Proud book geek and YA enthusiast. Can also find me at my other book blog home www.tyngasreviews.com
This week's Top 10 Tuesday hosted by The Broke and Bookish is my top 10 favorite covers of books I've read. Ahhh... I just love looking at these lovelies.
Obviously Splintered by A.G. Howard tops the list, cause... it pretty much tops all the lists.
Click any of the books below for a description and purchase links :)
I haven't actually read Linked by Imogen Howson yet, but I did get just approved for it by Edelweiss (**freaks out**) and since I've been drooling over that cover FOR FOREVER it seemed appropriate to include it.
I admit, I went into this with preconceived notions of what this organization stood for - and it all seemed so sinister. For those not familiar with Westboro Baptist Church - they are an 'organization' that calls themselves an Independent Baptist church in order to receive the tax benefits. They are often seen picketing funerals of fallen soldiers or scenes of great tragedy such as the 9/11 site with signs reading such hateful things I can't even repeat them. Their basic message is that God hates the world, and rejoices in the world's suffering. Everyone except for them, of course.
As I'm sure it would be for anyone who reads it, this book was an emotional experience for me. This is Lauren Drain's story - she grew up in Florida until her early teens. Though her early years were relatively normal, there was always an unhealthy dynamic between she and her father - mostly brought on by her father's impossibly high standards and self-centered leanings.
When her father decides to make a film called "Hatemongers" to expose the Westboro Baptist Church and their corrupt ways - he actually finds himself drawn to the group. Returning to their family home in Florida, he restricts Lauren from any contact with boys. He refuses to let her see her friends. He pulls her out of public school. He completely isolates her from the outside world, and instead her only compass is his approval. To gain his approval is the only way to gain freedoms, and at the same time, she wants to please her father. She wants to make him proud, just like the rest of us.
This isolated and controlled situation eventually deteriorates to one of mental, emotional, and physical abuse. So much so, that he uproots his entire family and moves them to Topeka, Kansas so that they can join the church and so that Lauren can be 'saved' from her evil ways.
I never understood why someone would want to partake in the actions this 'church' takes, and I was really excited to get a chance to better understand the inner workings and dynamics that go into a church that behaves like this.
My main questions were do they really believe what they are spouting or do they just want attention? Are the members sincere or are they just control freaks? And over and over again in my head the question would pop up: Why?
Why hurt so many people? Why brazenly mock those in pain?
Needless to say, Banished gave me a window into the Westboro Baptsist Church that while hard to look through, did give a much clearer picture of the entire community. Perhaps the scariest part was realizing just how smart those in power are. They know exactly how to fight the media's image of a cult - they dress normal, speak normal, go to the mall - and yet under it all, the controlling and intimidating nature of a cult mentality still lies.
Though they are within society, they are withheld because they believe they are 'above' it all. Their entire lives revolve around the church - and their social standings are absolutely crucial. To be in Shirley's bad graces is to be, as Lauren found out, banished. With nowhere else to go, and no one in your family that will claim you.
By the end, my heart was absolutely broken for Lauren. She went through things that no daughter deserves, all in the name of saving her from hell. She lived in fear and her actions reflected it. And now she has to live forever with what she has done and those she has hurt - while watching her family condemn her to hell the whole time. Banished will give you hope, but it will also give you an insight into what we are all capable of, given the right circumstances.
Gotta say, this site came around at the perfect time for me. I recently joined up with Team Tynga's Reviews (woohoo!!) and will be posting weekly reviews there. But there was still part of me thinking about re-launching my old book blog The Fiction Conniption, because there are still so many bookish type things I want to talk about outside of my weekly reviews at Tynga's. Plus I miss all my book blogging buddies. But I'm just way too busy to take on a whole blog again by myself, and don't really have the time to put in all the effort again!
Enter: Booklikes! It's the perfect combination of Tumblr and Goodreads for me (so far), and I love that they already have all this functionality even though it's such a young site.
I'm thinking I'll probably use this site to post my other bookish thoughts, musings, and extra reviews - while still calling my real online home Tynga's. So excited! :)
There are some main characters in books that will just reach out and touch you. In Shatter Me, Juliette has been confined in an insane asylum for the last 264 days. She hasn’t touched a single human being, hasn’t spoken a word in as long – because society has discarded her.
Besides, the world is falling down around them, the Reestablishment has promised to rebuild the hope and future that the world once shared, but now the birds are falling, the clouds are the wrong color, and everyone is dying. Nothing is as it was. And no one has time to worry about what might be causing one girl’s touch to be able to kill.
Shatter Me opens with Juliette writing in a notebook while in prison. The depth of her solitude is absolutely heart-breaking. Some of the lines she writes just seemed to reach down into a part of my soul that completely understood her right from the first page.
"Hello world, you will forget me."
