Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

So this was the first Morgan Matson book I’ve read, and since starting my blog and checking out other book blogs, it’s pretty much impossible to escape Morgan Matson fan girls. Like, they’re everywhere. And…well, I think I’ve become one of them. 🙂

Since You've Been GoneTitle: Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: May 2014

Hardback: 449 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

What I thought:

As you now know, Sloane leaves a list for Emily to complete. I’m a huge fan of lists, so I’m going to do my review in one. J

1. I think I need to start first with the friendship between Sloane and Emily, which is the basis for the novel. Their friendship was strange at first because I’ve never had a friendship that I was this crazily wrapped up in, but the way Matson writes gets you involved in what Emily is going through and you feel for her as she pretty much mourns the loss of her best friend. The time away from Sloane, along with what happens to her during this time, really gives Emily a new perspective on their friendship. Sloane was behind all of their fun and adventures, so Emily didn’t know who she was apart from that or what to do when Sloane wasn’t there. It was great seeing her stepping out of her comfort zone; I could completely relate to this. I used to be pretty shy in high school (I know, it’s hard to believe), and I found myself in college by breaking out of my shell and doing things by myself and meeting new people. I saw myself in Emily quite a bit.

2. Sloane isn’t who Emily thinks she is. As we learn more about Sloane through flashbacks to when she was still around, we, along with Emily, find out that Emily has built her up to be this perfect person, and she just isn’t that. Emily has lost herself in Sloane, following her along and doing what Sloane says to do. We find out that Sloane needed Emily just as much as Emily needed Sloane. Sloane put on a bit of a front, and I appreciated that; she felt more real this way. Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of Sloane’s until closer to the end when you began to understand her more.

3. FRANK. Asdfjkl; He’s not your average love interest in a book. He’s the class president/”boy scout”; he’s a leader, but he’s not nerdy either. I think he really just wants to be normal. That’s what he gets with Emily. He was so complex and rounded and lovely and I’m in love. I can’t really put into words all the reasons why. But I swooned. Several times.

4. There are quite a few music playlists throughout the book, made by both Emily and Frank. How cool! It gave the book a really awesome, complete experience. And this is another reason I loved Frank so much: he had a playlist with Twenty One Pilots (one of my top two favorite bands), Andrew McMahon, fun., Swedish House Mafia, and more. I liked the idea so much that I made it into an actual playlist on Spotify (if you are so inclined, you can check it out here: Since You’ve Been Gone – Mix #7). Also, there’s a fake band called The Henry Gales, which I love because that’s Dorothy’s uncle’s name in The Wizard of Oz but it is also Ben Linus’ fake name in Lost. I don’t know if this is why Matson chose it, but I’m going to pretend it is.

5. I can tell that Matson has been writing for a while. Her writing is clear and succinct, nothing was unnecessary. Each sentence was perfectly placed and well-rounded. I was kind of surprised by just how well-done this book was; it’s not your typical YA/Contemporary romance, that’s for sure. I thought the voice was definitely genuine, and even though she name drops some playwrights and obscure bands, the voice still felt like that of a teenager. Also, I wanted to know what was going to happen and lost myself in the novel. I was undoubtedly impressed.

6. Oh, the romance. I thought the romance between Frank and Emily was really sincere. It was gradual, not an all-at-once instalove, which I appreciated. They become friends first and foremost (he has a girlfriend when they start hanging out). But it wasn’t just that he had a girlfriend: they needed each other, needed a friend to talk to. So they were friends first, and then came the feelings, yet it wasn’t forced; it felt organic, like it actually came from their friendship and appreciation of the other person. Because of this, the romance felt more realistic to me. Of course, the reader knows where it is heading, but you still hold your breath when problems arise, and you root for them the whole time (at least I did).

7. Emily’s transformation was really gradual and not all at once, too. I liked this. No one changes all at once; no one can just dive into being brave and doing things out of their comfort zone. It felt more honest and real this way. She was scared when she started going through the list, but with a little help from her new friends, she knows she can do it. Also, I won’t give any details, but I think she even backpedalled a little bit towards the end; I liked this because it shows that even after you change some, you’re not perfect and you still make mistakes.

