Friday, November 21, 2014

The After Girls by Leah Konen [Review]

The After Girls3.5 out of 5 Robots!

The After Girls by Leah Konen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: April 18, 2013
Hardcover:  304 Pages
Publisher: Merit Press
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
Ella, Astrid, and Sydney were planning the perfect summer after high school graduation. But when Astrid commits suicide in a lonely cabin, the other girls' worlds are shattered. How could their best friend have done this--to herself and to them? They knew everything about Astrid. Shouldn't they have seen this coming? Couldn't they have saved her?

As Ella hunts for the truth, and Sydney tries to dull the pain, a chilling message from Astrid leaves them wondering whether their beloved friend is communicating from the after life. The girls embark on a journey to uncover Astrid's dark secrets. The answers to those questions--questions they never dreamed of asking--will change their lives forever.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
This book is fairly divided in my mind.  There are parts I really liked and found compelling and then there were parts that I felt were unnecessary or didn't really fit with the parts of the story I was interested in.

What I Liked:
- How Ella and Sydney dealt with their grief.  This was the most compelling part of the story to me.  How do you go from being a threesome to a twosome?  Can you understand how someone else deals with their grief?  How can you be there for someone when you are grieving too?  I really liked how raw their feelings were and how strained their friendship became as a result.  But they really try to be there for each other and I really felt for them.
- Ella and Sydney's journey to understand why Astrid committed suicide.  Both girls try really hard to piece together their memories of Astrid and deal with a lot of guilt about not being able to prevent her from committing suicide.  I think their feeling were very realistic, especially as they realize that Astrid had been keeping a lot of things from them.
- I liked Ella and Jake's relationship, although he was probably a little too perfect and understanding.  But whatever, I liked it anyways.

What I Didn't Like:
- The "mystery" aspect of it.  The book makes a suggestion of a ghost story, but never really goes there.  I wish the book had committed one or the other.  Either commit to the mystery aspect, or get rid of it.  I was especially ambivalent about the whole thing once the mystery is revealed.  Meh.
- I wished that Astrid's reasons for committing suicide were more fleshed out.  Or that more was revealed earlier on instead of just at the end.  It felt a little rushed.

Overall, it was a decent read.  The things I disliked might not bother other people as much.  I would definitely read another book by the author.

Disclosure:  I reviewed a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life of a Blogger: 10 Things I'd Never Do


LIFE OF A BLOGGER: 10 Things I'd Never Do

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme by Novel Heartbeat.  It gives us a chance to talk about non-bookish passions and interests.

Today's prompt is 10 things I'd never do.  I'm a big believer in "never say never"...because you just never know if you will be in a situation where you WILL do it.  So here is my list of "10 things I am very very unlikely to do and IF I had to do would probably cause me a lot of grief and heartache."  

1. Go Hunting - I don't understand the culture at all.  Like, I get it if you had to eat, but the whole part about getting excited to kill an animal totally escapes me.

2. Be a Medical Examiner - The things they must see...nope, nope, nope.

3. Do Drugs (alcohol and caffeine aside).

4. Butcher My Own Farm Animals - Kind of goes along with the first one, but I couldn't imagine raising Wilbur to eat Wilbur.  

5. Become a Body Builder - I don't have the discipline for it...nor the desire to have huge muscles.  I DO like how strong they are though!

6. Go Tanning - I'm a redhead and tan would just look so wrong on me.

7. Maliciously Cause Harm to Another Person.

8.  Ride a Motorcycle - Too scary!

9. Own a Roadster - Audi TTs are so pointless to me and I think they are ugly.

10. Read 50 Shades of Grey - You couldn't PAY me to read it.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu [Joint Review!]

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)5 out of 5 Robots!

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: Young Elite #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: October 7, 2014
Hardcover:  355 Pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon and Julia

Book Summary:
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon and Julia's Thoughts:
1. The Standard: What'd you think in one or two sentences?
Shannon: I was nervous to start a new series by Marie Lu since I loved her Legend trilogy, but I was really happy to find a completely different and captivating story.  I think Lu really nailed this story and was able to carve out a new and interesting fantasy world.  I love it!  (Sorry, that was three sentences!)
Julia: The Young Elites has some old ideas, but with a totally new twist. I was worried this wouldn't live up to the Legend trilogy, but it does. Oh, it does. It is completely different than it though.

2. Those captivating and irritating characters. Thoughts? 
Shannon: I feel like Lu takes a page from another master of characterization, Maggie Stiefvater.  She creates complex and complete characters.  No one is perfect, no is completely good and no one is completely bad.  What I loved most (and this is where I think she compares to Stiefvater) is that she gives us the feeling of the characters instead of just describing them.  And I love love love that Adelina walks such a fine line between being the hero or the villain in her own story.  I can't wait to see how her story progresses.
Julia: Lu knows what she is doing. She doesn't tell you about the characters, she let's their actions and reactions do all the telling. It makes the characters pop from the pages, like you're right there with them. Blew my mind, I was even rooting for the bad guy. I wanted him to show us there was more to him! And I love that both Adelina and the reader doesn't know if she's truly good/bad. There is no black/white in this story.

3. What about Marie Lu's world building? 
Shannon: Loved it!  I loved the Venetian feel to it, and I liked the glimpses we got of the other kingdoms.  I thought she did a really nice job of balancing details without info-dumping.
Julia: Perfection. The world is vivid, and you won't feel overwhelmed with detail.

4. Compare this to Marie Lu's super-loved Legend trilogy. Does it compare? Will fans be just as excited about THE YOUNG ELITES?
Shannon: Young Elites has a very different feel than Legend.  You can really see how Lu has grown as a writer and The Young Elites feels more mature.  It is darker with morally gray characters.  I loved that.  I think fans will enjoy Young Elites and hopefully they will like the progression in Lu's writing as well!
Julia: I don't know how anyone could dislike this story, let alone the old fans. This is another home run. Like Shannon says, it definitely is Marie Lu, but her writing has evolved. I think both books are great.

5. That ending. Satisfying?
Shannon:  Define satisfying?  Haha.  The ending was classic Lu - heartbreaking, with just enough of a cliffhanger to make you wish you had the sequel in your hands RIGHT NOW.  The epilogue especially makes some very implications for the sequel.
Julia: Super satisfying. The ending is gut wrenching, just how I like it. The epilogue is fascinating and now I'm craving book two.

6. What would you rate this book? Who would you recommend this book to?

Shannon: I'm giving it 5 stars.  I was completely entertained and have no complaints about the book.  I would recommend it to fantasy fans of Grave Mercy, Falling Kingdoms, and Shadow and Bone.
Julia: 5 Stars!! So good. I didn't want it to end. Would definitely recommend it to those that enjoy dark young adult fantasy.


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