Time no longer holds any meaning for Juliette – each day is the same as the miserable day before. No one speaks to her, no one touches her, no one remembers her.
"Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds. I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind."
Until one day another prisoner named Adam comes to share her cell, and forces her to learn to connect with others again. He reawakens the part of her that had forgotten how to reach out and trust another person. Adam and Juliette are taken from the asylum where the Reestablishment's terrifying leader, Warner, has been waiting for Juliette. He has visions of using her as the ultimate weapon for the movement, and he's determined she see the world through his murderous lens.
I don't have any issue with love triangles. As expected, Shatter Me does throw in a hint of this sort of drama. But it really upset me in this book, because I felt as though it somehow cheapened the romance happening on all sides. Sometimes two people really need just each other – sometimes I need to read about a heroine who knows what she wants and who she loves and who she trusts. I know life isn’t easy, but in this case, it was right in front of her. I wasn’t at all on the same page as her when it came to her confusion.
The lyrical writing in Shatter Me is what won me over. The story is fascinating, the romance is lovely, the somewhat disconnected dystopian world definitely held my interest, and yet – it was Juliette’s thoughts that continually pulled me back.
"This time I'm in his arms and against the wall and I'm trembling everywhere and he's so gentle, so careful, touching me like I'm made of porcelain and I want to shatter. He's running his hands down my body running his eyes across my face running laps with his heart and I'm running marathons with my mind. Everything is on fire. My cheeks my hands the pit of my stomach and I'm drowning in waves of emotion and a storm of fresh rain and all I feel is the strength of his silhouette against mine and I never ever ever ever want to forget this moment. I want to stamp him into my skin and save him forever."
Um, hello there, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous writing. I was quite literally holding my breath while reading scenes like these. When reading on my iPad, I often highlight passages like the ones above that really left an impression on me or that I just found completely beautiful.
Normally there's just 2 or 3 of these in a book, if that. Want to know how many highlighted notes I have in Shatter Me? 37. Thirty-seven times that I was holding my breath because the writing was just that beautiful I didn't want to breathe and accidentally break it. It's just that lovely.
It likely goes without saying, but I will be anxiously waiting to get my hands on the sequels Destroy Me and Unravel Me just as soon as I can.
In Onyx, Daemon has taken it upon himself to prove to Katy that what they feel for each other is more than just a result of their strange alien connection. Or as Katy likes to call them, her "alien cooties".
I thought I had torn through Obsidian, but I literally devoured Onyx. This series has caught me completely off guard, because I honestly didn't expect to love it as much as I do. Onyx absolutely sealed the deal for me, I'm in love with the Lux series.
In Onyx, we see a much different side to Daemon, and even to Katy. We're introduced to Blake - another new kid in town with a secret, and he quickly throws Katy's world into absolute tumult and gives Daemon reason to be jealous. Daemon had a long road ahead in this book, but he never gave up on Katy, even when she was bound and determined to give up on him.
In Obsidian, my only grief was that the plot was pretty basic. Onyx takes this to an entirely different level. In Onyx, the DOD has arrived - and no one has been telling the truth. There are tons of revelations about the DOD, who is an enemy and who is a friend, and even about the bond that Daemon and Katy share. On top of that, someone shows up in town that everyone assumed was dead, and it turns everything the Luxen thought they knew upside down. The world as they've seen and understood it has been a lie, and the truth is terrifying.
This is a book that will linger in the back of your mind, and I guarantee you'll find yourself reaching for it even though it's already 2am and you've gotta go to sleep. It's just that worth it.
That's all. Yes, this is a short review. That's partially because Onyx left me speechless, and partially because I'm already itching to go get book three in the series and start right now. This one is a must read!
There has always been something in me that has been hesitant about jumping on bandwagons. Part of me waited so long to start Obisidian because the back cover just didn't really excite me very much. I'm going through a dystopian phase right now, and I'm in love with plot-driven books that bend the mind and challenge pre-conceptions.
Admittedly, that's not what Obisidian is about. And yet, I literally stayed up into the wee hours of the night to finish this one. I finished Obsidian in near one (long) sitting. And I finished Onyx (book 2) even quicker - but more on that later.
As far as plot lines go, Obisidian isn't going to blow your socks off. It's your basic girl moves to new town, finds out neighbors are aliens, falls for one of them, and has to fight the bad guys. There really aren't many plot twists, and big mysteries aren't going to keep you up late at night. However, what WILL keep you up and engrossed in this book, are the characters.
I've never read two main characters who had a chemistry like Katy and Daemon, and I'm guessing this is what has also led such a cult-like book blogger following for this book. At first, I really really did not like Daemon. He was a douche, as Katy would so often put it, but I enjoyed every second of their interactions. They were explosive and hilarious and awkward and some of the things that came out of Daemon's mouth had me laughing out loud.
