should be, in my opinion. Each of the supporting characters was also unique, and I enjoyed Genivee the most. I wish we had gotten to see a bit more of her. 

This novel is completely different from any other book written by Cameron. I loved all of her other work, but this one is unique and I think she found her niche with it. I felt like some of the big reveals could have been a little more obvious, but maybe I'm just bitter because I didn't figure it out before it was revealed. Even the bad guy took me a tiny bit by surprise. The writing was simply beautiful, and the idea of memories making up the person is a poignant topic. I would love to do a psychoanalytic reading and discussion of this book here, but I don't want to give anything away. The pacing was perfect, and I couldn't put the book down. The first page grabbed me, and I was hooked. The ending was wonderful and tied things together nicely. I was actually satisfied with this ending. Very few endings are satisfying anymore, so that was a nice change within itself. This was just a very well-written novel, all the way around. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something different. There are a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. The characters are very real, and the concept is thought-provoking. You can't go wrong with this one. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Rating: B-

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future where anything is possible—if you want it enough.


A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you're this high up, there's nowhere to go but down...

My thoughts on the book:
This novel was definitely unique, and the beginning grabbed me and kept me reading until the very end. The writing was pretty well done, but the characters were a bit generic at times. Also, the plot dragged a bit in places, and some stuff is just creepy. I couldn't really connect to any of the characters, either, and the multiple viewpoints all sounded very similar. They needed to be differentiated a bit. The pacing was pretty slow, so it took awhile to get through this one. 

The characters themselves were difficult to relate to. They were kind of shallow, and at times vapid. Avery really annoyed me a lot. Leda was selfish and obnoxious. Everyone else was kind of boring. Not a lot of personality in this book. More cliches than anything, and that's a shame. Especially with multiple viewpoints. It made it more difficult to get through than it should have been.

The plot was a bit loose in the middle. It just lagged more than it should have. The beginning was amazing, though, and the ending flew by. The writing was fairly well done, though the character dialogues were similar. The setting was unique, and the world-building was spectacular. I was fully immersed in this futuristic world. The romance that tried to exist was weak. It was more soap opera caliber betrayals than anything else. 

Overall, I'd say this book was just okay. Give it a try if you're looking for something different and sci-fi. Not a lot of actual romance, so don't count on that. You may want to check it out from the library before buying.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Life update

Hey guys, I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything. Just so you all know, I'm still having health problems. The doctors still don't know what's wrong with me, and when I get really sick, I can't focus enough to read. So then I get behind. There are some reviews coming your way soon, though. One today from a book I finished the other day, even. I apologize for the time gaps in between reviews, but I'm doing the best I can. Hopefully they'll figure out what's wrong with me soon and things can get back to normal.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Rating: A+
They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie's notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.

My thoughts on the book:
The Memory Book was touching, depressing, and inspiring, all at the same time. Sammie was such a brave character and fantastic narrator. If you want a strong female lead in YA lit, then Sammie is your girl. I can't get over how brave she was. I know I already used that word, but the dictionary should be rewritten to say "Brave (adj): Sammie." If I had been in her position, I'm not sure that I would have been able to keep my sense of humor, go after the guy I had a crush on, or rekindle old friendships. She really made the most of her life, even though it wasn't the life she wanted or had planned to have. She was valedictorian, an amazing debater, and planned to go to NYU and become an attorney. Those dreams were shattered when she found out she had what basically amounted to be super-early-onset Alzheimer's, but did she just lay down and feel sorry for herself in a fit of depression? No, she didn't. It would have been justified had she done that, and I would have completely understood that, but she didn't. She carried on, trying to get as much out of her life as she could before she couldn't remember it any longer. And writing herself a journal to let her future self remember the good and bad times was a beautiful and inspiring way to deal with what had to be a terrifying diagnosis.

Avery's voice is strong,  and I was hooked from the first page. The writing was wonderfully done, and the descriptions were vivid and beautiful. The relationships formed were realistic and touching, and everything that happened fit perfectly and felt natural. The pacing was spot on, and I wasn't bored for one second of this text. I'm not a huge contemporary fan, but I got this ARC at BEA and decided to give this one a try, and it did not disappoint. Avery is a fantastic author. This book broke my heart and gave me hope. I'd recommend it to anyone. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White

Rating: D
This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN, Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING, and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

My thoughts on the book:
I have a love/hate relationship with Kiersten White's books. I absolutely adore some of them, and I cannot stand some of the other ones. The main thing that kills me in her books usually is the characters, and in that, this book was no exception. White is an extremely talented author. She has a strong voice, writes beautiful descriptions, and paces her stories very well. The concepts are always intriguing, if not completely captivating, and the plot always makes sense and is engaging. However, some of the characters she writes are just atrocious, and that's a shame.