8. The list was such a great idea! Sloane couldn’t be there, but she gave Emily a list of things to do that she knew would break her out of her shell. Through it, Emily made new friends, found herself, and can now go through life on her own path. And it was so fun to see her do these things. A couple of things from the list: Ride a dern horse, ya cowpoke, dance until dawn, share some secrets in the dark. The list was sweet and entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing Emily figure out how she’d do them and felt for her as she struggled to get up the courage to do some of them.

9. Something I didn’t like: I thought the ending was a little rushed. Again, I don’t want to give away too many details, but the book led up to this big event (which was pretty genuine and I understood it) but it felt too fast.

10. I liked the secondary characters – Beckett (Emily’s little brother who is basically a ninja), Dawn (Emily’s new friend from the pizza parlor), Collins (Frank’s best friend). I thought they were all well-developed, rounded, and were each included with a purpose.

11. However, we are left without knowing what happens with two of the secondary characters who played a pretty big role in the book. I wish we could have found out what happened there, but I suppose it’s nice to be able to make up my own mind about that.

12. This quote: “I closed my eyes only to open them once more, and make sure it was all still there – the riot of stars above me, this whole other world existing just out of reach.” –Page 261

13. I borrowed this book from the library, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be buying it along with Matson’s other two books. I was seriously impressed and I can completely understand the hype in the book blogosphere around Morgan Matson.

The bottom line:

This is a book about self-discovery, friendship, young love, and finding your own path in life. Everyone can relate to Emily in one way or another, and I was sucked in pretty quickly to the story. The romance and transformation of the main character was real and genuine and organic, and I appreciated it very much. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like this book.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

You can follow Morgan Matson on Twitter or check out her website to find out more about her.

Have you read Since You’ve Been Gone? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

Reading next: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

 

Book Review: Gone by Michael Grant

I read Gone as my first book for Bout of Books. Keep up with my progress here. You can also follow me on Instagram or Goodreads to check my progress.

Gone

Title: Gone

Author: Michael Grant

Genre: Dystopian, sci-fi, young adult

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publication Date: June 2008

Paperback: 558

Stand alone or series: Beginning of a series

How did I get this book: Forced into buying it by a friend – not regretting it

 

Let’s start with a brief summary (from the book jacket):

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents–unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers–that grow stronger by the day.

It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

What I thought:

It’s so exciting. I think that’s the best word to describe this book. Like, once the action starts, it’s pretty hard to put it down. Case in point: I read all 558 pages yesterday. It’s full of action, awesome characters, cool powers, and great descriptions. I thought that the development of the powers in some of the kids felt organic, and the reaction that some of the characters had to them was natural and realistic; some of the characters go bad, some distance themselves from those who have the power, and, obviously, some are very scared of them. I also thought that the reaction to this weird event (the adults disappearing and the town being surrounded by a barrier) felt real. The kids go a little crazy at first, loot a bunch of the stores, take what they want and don’t care what happens. But then you’ve got other kids who step up and take charge. I just think if something like this were to actually happen, this is exactly the reaction kids would have had.

Also, the characters are brilliant and super well-developed. I could go on and on about how much I liked or didn’t like certain characters and how ridiculously well-developed they were, but I won’t. Let’s just say that I was seriously impressed with Grant’s ability to develop even the most minor characters. I felt like I actually knew each of them. I do want to focus on a couple though:

  • Sam; he’s our main character. I really appreciated the fact that he was kind of a reluctant hero. He stepped up when he needed to, but he didn’t want to be in the spotlight or be the leader of this group. He reminded me a bit of Katniss in that regard, so that was cool. He also felt pretty mature for a 14 year old, which was odd at first, but then you get to know him and you realize that he is real.
  • Caine; he’s our main antagonist. Holy freaking crap. He’s psycho. I think that Grant wrote him really well. Yes, it was a little far-fetched to have a 14 year old that was this crazy, but I think that the way Grant writes enables the reader to suspend their disbelief perfectly.
  • Lana and Pack Leader; she’s a sort of main character and he’s a freaking coyote that talks. Yeah, you read that right. Not only do some of the humans gain powers, but some animals are mutated as well. Pack Leader is a coyote that can speak English, in a low, gravelly yet high-pitched voice (I could actually hear it in my mind because of Grant’s descriptions). He scared me, so I could totally feel Lana’s fear.
  • A few other characters I thought were cool: Drake (ahhhhh, that thing that happens to him in the end! I visibly reacted to this – my mom had to ask me what was wrong. Such awesome/horrifying descriptions); Quinn (I really felt for him); Astrid (she’s awesome and believable).