But again, many of things that he did and said to Katy also had me wanting to slap him up the back of the head for being such a jerk. Then a dozen pages later, he'd do something that totally had me swooning. This is actually a quote from Onyx actually (no spoilers here, no worries), but I wanted to include it here because it really describes the character of Daemon very well:
"Deadly and sweet - that was what Daemon was; two very different kinds of souls rested in him, fused together."
In the end, it is this give and take between Daemon and Katy that kept me glued to this book. There are secondary characters that shape the story and frame the relationship between these two, but really - if I'm totally honest with myself - we're all just in it for Daemon. I was incredibly satisfied with how Obsidian ended as well, I was so glad that Katy is not just caving in. Instead, she is making Daemon deal with the consequences of having been so cruel to her, and for once, I was glad she was making him work for it.
As soon as I finished Obsidian, I downloaded Onyx and settled in for another late night. I'd love to see some more plot development in the coming books in the series. If you take Daemon and Katy, and add some plot twists and something that keeps me on the edge of my seat, this could easily morph into a 5-star series for me.
In Crewel, every single thing in this world that see, hear, and even think is part of one massive weave. Most people never even notice the weave, but there are women called Spinsters who are able to see and manipulate it. They are recruited by the Coventry and assigned tasks based on their skills. Most are thrilled to become Spinsters, as it comes with fancy clothes and social gatherings.
Some, like Adelice, are forced to use their skills to help the Coventry because they are being blackmailed. Adelice's entire family is destroyed when she is taken in by the Coventry, and they use what remains of her loved ones to manipulate her into doing their bidding.
There was something about this world that I just couldn't grasp. It was such a cool concept - the idea that everything and everyone and every thought are all part of one big cosmic weave, and that women called Spinsters are the ones trusted to weave this fabric and maintain it. But on the other side, it just kept giving me that "Am I in the Matrix?" feeling.
Try as I might, my measly brain just couldn't picture how that would work. How can they be weaving from within the weave? Who is weaving them? Who created the weave?
All these sort of existential questions kept getting in the way and distracting me while reading. I didn't feel like the world-building required to pull off a story line such as that really came through.
That said, aside from the actual mechanics of the world itself, I really enjoyed reading Crewel. I've been salivating over the cover since it first came out, and the premise of the book is so original. That fact alone kept me going, as the pacing on this one wasn't quite as heart-racing as I prefer. It was like taking a steady jog (ha! as if I've ever jogged in my LIFE) - it was enough to keep me going, but nothing that really made me want to glue my face to the book so I could carry it with me everywhere I went.
The romance had a slight twinge of insta-love, not too bad, but it was definitely there. This one is the very definition of a vague sort of liked but didn't love sort of book. I felt as though the motivations of the main character were very clear, and I sympathized with her as she dealt with the pain of losing her family, but beyond that surface level connection,
I never felt truly invested in Adelice. I was interested to see how her story would turn out, but there were many times I thought I could have put this one down mid-read and walked away without feeling like I was going to miss much. It was a decent read, but I probably won't be going for the second one in this series.
There wasn't the best world-building happening here. The premise of two souls inhabiting one body from birth is super original, and I was very excited to read how that would play out. The biggest problem I had was that it was never really explained why hybrids were such a threat to the government. It is mentioned many times throughout the book that the rest of the world is still hybrid, and only Addie and Eva's small portion of the "Americas" has been slowly bred to weed out those hybrids.
The government now hunts, imprisons, and experiments on these hybrids that have fallen through the cracks, attempting to 'fix' them. But they don't appear to pose any real threat to anyone. Hybrids don't have any sort of special powers, or super strength - I didn't see one good reason at all for the government to make such a big deal out of them. And the book itself doesn't offer much more explanation than "I'm a hybrid, and that's bad." Beyond that - it's never really explained how coupling in general would work in the outside world.
How do people get married? Do you just hope that both of your twin souls happen to fall in love with both of the twin souls of your spouse? Or what? That part sort of skeeved me out.
I didn't necessarily buy that the whole concept itself would ever work anyway. I did love the relationship between Addie and Eva, the twin souls. They truly were inseparable, and I loved the way that neither would want to exist without the other. Their interactions and the angst between them was so relate-able.
Addie, the dominant soul, deals with the guilt of having control over their body, and also struggles with the fact that she can never be truly alone in her own body. The fact that she would want to be alone, just for a moment, makes her feel terrible, because it is essentially saying that she wishes that Eva didn't exist anymore - and that's not what she wants either.
And Eva must deal with the fact that she is the dormant soul - she has no control of her own body or voice. She must sit back and watch, trapped, as Addie lives their life. I really identified with both of the girls. Neither is in a situation I would ever want to find myself in. The inner conflicts they dealt with were heart wrenching. There's a "major" revelation that happens about halfway through that I wasn't impressed with. I put "major" in quotes, because once again - it just sort of fizzled for me.