I hated every single character in this book. Lada was a freaking sociopath, and most of the story was told from her perspective - third person. She was just not a good person. I had no sympathy for her whatsoever. She was a bully at best. She also was apparently ugly, which to me just says that her outsides matched her insides. Radu was such a pansy. Oh my goodness, I just wanted to throat punch him (see? now I'm acting like a bully, haha). He just whined and cried and sniffled and couldn't handle anything. He needed to toughen up. It was really pathetic, and it disgusted me. This has nothing to do with him being a male character. I don't really buy into gender roles, but male or female, he was just a whiny brat. So this gender reversal brings up a bigger gender role issue. Would I have been okay with Lada had she acted like Radu? No. I would have wanted to throat punch her. Would I have been okay with Radu if he acted like Lada? No. I still would have thought he was a manipulative sociopath. Now, on to Mehmed, who was weak. stupid, and a bigot. I hate zealots. I hate people who want to conquer other lands. I hate people who think in terms of manifest destiny, which is more or less what the little bigot was doing. And he couldn't handle his own crap at all. Just yuck. 

The composition of the story also irked me a bit. The alternating points of view between Lada and Radu had no rhyme or reason, and honestly all it served to do for me was make me hate both characters equally. A teenager should not be crying for his/her nurse all the time. Grow up. Jeez. Aside from the POV issue, the writing was extremely well done. I was treated to beautiful descriptions of Transylvania and the Ottoman Empire. The world-building was fantastically written, and I felt I had a good grasp of what life could have been like in those days and in that geographic region. The gender issue was woven delicately throughout, and I fully agree that no one should have their life laid out for them easily, simply because of their gender. Women's rights in that time period were virtually nonexistent, and I felt that White handled that wonderfully and really brought the conversation to a modern context as well by assigning generally accepted "masculine" traits to Lada and generally accepted "feminine traits" to Radu. The pacing was wonderful, and I was engaged for the full story. The ending tied up a lot of loose ends and did a good job introducing the sequel. 

Overall, this book was a good read, but the characters killed it for me. I felt like I spent hours with the most annoying people ever created, and that put me in a crappy mood. However, not everyone has the same taste in characters (or people for that matter), and the rest of the book was pretty solid. I may say give this one a try at the library first, just to make sure you can stand the characters, if you are huge on characterization like I am. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

UNPLUGGED by Donna Freitas

Rating: C-
The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.

My thoughts on the book:
Unplugged grabbed my interest due to its use of Descartes' philosophy, better known as "the Matrix philosophy." I wanted to see how this book, where you could exist only in your head or in your body - with two fully developed worlds - portrayed that philosophy. It fell a bit short, to be honest. The world-building wasn't done in a way where everything made sense, which made it hard to achieve a willing suspension of disbelief. Some of the things that happened in the book also didn't really make sense, in a scientific way, and were not explained well at all. Furthermore, the "romance" was kind of god awful. A lot of questions were left unanswered throughout the story and even in the abrupt end (the book just kind of stopped without warning. Not a good conclusion for book 1 or lead-in for book 2), and it didn't add mystery as much as it created annoyance. The pacing was okay, and the concept itself was interesting, which kept me reading, but the writing wasn't that great. I'm not sure if I'll read book 2 or not. 

The characters were okay, but none of them felt fully developed. Skye was maybe pretty or maybe not. Not sure, to be honest. She just kind of existed as this shell who liked the ocean and maybe or maybe not liked a boy. Rain was dull and annoying. I think the author was going for mysterious with him, but I just saw him as wishy-washy, kind of weak-minded, and bland. Lacy was maybe a mean girl or maybe she wasn't. Not sure. No one's personalities were really defined, much like the worlds (real and app) weren't really defined. I needed more information on all accounts to fully immerse myself in this world and story. 

Overall, this book was just okay. It wasn't the best thing ever, but it also wasn't awful. I'd recommend checking it out from the library before buying it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Rating: B-
Irene must be at the top of her game or she'll be off the case - permanently...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she's posted to an alternative London. Their mission - to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested - the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene's new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she's up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option - the nature of reality itself is at stake.

My thoughts on the book:
The Invisible Library is a unique and intriguing read. I wasn't sure if I would like it or not, especially after seeing mixed reviews, but I actually enjoyed the book as a whole. It wasn't perfect, and the world and characters weren't fully developed, in my opinion, but it held my interest enough that I liked reading it, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. It is a well-written, genre bending book. I hope I get to learn more about the characters and the world in the next installment.

Irene grew on me, even though her emotions were kind of stifled. I know she was meant to be portrayed this way, but because of that, even though the POV was third person, limited, we didn't get to see any of the emotions of the other characters, either. I mean emotional reactions were mentioned some, but there was a lot more that could have been done. However, the story, and Irene herself, wouldn't have been as prim and stereotypically librarian if that had been the case. Kai was interesting, and I really want to learn more about him. Vale was super fun, and I look forward to seeing him again as well. The big bad guy of the story was kind of vague. I would have liked a bit more from him. 

Like the characters, the world-building was a bit vague. I'm not sure I 100% understand the rules of the world, why the Library exists, and what all of the implications are. This may be intentional, because part of the underlying themes in this book is should you question old institutions if they are doing no harm. However, it did make it difficult to fully immerse myself in the story. The plot was intriguing and fast-paced, but the romance was a bit dull/non-existent. I'd like to see a little more romance in future installments. The writing was pretty well done, and the dialogue was fairly realistic. There was a lot of action going on, but the action/fight scenes were never described in a way that made me completely absorbed in them. I felt that a lot of stuff was glossed over more than it should have been. The ending tied up a lot of loose ends and set the next book up well.

Overall, I'd recommend this book to someone who is looking for something unique to read. I enjoyed the novel, and I am looking forward to the sequel.