Okay, so Grant’s writing isn’t great all the time. There are several passages that were just too simplistic and a little immature. Yet at the same time, the book was super clever and imaginative. The dialogue was on point: humorous, deep, well-done. I will say though that at first when the characters said “brah” I was really annoyed, but then I actually thought it worked. I will assume that the writing will improve throughout the rest of the series.

Also, while the characters were really well-developed, I had a slight problem with the development of the world in which these kids lived. It was a little thin. However, I’m going to assume that this was intentional and will be fixed in subsequent novels in the series.

The book jacket quotes VOYA with saying “If Stephen King had written Lord of the Flies, it might have been a little like this. YES. This.

I definitely want to read the rest of the series, and I look forward to reading the explanation for all that happened to these kids.

The bottom line:

There were a few issues I had with the writing, but overall I seriously enjoyed this book. The characters are so well-done though I had some problems with the world development. Super fantastic book anyway. It has a great plot and is really exciting to read. My heart pounded through all of the action sequences.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

 

Bout of Books Challenge: Books I’m looking forward to

So today’s Bout of Books challenge hosted by River City Reading is to create a list of the books you are looking forward to.

Here’s my Bout of Books update post so you can keep track of how I’m doing!

I made up a list of five of the books I want to read this summer. You can see all of the books I want to read by adding me on Goodreads.

Here are three that are already published:

1. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer

2. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

The Museum of Intangible Things

3. The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi

The Chance You Won't Return

And two books to be published this summer:

4. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Expected publication date: August 14, 2014

5. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You Will

Expected publication date: June 3, 2014

 

Apparently I’m looking forward to a lot of YA/romance. What books are you looking forward to, published or not? 

If you’re participating in Bout of Books, link me to your update post so I can keep up with how you’re doing? 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I almost put down but didn’t

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t

toptentuesday

So here we go:

1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

See my review. I kept reading for the writing mostly and to see how it would all play out.

2. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

This is written in Scottish dialect. Yeah. It’s pretty hard to read at first, especially since I was reading it before I went to Scotland and, therefore, before I’d actually heard much of the Scottish dialect. I’m really glad I pushed through it, because once you get used to it, it’s a great read.

3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

I’m sure you can guess why. Again, glad I didn’t.

4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

There were just a lot of things that I wasn’t expecting, I guess. It wasn’t how I thought the world would be explained. But I am glad I finished it.

 

Here are some books I DID put down but want to try again:

5. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I COULD NOT get into this book the first time. I read at least 50 pages and was just bored.

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I know so many people love this book, so I need to try again sometime.

7. The Lord of the Rings trilogy

I know, you’re all probably shocked I haven’t read this since I’m a HUGE nerd. I’ve read The Hobbit. I tried reading the trilogy when I was in, like, middle school, so I just need to find time to try them again.

 

So I don’t usually give up on books (or I hate a book so much that I do give up and don’t care to pick it back up), so I can’t think of a full list.

What are some books you almost put down but didn’t? Or did put down but want to try again? Link me to your TTT so I can check it out!

Bout of Books update post!

So it’s Bout of Books week! Yay!

Bout of Books logo

 

 

 

 

 

Just in case you missed it, here are my goals for the week:

  • Read 5 books; the picture below is my tentative TBR for the week, but I have a feeling I might change this a little depending on my mood, as everything I’ve chosen is sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy. I might need a little YA/contemporary in there, especially since I just found out Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is available at my local library!
  • Review all 5 books & post these reviews on my blog, on Goodreads, on Amazon
  • Track my progress each day on a single post on this blog & track my progress on Twitter; I will create a progress post on my blog on Monday and will update it throughout the week
  • Comment on at least two other Bout of Books participants’ blogs per day
  • Participate in at least one Twitter chat with other BoB-ers

I will be updating this post every day with my progress. Bout of Books gives a general outline for your progress post, but I’ve added in a little and will probably modify it each day.

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1

Total number of books I’ve read: 1

Books: Gone by Michael Grant

Pages read today: 558

Total number of pages: 558

Notes about today: So I read 558 pages, applied for two jobs, went for a run, and swam for a couple of hours. Suffice it to say, I’m pretty tired. But I seriously enjoyed Gone. Review will be up in the morning. I didn’t participate in the BoB challenge today, mostly because it was “If you enjoyed X, try Y” and I just did that for Top Ten Tuesday a couple of weeks ago. I plan on participating tomorrow though! Also, I’m really looking forward to starting Since You’ve Been Gone tomorrow. 🙂 How are your goals coming along?