Given that the rest of the entire planet is still hybrid, more than anything I found myself wondering why Addie and Eva hadn't thought that there was something more going on in their little part of the world. What did they think made them so different? Did she think that they all just happened to be a part of the world whose souls were settling? It took a while for this book to really speed up.
The start was decent, and things did happen in a believable timeline, but it did end up ultimately getting very good. It wasn't until I was about 3/4 of the way through the book that things really started to unfold. But by then, I was convinced that this one had some pretty great potential, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book.
Alice Bell loses her entire family in a car crash one night caused by the very monsters she's convinced her father has been imagining all her life. When suddenly, she can see these monsters that she's never before been able to view, her whole life changes.
Or at least, it should have. That was my first issue with this book - when Ali could see the zombies, it didn't really seem to phase her all that much. I didn't get the sense of world-rocking revelation that I would have expected. It seemed like she went on with her normal business as usual for the most part, and seemed to obsess more about the new boy in her life, Cole. As others have said, the Alice in Wonderland storyline is really just for name - aside from the daisy chain on the first page, and the chapter titles, there's nothing more that this Alice's story shares with that of Alice Liddell's.
I did enjoy Ali's character, though she seemed sometimes convoluted. I loved when she didn't let Cole give her any crap or tell her what to do, but then there were times that all he had to do was flex a muscle in her general direction and she would melt back into his arms. It just didn't ring that genuine to me.
Ali and Cole's relationship just did not sit very well with me. He's just mean and distant, and I couldn't really nail down exactly why they should be together. Part of the reason I was frustrated with their relationship, is because Ali's earliest objections to dating Cole are that she doesn't even know him. So Cole says that they will fix that by getting to know each other.
Then the author pulled one of these: "For the next few months...."WAIT - what?! I was so mad! Are you honestly trying to tell me that you just skipped over a few month's worth of info in a zombie novel? The few months during which Ali actually starts to take the zombie fighting seriously and does this "getting to know each other" and training with Cole - and you're not even going to tell me about it?
As far as secondary characters, this is where this book totally rocked. Ali's best friend Cat was HILARIOUS. The scene when she first meets Alice was absolutely hilarious. Even better because I was able to listen to it, rather than just read it, so all the sarcasm and run-on sentences were just that much funnier. Ali's grandparents were also so cute, trying to catch up with the teenage slang. Some of the things they would say to Ali were completely ridiculous.
There were lots of inner-thoughts mixed in with the actual dialogue. In a normal book, this is fine - great even - because they can italicize or bold the inner dialogue to differentiate it from what the characters are actually saying. The audiobook didn't translate all that well in this case, because there were dozens of times that I'd get her inner dialogue mixed up with what she was actually saying, and I have to admit, it did get frustrating.
I can't say this book was boring - it absolutely wasn't. I never even considered not finishing it, even with some of the things I mentioned above. It wasn't a train wreck, it just had a few fatal flaws for me. Who knows, maybe someone else wouldn't be bothered as much by that, but for me, the little things killed this one, even though I was SO amped up about reading this book.
I'd tried a few times to pick up this book to read. I listened to the first two in the series on audiobooks during cross-country road trips that my husband and I took - so it felt strange to then pick up the third and read it in physical form.
Finally, I got my hands on a copy of the Mockingjay audiobook, and got a chance to find out how the series would turn out. I'll make sure not to include any spoilers for those of you still working your way through the series!
I've read quite a few negative reviews about this third installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I'm very happy to report that I don't agree with any of them. It wasn't quite as thrilling as the first two, I will admit. But this final installment wasn't as much about creating conflict and relationships like the first two were, but rather it served the purpose of finally wrapping up Katniss' battle against the Capitol.
I admit, there wasn't as much romantic payoff as I was looking for. After two books, I was waiting to see who Katniss would choose, and when and IF she would finally come to her senses and realize she's madly in love with Peeta. (DUH!)
But, that just wasn't what this one was about. And I guess it would cheapen the whole series, and the character of Katniss herself, to suggest that she would dedicate much time or energy to digging through her confused romantic feelings when she still has a personal war happening between herself and the Capitol - so for that reason, I was okay with the lack of Peeta/Gale/Katniss story line.
Don't get me wrong, there was plenty happening in this one. Lots of explosions, tragedies, a couple points where I definitely felt my stomach drop when something totally out of the blue happened. I found myself actually looking forward to getting to work each day where I'd be able to listen to this audiobook. And it sure made the time fly by!
These days, it seems harder to find a series that stays true to itself the entire way through. And in my opinion, the Hunger Games did just that. Mockingjay was exactly what was needed to end this series, and I enjoyed every minute of it.