Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Past Perfect by Leila Sales [Review]

Past Perfect3 out of 5 Robots!

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: October 4, 2011
Hardcover:  306 Pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new. 

Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
In an effort to clean up my TBR list, I am making an effort to read through all the books I own.  This one has been on my Kindle for well, longer than I would like to admit.  I know Sales' This Song Will Save Your Life was very popular last year, so I was looking forward to reading this one.  But I was kind of disappointed.  I would alternate between being annoyed and then being on board, but then find myself annoyed again.

Here is what I liked:
**The setting:  I loved that Chelsea works at a historical reenactment village.  I loved all her little quips and "insider" knowledge about what it was like working at the park.

**I love the running gag between Chelsea and her best friend Fiona about becoming ice cream connoisseurs.  It was funny and lighthearted.  It reminded me of something my best friend and I would do.

**Dan.  He was perhaps the best character.  Although, I can't say I know much about it, but he was the least annoying one out of the bunch.

**I also liked it when Chelsea would drop her "over it" attitude and embrace history and show off her knowledge.

Here is what I didn't like:
**Chelsea.  Chelsea was just not a protagonist that I gelled with.  I found her to be immature, angsty and sometimes really rude.  I didn't like how she handled anything.  But it was really her attitude towards other people that really turned me off.  She was so judgmental.  She had a "holier than thou" attitude towards everyone, even her best friend, which leads me too...

**The weird friend dynamics.  Chelsea's best friend Fiona is basically Chelsea's opposite.  And Chelsea reminds the reader of this constantly.  But instead of embracing the differences, Chelsea spends much of the her time sneering at Fiona.  She thinks Fiona is dumb and flaunts her knowledge of history over Fiona several times.  She doesn't trust Fiona and gets a lot of important things from her.  And worst of all, Chelsea CONSTANTLY points out how "loose" Fiona is...despite any actual evidence.  For example, Chelsea will think about kissing a guy and then immediately state how at least she hasn't kissed as many guys as Fiona.  UGH!  I hated this so much I almost DNF.  I am so tired of "best friends" in YA where one is a "prude" and one is "slutty" and the protagonist spends all her time looking down on her best friend's behavior.  Which leads me to...

**Slut Shaming!  NO.  JUST NO.  Why are YA female characters so concerned about the sexual exploits (or lack thereof) of others?  There are way more important things to be concerned about then whether or not you've kissed a "slutty number of guys".  What would be a slutty number anyways?  What does that even mean?!  I need a Valium to deal with this.

**The War.  Meh.  I just didn't care about the rivalry between Essex and the Civil War reenactment park across the street and was a little disappointed that a large portion of the book resolves around it.  I've never been involved in a rivalry so it didn't interest me.

**Lastly, I think this cover is cute, but it has nothing to do with the story.  I think it would have been much cuter to see Chelsea in her colonial dress and Dan in his Civil War costume eating ice cream or something.

Overall, I found this book more frustrating than fun.  I am still interested to read some of her other books.  But I hope they will be less judgmental.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hero by Alethea Kontis [Review]

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)4.5 out of 5 Robots!

Hero by Alethea Kontis

Series: Woodcutter Sisters#2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release: October 1, 2013
Hardcover: 304 Pages
Publisher: Harcout
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Enchanted, but I ADORED Hero.  I just loved everything about it.  

In Enchanted we meet the Woodcutter sisters, each named after a day of the week and each with gifts according to the rhyme:

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace;
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go;
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

These gifts tend to manifest themselves in unforseen ways.  Saturday, for example, is a workhorse of a girl.  She is tall and built a bit like a man.  Nothing makes her more satisfied than hard work.  She rarely tires and has a hard time resting.  But this also mean that will work herself to death if given half a chance. In Hero Saturday struggles to understand her place in the world and what her destiny is.  Through a strange combination of events, she is kidnapped by an evil witch who mistakes her for her brother, Jack.  The witch has a vendetta against Jack since he stole her eyes and she is determined to get her revenge.  While held captive at the Top of the World, Saturday meets some fellow captives: Peregrine, an earl's son, Betwixt, a chimera, and Cwyn, a large magical raven.  Saturday realizes she needs to kill the witch, but is not too happy to discover that she may also have feelings for Peregrine. Saturday feels that love really just gets in the way of everything.