Tuesday

Number of books I’ve read today:Started one

Total number of books I’ve read: 1 plus some of another

Books: Reading Since You’ve Been Gone

Pages read today:92

Pages read total:650

Reviews: Gone by Michael Grant

Challenges completed: 1 (Books I’m Looking Forward to)

Notes about today: I babysat 4 year old twins and their 5 year old sister today, so I didn’t have much time to read. Also, I’ve had a sinus headache all day, which means it’s pretty hard to read. I read 92 pages of Since You’ve Been Gone though. Not too bad. My head feels like it’s going to explode if I read any more, so I think I’m done for the day. What about you? How much did you read today?

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: Finished Since You’ve Been Gone

Total number of books I’ve read: 2

Books: Gone and Since You’ve Been Gone (review up tomorrow!)

Pages read today: 357

Pages read total: 1,007

Notes about today: I had a pounding, sinus-y headache all day long, and I babysat for 5 hours again today, but I managed to finish Since You’ve Been Gone, which means I am doing pretty well with my goals, I’d say. I think it also says something pretty important about that book if I was able to read it when I felt so crappy. I’ll post a review in the morning! Hope all of your goals are going well. 🙂

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: Some of The Eye of Minds

Total number of books I’ve read: 2.4

Books: GoneSince You’ve Been GoneThe Eye of Minds

Pages read today: 104

Pages read total: 1,111

Reviews today: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Challenges today: Spell it Out challenge hosted by ! You can find my entry HERE; I spelled out TARDIS and tweeted a pic of the books I used. Yes, I know I’m a nerd.

Notes about today: So, I’m sick. I feel horrible. Usually when I’m sick, I can curl up with a book and be fine for the whole day, but it’s one of those sinus-y/chest congestion cold things, and my head hurts a lot. It’s hard to read when you’re head hurts, which is why I only read 104 pages. I know for some people that’s a lot, but I planned on reading all of The Eye of Minds today. Oh, well. I got to take a nap, which never happens for me, so that was good. I hope you guys aren’t sick like me and are making good progress on your goals. 🙂

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: Some of two books: finished The Eye of Minds and started If I Stay

Total number of books I’ve read: 3

Books: GoneSince You’ve Been GoneThe Eye of Minds [these are all linked to my reviews]

Pages read today: 378 (204 of The Eye of Minds, 174 of If I Stay)

Pages read total: 1,489

Challenges today: Rainbow of Books challenge hosted by Katherine at Neon Yeti Reads. You can find my rainbow HERE on Twitter. It was so fun digging through my shelves to find all the colors!

Reviews today: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Notes about today: Finished The Eye of Minds today. As you can see in my review, I was kind of disappointed, so that sucks. I’m also still sick, which sucks even more. I was actually able to sleep in a bit (usually wake up at 6:30-7, slept until 8:50) because of some cold meds, which is something. But I read 378 pages today, wrote a review, did this week’s Life of a Blogger theme (101 things I love), did a Bout of Books challenge, and am going to bed at a good time to try to sleep of the rest of my sickness. Not a bad day.

Saturday
Number of books I’ve read today: Part of two: finished If I Stay; started The Raven Boys

Total number of books I’ve read: 4

Books: GoneSince You’ve Been GoneThe Eye of Minds [these are all linked to my reviews’] and If I Stay

Pages read today: 160 (60 pages of If I Stay; 100 pages of The Raven Boys)

Pages read total:1,649

Notes about today: So I finished If I Stay on Saturday morning. I am still unsure how I felt about it, so I’m holding off on the review until I figure it out. I babysat today from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., so I didn’t really have a lot of time to read, hence the short page count. BUT, I participated in the Bout of Books twitter chat in the morning, and that was A LOT of fun. Followed some new people, gained some followers. It was cool.