Saturday was especially a nice surprise in a narrator.  Based off of her parts in Enchanted, I wasn't sure I would gel with this hard-working, tomboy-ish, ax-wielding sister.  But I ended up loving her.  She wasn't perfect.  She is ungracious, uncooperative and determined to do everything on her own.  But watching her grow into herself was a delight.  I especially enjoyed her interactions with Peregrine, who really brought out the best in her in often funny and endearing ways. I found myself chuckling quite a bit whenever they sparred and traded quips back and forth.  Their relationship was adorable.  I was rooting for them from page one.

I also loved all the other fairytale aspects that weave through the story.  Some well known fairytale characters make appearances throughout.  But my favorite aspect was how this book felt like a fairytale without being twee or over the top.

I definitely recommend this series for anyone who loves fairytales and fairytale retellings!  

Monday, January 19, 2015

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner [Joint Review!]

3 out of 5 Robots!

This Shattered World 
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound Novel, #2
Genre: Young Adult Rom SciFi
Release: December 23, 2014
Hardcover:  390 Pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
My Copy: Library
Reviewer: Shannon & Julia

Book Summary:
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Julia & Shannon: Joint Review!
1. In a couple sentences, what did you think of This Shattered World?
Julia: This Shattered World is a satisfying read, but I didn't feel much emotion toward either of our main characters. The plot is exciting and there is a good deal of action, that and the dialogue itself kept me flipping the pages. 

Shannon: This book definitely cemented my belief in this series.  Kaufman and Spooner manage to make an interesting and well written "space opera".  
2. What did you like?  What did you dislike?
Julia: I loved that Tarver and Lilac make an appearance. It is by far the highlight of the novel for me. And I really disliked that Lee and Flynn's relationship didn't show any real development throughout the story. Lilac and Tarver had an adventure and obstacles to overcome together and you get to watch them grow together.... I didn't get that here and it is disappointing.

Shannon: Totally agree that Tarver's cameo really gave the plot a jolt.  I liked how fast paced the plot was.  There is a ton of action!  I liked both of the main characters fairly well.  Each were compelling in their own ways.  I liked that I felt like I knew them and understood their motivations.  There wasn't really anything I didn't like, except for the few places that the story stalled.
3. What did you think of the romance between Lee and Flynn?
Julia: Well, I kind of said it before... I didn't feel like they really worked for a relationship. It was a lot of running around figuring things out. I don't even think they spent that much time together. There is chemistry, but not enough. It's missing something. I'm not satisfied, haha.

Shannon: Yeah, this felt much more like the dreaded insta-love.  I didn't really feel the chemistry between them.  I think I would have preferred if they were just friends.  But you know, it's a YA novel, so there must be romance.  I was more interested in all the other parts though.
4. How does This Shattered World compare to its companion novel, These Broken Stars?
Julia: In my opinion, it doesn't really compare. I enjoyed These Broken Stars SO much more than This Shattered World. The plot is just as good, it just didn't have as much "oomph."

Shannon: I will have to be honest and say that I liked These Broken Stars better for several reasons.  One, I liked the storyline better and two, I liked the romance waaayyy better.  This Shattered World was lacking that sweeping romantic feel that These Broken Stars had.  I loved the slow burning romance between Lilac and Tarver in the first one.  And in all honesty, I enjoyed them more as characters.  This isn't to say Lee and Flynn aren't good characters, but just that I liked Lilac and Tarver better.  
5. How do you feel about the overall arc this series is starting to take?
Julia: I'm interested in seeing what happens in the next novel. This one explained a lot about the whispers and it is intriguing to see one connect with Lee. Really all I care about is Tarver and will he show up in book three? ;)

Shannon: I do like how overarching the series is starting to be and how far reaching the Big Bad is.  I think it is really interesting.  I would not mind our characters all converging together in the third book though!  I will definitely be back to meet new characters (or at least I'm assuming there will be) and see how it all comes together.
6. What is your rating?  Who would you recommend this book to?
Julia: I gave it three stars because I was only super into it in the middle. At the end I began skipping straight to dialogue between characters. It didn't keep me as interested as book one. Regardless, those who loved book one or love young adult science fiction should give this one a go. There isn't as much romance as in the previous novel, but there are some super cheesy lines you may enjoy. hah.

Shannon: I will give it 4.5 because I do think this was an excellent book.  And I think the only reason why I am feeling any disappointment is because the bar was raised so high for me with the first book.  I recommend this series to sci-fi fans and those that like epic, sweeping stories.


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