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: Some of The Raven Boys

Total number of books I’ve read: 4.5

Books:GoneSince You’ve Been GoneThe Eye of MindsIf I Stay [these are all linked to my reviews] and The Raven Boys

Pages read today: 112

Pages read total: 1,761

Reviews: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Notes about today: So I’m sick. Like, I think I need to go to the doctor sick. Unfortunately, that means I haven’t finished my final book because I don’t feel well. I posted my fourth review (for If I Stay), and read more than a hundred pages of The Raven Boys, so it’s like I didn’t do anything. I just couldn’t finish because my head is killing me. I plan on finishing it in the morning and posting my review then. I read A LOT this week, so I’m definitely not disappointed by my progress. 1,769 pages in a week isn’t too shabby. 🙂

Are you participating in Bout of Books? Link me up to your update post so I can see your progress, too!

Book review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy

Title: Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead

Genre: YA, paranormal, romance

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: August 2007

Paperback: 332

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Bought

I’ve spent the day (I finished VA this morning) trying to figure out whether I liked this book or not, and I’ve just decided to say how I felt right when I finished: I both like and don’t like this book. There are things that I really liked about VA and then there are other things that I really didn’t. Let me try to tell you what I mean.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the book jacket):

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires—the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladmir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger…and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lisa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever…

What I thought:

So I chose to use the summary from the book jacket instead of writing my own because I think it really gives you a good idea, pretty much the whole idea, of what the book is about. It does a good job at summarizing the story, so I figured I’d just go with that.

I want to start with the things I really liked about the novel: the plot and the ideas behind the different types of vampires. The plot is pretty interesting. You’ve got a vampire princess who, along with her ‘guardian’, slip out of a super protected fortress school, but are dragged back. Once there, they’re dropped back into the social scene of a school full of vampires, which has changed slightly from the way they knew it. There’s a crazy, spiteful vampire named Mia who has taken over Lissa’s position, along with her ex-boyfriend Aaron. Rose has a new, older guardian named Dmitri giving her extra lessons to try to catch up with the other novice guardians. We’ve got a creepy but also sweet outcast named Christian who sparks an interest in Lissa. It’s a somewhat typical, drama filled high school story, but then there’s vampires and sort-of-superpowers and queens and dead birds showing up, and you know it’s not so typical. Pretty cool plot. Then add in the way that the queen/king is chosen in this world: the current queen/king chooses their successor from among several other royal families but is not allowed to choose their own offspring for the role. The plot moved along at a decent pace, so my attention was kept the whole time. There was a fair amount of action and generally interesting happenings (dead animals, people being lit on fire, you know, happenings). Additionally, Mead’s writing style wasn’t all that bad, so that’s another plus.

I love vampire stories. Like, a lot. Well, except that really well-known one about some Mary Sue and her creepy, sparkly vampire boyfriend; you know the one. But new takes on the vampire origin/history are one thing I really enjoy, so the different types of vampires in this novel were fascinating. You’ve got the Moroi, the Strigoi, and the Dhampir. The Moroi are vampires, but they’re mortal and they have an affinity for harnessing one of the elements. The Strigoi are pretty typical vampires: they feed on blood, are extremely sensitive to sunlight, and want to kill people. However, the way they become vampires is sort of different; they can be bitten by another to turn, but they can also be a Moroi and drain another vampire/human/Dhampir of blood until they die to turn. Then you’ve got Dhampirs: the offspring of a Moroi and a human trained to protect the Moroi; they don’t feed on blood, have no powers, but do have increased strength and are generally badass. Cool, huh?

I also really liked Christian: outcast, creep, but all-around sweetheart. He’s an outsider at St. Vladimir’s because of his parents’ conscious decision to turn Strigoi, but after Lissa returns, they start to develop a really sweet little romance. He’s dark and brooding and a loner, but he becomes softer when Lissa is around. Their romance was one of my favorite things in the book. It felt realistic and was adorable. I was definitely rooting for them.

So now I need to talk about the things I didn’t like.

Rose is an asshole. I’m sorry for the language, but in my opinion, that is the best way to describe her. She’s so extremely shallow. Here’s two of the things she says about herself:

I knew I was pretty, but to Moroi boys, my body was more than just pretty: it was sexy in a risqué way. – Page 51
I knew perfectly well that there weren’t a lot of girls at this school who looked as good in a bra as I did. – Page 121

If she’d just said something like this once or twice, I think I could have handled it, but she talked about how hot she was several times. SEVERAL. But it wasn’t just when she was talking about herself (which she did a lot). Her ‘romance’ with Dmitri, her older (by seven years – totally illegal) guardian mentor, was super shallow as well. Like, holy crap. I definitely could not handle them. To me, the only reason there was a romance here was because they were both ‘hot’. In fact, after denying his feelings for Rose for a while, he kind of admits to it, but even says it’s partly because of her body. I just didn’t feel their romance at all. If you could even call it a romance. Near the end of the book there is a short little justification for their feelings for each other, but it is only briefly mentioned and didn’t give me any more reason to believe in their pairing. It was weird, awkward, and forced.

Rose is the type of girl who would date someone just because of how hot he was (e.g. Jesse). I also think that Rose was really bitchy and mean just to be mean. She totally destroys the burgeoning romance between Lissa, who is supposed to be her best friend, and Christian. And just because she was jealous; Christian is taking up Lissa’s time, so let’s destroy him, even though Lissa obviously really likes him.

She tried so hard to be the fierce, independent, badass character, and while she is pretty badass (I mean, she’d totally kick my ass), she wasn’t exactly the strong, independent woman I strive to be every day. I will say that she was rather funny at times, and I did like her sarcasm. I found myself continuing to read to find out what stupid thing she was going to get into next, which I’m not sure is a plus or negative.

I think this novel was just a bit too immature for me. Please don’t take this the wrong way if you loved it. I’m not trying to insult anyone. This was just firmly in the TEEN genre for me. I’ve heard later books in the series get better, so maybe I’ll have to see about that. I don’t see myself buying any of the others, but I might check them out from the library.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think I prefer the movie version of this book (which I saw in theaters). At any rate, I preferred movie-Rose to book-Rose. I am glad that I watched the movie before I read this book, and therefore had movie-Rose’s voice/looks/actual humor in my head while reading it, because had I not seen the movie, I think I would have seriously hated book-Rose. Being able to have the fully-developed characters from the movie in my head allowed me to fill out the characters in the book.

The bottom line:

This book was very readable, but its main character/narrator was obnoxious. There were things I liked and things I didn’t, though I did want to keep reading. I have mixed feelings about it, but I’d say it is worth a shot to any fans of vampire stories, school stories, and female leads.

Rating: 6 – Good, but not great

Have you read Vampire Academy? What did you think? I’d love to hear your opinion; don’t be afraid to comment if it’s different than mine!

Reading next: Gone by Michael Grant – yay for the first on my Bout of Books list!

 

New design!

Yay!

So we are all done with the new design.

A few things for you guys to check out:

  • My awesome new header! I LOVE the ampersand!! What do you think?
  • My social media icons: follow me on Twitter, add me on FB, or follow me on Instagram. I mostly talk about books and reading and music and books, so if you’re into that (I mean, you’re here, aren’t you?), follow me!
  • & I’m Reading: find out what I’m currently reading by checking out my Goodreads. I’d love it if we were friends on there, too!
  • & I’ve Written: this will link back to my most recent blog post, so you can check that out if you’ve missed anything.
  • My search bar: if you are looking for a specific post, you can find it pretty easily now.

That’s about it. I hope you like it! I love the clean, pretty design. And that header! I know I already mentioned it, but it’s awesome. Right?

The lovely Laura Tubb Prestwich at Laura Prestwich Designs did all of this for me, so make sure you go check her out! She does great work; hit her up if you’re interested in some awesome design work, too!

I would LOVE to know what you think! Let me know in the comments. Please?

Blog Design and Maintenance

Hi guys!

My friend Laura at Laura Prestwich Designs and I are going to be doing a bit of design work on my blog tomorrow and Saturday (May 9-10).

If you visit my blog on one of those days, you might be a little confused or might experience some difficulty depending on what we’re working on.

I can’t wait for you to see what it looks like when it’s done! I just wanted to warn you. 🙂

I’m sorry for any issues you experience, but it’ll be fixed up by Sunday.

Thank you!

-Stefani

Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny StoryTitle: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Author: Ned Vizzini

Genre: Teen, Contemporary, YA, Realistic

Publisher: Hyperion

Publication Date: April 2006

Paperback: 444

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis:

Craig Gilner is an ambitious New York City teenager who seeks entry into the Manhattan Executive Pre-Professional High School because he believes getting into the right high school will start him on the path to a successful life. However, once Craig aces his way into the school, the pressure builds up, so much so that he stops eating, sleeping, and doing his school work. One night it all gets to be too much and he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s experience gets him checked into a local mental hospital, where he meets an array of fellow patients from many different backgrounds, including “a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio” (book jacket). At Six North, Craig is finally able to find the sources of his anxiety and confront them.

What I thought:

I’d already seen the movie adaptation of this book, though it had been several years. I had a feeling I was going to really enjoy this book. And I did.

When I sat down to start writing this review, I couldn’t. It was difficult for me because of how well I related to this book. The beginning of the book, before Craig goes to Six North, was almost too relatable for me. I won’t go into too much detail, because I don’t think that this is the right place for it, but I’m going through a very rough time in my life right now, and I cried more than once while reading about how Craig was feeling, what he was thinking, and what he calls “The Cycling” (when your thoughts continue to circle around and around on all the things you haven’t done, won’t do, can’t do; in essence, why your life isn’t that great).

Because this review is so hard for me, I don’t think I can do my typical “several paragraphs on why I loved/didn’t love this book” review for this one, so I’m just going to bullet point the things I liked and try to explain them. I hope that’s okay.

  • It’s authentic. Oh my goodness, is it authentic. It’s real, and each of the characters and what they are going through feels genuine, real, true. The emotions in this book are raw and sincere.
  • “My depression is acting up today” (Page 121). I wish I could say this whenever I’m asked, “What’s wrong?”
  • “Sometimes I just think depression’s one way of coping with the world. Like, some people get drunk, some people do drugs, some people get depressed. Because there’s so much stuff out there that you have to do something to deal with it.” – Page 240
  • It’s a story that needed to be told. Ned Vizzini, the author of this book, spent several days in adult psychiatric in 2004. He wrote It’s Kind of a Funny Story right after he got out. Ned needed to tell this story, for himself and for us. It’s important for teens, and adults, to be able to have a book like this that they can relate to, to show them that they are not alone. It’s so powerful.
  • Several laugh out loud moments: though this book deals with very serious content and themes, it comes across as a rather light read. Craig is witty and clever, and the people with him in Six North are funny, vibrant, and animated.
  • This book makes me want to live.

So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.

Live. (Page 444)

  • I felt uplifted at the end of this book.
  • One of the ways that Craig deals with his anxiety and depression is through art: he creates maps of imaginary cities. I totally understood this; I paint, draw, create little sewn monster dolls…make art. It is a perfect way to focus on something completely different but pour out all of your emotions at the same time.

What I didn’t like:

  • Nothing.

The bottom line: I never wanted to relate to this book as well as I did, but honestly, I’m glad that I did. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is a story that needed to be told, and I’m glad that Ned Vizzini wrote it and I was able to read it.

I’d just like to say that I hope wherever Ned is now, he is finally happy.

Rating: 10 – Perfection. One of the best books I’ve ever read

Reading Next: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Bout of Books!

So I was over on fellow book blogger Joey’s blog, Thoughts and Afterthoughts, and I saw that he was going to be participating in something called Bout of Books. I’d never heard of it, but after checking out the website, I thought it was right up my alley!

Here’s the little about paragraph from their website:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Bout of Books logoBook Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

It’s perfect for me because I’m already going to be reading next week, of course. I love challenges, especially when it comes to reading. Why not participate?

One of the requirements for participating is posting your goals for the week: what are you going to do this week that is going to challenge you?

Here are mine:

  • Read 5 books; the picture below is my tentative TBR for the week, but I have a feeling I might change this a little depending on my mood, as everything I’ve chosen is sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy. I might need a little YA/contemporary in there, especially since I just found out Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is available at my local library! Do you have a book you think I should read?
My TBR for Bout of Books

Gone by Michael Grant; The Eye of Minds by James Dashner; If I Stay by Gayle Forman; The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater; The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

  • Review all 5 books & post these reviews on my blog, on Goodreads, on Amazon
  • Track my progress each day on a single post on this blog & track my progress on Twitter; I will create a progress post on my blog on Monday and will update it throughout the week
  • Comment on at least two other Bout of Books participants’ blogs per day
  • Participate in at least one Twitter chat with other BoB-ers

So I don’t know if that’s too ambitious as I’ve never participated before, but I’m pretty sure I can do all of it. Look out for my progress post on Monday.

Are you participating in Bout of Books? What are your goals and what books are you reading?

I’m really excited for this, and I can’t wait to get started! Follow me on Twitter to stay updated with my progress (I’ll probably Tweet several times a day vs. just one progress post on here!)

Do you want to participate too? That’d be awesome! Sign up HERE.